Title: Unstoppable Mission
The Point: The Holy Spirit empowers us to spread the gospel.
Get Into the Study
Use the following illustration and opening questions to help set the stage for your group’s discussion of Acts 1:4 and following.
People don’t like to wait. That’s no surprise. But according to a study highlighted in a recent New York Magazine article, “the stress of waiting [can] be ‘explained by a sense of waste the individual associates to the time spent waiting, and by the uncertainty that he may have about the time he will still have to wait.'” The article also notes that “stress accumulates the longer you wait.”
In other words, waiting is much more painful to endure when we don’t know how long we will have to wait. Yet, interestingly, when we have a countdown — in this case, the article discusses a countdown clock in the New York subway — our stress is alleviated because we know what’s happening. We feel more in control. The countdown removes the “ambiguous time,” as the author puts it, which can lessen the stress of waiting.
These ideas make sense for little things in life — when a friend is late, when you’re waiting for the doctor, when your plane is delayed. But what about waiting for the big things, like God’s promises?
In this session’s Scripture passage, the disciples find themselves waiting for the Holy Spirit to come after Jesus’ ascension to heaven. Can you even imagine the kind of stress that came from that period of waiting? With the benefit of hindsight, we know their wait was worth it because of the value of the gift they received (the Holy Spirit).
- How does waiting make you feel?
- What emotions would you have experienced if you were in the disciples’ shoes?
- What are some ways we still wait for God and the movement of His spirit?
— Ashley Emmert wrote this Leader Extra. She is a freelance writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her sweet Southern husband and their small scrappy dogs. Find her at ashleygraceemmert.com or on Twitter @ashgemmert.
Study the Bible
Use the following information to supplement Question #4 (PSG, p. 92):
The International Mission Board, has provided an article on its website, “6 Ways to Pray in Times of Terror.” With terror attacks seeming to spring up with more frequency in places all over the globe, believers struggle to know what is an appropriate response to the news of these terrible events.
The article lists six suggestions, provided by Christians in Central Asia, for ways that believers can pray when a terrorist act occurs somewhere in the world. Their six suggestions include:
- Pray for the Lord to have mercy on the heartbroken
- Pray for first responders, peacekeepers, and government officials
- Pray for local believers living in the area where the terror attack occurred
- Pray for bold and gracious gospel proclamation
- Pray for reconciliation
- Pray that faith will overcome fear
In addition to this specific article concerning prayer for terror attacks, the IMB also includes an updated listing of specific ways believers can pray for different people groups around the world.
Urge the group to consider using these resources to enrich and strengthen their prayer life in the days ahead.
Information for this post was gleaned from here:
— Donna McKinney wrote this Leader Extra. Donna is retired from a career with the federal government of the United States. She is a veteran Bible study group leader living in North Carolina.
- How do you typically react during a time of waiting?
- What’s one thing you’ve learned during a time of waiting?
- What steps can we take to actively trust God during a period of waiting?
- When have you received a gift that was better than what you expected?
- What are the benefits of waiting with other Christ-followers?
- What role does the Holy Spirit play in our spiritual growth? In our evangelism?
- These verses include Jesus’ instructions for His followers. When is it easiest to follow Jesus’ words in obedience? When is is hardest?
- When have you felt empowered by the Holy Spirit to share the gospel?
- How would you describe the mandate Jesus gave His disciples in v. 8 in your own words?
- If you had been present, what questions would you have regarding Jesus’ instructions in verses 7-8?
- What do you find comforting in these verses? What do you find challenging?
- What are some benefits of praying together as a group?
- What can we learn about the early church from today’s passage?
- How would you describe your prayer life right now? Is there anything you’d like to change about it?
- When something big happens, who do you count on to pray with and for you?
Share the following with your group members as either a devotional before the group study or as a follow-up devotional:
Ministry Grid Video
Here’s a brief five-minute teaching video about this session: Ministry Grid