Dr. E. Dale Locke
Sermon Series: Chapter Two
Week 4: When the Plot Thickens
- All of our life stories have moments where the plot thickens, as we face a major challenge that begins to define who we are. Share with the group one of those defining moments from your own life experience.
- In Luke’s book, the Acts of the Apostles, the resurrection of Jesus Christ made all the difference in how Jesus’ disciples handled those “plot thickening” moments. Read Acts 4:1-13:
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
What thoughts or questions come to your mind when you read this passage?
- This was the first time since Jesus’ ascension that the Christians experienced persecution. Luke writes in Acts 4:1-2 that the religious leaders “were greatly disturbed.” God was now living in ordinary people, and the religious leaders felt threatened by it. Why do religious sometimes get threatened by God working in and through ordinary people?
- The Sadducees were a religious group who did not believe that resurrection was possible. Imagine what your life would be like if you, like the Sadducees, did not believe that resurrection is possible. Share your thoughts about that with your group.
Things to Keep in Mind When Embracing a New Chapter in My Life
- The Presence of Difficulty
- If we’re going to navigate toward something new in our lives, we have to be ready for the presence of difficulty. Pastor Dale said, “Everyone likes change, until something changes.” Tell your group how you generally feel about and deal with change.
- When we seek to make a significant change in our lives, it tends to create tension with other people. Sometimes people in our lives don’t want us to “get better”. Why is that?
- Read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 7:5-7: For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn– conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
From this passage, what do you learn about how Paul handled difficulty in his life?
- Reggie Jackson said, “Fans don’t boo nobodies.” What did he mean by that, and why was it encouraging to him?
- The Potential for Courage
- Note Peter’s courage in Acts 4:10-12 “whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.” What gave Peter the courage to say something that bold in this dangerous situation?
- The opposite of hard isn’t easy; the opposite of hard is the presence of courage in our lives.
- When you’re facing difficulty, what helps you gain the courage to deal with it well?
Book: Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
- The Gospel gives each one of us the opportunity to break the chain of brokenness in our family line and start a new tribe, with God’s help. If you’ve experienced this in some way in your own life, tell your group about it.
- The religious leaders could tell that Peter and John had been with Jesus. What was it about them that caused the leaders to say that? What qualities in your life would signal to others that you’ve been with Jesus?