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Archive for August, 2012

All In – Day 19

Acts 19: American Idols
In Ephesus, people had strong emotions about the silver statues of their goddess, Artemis. The silversmiths knew if people started believing in God instead of their man-made idols their income would suffer. While silver statues may not be the objects of our affection as Americans we have plenty of false gods of our own. One of our most prevalent “gods” is the unquenchable desire for more—more income, a bigger home, or maybe just a cooler phone. Some call it “the gift of acquisition.” Solid biblical principles can help break the idolatry of more, bigger and better. Learning to steward our resources God’s way can bring peace to our finances and break the hold of idolatry in our life.

1. What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you?
2. What does it mean to value God more than material possessions and money? What does that look like in your life?
3. Is it possible to be close to Jesus and even invoke the name of Jesus without actually knowing Jesus? What does this look like in the modern day church?

All In – Day 18

Acts 18: God’s Will
Paul left Corinth, setting sail for Ephesus with these final words, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” That phrase—“if it is God’s will”—punctures our hedge of comfort. Paul was sailing toward more persecution and suffering. Soon he willingly journeyed to Jerusalem knowing he would likely be arrested and put to death. Why? Because it was God’s will, spoken to Paul, and there was no other decision but joyful obedience. How often do we make plans and purchases assuming God is with us? Do we want to know God’s will for our life? Do we really? What if it means discomfort or worse? What if God wants us to leave our city, state or even country? It is easy for us to make decisions in life based on personal comfort instead of purpose. You are created on purpose for a purpose. God has a plan for you. Are you ready to obey no matter the cost?

1. What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you?
2. What next step is Jesus asking you to take today? Is there a big decision you have been praying over recently? Are you ready to obey?
3. Does it seem that hardships slow Paul down? Do you think it is a result of positive thinking or something more? Is it true that he is never discouraged?

All In – Day 17

Acts 17: Serious Time with God
Paul stood before a group and boldly proclaimed the truth. How awesome is the way Paul’s words exude confidence, not insecurity? Why was he able to speak with such authority? Because Paul knew Jesus intimately. He had spent time studying God’s word and committing it to memory. When Jesus changed Paul’s heart, Paul experienced an extreme spiritual transformation. Paul’s authoritative teaching was born from dedicated time with God. Time spent not just on his camel on the way to his tent-making job, or worshiping an hour a week, but committed regular time. If Paul were here today, it’s quite possible he would wake before sunrise and find a quiet place away from distractions to spend time with God. Eliminating distractions means escape from this “i” world—the iPod, iPad and iPhone—to meet with Jesus. Maybe you’ve made a decision to follow Jesus, but you’ve never taken that next step of reading the Bible regularly and doing whatever it takes to get to know Him better. Acts 17:27 says God is not far from any of us. That is great news!

1. What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you?
2. How has God worked for good during the difficult moments of your life? What hope does this give you for the future?
3. Paul was “greatly distressed” by the idols in Athens. What breaks your heart? What can you do about it?

All In – Day 16

Acts 16: Found People Find People

Finding people far from God is Paul’s primary ambition. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Paul was obedient to this mission no matter the cost. Paul followed the Spirit’s lead wherever he needed to go, even prison. While speaking truth and love, Paul is persecuted again in Acts 16. This time he was publicly humiliated in his own home country, flogged and imprisoned. Most of us would want to shout out, “Wait, I’m a citizen! What do you think you are doing?” And, in prison, I’m sure we wouldn’t be singing hymns and praying–unless it was praying for a quick way out. Despite Paul’s discomfort, not one, but a whole family came to know the Lord as Savior! Because Paul was obedient and faithful, he got to see God change people’s hearts. Are we willing to get uncomfortable in order to see others come to know Christ?

1. What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you?
2. Every one of us has experienced hardships in life. Think through difficult times you have experienced: what are some ways God can work for good out of these situations?
3. That person on the top of your prayer list—the one far from God—are you willing to do whatever it takes to reach them with the truth? What does that look like for you?

All In – Day 15

Acts 15: The Diverse Church
As the gospel spreads and grows in the early church a diverse group emerged. What was once a small band of Jewish locals now included a large number of non-Jews or Gentiles. The differences within the church body caused friction. People in the Church hoped leaders would pick a side, failing to realize they were all working toward a common vision. Our church must be on guard against division springing up from our different backgrounds, traditions, and preferences. While we have many differences our common denominator is salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Our mission to see the gospel spread throughout the world unites us! Peter says in verse 8 that it is the same Spirit in all of us; God has not made a distinction. Those in Christ are all under the love of God. We are the body and we each have a role to fill. Embracing our differences and focusing on our united mission will help us reach people faster. Let’s be mindful that divisions in the church are cancerous to the body. We are one.

1. What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you?
2. What benefits are there to having a more diverse church? How can we help this happen at Vertical?
3. Are you trying to earn God’s approval through good works? How do we receive salvation? What pleases God (Hebrews 11:6)?