Luke and Acts- Week 3

  1. Re-read today’s passage found in Luke 2:22-40, and as you do, consider Simeon’s life. What do you specifically learn about his relationship with God, and God’s relationship with him?

  2. John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice…” was referenced in Mike’s message. Jesus’ desire is to speak to His sheep, and He has given us - His sheep - the capacity to hear. 

  • What has the Lord been speaking to you lately?

  • Do you find His voice hard to hear? If so, in what manner?

  • What small course-correction step can you take today that might enable you to hear His voice more clearly?

    3. “The Law of God can be used two different ways: Like a baby sling, holding you close to the heartbeat of the Father, or like a straight-jacket of religious to-do’s and observances to keep you away from God.” Which way resonates most with your own experience? Share.

    4. As Simeon was passing the baton from the Old (original) Covenant to the New (renewed) Covenant, he prophesied. On the day of Pentecost, Peter prophesied. We are to be a prophetic people -- hearing the voice of God and being able to share it with others. 

  • How does the idea of prophecy resonate with your own comfort level? What experiences (good, bad, or indifferent) have you had in your own walk regarding prophecy? Share.

  • “We have ideas that a prophetic person will be able to penetrate through layers of our own pretense; and that they are a godly critic of everybody and everything.” How does this reflect/not reflect your own thoughts? Explain.

  • Discuss Paul’s description of prophecy found in 1Corinthians 14:1,3. Specifically note verse 3. What three purposes for prophecy are listed?

    5. The work of God’s Spirit is always tangible. Galatians 5:16-24 indicates the manner in which the Lord is working to the outside what His Spirit places inside us. Notice the contrast to the natural course of the flesh. What are some tangible ways you’ve experienced the work of God’s Spirit in your own life? Share.

Luke and Acts Week 2

  1. Read Luke 1:26-49 (today’s passage) and note anything that stands out to you as curious, unusual, different, or that you might want to further explore. Share. 

  2. Compare Mary’s reaction to Gabriel’s announcement we explored this week (Luke 1:28-30, 34) with Zechariah’s reaction to Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:12-13, 18) we explored last week.  

    -What similarities do you see? What are some differences?

    -Of the two reactions, where do you find yourself comparatively?

    -What were the outward effects of Mary's belief? 

  3. Do you believe God still messages His children? If so, how? What are your responses to His messages?

  4. In the establishment of God's covenant with mankind, He used the old and young as well as women. How does this resonate in your own heart? 

  5. As believers in Christ, we have the presence of God living inside of us. Because of this, we should expect tangible and recognizable reactions from others. What are some indicators of the presence of God you’ve seen or experienced?

  6. As we read about Zechariah, Elizabeth and Mary in Luke 1, what are some characteristics in their faith you wish to imitate or grow in?

Luke and Acts - Week 1

  1. Re-read Luke Chapter 1, verses 1-23 and verses 57-80. As you are reading, remember the cultural belief in Zechariah’s day that if a couple were barren, they were looked upon as being under God’s curse. 

-In what ways does God “show up” in the midst of Zechariah’s & Elizabeth’s disappointment and burden?

- In what ways does Zechariah respond?

2. Luke 1 has a connection to another older couple in the Old Testament (Abraham & Sarah) in similar circumstances that God used. They were frail, broken instruments. Their time had seemed to pass.

  • To what extent do you feel your time has passed? Ie: a golden era or glory day you remember in the past and don’t expect to see in the future?

  • How does the following statement resonate with your own experience: “The doors of destiny often open on old hinges?”

  • What are some similarities between Abraham and Zechariah in God's calling on their life? What are some differences?

  • 3. In Luke 1:8-20, we learn of God’s message to Zechariah and his reaction -- perhaps tainted by years of disappointment giving way to disillusionment and disillusionment giving way to disbelief. 

  • Where do you find yourself living currently? Have any of your disappointments given way to disillusionment (you have a cynical view of what’s possible & impossible / you’ve heard it all before, etc.)? Share.

  • Where might your own heart be wrestling with disbelief? 

  • What is your next step towards healing and wholeness?

  • We see that the Lord doesn't leave Zechariah in his disbelief, but disciplines him. Thankfully, our fears and doubts do not hinder God's calling on our lives. However fear and doubt can delay and/or hinder how or when we're fully being used by God. Describe any promises or callings on your life ( individually and collectively t) that requires you to "step out" on faith or wait in faith, that you are struggling with.

Vision: House Church to Temple

  1. In Acts 19:8-10, the Bible speaks of Paul boldly contending the gospel against unbelievers openly but also was able to withdraw and discuss deeper with disciples privately. 

  •  How are you contending for the gospel openly against mainstream lies that are threatening the salvation of unbelievers and/or the continued transformation process of believers?

  • How are you wrestling or digging deeper with the gospel to help in the discipleship of believers?

2. In Acts 4:32-37, the Bible speaks of the early Church being of one heart and one mind. They claimed nothing individually and surrender all to the Lord for the use by the Church. 

  • What are ways to get the Church at any or all levels (as a nation, state, city, Apex, house church, household, work groups, basically any group that chooses to be united under Christ.) To be more of one mind?

  • What are ways to grow in a heart of surrender? What are some fears that hinders you from surrendering?

3. In 2 Cor 12:7-9, Paul speaks of asking the Lord to relieve him of a "thorn in the flesh" but the Lord answers His grace is sufficient.

  • What are some thorns you are dealing with in your ministry? Do the stings of the thorns increase while you're actively engaging in ministry or when you are passive, or is  it the same no matter what you are doing? 

  • Have you identified the true thorns that you are dealing with and given it over to God? What did He say and how are you dealing with His response?

4. In Col 1:7, Paul is writing a letter to the Church in Colossae and mentions his disciple Epaphras and how he is devotedly ministering to that Church. 

  • What does your relationship between other house churches look like? Are you learning from one another?

  • How has the ministerial work in your house church helped another house church in their discipleship and growing process?

  • How has the ministerial work in your house church sent help to an external community to your house church?

Vision: Temple to House Church

  1. Read the entire chapter of Acts 2 to get today’s passage (Acts 2:42-47) in context.

    a.) As you read this chapter, is there anything that makes you uncomfortable? Why / Why not?

    b.) Notice that the fire in verse 3 separated (scattered) and rested above each believer’s head. What significance and paradigm shift do you think this might have had on the believers? (Hint: God had often symbolized His presence with fire) 

  2. The Christian life is to be lived out in an “orbital” pattern. What do you think this means? How does this idea intersect with your own life?      

3. Discuss this statement: The “Temple” model is good for orthodoxy (doctrine) , but not good for orthopraxy (practice). 

4.. God is at work and forming Apex into a unique biblical prototype for a great work. “When you are forming a prototype, you test it to destruction. You put pressure on it.”  What has been your own experience in this formative process?

Vision: Spiritual Feudalism

  1. Re-read today’s passage found in Luke 22:24-27. What were the characteristics of leadership commonly found in the culture of that day (and ours as well)?

    a.) What effect did/does that style of leadership have on people? 

    b.) How has that style historically influenced the Church at large?

    c.) How does Jesus turn this cultural influence on its head? Explain.

  2. This wasn’t the first time Jesus had to address leadership. Read Luke 9:46-48 and coordinating passages found in Mark 9:33-17 and Matthew 18:1-5. Notice what powerful events took place prior to the disciples arguing! What did Jesus hold up as an example for them to follow? Can you think of any other things Jesus said or did while discipling His disciples to help them grow in their understanding of what it means to lead as He did?

  3. In the sermon there was a brief summary of church history and the influence of feudalism metrics -- “how many peasants one has and how much tax they pay” and “power being given to one person with the expectation of them providing for and feeding the masses.” He then challenged “spiritual feudalism and peasant thinking” in churches today. What are some examples of “peasant thinking” you have seen, or perhaps unknowingly embraced in your own journey?

  4. Dialogue about your personal experiences with the following statements: 

    a.) “Discipleship is not about what is consumed (information), but what is produced (transformation). 

    b.) “Everyone is a leader. There’s not one person who doesn’t have someone looking to them as an example.”

    c.) “Jesus calls us to be servants. A servant takes food from the kitchen and puts it on the table. At no time is it their property. ‘What are You putting in my hands today, Lord, to share with others?’”

The Seven Churches- The Three Doors

  1. Meditate on the visual description of heaven in Rev 4:1-6 (also the visual descriptions of Jesus Christ in Rev 1:12-16), how does this inspire worship for you? What specific description stands out to you? What words of worship does the Holy Spirit bring to you? 

    2. How is the definition of a true worshipper in John 4:23-24 aligned with the display of worship in Rev 4:8, 11?

    a.) Were there any subtle differences of worship between the four living creatures made up of the masses to the 24 elders on God's throne?

    3. Rev 4:8 mentions the living creatures worship Him day and night. The idea of continuous worship, how can we apply such a concept in our daily lives?

    4. Rev 4:1 described an open door upwards to God, an invitation for a more intimate relationship/understanding of God. Has He given you such a door? What has He told you that you can share? Can it be applied towards the Apex congregation, is there an opportunity to go to another "dimension" in our group worship?

    5. Rev 3:20 described a closed door that Jesus stands at and knocks, waiting on us to invite Him in. What are some closed doors you are dealing with that is hindering you from operating in your true identity in Christ? What are some scriptural references to help you open the door and invite His Holy Spirit? (Hint Mike mentioned a few examples during his preaching, i.e. Gal 5:16 and 1 John 4:4).

    6. Rev 3:8 described an open door out, an invitation to an opportunity to do His work the best way He has for you. Do you recognize those opportunities where God wants to use you to expand His kingdom? What are some of these opportunities and how has God given you grace to explore each opportunity?

The Seven Churches - Heart Check

  1. Re-read Revelation 2:18 & verse 23. What opinions might people assume about God’s character?

  2. “The blazing eyes of Jesus searching the church…” Does this cause fear or does it cause faith to rise in you? Why?

  3. The Church of Ephesus & Sardis had “hard hearts.”

    a.) What made their hearts hard, respectively?

    b.) What does Jesus offer instead? Explain.

    c.) Where might you need this same provision in your own life?

  4. The churches of Pergamum and Thyatira had “faint” hearts.

    a.) What made their hearts faint?

    b.) What does Jesus offer instead? Explain.

    c.) Where might you need this same provision in your own life?

  5. The Church of Laodicea was “half-hearted.”

    a.) What made them half-hearted?

    b.) What does Jesus offer instead? Explain.

    c.) Where might you need this same provision in your own life?

  6. “The fire gaze of Jesus isn’t to burn us up into an ash heap, but to set us free from things that hold us back from a soft, strong, and sound heart. Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego were bound and thrown into a fire (See Daniel 3:19-26) and the purifying presence of God was with them. The only thing the flames consumed is that which held them captive…. God’s work is a work of freedom.”

    a.) What part of this resonates the most in your heart?

    b.) What is it in your life that He is working at freeing you from?

    c.) How can others in your house church best walk beside you?

The Seven Churches - The Church in Laodicea

  1. This message concludes the 7 churches of Revelation. Take a moment and think through characteristics and warnings God gives regarding each church (Re-read Revelation chapters 2-3 if needed):

    a.) Which church do you identify with the most in your current season of life?

    b.) What seems to influence, hinder, or entrap you, and how can your house church come alongside you in your journey?

    c.) Take a moment to pray for one another.

  2. The church of Laodicea took on the identity of the self-reliant city in which they lived. What is it that tries to inform your own identity?

  3. “There’s a difference between Jesus being present in your life and Jesus being welcome in your life.” If “present” and “welcome” were on either end of a linear graph, where would you plot your current experience of intimacy with Jesus?

  4. “It’s your birthright as a believer to hear the voice of God in your life” (see John 10:4, 27). What tends to keep you from hearing His voice? [For example: unbelief that God speaks to you; fear that He may lead you in a direction you don’t want to go; distractions and obligations that demand your attention?]

  5. Are there areas of God’s Word you feel lukewarm about -- perhaps because you don’t see how it applies to life, or because you don’t understand it? If so, what?

  6. Read Revelation 3:18-20. According to these verses, what does God promise to do for us so we might enjoy His richness, purity, healing and/or protection? What is our responsibility?

  7. Is there a time in your life when your passion for the Lord was more vibrant?  What happened? How do you return?

The Seven Churches- The Church in Philadelphia

Revelation 3:8 “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”

  1. How does longing for the past (closed doors) affect Apex?

  2. What new open doors can you see for Apex?

  3. What are some closed and open doors that you have recently noticed in your life? How about for your house church? What is your next step?

  4. Do you consider yourself more on the pioneer side of the spectrum (apostle, prophet, evangelist) or more of a settler (teacher, shepherd)  (see Ephesians 4:11-12).

*One tool that people in house churches can use to reflect on how they are gifted can be found here:

The Seven Churches - The Church in Sardis

  1. Before digging into today’s discussion regarding the Church in Sardis, take a moment to review, compare, and consider. What different words of encouragement /rebuke did the Lord say to the following churches:

    a.) The Church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7)

    b.) The Church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11)

    c.) The Church in Pergamum (Rev. 2: 12-17)

    d.) The Church in Thyatira (Rev. 2: 18-29)

  2. Read Revelation 3:1-6 -- regarding the Church in Sardis.

    a.) What was the Church in Sardis known for?

    b.) What did the Lord rebuke them for?  Explain.

    c.) Describe the significance of the particular words, “Wake Up” to the Church in Sardis. Why might that phrase have resonated deeply with them?

  3. Now take a moment to ponder each of the Churches up to this point. Do you see any similarities or connections between them? What common thread of “lies” about God might each be believing? Discuss.

  4. Why are we asleep like the Church in Sardis? What has put us into a trance?

  5. In your own life, what habit, circumstance, or mindframe might be lulling you into forgetfulness?

  6. What areas in your life might you be tempted to overlook due to overconfidence, common cultural expectations, laziness etc.?

    a.) What areas as a house church?

    b.) What areas as Apex?

    c.) What areas as a nation?

  7. Revelation 3:3 tells us to both remember and repent:

    a.) From what might you need to repent?

    b.) What does repentance look like to you?

    c.) What are some practical ways your House Church can walk beside one another to encourage remembering and foster repentance?

  8. What is your game plan for listening to the Spirit this week? HOW do you respond to the Spirit?

    a.) Pray for every point made here. Pray for those things you unknowingly cannot see. Pray for those around you that are still asleep, pray for yourself to be fully awakened. Pray for the Lord to guide you further into repentance. Pray for our house churches as well as Apex as a whole to continue to grow in prayer and obedience.

The Seven Churches- The Church in Thyatira

  1. In this week’s message, we learn about the Church in Thyatira. What was the culture surrounding that church? What was that town known for? What were the ramifications and expectations for those living there regarding worship of patron pagan gods over each guild?

2. In Acts 16:13-15, we read about Lydia from Thyatira. According to verse 14, what was unique about her? How do you think her choices affected her life?

3. What does having a “Jezebel” spirit mean? Explain.

a.) What does tolerating a Jezebel spirit in your mind and heart look like?

b.) How can you better counter the “my way / my truth” ideology?

c.) How might the global church be falling victim to a “Jezebel” spirit?

    4. “Identity” as a child of God is the cornerstone of our life with Christ:

a.) How much does the idea of identity as God’s child inform your own day to day living?

b.) We’re often defined by our personality, our past, what others think about us, our successes, our fears, our failures, social media, our present circumstances, etc… Which of these tends to define your own life and identity the most?

c.) What are some verses and Biblical truth that reinforces the fact that you are a child of God?

5.  The church in Ephesus was reprimanded for losing her first love and being intolerant. The church in Thyatira was reprimanded for following a false love and being too tolerant. How can the church today find that “middle ground”? What would God want that to look like?

The Seven Churches - The Church in Pergamum

  1. Describe the context and atmosphere surrounding the church of Pergamum:

a.) What was the city of Pergamum most known for in the region?

b.) What were some of the beliefs that permeated the culture?

      2. What similarities / differences do you see between Pergamum’s culture and ours


     3. Compromise often arises from persecution or permissiveness:

Persecution comes and steals, kills, or destroys. It involves fear.

Permissiveness looks to feed appetite, approval, or ambition. It stems from a lack  of faith

a.) Which area of compromise do you find yourself most often wrestling with?

b.) What is your habit as you wrestle with that compromise?

c.) John 15:4-9 and 1 John 4:18 offers a solution for compromise. What is it?

    4. According to the message, how does “hidden manna,” “ white stone,” and “a new  

        name” relate to our needs for satisfaction, security, and significance? Which of these press most into your own heart? Why?

    5. What steps do you need to take today to abdicate the throne of placing yourself in

       the center of the universe, and what do you need to be set free from?

The Seven Churches - The Church in Smyrna

  1. How was the church of Smyrna rich?

  2. Matthew 5:3 talks about being “poor in spirit:”

    a.) Give some examples of what you believe that means.

    b.) What is God’s posture towards the poor in spirit?

  3. In what ways do you see “desperation” in the lives of those around you, or in your own?

  4. Jesus understands “dry places.” Share a time when you’ve been in a dry place (empty; alone; vulnerable) and God intervened -- either directly or through someone else.

  5. The church of Smyrna was experiencing great suffering. Why do we not need to fear suffering?

  6. Mike described a life of Retreat and Return before we can Reach out to the desperate in the power God gives us.  In your walk with God, where do you most find yourself living life?

  • Retreat -- a dry place; alone; vulnerable

  • Return -- full; accompanied; empowered

  • Reach -- restored; revived; rich! Reaching out to others who are desperate

7. What change is God calling you to?

The Seven Churches - The Church In Ephesus

1. This week’s sermon, we learned about the symptoms of a heart that has fallen from its first love.

a.) Which of these do you find yourself experiencing most when your heart becomes distracted?

  • Fallen (from a complete cycle of love) 1 John 4:10-12

  • Fear (in heart) 1 John 4:18

  • Frustration (in life) 1 Peter 5:5

  • Fracture (in relationships)

b.) What do you tend to turn to in your search to make those feelings go away?

2. The church of Ephesus had a primary role in the work of God in that region and their focus had become what they were committed to. What seemed to be their focus? What did God have to say about their focus?

3. What notions about how to love God do you feel can become a hindrance to us? What social/cultural norms or prejudices have you seen infiltrate your understanding of what it is like to love God well?

4. What is your first love, if you were being totally honest?

5. What does loving Jesus look like to you?

6. This week, we were challenged about our need to refocus and return to loving Jesus -- both individually and collectively. He explored the characteristics of the freedom and possibility of what it would be like if we let His love define our lives. Which of these spiritual blessings and places of freedom do you need to experience more freedom in?

  • Sensitivity (gentleness) -- the Spirit of God is far more sensitive than the spirit of humanity.

  • Service (graciousness) -- we don’t come to consume

  • Sacrifice (generous giving) -- as a principal behavior & activity of our lives

  • Surrender -- -- it’s the places that are most difficult to sacrifice that we see the greatest victory.

The Seven Churches - Introduction

  1. Why do you think people study or shy away from studying the book of Revelation? What has been your own personal experience?

  2. Read Revelation 1:9-16. What are three symbols and imagery associated with the voice of Jesus found within those verses?

  3. In today’s message we heard some specific applications surrounding the idea of trumpet, rushing waters, and double-edged sword:

    a. ) The voice of God was like a trumpet to John in Revelation 1:10-11, calling him to pay attention to what he was about to see and hear. What is God calling your attention to?

    b.) The Word of God is like a sharp double-edged sword, able to separate that which is inseparable. It has power to separate us from things that hold us (such as addictions, behaviors, a personality trait, embracing an identity that is not one God has given, etc.)  Where in your life has His Word been discerning and penetrating?

  4. Ezekiel 43:1 and Ezekiel 47:1-2, and v. 8-12 gives imagery regarding the “rushing waters.” What is the significance and challenge to you in your own life regarding the direction the water is flowing? (ie: from the east and what that signified)

  5. Using the descriptions of the water in Ezekiel 47:1-12, (ankle, knee, waist deep, etc.) describe where you currently are and where you believe God might be calling you to follow Him deeper. How can your house church pray for you and come alongside you?

Palm Sunday 2019

  1. (See John 10:10) What is a “thief” in your life that tends to rob you of your Joy?

  2. What is it that steals your desire to want to engage with God?

  3. Describe a time you’ve heard the voice of the Father encouraging you to “Keep your gloves up.”

  4. In John 10:10, Jesus says He has come that we might “have life and have it to the full.” What anticipation and expectations might people wrestle with or place upon God regarding this verse?

  5. Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd. What does He say about Himself in John 10: 11-15? What aspect of this speaks most deeply to your heart? Why?

  6. What does God’s voice sound like in your life?

  7. What specific areas in your life do you see God’s calling toward life in abundance? What else is God calling you to (and what are you doing about it?)