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2.17 – Messy Beginnings
Acts 16:11-35, Philippians 1:1-6
TALK IT OUT
1. In this week’s message, we learned that the church at Philippi began in an unlikely place, with unlikely people, under unfavorable circumstances. Give some examples of other churches or ministries you know of whose beginnings may have appeared less than promising.
2. Read Acts 16:19-25. What are some of the things Paul and Silas experienced at the hands of those who opposed their message? How did they respond? What does their response teach us about how we should behave when we are treated unfairly by unbelievers?
3. In his book Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley talks about the importance of churches learning to embrace the messiness of extending grace and truth to those who do not know Jesus: “If the idea of embracing the mess is uncomfortable for you, remember this: Either you were a mess, are a mess, or are one dumb decision away from becoming a mess. And when you were your messiest version of you, you weren’t looking for a policy, were you? You needed somebody to take you just as you were. That’s what Jesus did for me. That’s what Jesus did and will do for you. That being the case, it seems to me that’s what we should be about as the local church.” Now read Acts 16:16-18 and 16:26-34. In what ways did Paul and Silas embrace the messiness of the people they encountered in Philippi? What attitudes or preconceived notions about people tend to make you hesitant to embrace the messiness of those you encounter?
4. Read Philippians 1:3-5. For what does Paul express joy in these verses? What are some of the benefits of partnering with others in the gospel?
Read Philippians 1:6. What encouragement does this verse provide for you personally? For your family? For our church?
LIVE IT OUT
1. In this week’s message, we learned that God is not put off by the messiness of life. Take a few moments to confess to Him any prejudices or fears that tend to keep you from embracing the messiness in the lives of those you encounter. Ask Him to help you value and see people from His perspective.
2. In this week’s message, we also learned that God does not leave messy people or things the way He finds them. Ask God to open your heart to respond to what He wants to do in your life and to trust Him to carry that through to completion.