Study Guide Key - Chapter 1

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Reflect and Share Questions
are intended primarily to evoke dialogue about the readers' own experiences, and about their findings from researching the Scripture passages listed throughout the Study Guide.  The following thoughts are provided strictly as an aid to facilitate further group discussion.
  1. God uses many means of communicating with His people, and Scripture, His timeless Word, is certainly one of those means. This is not to say we should make a habit of opening the Bible at random and expecting guidance. (Though God may occasionally speak to us that way.) Rather, when we take the time to earnestly seek Him and tarry in His presence, the Holy Spirit of God will often remind us of a passage of Scripture, or else direct us to go ponder a particular portion of His Word, that provides the answers we need. (John 14:27)

  2. We find Scriptural precedent for many different sources of confirmation. Some are external. For example, Nehemiah sought permission and provision from the one whose authority he was under -- the king -- as confirmation of what he believed God was calling him to do. (Nehemiah 2:1-9) Internal confirmation is also important. Romans 14 speaks of being fully convinced of our guidance (verse 5), and being careful not to forge ahead if our heart is throwing up red flags (verses 22-23).

    As for "analysis paralysis," Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, "He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap." Acts 16:6-10 tells how Paul and his companions were actively pursuing the mission God had sent them on, and the Holy Spirit simply adjusted their itinerary along the way.

  3. "Spiritual déjà vu":

    a. David was keenly aware that God had sent these recurring adventures to cultivate his faith and courage so he could later face the greater threat of Goliath.

    b. When Jesus first called Peter, he promised to make him a fisher of men. In about 3½ years' time, he changed him from one whose nets would break, to one whose nets would hold. This was illustrated by the two fishing events with clearly different outcomes.

    c. Jesus reminded His disciples of the two events saying, "When I broke the bread ... you gathered up the surplus." He was stressing that whenever the disciples put their trust in Him for ministry, the result would always be abundance.

    d. God gave Peter the vision, not once, but three times in succession. Peter recognized this as a crystal-clear mandate to share the gospel with non-Jewish people.

  4. The congregants were so accustomed to empty ritual that they could not even see the uselessness of an altar call when there were clearly no visitors.

  5. The emperor and his ministers believed that if one could not see the cloth, it was proof that he was unfit for his duties. We Christians often feel an ever-increasing need to project a similar aura of spiritual competence.

  6. They should have inquired about the unique spiritual needs of the town they were about to visit.