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INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this week’s sermon, Dr. Charles Montgomery spoke about the life of Gideon. Particularly, Gideon was an unlikely hero, who overcame tremendous odds with God’s help to defeat the Midianites. The Midianites had overwhelmed Israel by their vast army’s frequent and severe attacks. They raided their crops, took their livestock, forced them to move off their lands and ultimately made life so difficult that they finally cried out to God for help. Gideon was called by God to lead Israel. Despite his dire circumstances, and those of his people, when God showed up Gideon listened to the Word of God. He also gave to God’s work – he offered himself for God’s purposes and his possessions in worship. He moved in the Spirit of God – when God led him he followed, even though it was unpopular and dangerous. And Gideon connected with God’s people – he needed the right people around him to support what God was doing in his life (as do we). Like Gideon, we too can similarly respond to overwhelming odds.
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? Explain.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
•Can you share something from the message that stood out to you? Can you identify with Gideon, or not? Please share briefly.
•Have you had a “God moment” recently – some conversation or situation where you knew God was leading you to do something? How did you respond? Please share briefly.
•How do you know God’s voice is speaking to you? Any recent stories? Please share briefly.
One point from the sermon was Gideon was able to respond to overwhelming odds by the Holy Sprit empowering and leading him. How does God lead us and direct us? How might the Holy Spirit speak to us today? Paul, and others, in Acts had many significant encounters with the Holy Spirit where they felt God lead them in specific ways. Let’s look together at just two of those encounters with the Holy Spirit and consider what we can learn about how God’s Spirit moves and leads us toward action.
Read Acts 13:1-5 (***consider deleting the scripture text to reduce printing pages)
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
Read Acts 16:6-10
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 13:1-5 (Paul and Barnabas are called to missions)
Context: Paul and Barnabus had just returned from delivering gifts sent by the Antioch church to the Jerusalem churches because of a severe famine in Judea. The earliest churches were in Jerusalem and Judea where the population was mostly Jewish. Paul and Barnabas had been pastors of sorts in Antioch after Barnabas had gone to find Paul in Tarsus because Gentiles in Antioch had begun to hear and accept the Gospel. Antioch was Paul’s first significant church ministry role. But In contrast with the Jerusalem and Judean communities, Antioch was a trading city in the north with a broad mixture of Jews, Greeks, Romans, and others.
•v. 1 Look at all the different names mentioned – try to imagine walking into this church service, what would it have looked like, and felt like? One way to know the Spirit of God is present in a community is to see radical “reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18). What do you see God doing at Vineyard Columbus? What has been your experience of reconciliation at this church (positive or negative)? Please share briefly.
•V. 2-3 What sorts of activities were the community in Antioch doing? While this study is not about fasting, prayer, and worship – What happens in you when you engage wholeheartedly in those regular practices? What encourages you toward more practice of fasting and prayer? What deters you? Is there a time where you have fasted and prayed for God to speak about something, and He actually did?
•Whom did the Holy Spirit speak to and how did He speak (Hint: we don’t know)? Have you ever been frustrated by how little the Bible specifically speaks about how people hear and how God speaks? What do we know about the Holy Spirit and how God moves in our lives – try to make it personal?
o Because God speaks and moves in different ways for different people – does it
somehow undermine the reality that our Lord speaks, or does it strengthen it?
What do you think? (John 14:16—17a)
•vv. 2-5, what did the Holy Spirit say? How did the church respond?
•How did Paul and Barnabas respond? Does the text indicate they knew God’s plans entirely? What might this reveal about the leading of the Holy Spirit? How have you seen this principle in your own life?
Acts 16:6—10 (Paul’s second missionary journey)
•vv. 6-8 What did the Holy Spirit direct them to do? How does this differ from Acts 13? What does that tell you about the “way” Paul followed God’s leading? Many Christians at VC describe their walk as a “journey” – how do these 2 texts illustrate that idea?
o How can you foster an attitude of openness and ongoing dependency on Holy Spirit? What has worked for you and not worked?
•Vv. 6-8 How did the Holy Spirit speak to them in these verses? How do we know that circumstances are part of God’s (the Spirit’s) leading or part of the enemy’s plans? Are adverse situations always a sign of God’s leading? How do we grow in discernment?
•Vv. 9-10 How did the Holy Spirit speak to Paul and his companions in these verses? Are dreams and visions always from God?
•What can we do in our small group to increase our ability to discern God’s voice?
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
•If you struggle to hear God’s voice in prayer, have people lay hands on you and invite the Holy Spirit to “open your ears” to hear God’s voice. If led by God, pray for gifts of the Spirit to be distributed abundantly in your small group.
•Is there something, or some relationship, you’re asking God for discernment about? Pray with one or two others and practice listening for God’s leading. Test words and visions openly and graciously.
•If the whole area of listening for God’s voice, or being led in small and big ways by the Spirit, is really foreign and uncomfortable – consider reading a book or doing a bible study outside of the group with one or two others on hearing God’s voice.