Times of Refreshing – Part 1
Weariness, burnouts and powerlessness can be a part of our up-and-down journey as believers. The world and society offer a plethora of self-help solutions, but our Creator is the only one who knows how best to refresh us. He refreshes us not just for ourselves, but so we can minister more effectively to others. Refreshment from Him does not mean we will simply go back to the way we used to live, because frankly, that way of life did not work. As Pastor Heather suggests, the King of kings deserves a greater offering than that. Time of refreshing starts by repenting. When we change our mind, our behaviour and the way we live, time of refreshing will flow.
Read Acts 3:1-20
- Have you ever found yourself working ineffectively (at work/uni/home, etc)? What was the cause and how did you find it? What helped you to refresh and reset?
- In the context of Acts 3, why did Peter tell the Israelites to repent? What did they do?
- Pastor Heather teaches that repentance is not a chore, but a gift from God. Repentance releases us from the burdens and chains we have become used to carrying. Why can repenting be difficult?
- Compare and contrast Peter’s experience with that of Jesus in Luke 5:1-11 and John 21:1-19. What do you find interesting in these two passages? Why did Jesus ask Peter the same question three times?
- Although Peter walked alongside Jesus, he stumbled a few times in his personal relationship with Jesus. However, the King of kings always gave Peter a second chance. How have you personally experienced this in your relationship with Christ? Knowing that when we have Christ in us, we have countless second chances, how can we not take this for granted?
- A time of refreshing from God will remind us of who God is, and of the time when we first fell in love with Jesus. Where are you in your faith journey right now? Share a short testimony of when and where your faith journey began.
As we repent, time of refreshing flows. Have some quiet time right now and reflect on your current season of life. Which area/s in your life right now need repentance? Take a moment to pray in your heart and bring it to God.
After prayer time, what does working effectively for His Kingdom look like for you in this season?
Times of Refreshing – Part 2
There may be times in life when we feel distant or disconnected from God. The challenge in these moments is to seek out ways to reconnect with Him. This may involve coming in repentance to God for things that are not in accordance with His ways (1 John 1:9). Other times we simply need to press in closer and spend more time in God’s word and in prayer, seeking out God and His will (Romans 12:1-3). Occasionally it can even be that God has already shown us the next step, and we simply need to be obedient, step out in faith and do it!
Read: Acts 3:19-20 (Amplified), Acts 3:19-20 (NLT), Numbers 9:15-23
- What is one thing you have already seen God do in 2022? Share a good news story of God at work in your life.
- Read Acts 3:19-20 (NLT). What do these verses say to you today? How might this encourage you? What is our part to play in this verse?
- God often calls us to take a step of faith before He acts. Have you experienced this? What did you do about it?
- Read Numbers 9:15-23. Pastor Edi spoke of the Israelites living with one eye on the cloud above the tabernacle, to know when God was calling them to move on. Why did they do this? What may have been the cost of doing this? From this story, what applies to you at present?
- How is your intimacy with God? What could you do to enhance it?
- Who or what holds your attention at present that could be a distraction from your relationship with God?
- Where does God want to meet you at present? What is stopping this from happening? What do you need to do to change this?
Our faith should be evident in our lives, in the way we interact with others, in how we conduct our business, in our workplace, and in how go about our lives. We are called to carry the flavour and essence of Jesus living within us. This can only be a reality if we maintain a close and intimate relationship with Him.
What is one step you can take this week to grow your intimacy with God? How can you refresh your faith to make a difference in your life? Just do it!
Times of Refreshing – Part 3
We all know that choosing joy is not always as simple as it may sound. If you look at your life circumstances right now, it might be easier to spot where trials and tribulations are than it is to find joy. But we need to remember that joy does not happen in an instance, nor does it exist in the absence of trials. In his letter to the early church, James teaches the believers – then and now, to consider it pure joy in times of trials. The good news is that the joy of the Lord is in us. It may not come out naturally, but we do have it within ourselves. When we choose joy in times of trials of many kinds, we will have a rich experience in life, faith and God.
Read: Acts 8:1, James 1:1-4
- The context of James 1:1-4 can be found in Acts 8:1. The church in Jerusalem was scattered after five years since the day of Pentecost, yet James wrote to them saying “consider it pure joy”. What kind of trials do you think they were facing? How would you feel when someone – with good intention, say that to you when you and your loved ones are facing trials? What do you think you need more in those situations?
- According to James, why do we need to consider it joy in times of trials? Why is choosing joy easier said than done? What are the obstacles in your life today that often hinder you from joy?
- James 1:3 says “…the testing of your faith produces perseverance”. Share an example of a trial you have faced. What did you learn about faith from it? Did it bring about perseverance or did you just want to give up?
- Pastor Tim Piesse teaches us that joy is found in gratitude and generosity. It is about acknowledging what we have as a gift, and to use it for the benefit of others. Have you experienced or witnessed this kind of joy – in gratitude and generosity?
- Read Nehemiah 8:10. What is your understanding of “the joy of the Lord”?
- Pastor Tim Piesse teaches that the joy of the Lord is in us, and he also challenges us to live it out. Do you know someone who does this well? What do they do? How do you feel when you are around them?
Choosing joy during times of trials can be a challenge. We learn from the sermon that joy starts with gratitude and generosity. We have to start celebrating small triumphs without denying the challenges. We are also taught to be grateful for the imperfect gifts, and to start practicing generosity with what we have. Knowing that the joy of the Lord is your strength, and it is in you, what small triumphs have you had in the past week that you have not celebrated? How are you going to practice generosity this week? Find 1 small way to do so. Trust that you will find joy in doing so.
Times of Refreshing – Part 4
In Australia we have been accustomed to a level of freedom that has attracted many to our shores. In 2017, Melbourne was voted the most liveable city in the world for the seventh consecutive year – a status that has slipped in recent years. Attitudes to Christian values have shifted; new legislation has been introduced and the freedom to express and share our faith has changed. How then should we live, and is there still room to live the Christian faith?
Read: John 15:18-20, Luke 6:22, John 16:33:
- Consider John 15:18-20, Luke 6:22 and John 16:33. These Bible passages speak of ‘being hated’ as a normal experience for those who follow Christ. Considering your own life, what do you think should be the normal Christian experience, and why? Does this challenge you?
- Do you think the freedom we had in this nation has contributed to a generalised form of Christianity that is complacent, comfortable and lazy? Why/why not? What, if anything, do you think needs to change in the way Australians follow Christ and live as believers?
- Read John 15:1-2. Whilst each walk of faith is unique, we can be inspired and prompted by the experiences of other Christians. Give an example of a change that you have embraced, which was something the Holy Spirit ‘pruned or cut’ from your life.
As we grow and change to be more like Christ (Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:2) and ‘set apart’ to be His servants, it is paramount that we do not entertain ill will or resentment to those who treat us poorly (“love and bless those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:44, Romans 12:14), nor that we judge them, lest we ourselves become persecutors.
Read: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13: (Also read in the Message Translation provided here)
‘I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behaviour. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.”
(The Message translation)
Read: Matthew 7:1-5:
- What do these two readings say about doing life with our brothers and sisters in Christ, compared to those who are yet to know Jesus?
- How may we promote Christ and hold to our personal moral convictions in the places where we live and work (consider John 13:34-35)?
- Further discussion if time permits: Read Philippians 4:4-7 and James 3:17-18. What do these passages say about how to represent Christ in our community?
Throughout the history of the Church there has been persecution in various forms. Yet God has established His Word, built His Church and carried His people through century after century. Regardless of the moral environment where we live and work, the best way to represent Jesus is to live peaceably and let love permeate our thoughts and conversations, with sincerity and consistency, otherwise we risk being labelled hypocrites and misrepresenting our Lord. Hopefully this discussion has inspired you to grow in your faith by showing love where it is difficult to do so. Share a way in which you believe God may be wanting you to do that this week.