Acts Life Group Study 1/8 | Waiting Expectantly
This is the first of an eight part series of Life (Small) Group studies, complementing our morning service preaching series, calling the church to action, to let the spiritual rubber hit the road and share the gospel with Holy Spirit power.
Study Acts 1:12-26.
Albert would not describe himself as a patient man. Whether queueing at the post office or in a traffic jam, waiting was not something he had time for! Like many in our culture of instant gratification; if and when he wanted something, he wanted it now. And so, waiting to find out if he’d been granted a promotion at work was agony. The interview had been over a week ago, and he wondered why his managers were taking so long? What was keeping them from making a decision? Surely he was the best candidate?!
The strain of uncertainty following Albert’s interview was beginning to take its toll. His productivity had slowed, and much of his time was taken up with thinking about what may or may not happen. This was so much so that many of his colleagues were now outperforming him. This only created more of a culture of distrust and Albert began to believe that his colleagues could be trying to take the promotion he deserved. It also hindered him from taking the calculated risks that had meant he’d been considered for promotion at all. Ironically, his behaviour was effectively stifling his opportunity for promotion.
To begin with, Albert had been the front-runner for the role, with one close competitor just behind him, but the way he’d acted over the last ten days had put a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. He’d failed the test of patience and in doing so, shown himself to be unsuitable for promotion. He had isolated himself from the team, as a risk-aversed ‘lone-ranger’. He was considering himself, and not his colleagues and the clients they were serving. Meanwhile, all his managers saw was his inability to act like a leader, and to show maturity and patience. His lack of trust in their delayed decision had rendered him unsuitable for the promotion he so desired.
1. How good at waiting are you?
2. Is there purpose in God’s delays? What delays have you faced in life? What happened to your faith whilst God kept you waiting? Have you ever reacted in similar ways to Albert; to God, or others?
3. Why do you think the Holy Spirit wasn’t poured out immediately after Jesus ascended? Why was there a ten day delay?
4. It’s not possible to cause the Holy Spirit to do anything (He does what He wills (John 3:8)) but what did the 120 believers in the upper room do to position themselves to receive power?
5. How easy do you think it was for the disciples to return to Jerusalem (verse 12) and obey Jesus’ command “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait…” following his brutal execution? What commands of Christ do we need more courage to obey?
6. Is patient, even painful, obedience joyless or joyful in your opinion? Explain your answer in light of Luke 24:52 and Hebrews 12:2. How does faith conquer fear?
7. How can Jesus’ obedience inspire you to courageous obedience?
BIBLE STUDY TIP: Translations Tool
Before we get into the study further, as part of this series, each time we meet we’ll be featuring a Bible Study Tip to help us dig deeper into God’s word. This week we’re looking at the Translation Tool. The Bible, as no doubt you know, was written mainly in Hebrew and Greek. Some Bible translations seek to translate these ancient languages literally, word for word. An example would be the English Standard Version (ESV). Others have a different philosophy where they translate idea for idea (called dynamic equivalence) particularly when an ancient phrase won’t make sense to twenty first century ears. An example would be the New Living Translation (NLT). Neither is necessarily better than the other, each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Consulting a translation from both philosophies therefore is very helpful indeed to get a better grasp of a passage. Genesis 4:1 is a good example. In the literal ESV we read “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” In the dynamic NLT we read “Now Adam slept with his wife, Eve and she became pregnant.”
8. How is the phrase “joined together” in verse 14 translated in different people’s Bibles in your group? What can we learn from these different translations? Think about and discuss the number of people present and some of their differing personalities, e.g. Peter, Thomas, the Sons of Thunder, and how unity amidst such diversity is possible. What is significant about the ordering of this list of names here compared to earlier lists, such as Luke 6:12-16)? What people could you befriend and support in our church for the sake of unity? What is the significance of Judas’ removal?
9. What lessons can Joseph, aka Justus teach us about laying aside our personal agendas for united mission? How do you think he would have felt about not being selected as the replacement apostle? Does it help to know that Christian tradition teaches that he become a bishop and died as a martyr? What sacrifices could you make for the sake of unity?
10. Verse 14 says that the 120 disciples were “constantly in prayer” or “continually devoting themselves to prayer”. What can we learn from them about the priority and practice of prayer?
10.1 What Biblical (and prophetic) promises can we pray back to God (just as the disciples must have prayed the promise “you will receive power” back to God)?
10.2 How expectant, desperate and continual are your prayers?
11. As we wait, individually, and corporately as a church for God to do what He has promised, how can we better prepare ourselves? How can we wait more expectantly for God to move in our church and on our frontlines?
12. In what way have you been challenged to act out your faith this week?
MISSIONARY STORIES to inspire you from our church
A couple in our church continually and expectantly prayed for a relative for 15 years to come to faith. John was into drinking and believed all religions lead to God. Eventually his life hit rock bottom and there was nothing that could be done but pray for him all the more. A few years later he met someone; they started living together and wanted to get married. This led them to begin attending a local church. During their marriage preparation course the vicar was patient with them, didn’t judge them and talked them through repentance and salvation. John gave his life to Christ and he’s never looked back; he’s totally stuck into church life now. This precious couple kept praying persistently, in season and out of season, waiting and waiting expectantly for God to move, never giving up hope that one day John would cross the line of faith. They passed the test of patience in this situation and the mission of God prevailed.
• Thank God for the seasons of delay in your life and the ways in which He is shaping your character and preparing you through them. Ask God for courage to dignify these testing times and to persevere.
• Ideally whilst taking communion together, prayerfully express your desire to be united as a Life Group and a church for mission, to proclaim in word and deed Jesus’ death and resurrection until He comes again.
• Ask for God’s help for each other to act out your faith, expectant, courageous, united, prayerful, waiting for God to move, this week.
• Pray some of the Biblical promises and prophetic words (below) back to God together.
“I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18)
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:13).
“With this church London will I shake, with London England will I shake, and with England the world will I shake.”
“The Chapel will be packed to overflowing (galleries filled) with the rich, the poor, alcoholics, the homeless and sexually addicted.”
“The spirit of Spurgeon and Wigglesworth will be present and there will be breakthrough and healings on a large scale, similar to the time of William Branham.”
OTHER THINGS to plug and pray for
• Confident Christianity (evangelism training day) | 3 Oct, 930am-3pm
• Michael Ramsden (rzim.org) | 11 Oct, 11am and 530pm services
• Alpha Launch (with Michael Ramsden) | 12 Oct, 7pm
• The It’s Not Fair Human Trafficking Play and Panel Discussion | 18 Oct, 530pm
• Alpha Course | 19 Oct – 21 Dec, 7pm
• Ravi Zacharias (rzim.org) | 15 Nov, 11am service
• Terry Virgo | 6 Dec, 11am and 530pm service
• Carol Service | 13 Dec, 530pm service
• Christmas Celebration Service (families) | 20 Dec, 11am service