Alive in Christ. Transformed for Mission.

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, November 10)

Through divine intervention, Paul and his followers were led each step of the way on their journey. Through a vision of a man from Macedonia, Paul concluded they were to preach the gospel there, and eventually, they came to Phillipi, “a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia.” There, they met, not a man, but a woman instead, named Lydia.

Scripture Reading: Acts 16:6-15

From your personal study on this reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

It must have seemed logical to Paul and his companions to preach the Gospel in every city or region they came to, and yet, through the Spirit of Jesus, they were prevented from doing this in specific places like Bithynia and the province of Asia. It might also seem logical for us to conclude that these places were somehow chosen to be passed over by God, but take a look at 1 Peter 1:1-2. Thinking on this, why do you think it might be better to ask the question: “what is Jesus now saying?” rather than “what would Jesus do?” How might this change your perspective on your faith journey?

Paul came to this region because he saw a vision of a man from Macedonia. When he got there, the first thing he did was share his message with a group of women gathering to pray. Do you think this is significant, and if so, why?

“The LORD opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” As Christians, we are called to share the Gospel, but only God is responsible for changing hearts. What comes to mind for you as you reflect on this? How might this impact you the next time an opportunity to share Jesus comes up?

The course of Lydia’s life was changed after an encounter with Jesus, and her first response was to open up her home. Why do you think hospitality is such an important component of faithful living?

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, November 3)

At Lystra, a local man named Timothy joined Paul on his journey. Timothy had a mixed family background – his mother was Jewish and his father was Greek – and so Paul first circumcised Timothy prior to his joining him in his mission. Then, they made their way through the cities, and the “churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily” (Acts 16:5; ESV)

Scripture Reading: Acts 16:1-6

From your personal study on this reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

Why do you think Timothy’s family background led Paul to circumcise him before accepting him as a partner in his mission? Why would it impact those who would be receiving their message?

Paul and Timothy helped spread the message to churches asking them to observe the decisions made by the council in Jerusalem. These decisions were related to what Gentiles should and should not be expected to do after converting to the faith. How do you think you have decided your own “non-negotiables” when it comes to your personal beliefs as a Christian? Can you think of a particular belief you have now that has grown over time, or maybe changed altogether? What do you think has led to this?

This passage actually describes Paul’s return trip to Lystra. The first time, he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 15:19). This time, Timothy is there waiting for him. Think of a time when God brought new life to you out of a painful experience. What did you learn about Him, or you, through this experience?

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, October 27)

Acts chapter 15 ends with a dispute between Paul and Barnabas over whether to take John Mark with them on another journey to encourage the Believers. Their argument ultimately led to them parting company and going their separate ways.

Scripture Reading: Acts 15:36-41

From your personal study on this reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

Think of a time when you had a serious argument with someone close to you. What was the experience like for you? Did it lead to any major decisions on your part? Was there some kind of “new life” or positive outcome?

Many of us choose to avoid difficult conversations with people we’re close to because confrontation often includes greater vulnerability or risk to the relationship. Why do you think Paul and Barnabas chose to confront this dispute head-on? What might have happened if they hadn’t?

Paul and Barnabas had been through a lot together on their missionary journeys; they had been united in the common purpose of spreading the Gospel, though they faced opposition and hardships along the way. What comes up for you as you read about their decision to part ways? How do you imagine they might have felt or thought about this?

What was the lasting impact of the dispute between Paul and Barnabas, and what do you think it teaches us about God?

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, October 13)

The first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabus has come to an end, and there is a shift in their primary focus from mission to matters of doctrine.

When a doctrinal disagreement emerges around the issue of circumcision for new Gentile believers, the church leaders hold council together in Jerusalem to discuss it, and forge a new path forward.

Scripture Reading: Acts 15:1-35

Upon first reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

The answer to this question was of critical importance to the church. It was a contentious issue and debated over for a long time. Finally the scales were tipped by the words of Peter, James, and the testimony of Paul and Barnabus. Why do you think those in attendance didn’t settle on a “let’s agree to disagree” or “you do you” approach to solving their dispute? How does this picture of the early church working through their disagreements challenge us today in our culture?

Verse 22 indicates that “the whole church” was present for this council meeting, and affirmed the outcome. Why do you think a doctrinal debate on circumcision was a not-to-be-missed event? How do you suppose their theology impacted their day-to-day life and actions?

In helping solve their disagreement, James advises (v.19-21) that they not make it difficult for Gentiles to turn to God, but also instruct the Gentiles to avoid certain practices (food offered to idols, eating meat with blood in it, and eating the meat of strangled animals, and sexual immorality). What role did fellowship have to play behind this instruction? (see verse 21)

After the dispute was resolved, the decision was immediately made to communicate this to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Why was this their first priority?

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, October 6)

After preaching the gospel, Paul was stoned and nearly killed outside of the city of Lystra, by a crowd that had been stirred up in opposition to their missionary work. The next day, he and Barnabus continued on their journey, preaching, eventually coming back to Antioch, the place where they were first commissioned to do this work.

Scripture Reading: Acts 14:21-28

Upon first reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

If you study the geography of the region, after leaving Derbe, rather than taking a more direct route, Paul and Barnabus actually went out of their way to return through Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidia. They backtracked to return to the cities where they had before been forcefully driven out. Why do you think they chose to do this? What does this decision have to do with the message they carried?

Returning to the cities where they faced the strongest (and most violent) opposition, verse 22-23 suggest the focus was not on preaching to non-believers this time around, but rather on strengthening, encouraging, and equipping the disciples who were already there. How did Paul and Barnabus do this exactly, and why? What do you think was expected of the disciples there once Paul and Barnabus left again?

Verses 26-28 describe something like a homecoming. What do you imagine Paul and Barnabus were feeling as they returned to the place they were first committed to start their mission work? What emotional tone do you think this scene describes? Can you think of a time you had a similar experience of “returning home.” What awaited you there?

What do you think your House Church can learn from the examples set by the small gatherings of Believers described in these verses?

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, September 29)

Paul and Barnabas continue their missionary journey in the city of Lystra, in the larger region of Lycaonia. The people there were Gentiles, part of a different culture and speaking a different language. Paul and Barnabas’ ministry there centred around the healing of a man who had been lame since birth, and the people’s response to it.

Scripture Reading: Acts 14:8-20

Upon first reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

When the people start (false) worshipping Paul and Barnabas for “their” miracle, they attempt to clarify and steer the crowds back to the one true God. Verse 18 says, “Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.” What reflections do you have, as you think of times when you’ve shared (or attempted to share) the message of Jesus?

Do you think Paul and Barnabas’ missionary work in Lystra was successful? Why or why not?

Spoiler warning! Eventually, Paul and Barnabas would return to Lystra, “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (v. 22). Spiritual growth and discipleship is rarely a straight line; it has many dips along the way. How does this impact your view or approach of sharing the message of Jesus?

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