We concluded our study of Acts this past Sunday, June 4. We began teaching through this epic book of the early church’s history and God’s movement in January 2015. We’ve learned so much about how the full committed lives of the early church in the first century has resulted in our existence as a church in the 21st century.
This Sunday, June 11, we will celebrate what Jesus has done for His body, the church, in a special Acts Share & Worship Service. We hope you’ll make plans to be there and share something that you’ve learned in the past year and a half as we’ve journeyed through Acts together.
Some things to do:
- Pray for our worship team as they integrate our worship in music into three specific times of sharing. Ask God to give them spiritual sensitivity as they select music and scripture.
- Look back through the book of Acts this week and identify things you remember from the messages and consider sharing this Sunday.
- Pray for our services on June 18 as we launch our summer series: Think to Change.
Here’s our outline for the share service (many thanks to Lindsey Armentrout for putting it together for us!):
The Acts of Northstar’s Apostles
By using Acts 1:8 as an outline, we can break Acts up into three sections – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in 1) Jerusalem (Chapters 1-7) and in all 2) Judea and Samaria (Chapters 8-10), and 3) to the end of the earth (Chapters 11-28).”[Recommendation from this link – http://thinktheology.org/2012/12/19/a-basic-overview-of-the-structure-for-the-book-of-acts/ ]
- “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem…”
The first part of Acts (Chapters 1 – 7) is the early stages of believers receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13) and boldly proclaiming Christ’s name to people who have never heard the Gospel. Many signs and wonders are being performed, such as Peter and John healing the lame (Acts 3) and Ananias and Sapphira being killed (Acts 5:1-11). This is also where we meet Stephen and find out that he is stoned because of the wonders and signs he is performing (Acts 6:8 – 7: 60).
If we further examine the beginning of Acts, we see a specific structure that these early missionaries followed as they pursued ministry. First they recognized how God had been working/fulfilling his promises (Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2:1-41), then they fellowshipped and communed daily (Acts 2:42-47), and lastly they prayed for boldness to continue pressing on in their mission of spreading the Gospel (Acts 4:23-31).
In order to be effective in ‘our Jerusalem’, we need to be actively pursuing the Lord in our own walks with him.
How have you seen the Lord working in your life the past year (through fulfilling His promises or answering your prayers), and how have you been boldly proclaiming God’s faithfulness in your life to the people he has placed in your immediate sphere of influence (your Jerusalem)?
- “…and in all Judea and Samaria…”
The second section of Acts (Chapters 8-10) is pivotal for us as a church today. It is here that Saul is converted (Acts 9:1-19) and the Holy Spirit falls on the Gentiles while Peter is speaking (Acts 10:44-48).
Though this section is short compared to the book of Acts as a whole, it is because of these chapters we, Gentiles of this day, are able to be in relationship with the Lord. Saul is appointed as Paul (not addressed as Paul until Acts 13:9) and begins his journey of ministry to the Gentiles. Peter blatantly speaks the Gospel when called upon by Cornelius which allows the Gentiles to hear and accept the truth which allows the Holy Spirit to ascend on them.
How have you been able to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and past ‘your Jerusalem’ to minister to your coworkers/people of Judea and Samaria? The Jews didn’t think the Gentiles were worthy enough to be a part of ‘their’ people, so when God gave his Spirit to the Gentiles, it was eye opening.
Have you seen the Lord at work in people/situations around you in ways that you felt were beyond the scope of your understanding of God’s power?
- “…and to the end of the earth.”
The rest of Acts is a beautiful depiction of what living missionally looks like. Here we find Paul traveling all over the countries along the Mediterranean preaching the Gospel, many times being jailed and persecuted for doing so; however, we known that Paul’s journeys are not in vain. Most of these trips were to areas that we are familiar with today. Some of these areas form churches that we later read about in other New Testament letters because Paul writes back to them to encourage them to continue pursuing a life following Christ’s example (Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome).
Though Paul had many success and it’s evident that Christianity became widespread in these areas, we also know that Paul spent much of his time defending his faith and being behind bars; however, Paul still lived a life that exemplified Christ at work through him and he still spoke the truth to those he encountered. Paul didn’t let circumstances or other people’s titles prevent him from sharing the truth with the unreached.
How have you been motivated to be a part of the greater church through this study of Acts?
How have you continued the story of the apostles?
How have you stepped into your role of making Christ’s name known to the ends of the earth?