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Devoted: Acts 16:22-34

22 The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. 23 When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24 and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.—Acts 16:22–34 (NASB95)

In most ways, we think of prayer and worship as happy occasions, but in today’s lesson, we learn that the Bible says prayer and worship are the domain of the desperate. We cry out to God in acknowledgment that He alone can save. It has been noted that affluence and health are the worst enemies of the Christian life, and even though we are grateful for blessings, we know that we are less likely to pray and worship God when things are going well. We are tempted to think we are self-sufficient. As your group unpacks today’s lesson, be on the lookout for ways to be more sensitive to our need for God in every detail and every moment of each day.

Discussion Questions: Acts 22:16-34: 

Icebreaker – Tell the group about a song that reminds you of a specific time or person. What made it so memorable in your mind and heart?

  1. Read Acts 16:16–40. What spiritual, social, and religious attacks do the missionaries meet in Philippi (vv. 16–24)?
  2. What is the prison scene just before and after the earthquake (vv. 25–28)?
  3. The jailer was afraid he’d be condemned for letting prisoners escape. N.T. Wright said the translation that best captures the jailer’s frantic question in Acts 16:30 is, “Gentlemen, will you please tell me how I can get out of this mess?” How was “believe in the Lord Jesus” the best answer to the jailer’s question (and ours) of how to be rescued at many levels?
  4. What radical changes come over the jailer because of “the word of the Lord” (vv. 29–34)?
  5. Tell the group about a time of desperation when you cried out to God, and He answered your prayer – perhaps in a surprising way.
  6. Read Acts 4:24-30. The passage you just read from the early church is a robust model and example for us.
    • It is filled with praise.
    • It is filled with scripture.
    • It acknowledges God’s sovereignty.
    • It requests boldness and confidence.
    • It asked God to use difficult circumstances for good.
    • It is devoted to God’s purposes.

      Today’s lesson asked us, “What is your one thing?” In a particular time of group prayer, have the members willing to share the one big thing that is foremost on their minds and heart. Take time as a group to pray for each other, specifically for the things that were mentioned.
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