Sermon Discussion - the main message
Date: January 18
Topic: Awakening our hearts to the main message
Text: Acts 2:1-41
Now that the holidays are over, I'm happy to re-introduce study materials to help in the digesting of Bethany's Sunday teaching, including questions that can be used for a small group.
This week we're considering the significance of both the events of the Acts 2 Pentecost and Peter's message given on the day the Holy Spirit came. The main point of these section is to show how Pentecost was the beginning of a new world order, and to challenge us to live within it.
The meaning of Pentecost: This was a Jewish festival that marked the reception of spiritual fruit from God (the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai) and physical fruit, once Israel had settled into the promised land (as people brought the first fruits of the harvest as an offering during this feast). On this particular Pentecost feast, we see new "first fruits" celebrated:
1. the first fruits of the resurrection, as seen in Jesus
2. the first fruits of the Holy Spirit, as seen in the wind, fire, and tongues of this chapter
3. the first fruits of God's reign, as Christ is declared to be the new king of a new kingdom.
Here's the cynic's response? "New world order? Really? I don't see a new world order - I still see wars, disease, famine, injustice, loneliness, and death. I see it everywhere. In fact, I may even believe that God is worse than irrelevant - maybe He's the cause of these problems. After all, look at the Crusades, political corruption in the church, and of course, the greed and sex scandals. I like it better this way: 'imagine there's no heaven... no religion too...it's easy if you try'.
1. How do you respond to this cynics challenge?
2. What signs can you point to, today, that there is indeed a new world order, a different king?
3. How has this new kingdom changed your priorities? In particular, what areas of your life have been altered, and how?
4. The religious people of the 1st century basically missed the signs. How can we attune ourselves so as to better see the signs of God's reign in our world?
I welcome your thoughts on any of these questions... thanks in advance.