The Empowered Church (Acts 2:1-41)

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Due to the numerous requests that we’ve received from our small group leaders, we will now be offering the sermon-based study guides every week, with the exception of holiday weeks when most small groups will not be meeting. So regardless of whether the Real Community small groups are in session or not, we will continue to offer these studies.

From the very beginning of Christianity the church has been faced with struggles and opposition. Yet, in the book of Acts, we discover that there was a power in the church, a dynamic that could not be resisted. This power was the Holy Spirit, and as people discover the Holy Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to star in their own lives and to star in their churches, the church becomes irresistible.

These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Have you ever felt led to do something, but yet felt unprepared as you do it? Maybe a new task at your work, volunteering, giving up a habit, or ministering to someone in need?
2. Have you ever been led by God to do something and at the same time felt empowered by Him as you do it? How was this experience different from the previous case? Briefly share your experience.
3. How do you respond when God asks you to do something? What if it’s something you’ve never done before? Have your responses to God changed over time? Why or why not?

1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Briefly explain.

2. Read 1 Kings 18:22-39:

“20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.
22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

• Explain the context of this passage. (1 Kings 18: 1-18) What were the people of Israel going through? (vv. 2, 4) How is this context similar to what the church is facing today?
• What was the question the prophet Elijah was confronting the people with? (v. 21) Do we always conduct ourselves in a manner that shows that we believe in the “real” god? What are some areas of our lives in which we struggle with this? (for example: our finances) How can we trust God in those areas? Briefly share your experience.
• Ahab’s prophets were praying to Baal for a miracle. How was their prayer different from that of Elijah’s? (vv. 28-29, 36-37) Just as they believed that their prayers would be answered because of their performance, in our own lives, have we ever thought that we need to do something in order to earn an answer from God? What are some of the things we try? At the same time, if God is not looking for our “performance”, what is He looking for?
• Elijah was clearly outnumbered (v. 22), however, he is the initiator of the challenge with Baal’s prophets. What does this say to you about his confidence in God? Looking at Elijah’s example, what should our attitude towards struggles and oppositions in our own lives be? Have you ever been faced with a problem so big that you saw no possible way out, yet in the end God came through for you? Briefly share your experience.
• What was the people’s response to God’s fire? (v. 39) Do you believe they had any other option but to fall on their knees and acknowledge God? How has God been irresistible in your life? What is your attitude towards those people around you that seem to resist or even deny God? Briefly share your experience.
• God answers Elijah’s prayer for fire and shows the people that He is God. As a nation, why is this significant for the people of Israel in their current context? Why is it important for us in our current context?

3. In this weekend’s message, Rich states that apart from the Holy Spirit, we Christians have nothing and are nothing and do nothing.

• As an individual, are you committed to seeking more of the Holy Spirit in your life? As a small group? How can we live our lives in the presence of the Holy Spirit?
• As Christians we want to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, however, for what purpose do we want to be empowered? What are some of the goals and dreams of this small group that we would like the Holy Spirit to empower us for?
• Take time to wait on the Holy Spirit and pray for one another, especially for the Holy Spirit to come and fill us.

Invite your group to the “Come Holy Spirit Conference”
Friday, July 9th at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 10th at 9:00 am
Multipurpose Room at Vineyard Columbus
Free of charge