Bible Reading for September 12-18

1 Corinthians 1

In what ways might Paul’s thanksgiving be a back-handed compliment: I thank God that he gives you grace … you need it! Do you think such a view is justified? Why or why not?

Given this introductory thanksgiving, what do you think we will find as we read through this letter?

In what ways are divisions still an issue for the church today? How do the divisions we face compare to those Paul describes?

What reasons do you have to boast in the Lord?

1 Corinthians 2

In what ways are simple messages more important for God’s kingdom than messages of “lofty speech?”

Why is “Jesus Christ and him crucified” the most important message you can know?

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?

1 Corinthians 3

What does it take for each of us to be ready for “solid food” teaching, versus milk?

Paul says that multiple people work together to bring individuals to a place where God gives spiritual growth? How does this help affirm the part of ministry you are performing as having a much bigger scope than you working all be yourself?

Do you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? How does this knowledge impact the way you live your life?

1 Corinthians 4

What does Paul mean when he says he is a fool for Christ’s sake?

In what ways have you had similar experiences to Paul: hungry, thirsty, poorly dressed, buffeted, homeless, reviled, persecuted, slandered, and the scum of the earth? Do you think people will sign up for this sort of discipleship? Why or why not?

Are you able to tell someone to imitate your life? If not, what do you need to do to get to that place?

1 Corinthians 5

How do you think the church today would react if they heard of a situation like Paul describes with a man and his father’s wife? Why do you think the Corinthian church tolerated this?

How does boasting within the church affect the entire church?

In what ways should we purge evil doers from the church today? Do you think doing so is a popular opinion? Why or why not?

Bible Readings for September 5-11

Acts 24

Why were the Jewish leaders so adamant to slander Paul, even when their accusations made little sense and were basically unsubstantiated?

What sort of actions do you take or safeguards do you have in place to ensure you have a clear conscience before God and man?

What do you think caused Felix to be alarmed while listening to Paul? To what degree do you think Felix was affected by his repeated conversations with Paul?

Acts 25

In what ways was Festus used to save the life of Paul?

Why is it that Felix in the previous chapter and Festus in the current one wanted to do the Jews a favor? Was this a successful political move? How else might we evaluate their actions?

What does it say about Paul’s actions that despite all the accusations Festus heard about Paul, Festus still is at a loss about what charges to bring against Paul?

Acts 26

How would you summarize Paul’s defense to King Agrippa?

How does Paul’s conversion story here compare to the previous stories we have read about Paul in Acts?

Why would it have been important for Paul to be obedient to the vision he faced while on the road to Damascus?

Acts 27

What would make Paul think the centurion guarding him would listen to Paul’s advice about sailing more than he would listen to the owner and pilot of the ship? What might this tell us about the rapport Paul had with those he was around?

Do you think perceptions changed about safe sailing times after the storm hit? Why do you think this is the case?

In what ways does Paul’s sharing food with the crew resemble a sharing of the Lord’s supper? Is this significant and if so, why?

Acts 28

Why do you think the Christians in Rome had heard nothing negative about Paul? What sort of credibility does this give Paul’s message and ministry?

How significant is Paul’s statement that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles?

What do you think happened to Paul beyond what we have recorded in the book of Acts?

Bible Readings for August 29 – September 4

Acts 19

Once again, we have a story about the Holy Spirit coming upon those who have turned their lives to God. What role or purpose does the Holy Spirit play in this story?

Why would someone try to use the name of Jesus to satisfy their own desires or dreams? In what ways might we do the same thing today?

How do people turning to faith impact the nonbelievers they are around? Would you say this is similar or different to what happened here in Ephesus? What reasons do you have for your answer?

Acts 20

Some have said in a tongue-in-cheek way that the story of Eutychus teaches us not to fall asleep in church. Why do you think the story IS included in Acts?

How do you think people would respond to the power of being able to raise people from the dead? Do you think this would help of hinder people coming to faith? In what ways?

How difficult would it have been for Paul to continue his journey knowing that imprisonment or affliction awaited him? Are there ways we face these challenges today and how do we handle them?

Acts 21

Why do you think Paul continues his journey even though other disciples—through the Spirit—were telling Paul not to go? Why would the Spirit tell one person one thing, but someone else something different?

What would it take for you to say you are willing to die for the name of Jesus … and mean it?

In your own words, describe the reception Paul received when he arrived in Jerusalem.

Acts 22

Paul tells his conversion story to the people in Jerusalem. What similarities and/or differences do you find between this telling and what we read in Acts 9?

How do you think you would have responded if God told you to do something completely outside of Christian faith or tradition, such as Paul was told to go to the Gentiles?

What advantages did being a Roman citizen bring Paul?

Acts 23

In what ways did Paul play his accusers against each other when he faced them in the Council?

To us, Paul’s overall message probably seems legitimate and worthwhile. Why would religious people vow not to eat until Paul had been murdered?

What does Claudius Lysias’ letter to Felix tell us about the way Roman authorities viewed Paul? Do you think their view was appropriate? Accurate? Why or why not?

Bible Readings for August 22-28

Acts 14

We see here a pattern that is repeated throughout the entire book of Acts: Jewish opposition against the message of Christ and those who preach it. How do you think you would have reacted to this opposition if you had been Paul?

In what ways do you see the church today facing opposition to the message of Jesus and what should or what can we do about it?

Should the miracles the disciples were able to perform have been able to convince the Jews that the disciples and their message were legitimate? Why do you think they did not do so?

Acts 15

In what ways does our past and our desire to continue in the ways things have always been shape the way we move forward toward new faith? In what ways should it affect the future?

How do you think you would have responded to the requirements given by the Jerusalem Council? Is there anything you would have had a problem with? Why or why not?

What lessons can we learn about dealing with conflict from this episode with Paul, Barnabas, John Mark, and Silas?

Acts 16

Who are the people you are encouraging to continue to grow in their faith, including people who may be younger than you? Who can you develop a relationship with in order to work on seeing this happen?

Does it seem odd that the Holy Spirit would tell the disciples NOT to go to Bithynia? Why or why not? In what ways has the Holy Spirit told you “No” to some of the ways you thought you might use to help share the message of Christ?

What are some ways you have seen God act miraculously in the lives of his faithful followers? What was the result of these actions?

Acts 17

What does it say about Paul that he regularly went to the synagogues to preach Jesus, especially given all that had happened to him at the hands of the Jews?

How can we receive the word of God “with eagerness?” What are some specific practices that might demonstrate this earnestness?

In what ways can we use the attitudes or values we see in the people around us as conversation starters when it comes to sharing our faith with them?

Acts 18

In what ways are you ministering to others through the vocation you hold?

How important are people who can travel from place-to-place encouraging followers of Jesus to grow in their faith? How can we support people who do this more?

Apollos represents a “2nd generation” disciple of Paul’s, that is, someone who was taught by someone who was taught by Paul. How are you developing relationships with people with the idea that your strengthening them will help them strengthen or disciple others?

Bible Readings for August 15-21

Acts 9

Having someone breath “murderous threats” against us as Christians is not something we are typically accustomed to or something that happens to us often. How do you think you or other followers of Jesus would react to these circumstances?

The shift from preaching to Jews to preaching to Gentiles was a huge change, unheard of up to this point in the history of God’s people. What other shifts of similar magnitude are you aware of in Christianity? Do you know of anything similar that has happened in your own day and age?

What would it be like to have the kind of power Peter did? What would you do if you had that sort of power? How would you use it?

Acts 10

What does the fact that Cornelius—a Roman soldier—believed in God prior to hearing from Peter tell us about the spread of the gospel?

What laws, rules, or traditions might we hold that God wants us to change in order for people to come to know him better?

What purpose did the Holy Spirit serve in coming down on those who were hearing Peter’s message? What might this tell us about the ways God brings people to him?

Acts 11

Why might the Jewish Christians have had a legitimate concern about the Gentiles hearing—and following—the good news of Jesus?

Is the scattering of the church, as described in this chapter, a good thing, or a bad thing? Why do you say this is the case?

What does it mean to be called a Christian?

Acts 12

How do you think the church today would have responded to church leaders being imprisoned or even killed because of their faith?

How does the church collectively respond to hardships faced by members of our own body? Is earnest prayer one of those responses and in what ways?

Why do you think we are told about the death of Herod, especially the details, here in the book of Acts?

Acts 13

What does this chapter tell us about the importance of prayer and fasting as we seek to be God’s church today? How can we incorporate prayer and fasting more in our regular practices?

In what ways does the Spirit enable you and me to identify and call out evil when we see it?

Summarize Paul’s sermon found in this chapter in a sentence or two.

Bible Readings for August 8-14

Acts 4

Why was it Peter and John’s preaching that Jesus was raised from the dead that was so problematic for the priests and other Jewish leaders? How effective was their stand against the preaching of these two?

How is it that ordinary people can speak powerful messages about Jesus? What does this tell you about that message?

Who do you choose to listen to: God or man? How is this choice demonstrated in your daily life?

What is your response when people oppose or challenge your message about Jesus? In what ways is prayer a part of your response?

Acts 5

What do you think was going through Ananias’ (and Sapphira’s) mind as they said they had done one thing when in reality, they had done another? What are some examples of ways we are tempted to do similar things today?

Can you imagine the surprise of the Sadducee’s when they found out that the men they had arrested and put into prison for preaching were miraculously freed and instead of hiding, they were back in the temple continuing to preach?

Why do you think it was so hard for the Jewish leaders to stop trying to squelch the preaching of the apostles, as outmaneuvered as they often seemed to be?

What would it take for you to celebrate suffering dishonor and to consider that suffering as something worthwhile?

Acts 6

What does the way the apostles solved the problem of food distribution tell us about the importance of preaching the word of God? Do we have similar responses today? Why or why not?

Who are individuals you know of whom it can be said often: they are full of the Holy Spirit? What is it in their lives that demonstrate the Spirit in them? Or stated another way: How can you tell they have the Spirit?

How would wisdom and the Spirit help you talk about Jesus more effectively? What sort of things are you doing to get both more wisdom and to be more Spirit filled?

Acts 7

Do you think the high priest regretted giving Stephen the floor to speak? What are some reasons he might have?

What ideas or thoughts in Stephen’s sermon strike you as important for you to remember as you share about Jesus today?

How do you think you would have reacted to being called “stiff-necked” and “uncircumcised?” Given this, why might the Jewish reaction against Stephen not have been so strange after all?

Acts 8

Was the persecution against the church a good thing or a bad thing? Why do you think this to be the case? In what ways might it be good for the church today to face a little persecution?

How does Saul’s back story give credibility to the person he became later in life? Do you think we would accept someone like Saul (pre “Paul”) gladly or with some hesitancy? Why do you say this?

In what ways might God through his Spirit place us in the presence of those who need to hear God’s message or perhaps place them in our presence? In what ways would you say you have seen this in your life? Any examples you can give?

Bible Readings for March 21-27

Colossians 2

Using practical and easy steps, describe a life that walks in Christ Jesus, rooted and built in him, established in faith, and abounding in thanksgiving.

When you think of Jesus, how often do you think of his being the fullness of deity, the fullness of God? What might help you think of this more often?

Colossians 3

What advice would you give someone seeking to set their minds on things above? How would you tell them to successfully accomplish this?

Read through Paul’s list of earthly things versus his list of spiritual things. How can you consistently focus on the latter, while avoiding the former?

Colossians 4

How can you be about keeping steadfast in prayer?

Is your speech always gracious, seasoned with salt? Why or why not?

1 Peter 1

What hope have experienced in living for Jesus?

What does it mean to prepare your mind for action?

In what ways does it seem impossible to be holy like God is holy? What do you think Peter means by this statement?

1 Peter 2

Malice. Deceit. Hypocrisy. Envy. Slander. All of these things are way too common among God’s people. Why do you think this is the case and what can we do about it?

How is your life different knowing you have been chosen and set apart by God?

What does it mean to be an exile? Why is Peter’s description of God’s people here so appropriate, especially today?

 

Prayer for the week: “Lord, help us to make our minds ready for action and may we hope fully in the grace that comes from you through Jesus Christ.”

Get a full 2021 Reading List HERE.

Bible Readings for March 14-20

Philippians 1

For whom do you thank God when you remember them?

Paul writes that his arrest actually served to help spread the gospel of Christ. How do you think you would react to being imprisoned for your faith?

How can a struggle or challenge you are going through help spread the good news of Christ?

How can you live your life in such a way that it is “worthy of the gospel of Christ”? What specific actions or attitudes might this include?

Philippians 2

In what ways do you remember to live your life for others, without an attitude of “selfish ambition?”

How easy or difficult do you find it to have the same mindset of Christ? Why do you think this is the case?

Why is it easier to grumble or complain than it is to put others before yourself?

Philippians 3

What causes you to rejoice? What about rejoicing in the Lord?

What sort of things might someone be willing to give up to fully know Christ Jesus? How does this compare to Paul’s statement that he would give up everything to know Christ?

What keeps you focused on the goal of Jesus Christ and pushing forward toward that goal versus always dwelling on what’s behind you?

Philippians 4

Why do you think Eudia and Synthyche were having trouble getting along? How does this disagreement impact the message of this entire letter?

We often hear Philippians 4.13 used in a variety of situations where we need strength or power to overcome some challenge, which is not really the context of how Paul uses this passage. What do you sense Paul is saying in this verse/paragraph? Why is this important to know?

Colossians 1

We find here the third or fourth intercessory prayer—prayers on the behalf of others—of Paul’s so far in this year’s readings. What stands out to you in these prayers, especially the one here? How do these prayers compare to what we typically consider intercessory prayers?

How important for following God is knowing Jesus, given that the “fullness of God” dwelt in Jesus?

How hard do we work to present people “mature in Christ”? How can we work harder to do this?

 

Prayer for the week: “Lord, may we be people who speak boldly in your name.”

Get a full 2021 Reading List HERE.

Bible Readings for March 7-13

Ephesians 2

Would you say you once felt “dead in trespasses and sin?” Why can this passage be difficult to embrace, especially for those who grew up in a Christian family or environment?

How have you felt God make you alive again? What examples can you share of God turning graves into gardens, mourning into dancing?

If we have been saved by grace through faith and NOT from our own doing, why do we try so hard to not mess up?

Ephesians 3

How shocking was it for the Jews to discover that the Gentiles were also heirs of God? Is there any similar circumstances you can think of today or is that just so “beyond,” it can never be repeated?

Pray Paul’s prayer of verses 14-19 for someone today.

What is the most amazing, unbelievable thing God could do for you? How does it feel to know that as big as you can imagine, God can still do better than that?

Ephesians 4

How have you tried to live with humility, gentleness, patience, and eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit?

At times—OK, maybe often—Christians are not known for their unity. What is it that causes Christians to not be unified? How can we both live in and demonstrate unity better?

How do you work to build up the body of Christ?

Ephesians 5

How crazy does it seem that we should imitate God? How can we do this?

Have you made the most of today? Why or why not?

How do the specific roles you participate in on any given day affect how you follow Jesus? List your roles and then determine the most important way you can live for Jesus in that role. Now, go and actually live that out.

Ephesians 6

How do you get your strength and protection from God?

Which part of God’s armor do you most gravitate towards? Why?

Pray today that you and others you know will speak God’s word boldly.

 

Prayer for the week: “Lord, may we be people who speak boldly in your name.”

Get a full 2021 Reading List HERE.

Bible Readings for February 28-March 6

Romans 13

Why do some people find it a challenge to submit to governing authorities? How does Christian beliefs—either yours or the governing authority’s—help or hinder this desire to submit?

Do you act as if you believe that God has instituted those in authority? In what ways?

How does loving others fulfill the law?

Romans 14

How well do you accept the weak? The strong? Why is this the case?

How might some be guilty of causing others to stumble?

Romans 15

What specific action might be considered “bearing with the weak?” In what ways do you act like this?

What has Christ accomplished through you to win others to him?

Romans 16

Why do you think Paul wrote this list of names to conclude this letter?

Ephesians 1

Verses 3-14 are one sentence in the original Greek. Summarize this “sentence” in your own words.

How has your life changed by being adopted as a child of God?

Who do you remember in prayers of thanksgiving and why? Have you told them this lately?

What does it mean for you faith that Christ is the head of the church?

Prayer for the week: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1.18-21, NIV)

Get a full 2021 Reading List HERE.