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Sent Out on a Particular Race (Week 2)

Energy for the Race

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others.”

                      Gal. 6:4 (MSG)

                      Energy for the Race

                      “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others.”

                                          Gal. 6:4 (MSG)

                      My husband and I were able to see early on that God didn’t design either of our children to be sprinters. They never led in the races on field day at their schools; they never ran very fast around the bases in their games. We quickly recognized that there would be no hundred-meter gold medals in their futures!

                      Each of us has our own particular race given by God, and he has designed us especially for that event. Just as God creates us with certain physical attributes, he also designs us for the spiritual race in which he puts us. Our races involve using the specific gifts he has given us in the particular places of service where he calls us to be. We don’t race against others because no one else is in our personal race. Instead we are in an endurance race that requires us to finish well what we were called to do. We must be faithful to complete the race that we have been given.

                      Begin work on your memory verse. It’s a great summary of this lesson!

                      Day One Study

                        1. Review Acts 11:19-26. What was Paul doing in Antioch at this time?

                      Read Acts 13:1-4. Scholars place this event between 46-48 A.D. Quite some time had passed since Paul began running his race for Jesus!

                        2. What happened as the church leaders in Antioch prayed and fasted?

                        3. Look back at what Paul had been told previously about his ministry: Acts 9:15-16; Acts 22:14-15 (Paul’s own version of the same story); Acts 26:16-18 (again, Paul telling it); Gal. 2:7-9. Was there any way in which this calling in Acts 13 was a new one? Why or why not?

                        4. What can we learn from Paul’s life and from these church leaders about finding God’s direction?

                      In our individualistic society, we often push for what we believe is God’s agenda for us rather than wait on God’s Spirit to reveal his will for us through a church body as a confirmation of our calling. Because of our oneness with our spouses, God not only reveals his will for married women through the church but also through our husbands. When God is ready to send us forward, he will move our husbands in support and agreement.

                        5. Sharing question: Are you waiting for God to show you how he wants you to serve? If so, what specific actions can you take to discover that in light of Paul’s story? If you are already involved in ministering in your church and know this is where God has uniquely placed you, share how you discovered your mission and how God has confirmed it since that time.

                        6. Responding to God: Ask God to help you discover your gifts and ministry, if you are unclear about them. Ask him to confirm what he shows you through your church’s leadership and through the fruit he brings from your service. If you already know what your particular race involves, thank him for allowing you to serve him and bring joy into your life by doing so. Write your prayer or poem below.

                      Extra Training: Read about the apostle Peter’s special calling in John 21. What did Jesus emphasize as Peter’s motivation to serve? What do you learn about the uniqueness of each person’s calling?

                      Day Two Study

                      Yesterday we read that the Holy Spirit specifically called Paul to a unique ministry or race. Today we’ll look at that ministry a bit more.

                        7. How did Paul describe his race or ministry in each of these passages?

                            a. 1 Cor. 9:16-17

                            b. 2 Cor. 5:19-20

                            c. Col. 1:25-29

                            d. 2 Tim. 1:11

                        8. Read all of these verses: Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1. What is the common thread in what Paul says about his ministry? Why do you think he would make that emphasis when he wrote the various churches?

                      The word apostle is the Greek word apostolos, from the verb meaning to send. It means one sent, an ambassador. “It designates the office as instituted by Christ to witness of Him before the world.” 2

                        9. How did Paul describe Timothy’s particular race in 2 Tim. 4:5?

                        10. Sharing question: God has sent you out, too, on your own particular race. Do you believe that God has chosen you to do particular work for his kingdom? Why or why not? If you truly believed that, what difference should it make in what you do and how you spend your time?

                        11. Sharing question: What one thing do you need to change in your life today in order to fulfill the ministry that God has given you personally? Are your priorities out of whack? Are you too busy with other good things to do the best things? Are you allowing other people to determine and control your time rather than God? Are you too fearful to try?

                        12. Responding to God: Write a prayer below based on your answer to the previous question. You may want to write this also as your prayer request for your group this week.

                      We will not cover all that Paul did in Acts because of limited time. If you want to read all that Luke records of his journeys, do the Extra Training optional questions. You may also want to follow the progress of Paul’s various journeys on a map in your Bible or Bible atlas.

                      At the end of this week’s lesson is a chart that traces Paul’s first journey. I have listed the cities that Acts records. When you read what happened somewhere, fill in that section of the chart. In the end you will have a summary of this journey to keep. You will notice that Luke does not tell us what happened everywhere so you will have blank areas. If you do the Extra Training today, you will read the section of Acts covering the first three cities. If not, just skip that part of the chart.

                      Extra Training: Read Acts 13:4-12, which begins the first journey. Tomorrow we skip this passage and go on to Paul’s next stop on the road. Feel free to read in any available resources about this section of Acts.

                      Day Three Study

                      Once again we go to Acts, following Paul on his first of three missionary journeys.

                      On Day One you read in Acts 13:3 that Paul and Barnabas left Antioch to obey God’s Spirit. Once Paul began his missionary journeys focusing on the gentiles, Luke began to call him Paul rather than Saul. (See Acts 13:9)

                      Read Acts 13:13-16, 42-52, or read the entire passage, including the sermon that Paul gave in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13:17-41. (The sermon is your Extra Training for today.)

                        13. Summarize the events that happened in this city, and fill in your chart.

                        14. How did these events help fulfill the mission that God had given Paul and Barnabas according to their words in Acts 13:46-47?

                        15. What fruit came out of Paul and Barnabas’ ministry in Pisidian Antioch (13:48, 49, 52)?

                        16. What does John 15:4-5 teach you to do in order to produce fruit in your own life and ministry? Give an example of how you practically do that.

                        17. Sharing question: Share with your group one specific example of fruit from your ministry. If you are not involved in any ministry, what fruit have you seen produced in your own life from someone else’s ministry?

                        18. Responding to God: Ask God to help you abide in Him as you minister in the specific race that he has called you to run. If you tend to prioritize the work instead of your relationship with him, talk to him about ways to refocus so that he produces the fruit. Write your thoughts below.

                      Day Four Study

                      Yesterday we read that Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium after shaking the dust off their feet in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:51). “Shaking the dust off their feet was a symbolic gesture commanded by Jesus to his disciples, Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5. It shows a group of people as culpable before God.” 3 From Iconium the missionaries went to Lystra.

                      Extra Training: If you have time, read what happened in Iconium in Acts 14:1-6 before reading today’s lesson and fill in your chart.

                      Read Acts 14:6-18.

                        19. Again, use your skills as a reporter and write a news story from the perspective of someone in Lystra concerning these events. Write a headline if you wish to do so. Fill in your chart.

                      You are probably already aware of the identities of Zeus and Hermes. The NET Bible describes them: “Zeus was the chief Greek deity, worshiped throughout the Greco-Roman world (known to the Romans as Jupiter).” And “Hermes was a Greek god who (according to Greek mythology) was the messenger of the gods and the god of oratory (equivalent to the Roman god Mercury).”4

                        20. What did Paul and Barnabas explain about the character of the true God to the people of Lystra (Acts 14:15-17)?

                      Read Acts 14:19-20.

                        21. What was amazing about how the trip to Lystra ended?

                        22. Sharing question: In Acts 14:17 Paul and Barnabas explained that God has revealed himself to all people by providing for them. In what specific ways has he provided for you? Was there a time when you were in need when he provided? Perhaps it wasn’t a physical need. Share the situation and what God did for you with your group. Did you recognize it as God?

                        23. Responding to God: Draw a picture (yes, you can do it!) of yourself receiving God’s provision. It could be a daily provision or some other provision. Spend time thanking him.

                      Day Five Study

                      Read Acts 14:20b-28. Paul and Barnabas’ arrival back in Antioch completed the first missionary journey.

                        24. Luke gives us a very short summary of what happened in Derbe in v. 21, but I don’t want us to miss it. What happened there when Paul and Barnabas visited?

                        25. After they visited Derbe, where did Paul and Barnabas go? What was so amazing about their decision to visit these cities? (You may need to review your chart or your lesson this week to find this answer.) What would you have done in their place? Why?

                        26. Explain what they accomplished there (v. 22-23).

                      Extra Training: Read in your resources about the cities and culture involved in this first journey.

                        27. What do you learn about Paul and Barnabas’ character from this first missionary journey? You may need to scan back over Acts 13:4-14:20 or review this week’s work.

                        28. Sharing question: On what character trait that you saw in Paul and Barnabas do you need to most work in your own life? What can you do to grow in that area? Give specific ideas or ask your group for their suggestions.

                        29. Responding to God: Talk to God about your answer to the previous question. Write down your thoughts below.

                      Story of a Real Runner: Jana

                      I've always had an affinity for working with women and children. They're whom I'm most comfortable around and seem to relate to the best. I really became aware of this when I started traveling, both for fun and on mission trips. On my mission trip to Africa I ended up helping with the nightly service for children. I so enjoyed interacting with them, playing games with them, and teaching them how much God loved them. On my trip to China, I went for the purpose of determining how best our church could help with children's ministries, but I ended up having lots of encounters with the mothers and other women there and had the opportunity to encourage them and see the challenges they were dealing with. This inspired me to try and connect them with resources here that would help them with studying God's word and receiving training on how to teach and lead women. 

                      Through these encounters it helped me to realize how much the women and children here at home also need training, encouragement and love. It helped me to seek ways that I could also help here at home. I hope to have more opportunities to serve women and children both here and abroad, wherever God leads.  

                      Moms Running the Race (by Susan)

                      It is so easy to look around and compare ourselves with other mothers. Their race looks easier or more appealing or more fun than ours. Their children are better at school, at sports, or at social skills. Perhaps their children have more interest in spiritual things. We want our lives to be easy and successful and having children may make our lives richer and more interesting but probably not easier and perhaps not more successful (at least in the world’s estimation). God uses our children and their difficulties to drive us to depend on Him and to search out wisdom from His word and from His people.

                      Just as God gives us certain talents, abilities, spiritual gifts, interests, and desires which make us unique and help us know what His plan for our lives involves, He blesses us with particular children with their own unique gifts and challenges. As I have taken an inventory of my own life, I see how God has given me unique opportunities, gifts, and interests in order to point me in the direction of working with moms. God has given me three children – each one a special and unique creation of His. My children have enriched my life and have taught me things I would not have learned any other way.

                      As you determine the race God has planned for you, I would encourage you to look at your design – your abilities, your limitations, your spiritual gift or gifts, your interests and passion, your opportunities, your family, and your stage of life. Ask your husband for his insight and pray that God would direct you to walk each day in the path he has chosen for you.

                      Then look at the children with which he has blessed you. What are their unique characteristics? How has God designed them? As you pray for wisdom to deal with the issues your children face, you will not only receive wisdom, but you will also learn how to find God’s wisdom through his word and through other believers.

                      If you have been blessed with a child with special abilities or special needs, your path may not look like that of your friends. God may take the very thing that looked like a negative at first and turn it into a ministry that can glorify Him and build up others in similar circumstances.

                      Action Step: Look for the things that are unique in your life and in the lives of your children. Thank the Lord that he has a particular race designed just for you. Ask God to show you his plan and how you can glorify him as you walk each day seeking his guidance and wisdom. Record your insights here.

                      Paul’s First Missionary Journey

                      Place Visited

                      Acts Verses

                      Outcome of the visit

                      Seleucia

                      Acts 13:4

                       

                      Salamis on Cyprus

                      Acts 13:5

                       

                      Paphos on Cyprus

                      Acts 13:6-12

                       

                      Perga in Pamphylia

                      Acts 13:13

                       

                      Pisidian Antioch

                      Acts 13:14-52

                       

                      Iconium

                      Acts 13:51-14:6

                       

                      Lystra

                      Acts 14:6-20

                       

                      Derbe

                      Acts 14:20-21

                       

                      Lystra

                      Acts 14:21

                       

                      Iconium

                      Acts 14:21

                       


                      2 Spiros Zodhiates, Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers), 238.

                      3 Note in NET Bible on Acts 13:51.

                      4 Note in NET Bible on Acts 14:12.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Spiritual Gifts, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Character Study, Leadership, Curriculum