Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Touching Base - Part 312

PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR TOUCHING BASE BLOG POSTS MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED AS OFTEN DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS WHEN THINGS SLOW DOWN AND EVERYONE IS AWAY ON VACATION... THANKS! :-)


What Is God Like?” Series, Pt 5
“Breakfast with a Jealous God.”
Joshua 24:14-24
31 Jul 16

This sermon series is about knowing God.  Each week we’re examining a different attribute of God, not just to expand our knowledge of theology, but to really know God.  The Westminster Catechism says that the “chief end of man” (not just of Christians, but of human beings) is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever”.  I think this can happen in a fuller way if we know him deeply.

Read 2 Timothy 1:12:  “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.”  Like St. Paul, we want to know this God.

Question:  Without necessarily referring to the attributes of God in this sermon series, what characteristics to you most, day-to-day, associate with your God?

Did you think of God as jealous?  Or, as it says in Exodus 34:14, God, “whose name is Jealous” (capital “J”)?  Jealousy seems, at least at first, like a strange-and-in-no-way-comforting attribute of God.

Even if you’re actively trying to know God, there are at least 3 barriers to getting there.

(1) What we, as finite 21st-century human creatures, want Him to be like.

We probably wouldn’t pick the attribute of jealousy on our own if we were designing a god (which we often try to do).  We design or imagine a god that is 2-dimensional, soft, easy, and unchallenging—really nothing like the God of the Old and New Testaments.

(2) The Bible’s descriptions of God are 2000+ years-old.

Even if we’re going to scripture for our ideas about God, we’re reading the text through 2 or more millennia of linguistic, cultural, and political changes.  We don’t really understand what the authors mean when they write that God is “jealous”.

Question:  What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think of a “jealous God”?

A “jealous husband” or a “jealous girlfriend” is usually anything but desirable to us, but jealousy as an attribute of God, by definition, has to be a good thing.  And jealousy as understood in intimate relationships at many times in history was a good thing.  It is when someone believes he has a claim to certain attentions from someone else, but has lost or is in danger of losing those special attentions. 

It is a specific and focused form of love actually.

If there is truly a relationship of love between two people, wouldn’t each actually want the other to be somewhat jealous in this sense?  Who wants affections spattered over everyone without unique treatment for the special lover?  It is actually a form of respect to be jealous toward someone you love.  It means the relationship and the love are serious and worth having.

Read Joshua 24:14-24.  When the Israelites have reached the Promised Land, Joshua challenges them by asking if they will serve God.  “Will you forsake Him?” “No, but we will serve the Lord,” they answer.

(3) God is ultimately inscrutable (beyond us, mysterious).

While the Holy Spirit and the Biblical authors can describe God in inspired language, it is still finite syntax, and we must acknowledge that parts of Him are not totally penetrable to us.

Question:  What part of God’s nature do you most wish to understand more?

Read John 21:1-19:  The story of Breakfast with (a Jealous) God.

Despite God’s mysteriousness, he is shown in this story to be very tangible indeed.  He gives practical fishing advice, cooks breakfast for a crowd, makes Peter squirm.

But he’s still jealous:  “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” he asks Peter after breakfast in v15.  Jesus demands special attentions, affections focused wholly on him—“do you love me more than anything?”  3 times.  “Do you love me?”  “Do you love me?”

Question:  In your life, what are “these”?  (“Do you love me more than these?”)

Peter’s answer is, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Every attribute of God (and every sermon) should have a response.  In Joshua it is “No!” to other objects of desire, and here in John’s Gospel it is “Yes!” to God—the Jealous God.

I challenge you to view the jealousy of God, not as a hazard, but as something you can take advantage of.  He is so jealous for your affections that you can walk next to the inscrutable God of the universe and commune with him.  And I challenge you to practice the “No!” and the “Yes!”

Eric Prost

Friday, June 24, 2016

Touching Base, Part 311

26 Jun 16

Series
Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice

Diligently Seeking God: Pt 2
“No Plan ‘Bee’ ”

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Diligently Seeking God: This speaks of passion, intellect and priorities.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

READ: 1 KINGS 19:19-21

We are going to go through our text – really slow it down and see what is really happening here and ask ourselves some questions from our text.

1.      VERSE 19
-          Elisha is plowing with 12 yoke of oxen. The significance of this is two-fold:
1) It lets the reader know in his introduction that Elisha is a man from a family of substance
2) It also lets us know that Elisha, despite being from a family of substance, is not above the work of a servant.

Elijah then throws his cloak, or mantle, on Elisha. The significance of this is important. While structurally, this piece of clothing would be like an outer garment (in Canadian terms, it would be like an “overcoat”), but it also would be used as a blanket for a bed, a covering for sleeping, or a large sack for carrying things. But it had a much deeper significance, because, in ancient Jewish culture, it was a symbol of anointing. Since it was usually worn by priests, kings & prophets, Elisha understood that when Elijah throws his mantle on him, he is being “called out” as a prophet.

Notice that Elisha had to “run after” Elijah. It seems that Elijah throws his garment over him, but he doesn’t stay. He leaves. Elijah, on the other hand, is taken aback – I’d imagine him standing there with a million thoughts running through his head – at the implication of what has just happened.

Q. Have you ever had a moment like that? Perhaps it wasn’t even a moment, but more of a dawning”…over a period of time you realized your future wasn’t going to look like what you thought it was. Share this with the group. Be specific (physical and spiritual) about the change in priorities or vision that you had to make.

2.      VERSE 20
Elisha runs after Elijah – he literally runs after what he thinks is his future.
And he asks “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.”

Elisha is caught between honouring his parents and honouring his calling. Discuss together:
- How can we feel, at times, that we get “caught” between our obligations and what the LORD is calling us to do?
- What difficulties can that create for us?
- Is one necessarily exclusively of the other? (Can we do both?)

Elijah sees that Elisha thinks that the calling is to ELIJAH. But it is not. Elijah wants Elisha to understand that HE (Elijah) has done nothing to him. The call is not from him (from Elijah). The call is from the LORD.

Now why is this distinction important? For two reasons:
     1)     See the strength of Elijah’s character here. He has just ticked off some very important people through doing some very mighty acts. But in the chapter previously, we see that Elijah is scared and runs away and hides because he is fearing for his life. Elisha is so awed by Elijah that he would willingly follow Elijah! But Elijah is fresh off his own weakness – and sees that Elisha will need supernatural strength and power to step into his calling
     2)     The second reason this distinction is important is because the calling of prophet is difficult, and will require sacrifice, Elijah wants Elisha to understand that this has to be between Elisha and God. Otherwise, what will happen? When times get tough (or Elijah fails or dies), Elisha may lose his call because he has not oriented it to the right center.

Discuss: Oftentimes when things are difficult we can easily forget the certainty of God’s call to that path. Sharing our story and hearing others can remind us of what God has been up to in our lives and in the lives of others. If you have an experience where you felt strongly that God had called you to it, share how when it was difficult how you were able to sustain yourself with the certainty of God’s call.

3.      VERSE 21A
So what does Elisha do? He goes back home…but it is not for what we think or imagine. He goes back, probably does kiss his mom and dad, and at the same time, he breaks all ties. Although he goes back and kisses them, he takes a yoke of oxen and slaughters them. But not only that…he uses the equipment – and cooks the oxen with the wood of the yoke!! Do you understand what he is doing here? Oxen are valuable – they have potential for years of harvest. And what Elisha is doing is taking his entire future, his security, his livelihood and LITERALLY sacrificing it away. There is no PLAN B for him.

There are two challenges that come from this scripture for us.
1)     The first is from Elisha himself. When God calls you (and we know that he desires all to come to reconciliation) so wherever you are in your journey, from questioning, to seeking, to walking, to limping….there will be a moment (dare I even say “moments”!!) when you have to let go of what you thought your future would look like. You will have to let go of your Plan A, move it to Plan B – but then also destroy Plan B.

A.W. Tozer puts it like this: “The evil habit of seeing “God-and” effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the “and” lies our great woe. If we omit the “and” we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.” The Pursuit of God.

There is no “God-and…” in the Christian walk. To diligently seek Him, it must be Him and Him alone.
Discuss together: is there an area (or areas) in your life that you would consider your “plan B”? Use this time to gently ask each other if you have noticed “plan B”s in each others lives. Be practical when discussing what it would look like to let Plan B go.

2)     The second challenge from this text is this: the response of the family. Elisha’s choice of following God will cost the family – to whatever extent. But their response is not mentioned specifically but it is implicated. That word: “people” in verse 21 refers to his “kin.” They are literally eating his future, their future. There is COST to one of their own saying yes to the call of the Lord on their life.

Are we going to be the type of community, the type of family, who watch others respond to the call of God in their lives, and allow that to also cost us? To allow others to dream crazy dreams, to live in the fullness of God’s provision without letting our worldly mindset of “is that wise” interfere?

Discuss. Have you had friends, children, family, decide to do something for the Lord that really challenged you to let go of your plans for them? Or your fears? Share what that was like. Or have you been on the receiving end of being supported by people as your followed the Lord? Share that experience. How (practically) can you become people who encourage and support (even at cost) those who are following the Lord in different ways?

I don’t know about you – but I want to be the type of family that encourages others to say yes to God so completely there is NOTHING holding them back. And when that happens, it is likely that it will cost us.

4.      VERSE 21B
And so…when Elisha arises and follows Elijah – he “becomes his servant.” Literally, he ministers to him. Another way of putting it would be…Elisha becomes Elijah’s apprentice.

What would it take for you to become a complete servant of the Lord? To leave your past AND your future behind?

PRAYER:
Spend some time together in silent prayer asking the Lord to reveal to you if there is a “Plan B” in your life. Ask the Lord for strength to give that up – but to make clear His Plan A for you to follow Him. (And it may just be that: “Follow me!”)
Thank the Lord for His faithfulness as the good Shepherd and that He will never leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)

Amanda Van Halteren

Touching Base, Part 310

19 Jun 16

Series
Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice

Diligently Seeking God: Pt 1

“Bee” about the Kingdom!

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Diligently Seeking God: This speaks of passion, intellect and priorities.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Read: Matthew 6:25-33

“The queen signal acts principally as a primer pheromone, inducing several physiological and behavioural modifications in the worker bees of the colony that result in maintenance of colony homeostasis through establishment of social hierarchy and preservation of the queen’s reproductive supremacy. More specifically, the effects of the queen signal are maintenance of worker cohesion, suppression of queen rearing, inhibition of worker reproduction, and stimulation of worker activities: cleaning, building, guarding, foraging, and brood feeding.”

In other words:
1.      the scent of the queen modifies the THINKING and BEHAVIOUR of the bees
2.      the bees’ priority is the preservation of the queen
3.      the queen signal BINDS THE WORKER BEES TOGETHER IN COMMUNITY and, working together, they make sure there is no other queen that will come in and take over
4.      AND it also creates in the bees a desire to build, clean, guard & to feed.

Let’s spend some time discussing how each of these points can teach us something about how the Kingdom of God works itself out in a community context.

1)     The scent of the queen changes their THINKING and BEHAVIOUR - bees are biologically made to find and respond to the queen.

And when this happens, they are wired for one priority and one priority only: to pursue and preserve the queen. Not to make a hive, not to make honey… but to preserve the queen.

When Christ tell his disciples to “[…] seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you…”, the question for us, then, is this: as apprentices in Kingdom Living (our family trade),  do we understand that we are not just talking about a spiritual concept here, but that we are physically and biologically made to respond to the Kingdom? Discuss as a group.

J.C. Ryle, an Anglican bishop, wrote this: “The smallest insect that crawls is a nobler being than you are. It fills its place in creation and glorifies its Maker with all its power, and you do not. You do not honour God with heart, and will, and intellect, and member which are all His.” Q. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What gets in the way of us honouring God with all our heart, will and intellect? Again, be specific and be practical.

What if you were to LIVE in the reality that all that really needs doing (food and clothing) has been taken care of by Christ’s sacrifice? How would that change the way that you lived? Be practical here. What stresses or cares would you have to let go of? Share with the group so they can check in, pray and keep you accountable to living in the Kingdom of God.

2) Bees know what is important, they know their priority – the queen. Our priority, according to Matthew 6, is to pursue the kingdom.

Read Matthew 6: 27-30.

What if you were to LIVE in the reality that all that really needs doing (food and clothing) has been taken care of by Christ’s sacrifice. How would that change the way that you lived? Be practical here. What stresses or cares would you have to let go of? Share with the group so they can check in, pray and keep you accountable to living in the Kingdom of God.

3)     The queen signal BINDS THE WORKER BEES TOGETHER IN COMMUNITY, and working together they make sure there is no other queen that will come in and take over.

In other words, bees can only execute on their priority with other bees –THEY NEED EACH OTHER. IN COMMUNITY. And so it is with seeking the Kingdom – this can only happen with, and in, COMMUNITY. It needs to happen in community.

Q. Discuss practical ways in which community is needed to pursue the Kingdom. Perhaps talking about encouragement, exhortation, and spurring on to righteousness would be helpful.

4)     The “queen signal” creates in the bees a desire to build, clean, guard and feed.

In other words, it changes their entire behaviour so that preservation of this particular queen bee and this particular colony shapes all that they do.

Those words, “feed”, “clean”, “guard”, and “build”, have such important implications for us as we talk about apprenticing in Kingdom living – as we diligently seek God together.

     1)     Feeding
     2)     Cleaning
     3)     Guarding
     4)     Building

Q. Discuss each of these words, brainstorming some scriptures that can help us be a community that feeds, cleans, guards and build – as we seek the Kingdom of God. Also discuss how this will change the way that you are together as a group.

Choose one word from #4 and pray about digging deep on it personally and share with the group for accountability.

Prayer - Thank God for His Kingdom and ask Him to show you how to live in it.
-          spend some time together in prayer asking God what it means for your group to “seek the Kingdom” together

Bee” about the Kingdom!

Amanda Van Halteren

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Touching Base, Part 309

12 Jun 16
Series
Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice

Whole Heart for the Whole Gospel, Pt 2:
Don’t Be A Dodo!

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.


Read the following and discuss.

In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the Dodo organized something called a "caucus race." First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle ("the exact shape doesn't matter," it said), and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no "One, two, three, and away," but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half-an-hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out, "The race is over!" and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, "But who has won?" This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead, (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said "Everybody has won, and all must have prizes. "
(Winning on Purpose, Chapter 4)

Ever been a dodo?
Where does life for you feel a little like this race these days?

In our second part of looking at the 4th mark of a disciple, Fully Committed to the Whole Gospel for the Whole World”, we looked at how the Gospel represents the clear win for the church. In other words the Church in is to resemble Dodo’s race in no way at all - there is a clear win, goal, and finish line. We know when we have hit the bull’s eye and when we have missed.

How do we see what the clear win is for the church? Answer:
The win is clearly seen by what Jesus was empowered and appointed to do,
and what He empowers and appoints us to do.

Look again at last week’s text, Luke 4:18,19

Empowerment

What does this text say about empowerment?
Why would Jesus, of all people, need empowerment?

Note the two stories that bookend this synagogue announcement - what does this say about the need for empowerment?

More importantly what does Philippians 2:6-8 say about Christ’s need for empowerment?
“As God He had all the rights of deity, and yet during His incarnate state He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of all splendour and glory.”

In other words Jesus modeled for us the Spirit-filled life. He needed to be empowered because of his human state.

Appointment

What does this text say about Jesus appointment?
Being “anointed” means to be set aside for a clear purpose, task or responsibility.

Bottom line: There was nothing “dodo-like” regarding Jesus’ ministry. With laser-like focus Jesus initiated his ministry, and accomplished his mission. Check out John 17 for the sense of accomplishment of the mission.

Now note the parallel.

Read Matthew 28:18-20.

Empowered
Three years later in a very different context, Jesus empowers the disciples.  In v.18b - Jesus in that resurrected state has all authority (the official right and power), a place of highest honor. See Phil 4:9-11.

In that authoritative state he empowers the disciples. They were to go on the basis of his authority. Check out v.20b.

In Luke 4, Jesus depended on empowerment because he set aside aspects of his deity. Why did the disciples need empowerment? (Yes, the mission would be hard, check out Acts 1:8, but there is something about their nature, the fundamentals of who they are as people, that cries out for their need for empowerment). Remember they had not too long ago fled, floundered and flopped as disciples!

What is it about your story that reminds you of your need of empowerment?

The great truth of the gospel (good news) is not only does it embrace the lowliest and most marginalized, but it is announced and declared by people that are also in much need of grace! I am just a person in need of God’s grace telling another person where they can find grace!


Appointed

Finally, just as Jesus in Luke 4 was clearly appointed for a mission, likewise the appointment of the disciples for mission is clear!

V.19 “make disciples”- is in the imperative mood and anchors the main clause of the sentence. Going, baptizing and teaching are the actions that accompany making disciples.

Note that it says to “teach everything I have commanded”. In other words, they have heard and seen Jesus carry out this mission.

On Sunday I listed a number of things that they would have concluded about making disciples because as apprentices they saw and heard Jesus make disciples. What would they have concluded about making disciples?

How different does Jesus ministry and the disciples ministry look in comparison to Dodo’s race?

The win is clearly seen by what Jesus was empowered and appointed to do and what He empowers and appoints us to do.

Questions for discussion.
1.    How does your life group contribute to the task of making disciples?
2.    How can or does God use your story to help you make disciples?
3.    Is there a particular demographic that you feel called to in making disciples?
4.    Finish this sentence, “We at Bethel Church make disciples by…”

Don’t be a dodo!

Mark Kotchapaw

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Touching Base, Part 308


05 Jun 16
Series - Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice - Part 7
A Whole Heart for the Whole Gospel: The Embrace That Changed The World


This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

This morning we continue an important series at Bethel, Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice. Thus far we have looked at three marks or characteristics of being a disciple of Christ. They are: relationally healthy, biblically measured and prayerfully engaged. For the next two weeks we are going to address the fourth mark - Fully Committed to the Whole Gospel for the Whole World.

Note it says the Whole Gospel”. What is the whole Gospel? The word “gospel” means good news. So what is the good news? What is the whole good news?

Text: Luke 4:18, 19
In this text Jesus applies a messianic text to Himself, and declares the good news. Note that he says he has been appointed to proclaim the good news.
In Jesus’ declaration about Himself, He is announcing the whole Gospel. In fact I would say it this way, The Gospel Embraces the Whole Person.

“to proclaim good news to the poor.”

Did Jesus minister to the physically poor? The biographies of Jesus depict him repeatedly reaching out to those at the bottom of the social pyramid - poor people, women, Samaritans, lepers, children, prostitutes and tax collectors. Yet did this good news address another kind of poverty?
What about spiritual poverty?
As a group or on your own take some time to finger through some of the following texts that speak of our spiritual poverty: Matt. 23 (the whole chapter), John 3:1-21, Acts 2 (check out Peter’s sermon)

“He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives…”

The Jewish culture knew what it meant to be prisoners or held captive. And they knew what it meant to anxiously await pardon - freedom. The Jews were enslaved and dominated by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and now they were under the boot of the Romans.

Turn to John 8:31-38 - Is there another kind of imprisonment?

Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

“ and recovery of sight to the blind,”

Jesus healed the physically blind, this was a way of validating His ministry (check out Matt 11:1-5). But did Jesus address another kind of blindness? Check out Matthew 15:14.

“to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”

I think that we are now seeing the pattern. The gospel addresses the whole person. Certainly Jesus ministered to the oppressed - those that society had cast aside and relegated to the lower rungs on the social ladder. However, when we understand the whole gospel we realize that spiritually, we are all oppressed.

Oppressed - refers to those that are bruised. It means to break in pieces, broken, in heart and often in body as well. Like broken pottery.

Does sin that holds us captive have the ability to break us into pieces?
Discuss the following quote and how it connects with this whole issue of being oppressed.

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” Author Unknown

“ to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Concretely, the allusion is to the ‘Year of Jubilee’, the year of liberation among men appointed by Yahweh (Lev. 25) and now made symbolic of his own saving acts. It was held every fifty years, and during it, the fields lay fallow, persons returned to their own homes, debts were relinquished and slaves set free. Jesus is the bearer of such good news – note v.20 and 21.

The Gospel for the whole person. We have physical needs that the gospel, the good news, can address. Jesus modeled this in his ministry. However, the gospel addresses also the deepest and most profound needs of humanity, the spiritual needs. Note how this proclamation describes the spiritual condition of humanity:

-       We are spiritually bankrupt- (poor)
-       We are bound to this bankruptcy with no human way out (captives)
-       We are blinded and thus cannot at times even see our own state of affairs (blind)
-       We are beaten down and beaten up.(oppressed)

Discuss the following quote. Think about the balance between feeding the hungry stomach (which is part of the good news) and addressing the spiritual hunger and need of the soul.

“Efforts at social improvement that neglect this great goal (spiritual poverty) will be looked back on by poor people in hell as a horrible form of ecclesiastical malpractice.” John Piper

Let’s live out the whole Gospel! The Whole Gospel for the Whole World.

Mark Kotchapaw

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Touching Base, Part 307


Series
Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice

Prayerfully Engaged

"Climbing Mountains Together" 

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Last week we talked about our third mark of a disciple - Being Prayerfully Engaged. In our vision we state that we want to be a church that is responding to the heart of God. What does that look like? Our marks define what that looks like. Thus far in the series we have talked about being relationally healthy and being biblically measured. Last week and this week we looked at being prayerfully engaged. We believe that prayer is both personal and corporate. Without one or the other we are not a healthy or biblically functioning church. 


What is your prayer life like?
Both wings?
One wing?
No wings?

 On this second week of drilling down on being prayerfully engaged we looked at the corporate aspect of prayer. We pray together to climb together!

Here are some questions to discuss as we get started.
§  What is your experience with corporate prayer?
§  Did you grow up in a church where corporate prayer was prioritized?

This Sunday I started out by talking about climbing mountains. We all have “mountains” to climb.
§  What are some of those “mountains” that you are currently climbing?
§  Does corporate prayer play a role in helping you climb? If so how?

Let’s check out five pictures of the early church and how they climbed together. As a group make your observations. Some good questions would be…..
§  What was the need that caused them to pray together?
§  What characterized their corporate prayer?
§  Who was gathered?
§  What were the results?


Let’s be honest, sometimes we pray and still someone loses their head. You will see this when you come to picture #5.
§  Does this corporate prayer focus describe your experience of doing life together in community? If not what is holding you back? What are the obstacles?

Picture #1
Acts 1:1-14

Picture #2
Acts 1:15-26

Picture #3
Acts 2:42-3:1

Picture #4
Acts 4:23-31

Picture #5
Acts 12:1-19


Now go to Acts 6:1-7
There are many things to note but for the sake of this study, note the prayer priority in v4.
§  What does context tell us about the kind of prayer that is being talked about?

Note: One writer has said that nothing in this passage refers to anything personal, only ministries. Note the ministry to widows, ministry of the word. Also note prayer. Is this referring to the personal prayer lives of the disciples? Perhaps it includes their personal prayer lives but based on the context, corporate prayer is likely the key focus.

Note that every occurrence of prayer in Acts preceding chapter 6 refers to corporate prayer. Acts 1:14, 24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23–31. Every verse pictured the apostles leading others in prayer; not once is their personal prayer life recorded. In every instance we see the apostles involved in leading the people of God to pray together. These stories confirm that Acts 6:4 speaks of a corporate ministry of prayer.

Source- Franklin, John (2005-11-01). And the Place Was Shaken: How to Lead a Powerful Prayer Meeting (p. 9). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

To build this case for corporate prayer you can flip through the pages following Acts 6 and see that while there are several examples of personal prayer (which is the other wing on the plane and thus crucially important) the corporate prayer priority stands out LOUD AND CLEAR!

Can you take some time to pray for the corporate prayer priority of Bethel? Ways to pray:
§  Pray that people would not climb “mountains” alone.
§  Pray that corporate prayer would be a safe place for people to climb with others.
§  Pray for a growing vision on how God is leading Bethel to prioritize corporate prayer
§  Pray that God would wake up not only Bethel but the big C church to the priority of corporate prayer.
§  Pray that God would be most glorified in the corporate prayers of the body.

We pray together to climb together!

Mark Kotchapaw