Birthday Verse Activity!
In this activity, members of the group will each find a verse in the book of Ephesians to read aloud to the group. The leader will instruct members to find a verse in any chapter of Ephesians that corresponds with their birthdate. A birthdate of January 18 means that the group member would find the 18th verse in one of the chapters in Ephesians. Take time for each group member to read their verse. See if there is a common theme in these verses and get a sneak peek into the book of Ephesians!
Ask the group to share what excites them about beginning a study of the book of Ephesians. Possible questions to ask:
• Have you ever read the book of Ephesians?
• Do you have any favorite verses from Ephesians?
• Do you have any lessons learned from reading Ephesians in the past?
• What do you think is the main point of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians?
1. Read Ephesians 1:1-2. What strikes you most about this passage or the sermon? Why?
(Intent: Some possibilities may include: Paul’s call, how the call came, his self-description as an apostle—sent one, his description of those in Ephesus as saints and faithful, or his tender-hearted blessing given in the name of our Lord.)
2. Paul refers to himself as an apostle, i.e., someone sent under God’s orders, and describes the Ephesian church as saints or holy. A. What is your identity in Christ? Is that identity foremost in your relationships? Why or why not? B. How does that identity play out in the church, your workplace, and your neighborhood?
(Intent: We all have a call as Christians, Rom. 8:29-30. Do we sense the weight and privilege of that call? Note: While we, perhaps in humility, shy away from references to ourselves as saints, the Bible often uses this term for Christians. Remind the group that we are all in process and need God’s grace and power every day. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we will be faithful to our high calling.)
3. Take a look at Acts 18:19 and 19:8. Paul “reasoned” and “argued persuasively” with the Jews in Ephesus. But when before King Agrippa in Acts 26:12-18, he related a personal experience. A. When sharing Christ, how do we choose one approach over the other? B. What are some examples of what we should say?
(Intent: A. One idea is to consider the type of person we are engaging with and their background. What approach is likely to resonate with them? In all cases, we pray, prepare, and trust the Holy Spirit for guidance and His direction on who, how, and when to engage others. B. Encourage the group to articulate some things they may say when sharing Christ.)
4. In Acts 19:9-10, Paul departed from some Ephesians and concentrated on teaching others. A. What characterized those he left? B. Are you witnessing to some that you should concentrate on, leaving others who are antagonistic? Are you witnessing to those who are able to receive it? How do you decide?
(Intent: A: They were unpersuadable and even openly hostile. B. We must rely on the Holy Spirit and wisdom to discern the heart condition of those who listen but won’t change. Could spending more time with them draw them to the Lord, or are they in a season of unrelenting rebellion to God?)
5. Read Acts 19:23-28. We see here a strong reaction in Ephesus. A. What were the primary drivers of this reaction? B. What are the idols (false gods) in your own life that are threatened by the light of the Gospel?
(Intent: Just like the Ephesians, we are steeped in the “gods” of our own culture (power, money, sex, entertainment, sports, politics, technology, etc.), and they are deeply rooted. If not cast down in our own lives, they will rear their ugly heads to draw us away from Christ.)
6. Read Acts 19:11-20. A. Verse 17 says that “…they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” A. Why was this their reaction? In vv. 18-19, what was the response of those who believed? B. What are you called to do with the “books of magic” or other idols in your own life? Refer to question 5B. How could your group help you?
(Intent: The Ephesian community witnessed two powers: the power of Christ expressed through Paul’s ministry and a non-Christian misuse of this power attempted by the exorcists. There was a stark contrast in the outcomes. Those who believed in Christ recognized the things in their old life that they were clinging to were worthless. As believers, we too must abandon all things that draw us away from our faith and life in Christ).
The “1% Challenge” includes spending 1% of your year (4 days) on mission. Bethel’s 2021 missional focus will require us to view group life with fresh eyes. Let’s dream together of small and large ways to extend our group’s reach outward into the community. This will be a bit of a challenge, but there are ways for us to minister while maintaining current state guidelines and our personal concerns about the virus. For some examples of local outreach opportunities, click HERE
Pray as a group for God’s leading in 2021 as we reach out into the community. Ask to be led by the Spirit in all that we do, that the Lord would put us into circumstances that will stretch us, grow us, and show His love to those around us in a relational way.