Based on the sermon, I really think that reading the whole book of Acts would be a fantastic follow up, so to encourage getting that started, here is a reading list for the first 8 chapters of Acts:
- Acts 1
- Acts 2
- Acts 3
- Acts 4
- Acts 5 & 6
- Acts 7
- Acts 8
eGroup Discussion Questions – Great for personal reflection, too!
Love Hard Even When It’s Hard
Motorcycle Illustration: Lisa tells a story about her buying a motorcycle with a sidecar for her and her adopted Haitian child. While they are out on a particular country road in Tennessee, a blue truck with a rebel flag drives by and throws Coke cans and insults at them. The same blue truck finds them again, at a different time and runs them off the road. Lisa sits her daughter Missy down to explain things to her and she says: “Some people live really little lives and they have really little hearts. Their hearts don’t have room to grow.” She wants to then tell her daughter about staying safe and aware when you’re around people who don’t look like you, but her daughter instead responds, saying, “Then we need to help them get bigger hearts.“
Lessons learned to share with Elevation:
- Being liked is not a prerequisite for being loving.
- Love hard, even when it’s hard.
As Christians, gaining power, love and respect isn’t our goal. Oppression and opposition stirs spiritual fervor.
Talkative Girl on the Flight Illustration: Lisa shares about a short flight she had next to a girl who she did not want to talk to, but this girl, Heather, wanted to talk to her. Eventually, Heather asked Lisa if she knew Jesus. Lisa said “Yes,” and Heather seemed disappointed, so she followed up with, “But not very well.” She allowed Heather to share her faith, and later prayed for her. She had not idea Lisa was a famous Christian speaker, she just wanted to share her faith! She was compelled to share the hope she had within her.
First Century Christians faced murders and martyrdom, not the kind of persecution we face in the U.S. [Nick: As an aside, although Christians enjoy plenty of freedoms here in the U.S., Christians worldwide are still very much persecuted “at near genocidal levels” and I invite you to pray for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the globe.]
As such, they wanted Jesus to occupy a literal throne so that they could overthrow the Roman Empire who currently occupied Palestine:
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”Acts 1:6, NIV
But Jesus’ reply emphasizes a different kind of power, not politics:
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:6-7, NIV
But they will receive power by the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. The word receive in this passage means, “to grasp, to seize,” it is an irrecoverable call. God has placed a “little Heather” in you.
Your calling doesn’t rely on your personality. We are all called to sharing Jesus. She shares briefly about personality styles, making a reference to the Enneagram.
The first Christians weren’t facing rude people but people who were killing them.
How God Used Paul
Paul was known as Saul “BC” (before Christ). He oversaw the martyrdom of Stephen. (Acts 7:58)
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.Acts 8:1-3, NIV
Later, Paul wrote half of the New Testament. Your past doesn’t dictate your future.
Ravage (Verse 3, “destroy” in NIV, “ravage” in ESV) means destroy with intent to kill. This isn’t a dis on Instagram.
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.Acts 8:4, NIV
How God Used Philip
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”Acts 8:26, NIV
God has Philip take a road less traveled in order to have him preach to the Ethiopian eunuch.
The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.Acts 8:29-30, NIV, emphasis mine
When was the last time, this summer, since Memorial Day, that you ran up to someone to tell them about Jesus?
Eunuchs were not allowed to participate in worship (Deuteronomy 23:1)
Gugulethu Illustration: Lisa shares the story of Amy Biehl, an anti-apartheid activist who was killed in 1993 in South Africa. But the turn in the story is that one of the members of the mob that killed Amy that day, like how Stephen was stoned, is now working for the organization founded by Amy’s parents:
Today, Nofemela, a compact 37-year-old with a shaved head and a quick wit, is the father of a young girl. And, in an improbable tale of forgiveness and redemption, he and Ntobeko Peni, another of the men convicted of the murder, now work for the charity Biehl’s parents founded here after she was killed.LA Times 2008, full article
A Hillsong Church was founded near the location of Amy’s death.
Lisa also talks about going to visit a Hillsong church in Gugulethu, a township outside Cape Town, South Africa. A woman there gives her dirty looks, so Lisa approaches her and asks her what she might have done to offend her. The woman says, “I don’t know why you’d come here.” So Lisa invites her child over (who again, is Haitian), and says, “My daughter Missy is Haitian, which means she has blood from west Africa, so as far as I’m concerned, we’re family. Missy, this is your auntie.”
I thought Jesus saved me because he felt sorry for me, not that he delighted in me.
We all carry the Imago Dei, the image of God.