Join us in dwelling in God’s Word and prayer!
Each week this summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Grace Church Council invites you to dwell in God’s Word and prayer! Please join us as we practice listening to God, opening ourselves to God’s surprises, and learning to anchor ourselves in God’s mission and call!
WHAT? Pray with others? Read, listen and study the Bible?
Whoa! We want to do that – but it’s intimidating! I may feel awkward, not do it right, get bored, lose interest.
We have a suggested study format that has been tested, designed to work well, and has the following structure:
- Doing it in summer – when nearly all are in Tomahawk.
- Important cause – this process will prepare us for our fall goal-setting event.
- Reading Acts – filled with the work of the Holy Spirit guiding the early church as the example and guide for what the Holy Spirit seeks to do in us and the church today.
- Specific format – Acts has 28 chapters. Reading two chapters a week will fill all fourteen weeks between Memorial Weekend and Labor Day weekend.
- Teaching skills – prayer and Bible reading are great gifts. But we have often not been taught, guided or expected. This newsletter, Sunday bulletins, and the website www.gracetomahawk.org will guide you.
- Accountability – choose one or two others and meet with them each week for 45 minutes. This will hold you on schedule, deepen relationships, and you can help and support each other.
- Support – we have people you can call or contact to help you find the one or two others, guide you in the praying and reflecting, and to whom you can send your prayer concerns and reflections.
- Resources – the newsletter, bulletin and website will have specific questions to reflect on for each week. Suggestions and examples for prayer will also be included and demonstrated.
- Surprising & stimulating – the Book of Acts is filled with fascinating stories of how the Holy Spirit led the early church very differently from what they expected.
- Relevant –your weekly conversation and prayer time with your team of one or two others will reveal how the Holy Spirit is calling and working in and through the people today. This weekly reflection on just two chapters and time of prayer can guide us to listen and see.
Here’s what you do:
- Invite one or two people to join you in this reading, reflection, and prayer. Preferably choose people outside of your family.
- Meet for 45 minutes each week to reflect on the reading and to pray. It is very important and helpful to spend at least 15 minutes in prayer.
- Keep notes, if possible, of your reflections and prayer concerns. This will provide background for the goal-setting event in fall and help you see the progress of your reflection and your prayer time.
When you meet: This is up to you – whether 6:30 a.m. at the coffee shop, noon at work, or whenever. Each time you meet do the following:
A. Check in with each other: How’s it going? What’s going on? The conversations we naturally do when we get together.
B. Read the chapters for the week on your own. Be ready to talk about it when you meet:
There is a specific question for each week (see schedule below or bookmark in the bulletin) or use one of these:
* What is the Holy Spirit doing in these two chapters?
*What was the lesson for the church in that day?
*What are the lessons are in these chapters for us today?
*What is this telling us about a possible vision purpose for Grace?
C. Prayer: at least 15 minutes of prayer together:
* Pray for each other – what you heard when you checked in with each other.
* For the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and what you heard, learned, pondered.
* For purpose, vision, and mission in your lives and for that of Grace Lutheran.
* For God’s work and mission in your families, Tomahawk, Wisconsin, U.S. and world.
* For specific people, causes, and concerns
* For Grace Lutheran, Tomahawk ministries, summer worship and events, our synod.
* For this study of Acts, this process, and the fall goal-setting to deeply impact Grace.
I didn’t start on Memorial Day? Can start any time?
YES! That you participate is our first priority. There is a huge blessing and benefit whenever you can start reading just two chapters a week and spending time with one or two others in conversation and prayer.
What if I don’t find someone?
Call the church office. We will help as best we are able to connect people. The Council’s desire is that everyone who seeks this can participate.
What if we don’t finish by Labor Day?
If you start later in June or need to miss a few weeks you will finish around the time of the fall goal-setting time. Keep it to the two chapters a week and meeting together for reflection and prayer.
We have a hard time meeting every week?
Summer can be filled with travel or busy schedules. Not ideal, but sharing thoughts and prayer concerns via email, social media or texting can keep you pondering and connecting until you meet in person.
What are the major points of this process?
There are three major things to gain from this.
1. Relationships – choose and invite people outside your usual circle.
2. Prayer – name concerns and pray with two or three others (the very emphasis of Jesus).
3. Dwelling in the Word – how insightful and inspiring Scripture becomes when we listen to what it is saying.
Praying – out loud and for 15 minutes – are you kidding?
This is why we are doing this! DON’T EAT THE ELEPHANT THE FIRST TIME!
If intimidated – start slow. With the reading and reflection take it by sections and listen for what strikes you about their experience and what it says to you. With prayer – begin with naming prayer concerns, perhaps with the most comfortable praying, slowly chime in. It does come.
WEEKLY GUIDE FOR READING ACTS
This outline is offered as a guide to explain the chapters that you are reading for each week and to divide your reading into smaller sections. With each reading, consider the question for the week as well as the “Talk Together” questions on the bookmark.
There is no overall schedule. Whenever you begin start with Acts 1-2.
Then follow through all fourteen weeks.
Acts 1-2 Who is in charge?
These two chapters begin with Luke’s introduction referring to his gospel and Jesus’ instructions to the disciples. Luke then takes us to Jesus’ ascension and the disciples’ wondering if this is now the time. By the end of chapter two the community is formed in Jerusalem and a pattern of life together begins to emerge.
- Acts 1:1-5 Luke’s introduction
- Acts 1:6-11 Ascension of Jesus
- Acts 1:12-26 Matthias is chosen
- Acts 2:1-13 Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
- Acts 2:14-36 Peter addresses the crowd
- Acts 2:37-41 3000 are baptized
- Acts 2:42-47 Life among the Believers
Acts 3-4 What emboldens them?
In this week’s reading a consistent pattern of life develops in the community both in their witness outwardly and also in their support of one another inwardly. Are they surprised? They surely begin to be emboldened.
- Acts 3:1-10 In the name of Jesus, Peter and John heal a man born lame
- Acts 3:11-26 Peter addresses the people
- Acts 4: 1-12 Priests & Sadducees arrest Peter & John and Peter’s reply
- Acts 4:13-22 The Council’s discussion on what to do with this boldness
- Acts 4:23-31 The community’s prayer
- Acts 4:32-37 The community’s pattern of life together. Barnabas joins them.
Acts 5-6: How is community formed and deepened?
Difficulties arise within and without in this week’s reading. These two chapters take us up close into the struggles, questions, and challenges of this early group.
- Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira lie to the community
- Acts 5:12-16 The apostles are held in high esteem
- Acts 5:17-32 High Priest & Sadducees arrest the apostles and Peter’s reply
- Acts 5:33-42 Gamaliel, a Pharisee on the Council, gives his famous reply
- Acts 6:1-7 Complaints arise in the church
- Acts 6:8-15 Stephen, one of those just chosen, brought before the Council
Acts 7-8 How involved and what do new leaders do?
Now we journey into the dramatic events that change this early group forever. Stage one ends – being witnesses in Jerusalem – and the next begins – to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
- Acts 7:1-53 Stephen’s speech before the Council
- Acts 7:54-60 The Council becomes enraged
- Acts 8:1-3 Saul approves of Stephen’s stoning and leads a persecution
- Acts 8:4-8 The city of Samaria eagerly receives Philip’s message
- Acts 8:9-13 Many are baptized including Simon the magician
- Acts 8:14-25 Peter and John sent by the apostles to Samaria
- Acts 8:26-40 Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip comes to Caesarea.
Acts 9-10 Who is converted from what to what?
These two chapters tell us of several dramatic conversions. Both the people and what the church learns in these conversions have dramatic impact on the church.
- Acts 9:1-9 Saul meets Jesus
- Acts 9:10-19 Ananias meets Saul
- Acts 9:20-30 Saul escapes in Damascus & Jerusalem
- Acts 9:31-42 Peter’s ministry in Lydda & Joppa
- Acts 10:1-16 Cornelius & Peter have visions
- Acts 10:17-29 The Spirit calls and Peter announces what God has shown him
- Acts 10:30-48 Cornelius’s reply leads Peter to understand
Acts 11-12 What is learned in Jerusalem?
These two chapters take us into significant new understanding and leadership in the church in Jerusalem and the beginning of a strong church in Antioch.
- Acts 11:1-19 Peter is directed to give a report of what he has done.
- Acts 11:20-22 The church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas to Antioch
- Acts 11:23-30 The church in Antioch sends Barnabas & Saul to Jerusalem
- Acts 12:1-5 James, the brother of John is killed. Peter imprisoned.
- Acts 12:6-17 An angel sets Peter free. James, the half-brother of Jesus is to be told.
- Acts 12:18-25 Herod Agrippa I dies. Barnabas & Saul return to Antioch with John and Mark
Acts 13-14 Who, where, how does the Holy Spirit lead?
The first “missionary journey” is told in these two chapters. Note how they are set apart, how the pattern of their ministry develops, and the molding and forming of leadership.
1. Acts 13:1-3 Barnabas & Saul set apart by the church in Antioch
2. Acts 13:4-12 Ministry in Cyprus – proconsul believes
3. Acts 13:13-52 Ministry in Antioch of Pisidia. – driven out. John Mark leaves them.
4. Acts 14:1-7 Ministry in Iconium – an attempt to stone
5. Acts 14:8-20 Ministry in Lystra – from gods to stoned
6. Acts 14:21-28 Return to Antioch appointing elders in each church
Acts 15:1-35: How do individuals and church deal with disagreements?
Only one chapter this week! This chapter presents a major development in the church, the process used to reach an important decision, the delivery of the message, and the conclusion itself.
- Acts 15:1-5 Believers from Judea teach the necessity of circumcision
- Acts 15:6-11 The apostles and elders meet together in Jerusalem– Peter’s speech.
- Acts 15:12-21 Barnabas and Paul’s report. James speaks.
- Acts 15:22-29 The church sends Judas &Silas with Paul & Barnabas with a letter.
- Acts 15:30-35 The Letter is delivered to Antioch.
Acts 15:36-18:22: What guides Paul in choosing people, places, message & timing?
These chapters are grouped together since they tell the story of the second missionary Journey. This journey includes new leaders and a new destination – Europe
1. Acts 15:36-41 Paul and Barnabas separate. Paul & Silas commended by the church.
2. Acts 16:1-10 Paul, Silas, and Timothy are called to Macedonia
3. Acts 16:11-40 Ministry in Philippi – Lydia, the jailer, and the magistrates
4. Acts 17:1-9 Ministry in Thessalonica –in the synagogue, Jason arrested
5. Acts 17:10-15 Ministry in Beroea
6. Acts 17:16-33 Ministry in Athens – in synagogue, marketplace, Aeropagus
7. Acts 18:1-17 Ministry in Corinth – Aquila & Priscilla, a vision, Proconsul Gallio
8. Acts 18:18-22 Conclusion – Ephesus, Jerusalem, and return to Antioch
Acts 18:23-20:38: By whom and how are churches strengthened?
In this reading we head out with Paul on his third journey. The style and place of ministry is well established and we hear about many people involved with Paul in this mission.
1. Acts 18:23-28 Paul begins his third journey while Apollos ministers in Ephesus & Corinth
2. Acts 19:1-10 Ministry in Ephesus – 3 months in the synagogue, two years in a lecture hall
3. Acts 19:11-20 Ephesus – believers give up unhealthy practices
4. Acts 19:21-41 Ephesus – Timothy & Erastus sent on; Gaius & Aristarchus caught in riot
5. Acts 20:1-6a Ministry in Macedonia & Greece – 3 months
6. Acts 20:6b-12 Paul’s long sermon in Troas
7. Acts 20:13-38 Paul’s eagerness to get to Jerusalem and his farewell to Ephesian elders
Acts 21-22:29: What guides Paul & how does he use what happens?
Strange! Everyone, including Paul, appears to know it will not go well for him this time in Jerusalem. Nonetheless Paul goes.
1. Acts 21:1-6 Tyre – message & prayer for Paul
2. Acts 21:7-16 Caesarea – Philip & daughters, Agabus, & disciples in Caesarea
3. Acts 21:17-26 Jerusalem – Paul’s report to the church & their recommendations to him
4. Acts 21:27-36 Crowd stirred against Paul & Paul arrested by the Tribune
5. Acts 21:37-22:21 Paul’s speech to the Jews
6. Acts 22:22-29 The Tribune’s surprise at Paul’s Roman citizenship
7. Acts 22:22-29 The Tribune’s surprise at Paul’s Roman citizenship
Acts 22:30-24:27 How does Paul live & speak of “the way”?
Is this the lowest and longest two years in Paul’s life and ministry? Yet does Paul’s light and witness shine most brightly here?
1. Acts 22:30-23:11 Paul speaks to the Council and receives a vision that he will testify in Rome.
2. Acts 23:12-22 Conspiracy to kill Paul
3. Acts 23:23-30 The tribune sends Paul to Felix the governor
4. Acts 24:1-9 Caesarea – speech of Tertullus the lawyer of the high priest
5. Acts 24:10-23 Paul’s reply before Felix
6. Acts 24:24-27 Two years of conversations & waiting for a bribe
Acts 25-26: What does Paul emphasize in his speeches?
These two chapters take us through the turning point. Paul will go to Rome, and his will is to witness!
- Acts 25:1-7 Festus becomes governor and appeal of chief priests & leaders of Jews
- Acts 25:8-12 Paul appeals to Rome
- Acts 25:13-27 King Agrippa II invited to add to the charge
- Acts 26:1-23 Paul’s speech before King Agrippa II
- Acts 26:24-32 Paul’s urge to become a Christian and the king & governor’s
Acts 27-28: How does Paul witness to JesusLuke gives us many details on the journey to Rome and no details on how it ends. Is that perhaps both his intention and the clearest, strongest message about God’s mission and the church?
1. Acts 27:1-8 Difficult sailing.
2. Acts 27:9-12 Paul’s advice
3. Acts 27:13-30 Paul’s advice & encouragement as the ship flounders
4. Acts 27:31-44 Shipwrecked
5. Acts 28:1-10 Malta – the witness of Paul
6. Acts 28:11-15 Paul met & greeted by the believers in Rome
7. Acts 28:16-30 Paul’s two-year ministry in Rome