Acts 20:32-35 (Nov. 27)

  1. Watch the video “What is Advent?” 
    • What do you learn about the meaning and hope of Advent?
    • What are you waiting for and hoping for that only God can give? 

  2. Read Acts 20:32-34
    • What is Paul most concerned about for these elders?
    • Since elders are the Lord’s shepherds, what does God want for His people?
    • What dangers must we guard ourselves from?
    • How can we be “built up” as Christians? 

  3. Read Acts 2:35
    • How can you “help the weak” [these are the poor and needy]?
    • What attitudes do you think Jesus wants us to have about giving? About our many blessings? About how we celebrate His birth? 

  4. If you want to spend time with God using an Advent devotional, check out these:

  5. If you desire, consider giving to a ministry like these:
    Samaritan Purse Gift Catalog
    World Vision Gift Catalog

New Sermon Series

Christ's Vision for the Church: Revelation 2-3

Every Christian is a vital member of the Church. As the Church we belong to Jesus and to one another. We are a living organism that experiences love, joy, peace, pain, trials, and hope together.  In this series we will study the Seven Churches in the book of Revelation. Though we know this book is one of prophecy, it is also one of great practicality. As we look at each church, we will be challenged to be not only the church Jesus made us to be, but also to become the Christians Jesus longs for us to be - For His vision of CCCTO is also His vision for all of us!

Reflection questions: Revelation 2:12-17

  1. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines Truth: “Truth is a moral and personal characteristic of God: He is "the God of truth" (Isa 65:16). The psalmist declared, "Your law is truth" (119:142), "all Your commandments are truth" (119:151), and "the entirety of Your word is truth" (119:160). Because of His perfect nature and will, God has to speak and act in truth; He cannot lie (1 Sam 15:29; Heb 6:18; James 1:17-18).  Jesus is the Word of God who became flesh, "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).  (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers).

  • Why is truth so vital to our faith and trust in God?  
  • How is the Bible’s definition for truth the same or different than the world’s?
  • How would you define truth using the Bible verses above?

  1. Jesus reveals Himself as the One who has “the sharp, double-edged sword” [Revelation 2:12; 1:16].  Why do you think Jesus uses such a weapon to describe Himself?  How does Hebrews 4:12 further help us to understand the power and purpose of this sword? 

  1. Where do you see evil in this world?  How might evil tempt us to be unfaithful to Jesus?  What temptations are you challenged with right now?  How can you “remain true to Jesus’ name” [Revelation 2:13]?  What would remaining true look like in your life?

  1. Read Ephesian 6:10-14.  How are Satan and evil described here?  According to these words, what are we fighting against and how powerful are they?  What has God given to us to fight this difficult battle?  What is the purpose of the belt of truth and how does wearing it give us strength in the battle?

  1. The church in Pergamum, just the like church in Thousand Oaks faces the temptations to give in to sexual sin and idolatry.  Take time to name as many of these temptations all around us.  Though we may not have carved idols like in Pergamum, what other kinds of idols are in our city?  Which ones most assail you?  How will wearing the belt of truth help you to say no to sin?

  1. Jesus describes a scene in Heaven where He will give to overcomers heavenly manna and a special new name.  When you think about standing before Jesus, what do you want to receive from Him?  If you could imagine a special name He would give to you, what would that be?  How can looking forward to heaven help us to live according to Jesus’ truth today?

Reflection questions: Revelation 2:8-11

  1. What are some of your responses when you hear about bad things and suffering happening to good people, or to faithful Christians?  What do you think when someone asks, “How can a loving God allow bad things to happen?”

  2. Ephesus, the first church of Revelation [2:1-7] is to be marked by LOVE; now Smyrna, the second church of Revelation is marked by SUFFERING.  How do you see Love and Suffering as good marks of a Christian?  How does love help us when we are suffering?  How can suffering be a sign of true love?

  3. What are three ways Jesus reveals Himself in verse 8?  What does each one mean?

  4. How is knowing the depth of Jesus’ own sufferings on His cross helpful to us when we wonder “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”   What do you think would be your fate if Jesus did not die for your sins? 

  5. What four afflictions does Jesus know about in the lives of the church in Smyrna?  How does knowing Jesus knows about our sufferings bring us faith and hope?

  6.  “Death” in verse 10 is literal for some of the faithful people in the church of Smyrna.  Though we may not die because of persecution there is another kind of death every Christian is called to experience.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains this kind of death: “As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”. (D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship).  How is God asking you to surrender yourself to Him?  How can the cross you bear for Christ a part of your own “death?”

  7. What are the four words of encouragement found in verse 10?  How do each of these speak to you?

  8. John believed in hell and so did Jesus.  Why do you think the Bible talks about hell and the punishment that awaits those who reject the gospel of Jesus?  How does this teaching in Revelation 2:11 and 20:14-15 move you?

  9. When you think that Jesus went through his own “hell” so that we do not have to, what does this tell you about Him and His Father? How do you think we should respond to His offer to save us from hell?  How should we live?

Reflection questions: Revelation 2:1-7

  1.  Have you ever had a “first love” experience with someone?  What were your attitudes and actions to the one you loved?
  2. Have you ever experienced a “first love” experience with Jesus?  What were your attitudes and actions to Him?  If you have never had a “first love” experience with Jesus, what is stopping you from receiving His love and entering into a relationship with Him?
  3. What virtues were the Ephesians praised for? 
  4.  Though Jesus praises us for things like hard work, perseverance, and a love for having Bible truth, these are not enough to experience the kind of relationship He wants to have with us.  Why are these good things still not adequate for a deep relationship with Him?  What is needed most of all?  
  5.  In verse 5, John gives the remedy for lost love in telling us to Remember, Repent, and Return.  What do each of these mean to you in your current relationship with Jesus?
  6.  When we are hurting, and our faith is falling, we are tempted to give up on God or leave the church.  How do these words speak to you: “You do not need a new church, the church needs a new you”?
  7. What reward does Jesus promise to those who are faithful?  How does the Spirit help us to be faithful?  [see Ephesians 1:17; John 16:3].  What can you do to grow in your faith?  Will you?