Azerbaijan, Asia: Draconian registration laws enacted in 2010 make life difficult not just for most Christian groups, but also for other faiths, including Muslims. The government seeks to regulate and restrict religious practice, which it evidently sees as a threat. There are now harsh legal restrictions against religious groups who teach children or who produce literature, against the involvement of foreigners for religious purposes and against developing property for worship purposes. Congregations can legally function only at the location where they are registered, and the registration process is highly obstructive and subject to extortion and manipulation by unscrupulous officials. For more information go to www.operationworld.org.
ACTS Operation Turkey 2015
Please collect the following items for the Thanksgiving meals that will go to those in our community who are counting on us to help them celebrate:
Box Muffin or Biscuit Mix
Gravy packets or jars
Instant Mashed Potatoes
Macaroni and Cheese
Pumpkin Pie Mix or Other Pie Filling
Pie Crust—Box Mixes Only
Turkey or grocery store gift card for a turkey
Contact: Barbara Willsher 703-794-9726
or by email: email@example.com
Austria, Europe: Almost all church growth occurs within evangelical/charismatic churches. Pentecostal churches nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010. Even so, all evangelicals number only 0.5% of the population. Pray for further multiplication of congregations where the Lord Jesus Christ is proclaimed and honoured. Pray also for the efforts of the Runde Tisch (WdV) working across all Christian blocs, as well as the Evangelical Alliance (ÖEA) and the Fellowship of Evangelical Congregations in Austria (ARGEGÖ). Their work is vital in bringing cooperation and partnership to the diverse Christian framework. For more information go to www.operationworld.org.
Read Mark 2:23-28
What do you most remember from the sermon?
How does Jesus use the story of David and the bread of the Presence (1 Samuel 21:1-6) to argue for the kingdom of God being established despite human disregard for God’s holiness?
Why is that such an important thing to keep in mind?
How can things go wrong if we think that the kingdom of God is sustained by our Christian practices rather than Christ’s person?
How can things go right for a local church when they realize that sustenance for the kingdom is provided despite sin?
Tim said that for the Pharisees the Sabbath had become Lord, rather than Jesus. Have practices and habits of the Christian life become Lord of any churches you have gone to or individuals that you’ve known?
What is beautiful about a person who relates to Jesus Christ as Lord rather than to prayer, Bible Study, attendance to Sunday worship, etc. as Lord?
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” 19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. 21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
Australia, Pacfic: Student ministry is one area needing greater attention. Witness to the nearly 600,000 students in 40 universities and many more colleges has had some impact, but not nearly as much as potential would allow. AFES(IFES) is on almost every campus (with 53 groups and nearly 100 workers/volunteers), Student Life (CCCI) is on over 20 and Navigators on 5. A notable trend is that foreign students are proving more responsive to outreach than Australians. Praise God for this open door, but pray that Australians might also be reached during this crucial phase of their lives. Pray for a greater evangelistic zeal, a larger harvest for the Kingdom and an increased flow of missionaries from these groups to the world.For more information go to www.operationworld.org.
Read Mark 2:13-17
This story reflects one of many disagreements between Jesus and the religious establishment. Try to put yourself on both sides of the debate.
From the Pharisees point of view, why would it be bad for a rabbi (like Jesus) to eat with people of bad reputation?
From Jesus’ point of view, why was it necessary that he eat with people of bad reputation?
We must trust Jesus that we all are tax-collectors, sinners and bottom-feeders at heart. Why is it so necessary that we have this perception of ourselves for discipleship? If we have not committed enormous sins does that mean we must do so in order to follow Jesus?
Read Luke 15:1-7
What was the emotional reaction of the Pharisees at Jesus’ fraternizing with tax-collectors?
What does Jesus’ parable reveal ought to be the Pharisee’s (and our) emotional reaction to Jesus fraternizing with tax-collectors and sinners?
What does this teach us about how to have joy as disciples?
Do you gain a sense of joy from seeing Christ’s body, the Church, fraternize with sinners today? Should you? Why or why not?
Aruba, Caribbean: Unity among believers is a key issue for the diverse churches in Aruba. Division can undermine any numerical growth of believers. The greatest threat to this unity is the importation of alien theology, church culture and preaching style common among the televangelists and prosperity preachers seen on foreign Christian TV. Praise God for increased fellowship and cooperation among pastors, enabling evangelicals to present a united front and impact society on issues such as homosexual marriage legislation, teen drug addiction and the high rate of illegitimate births (about 50%). For more information go to www.operationworld.org.
What motivated Jesus to respond to the paralytic’s plight was his friend’s faith (2:5). Why do you suppose their faith made such a difference?
In order to get a sense for what it means to put your faith or trust in somebody share a time when someone has put their faith in you. What was it like? How did it make you feel? How about a time when you have put your faith in someone else? Describe what that was like. What adjectives come to mind (ex. exhilarating, scary, etc.)?
Read James 2:14-26
How do the paralytic and his friends display the kind of faith that James is speaking about here?
“Saving faith,” writes Douglas Moo, “reveals itself in works.” That is, if we truly trust Jesus for the forgiveness of all our sins (past, present and future) on the basis of his death then our lives will reveal that faith by how we live.
How do we see this in our relationships with other people or things? When we trust them how does that naturally impact how we live? Give an example.
Read Mark 2:13-17
What about Jesus from these two stories intrigues you about him? Is there anything in these two stories that leads you to look up to him?
Why might Mark choose to tell us this story about Jesus right after the story of the healing of the paralytic? Do you see a connection between these two stories? What is the flow or thought or the connection?
Armenia, Asia: The control of Nagorno-Karabakh, now functionally independent, is unresolved and a millstone around the necks of all involved. Refugees on both sides of the conflict (250,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan, and 530,000 Azeris from Armenia and western Azerbaijan) are still displaced. Although the armed cease-fire has held, all diplomatic solutions have failed. Both nations refuse to back down, and Nagorno-Karabakh itself refuses to accept any resolution into which it does not have direct input. Pray for an answer that is acceptable to all and that allows each group to move forward. For more information go to www.operationworld.org.