Over the summer at Tri-State Fellowship we have continued our iGrow series (adult learning center classes that meet at 11:00). Tim Lester did a six-week series called “Guardrails.” I have just begun a second series for four weeks called “Simple Servants.” I’ve been putting some readings and questions as preparation for the week to come on our church Facebook page … but that means I’ve got to remember to do it each day. I was thinking about how much easier it is with the blogs I write – where postings can be scheduled (which explains why you might see my Orioles or Civil War blogs have articles that go online at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning).
This four-week iGrow series of lessons focuses upon some of the lesser known characters of the early church – who served in supportive roles alongside those whom we more often remember. Together with star characters like Paul, Peter, Timothy and Luke, they established God’s program of abounding grace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Without doubt, these people had gifts and talents. But honestly, they were pretty ordinary – not a lot different than most of us. What made them special was their desire to partner deeply with God’s work. Their consistent attitude was a question of, “What may I do to help?” The value of such simple servants is timeless and limitless.
We will look at the lives of:
- Priscilla and Aquila (7/29)
- Barnabas (8/5)
- Silas (8/12)
- Philemon (8/19)
WEEK ONE: Priscilla and Aquila (7/29/12)
Monday: Read Acts 18:1-17. Make a list of the types of experiences that Priscilla and Aquila must have had with the Apostle Paul during this time together.
Tuesday: Read Acts 18:18-28. What does this passage indicate about the probable skills and capabilities of this husband and wife?
Wednesday: Read Romans 16:1-5a & 1 Corinthians 16:19. What additional skills possessed by this couple do we see in this passage? What must this have been like in that time and that place (living in Rome)?
Thursday: Read 2 Timothy chapter 4. What does the mention of this couple by Paul in his final written words reveal of his thoughts about them? (This is back in Ephesus)
Friday: Read Acts 5:1-10. What contrasts may be drawn between the husband/wife teams of Priscilla and Aquila, and Ananias and Sapphira?
Week 2: Barnabas (8/5/12)
Monday: Read Acts 9:17-30. What list of character traits of Barnabas may be generated from this account?
Tuesday: Read Acts 11:19-30. Continue to add character traits of Barnabas to your list. Are you beginning to get a mental picture of what it would be like to meet this man?
Wednesday: Read Acts 13:1-12, 42-49. In a word, what is the job Barnabas is called to perform? Where might he have had any idea how to accomplish this?
Thursday: Read Acts chapter 14. It is clear now that Paul is the leader of the team. What more does this say about the character of Barnabas and his attitudes?
Friday: Read Acts 15:1-35, and Galatians 2:12-13. Note here the bold and passionate interest within Barnabas for theological truth and for the central message of the Gospel.
Week 3: Silas (8/12/12)
Monday: Read Acts 15:22-35. Even as you review some of the same material as last week, begin to note the position of Silas in the early church community. See also at the end of the chapter that he is commissioned to missionary service with Paul.
Tuesday: Read Acts 16:1-15. What great experiences is Silas a witness of? Make note of all who are travelling together (hint – one is not listed), and how this trip fits into the spread of the Gospel and western civilization.
Wednesday: Read Acts 16:16-40. Try to put yourself into Silas’ sandals and imagine the emotional highs and lows of being in this situation.
Thursday: Read Acts 17:1-15. Continue to catalogue what may be learned about Silas from this missionary journey, noting especially what happens in verse 14.
Friday: Read Acts 18:1-8, 2 Cor. 11:9, Philippians 4:15-16 and tie together these passages. Look also at a final mention of Silas (Silvanus) in 1 Peter 5:12.
Week 4: Philemon (8/19/12)
Monday: Read Philemon verses 1-7,22-25 & Colossians chapter 4, and note how these writings go together.
Tuesday: Read Philemon 8-21 – Note how Paul has come across Philemon’s runaway slave named Onesimus in Rome, led him to Christ, and is now sending him back home.
Wednesday: Read Philemon again. If you were a slave, would you return? If you were the owner, would you receive him back? Make a mental list of the reasons why Paul is telling Philemon to take back Onesimus. Does Paul’s appeal begin to present a picture to you of the work of Christ? How so?
Thursday: Read Philemon 15,16 // Col. 3:22-23 // Eph. 6:5-9 // 1 Tim. 6:1-3. Ponder what it would be like to be in a New Testament church with both masters and slaves in the same family of faith.
Friday: Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10,17-19. What is the biblical admonition to the wealthier people of a church? What makes it difficult for poor people and wealthy people to serve well together in a church in our day? What would make it easier?