The leader sends a message out prior to the meeting asking each member to bring one Bible verse that expresses their own passion (e.g., service, teaching, encouragement, hospitality, evangelism, missions, love, grace, forgiveness, etc.). Members will share their verse during the meeting time.
• What brought you to the Bethel Church family and drew you to stay?
• Who has been the greatest influence on your Christian life and why?
• Describe a time when someone showed you deep compassion and love like Jesus.
1. Read Acts 11:19-21. Persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem drove them to other regions of the Middle East. They told the people there the good news of Jesus and many turned to the Lord. Describe a time when you witnessed God taking what appeared to be a bad situation and bringing good out of it.
2. The church in Jerusalem originally thought salvation was only for the Jews. See Acts 11:1-4, 18, and 22-24. A. When they heard the report from Peter that Gentiles were turning to Christ, what did they do? B. When they later heard a similar report from Antioch, how did they respond? C. Recall a time when you or someone you know changed their thinking about something important.
(Intent: A. They changed their mind, indicating humility and a teachable spirit. Peter’s report was readily received and they glorified God. B. The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas out to Antioch, where Gentiles were turning to the Lord.)
3. Review Acts 9:26-30 and 11:25-26. A. Why do you think Barnabas went to Tarsus to seek Saul (Paul)? B. What is the significance of Barnabas and Saul ministering together?
(Intent: A. It was Barnabas who had first commended Saul to the apostles. Barnabas was aware of Paul’s calling to the Greeks by the ministry he had already had to the Hellenistic/Greek Jews in Jerusalem. The leaders in Jerusalem had just understood that the Gospel was for all and realized that they needed to begin ministering to the Gentiles. Saul/Paul was a great candidate to do this, as the Lord stated in Acts 9:15. B. Barnabas clearly had a heart and calling to disciple Paul. There is value in ministering together.)
4. Read Acts 11:27-30. Antioch as well as Judea was part of the Roman world, so the famine would also reach Antioch. Despite this, the church there helped the Judean church. A. What does this say about the Antioch Christians? B. How would you evaluate your heart condition for your willingness to help a brother or sister in Christ? C. What is a specific way you can sacrificially help another?
(Intent: A. They had a heart to give to the point of sacrifice.)
5. We see in Acts 13:1 that the church at Antioch was apparently a cultural reflection of the community there. A. How should the local church today reflect the cultural makeup of the local community? B. What can we do to help Bethel reflect the cultural makeup of our community, our primary mission field?
(Intent: Among the church leaders in Antioch were a variety of people. There were Greeks; Simeon, called Niger, which is the Latin word for black; Lucius was from Cyrene which is now Tripoli in Libya; and Manaen who was a friend of Herod. We see elsewhere in Scripture no regard being given to culture, social position, heritage, trade, background, or the sin pattern of former life. See Galatians 3:26-29 – “Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.” A. Ideally, the church should include people of various backgrounds and heritage since the Gospel is meant for all and our unity is in Christ. This is a witness to the world. The types of people in our church should be similar to what we see in stores, sporting events, and schools. B. We must be willing to be stretched to connect with others who are not outwardly like us.)
6. Read Acts 13:2-3. A. What happened just prior to the Holy Spirit speaking to the church? B. See Matthew 28:16-20. What are the similarities between this command of Jesus, and the command and call of the Holy Spirit in Acts 13? C. How can you connect with the Lord’s heart for the nations?
(Intent: A. The church was worshiping or “ministering to” the Lord with purpose as indicated by their fasting and presumably prayer. B. In both cases the command or call was preceded by worship. The call, to proclaim Christ to the nations, was given by the Lord’s authority. C. As was true of the apostles in the Matthew passage and the church leaders in the Acts passage, we connect with the Lord’s heart by first connecting with Him through worship and prayer.)
As you reviewed this week’s message and the Scriptures, what adjustment will you make to your life to better fulfill what God may be asking of you?
Spend some time worshiping the Lord. Listen for His still small voice in the midst of your focus on Him – it may come as a thought, a conviction, or just a sense of peace. Ask Him to lead and use you in this next season.