Rev. Trevor Johnston and Jeff MacIntosh
Sermon Series: Hand Off
Message 4: God Needs Me?
- Try to say 1 Peter 3:15 from memory: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
- Review from Week 1: The hand-off is the most important part of the relay race. How you share your faith really matters. What are some mistaken, unwise ways that Christians sometimes share their faith – that often end up being counterproductive?
- Review from Week 2: Trust God is already at work. What difference does this truth make, when you are considering sharing your faith with someone you care about?
- Review from Week 3: Let God own all of your story. Whatever is in your past, God can use it to help others find Jesus. Talk with your group about how some aspect of your particular faith story might help another person who is not yet a Christ-follower.
- Read Acts 9:1-19: Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind and did not eat or drink anything. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
- What questions or comments come to your mind as you read this passage?
- Was your conversion experience more like a dimmer switch (gradual over a period of time), or was it like a regular light switch (a sudden “aha moment”)?
- Paul’s situation is rare, because Jesus appeared to him personally to help him be able to believe. But even in this unusual situation, Jesus still needed Ananias to complete the process. Why do you think God chooses to use people like this, rather than just doing everything by himself?
- Read Exodus 3:7-10: The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Notice that God said he was coming down to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, but he also said he was going to do it through Moses. How did Moses feel in this situation?
- Read Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Jesus called himself the light of the world, but then he also called his followers (us) the light of the world. What does that communicate to you?
- Read Romans 10:14-15: How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” What is it like for people who have never heard any explanation of how to give their life to Jesus Christ?
- When you picture Jesus stretching out his nail-scarred hand and asking you to be part of helping people learn about him, how does that picture impact you?
- Here are some suggestions of how to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in this process of helping others connect to Jesus….
- Pray for yourself: What are some ways you can pray for yourself that will help you be a more effective part of Jesus’ hand-off process?
- Ask God to use you: Start each day inviting God to use you. How will this make a difference?
- Ask for opportunities to share and invite: Pray specifically for God to give you opportunities to talk to people about faith or help someone on their spiritual journey. If you’ve experienced this idea in your own life, tell the group about it.
- Ask for “divine appointments”: People with needs and hurts are all around us. Prepare your mind and heart to be ready for “interruptions” in your day that could actually be divine appointments. What might keep a person from noticing “divine appointments”?
- Pray for others: D.L. Moody lived from 1837 to 1899. He received the hand-off when he was 17 in his uncle’s church when his Sunday School teacher told him how much God loved him. D.L. Moody famously carried around a list of 100 names of his friends and loved ones who had not yet become Christians. For many years, he prayed for them by name. When one of them would come to faith, he would mark their name off the list. At his funeral, 96 of the 100 names were crossed out, and the final four gave their lives to Christ at his funeral! Who are you currently praying for? Take time to list some names and then pray for them together as a group.
- Pay Attention to God’s promptings. What are the kinds of things that God might prompt one of his followers to do that could help another person in their faith journey?
- Share with your group about a prompting you experienced that ended up being an opportunity to bless another person and help them on their faith journey.