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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Reading through Acts- Day 2

August 21st, 2012

Acts 1:12-26- Christianity without the Spirit

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying…

Jesus’ followers were told to wait, so they waited. Seeing as the power hadn’t come yet, they engage in some good old church politics. I’m sure if there had been pews to dust or flowers to arrange, they would have been doing that too! If anything could show us our need of the Holy Spirit’s empowering, its this snapshot of Spirit-less Christianity.

Read Acts 1:12-26

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- what signs are there in this passage that Jesus’ followers are being faithful in this period?

- What do you think they would have done differently if the Spirit had already come? (read ahead to the next chapter if you want to play ‘spot the difference’!)

- In what ways does your Christian life reflect the dutiful, meandering nature of Jesus’ followers in this passage? Where are you simply keeping yourself busy in your Christian life? As you identify these areas, let God make you thirsty once more for his Spirit to transform your duty into joy and your ‘reshuffling of the furniture’ into fruitful kingdom advancing action.

 

Further study

Acts 1 and 2 are two chapters that highlight the necessity of the Holy Spirit by contrasting life without the Spirit with life with the Spirit. Romans 7 and 8 do a very similar thing.

- read Romans 7:14-25 to see Paul’s account of someone (himself?) who is struggling to live the Christian life in his own strength.

- read Romans 8:1-27 to see the difference that the Spirit makes.

- what are the main differences between these two passages?

- does your life most resemble Romans 7 or Romans 8? Wherever you see Romans 7 in your life, cry out to God for his Spirit to be at work in you more powerfully.

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Reading through Acts- Day 1

August 20th, 2012

Acts 1:1-10- Continuing Jesus’ work

1In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

There is a tremendous continuity between the advance of God’s kingdom in the life of Jesus and in the life of his followers after him. This continuity is provided by the Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus and has been available to all of his followers since Pentecost. Jesus’ ministry was just the beginning and what he ‘began to do and teach’ was continued by his followers in the early church and is taken up even by us today. As you read today’s passage, witness this moment of incredible anticipation of the first outpouring of the Spirit, but also reflect on how you can continue what Jesus began in the power of his Spirit today.

Read Acts 1:1-10

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- What do you think would have happened if the apostles had not waited in Jerusalem for the Spirit?

- Why do you think that Jesus uses the image of baptism to describe how the Holy Spirit will fill his followers?

- What does Jesus say are the primary reasons that God will send his Spirit?

- Thank God for his Holy Spirit and his power and ask Him that He would make that power more effective in your life.

 

Further study:

Look through ‘Luke’ and ‘Acts’ for every mention of ‘the Spirit’ (‘Bible gateway’ and NIV Bible app will help with this):

- how does the Spirit interact with people? What verbs are used to describe how he guides and empowers people?

- how does the work of the Spirit in the life of Jesus  compare to the work of the Spirit in the life of the apostles?

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Do you want to get more out of the Bible?

August 17th, 2012

This week Jonathan will be starting a mini-series called ‘Message Sent’. Its going to be all about reading the Bible. There are probably few things that cause Christians to feel guilty than the topic of ‘reading the Bible’. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting aside time, sometimes it’s a matter of enagaging with a book in an electronic age and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to make any sense. All of these things could make Jonathan’s new series a particularly unpalatable proposition!

However, the intention is not to initiate a church-wide guilt trip or even a new ‘I-must-read- my-Bible’ dutifulness. This series will be about falling in love with God’s word, while providing practical help as to how to actually get more out of the Bible.

Therefore, to accompany this series, we are going to be using the Churchcentral blog to give you a series of Bible reading notes on the book of Acts. We’ll work through the whole book in small manageable chunks, helping you understand any tricky bits, giving you some questions to focus your reading, and even providing further study tips.

To start you off, here are two resources that we would recommend to help you in your study of God’s word and which we refer to in the reading notes every now and then.

Good resources

1)     Bible gateway.com- this great website allows you to view a passage in any version of the Bible you want. The best thing about it though is the search facility that means that you can find out whenever a word or phrase is used in the Bible to help you in your study of God’s word.

2)     Phone apps- If you’ve got a smart phone, you can get the Bible on your phone. There are loads of apps like this, here are two good ones (there are many more):

- Bible (lifechurch.tv)- this is a free app that includes the Bible in pretty much every version you can imagine. The only drawback is that it has to connect to the internet, but you can download most versions (but not NIV) so you can use them whenever you want.

- NIV Bible (Tecarta, INC)- This costs £5.49 and is only the latest version of the NIV. However, it doesn’t need to connect to the internet and has excellent note taking features. It also allows you to do detailed searches for individual words and phrases to help you find that elusive verse or to help you study a theme that appears throughout the Bible.

- ESV study Bible (Crossway)- a bit more expensive (about a tenner) but this has a brilliant study guide to make sure you don’t get the wrong end of the stick. Its also packed full of helpful articles by Bible scholars like John Piper.

So, if you find it difficult to get into God’s word, or maybe you’ve got stuck in your Bible reading, why not go through Acts with us over the next couple of months? We’ll be kicking things off on Monday.