Critical Connections
Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Discuss your thoughts on the stated purpose for Northshore Church...”To see the One who gave His life exalted and the ones He gave His life for transformed!”

2. Transformation of a human life, from spiritually lost and separated from God to a personal relationship with God, begins when a person gets connected with God. How does that connection begin? Read the following two sets of Scripture for guidance...
Rom 6:20  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
Rom 6:21  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
Rom 6:22  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 10:9  That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Rom 10:10  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Rom 10:11  As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Rom 10:12  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
Rom 10:13  for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

3. What role does the church play in helping connect people to God? Remember, the church is not only the church when it is gathered on Sunday mornings, but is the individuals scattered throughout the week. In other words, how does the church as a whole help connect people to God and what role do we as individuals play in connecting people to God? The following Scripture is very deep, but Paul sheds light on the role of the church in revealing to a lost world the mystery of Salvation through Christ!

Eph 3:6  This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Eph 3:7  I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.
Eph 3:8  Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Eph 3:9  and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
Eph 3:10  His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
Eph 3:11  according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4. Connecting people to God’s Word of truth is a vital part of the church’s mission. Again, what role does the church as a whole play in this endeavor and what role do we as individual members of the Body of Christ play in this endeavor?

Eph 4:11  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
Eph 4:12  to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Eph 4:13  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Eph 4:14  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Eph 4:15  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Eph 4:16  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.




Critical Connections

Acts 2:36-47

How many of you in this place this morning would like to see Northshore Church be all God wants it to be?


Ok, good, that's a bunch of us! Now, you do realize Northshore Church is you? That means for Northshore Church to be all God wants it to be, you've got to be all God wants you to be! Still want Northshore Church to be all God wants it to be?  

You might say, "but I'm not a covenant member, so I'm not in this conversation!" Let me let you in on a little secret, covenant membership is simply a tool we use to let people know what a personal relationship with God is all about. It's a tool to communicate our purpose, core values, major doctrines, and how we do church.

Those who become covenant members let us know they are on board with our DNA. These folks then form the pool from which we choose our teachers and leaders.

Let me make it perfectly clear, you don't have to be a covenant member of Northshore Church to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! If you have a personal relationship with Jesus and attend Northshore Church on a regular basis for worship and spiritual nurture, then you are a part of the Northshore Church family.

When someone calls me with a spiritual need, I don't check to make sure they are a covenant member before I respond.

So I guess what I'm saying is this…

If you're here this morning then you're in this conversation!

 You might say, "But Pastor Larry, I'm here because I was invited", or I'm here on a spiritual quest and I don't really have a personal relationship with God yet."

I'm so glad you're here and you should know, you're one of the main reasons Northshore Church exist! In fact, let me tell you our church purpose...

 Our Church Purpose

"To see the One who gave His life for us exalted and the ones He gave His life for transformed!"

 Yes you are one of the ones Jesus gave His life for and He wants to transform your life!!

So we're all in the conversation this morning! No one is excluded unless you choose to be excluded.

Back to the question…Are we willing to be the church God wants us to be?
If we are, then we must not only understand our purpose, but we must fulfill our mission.
And what is that?

Our Church Mission

"Transforming Worship, People, and the World!"

In order to complete our mission, we must Come, Connect and Commit!

For the last two weeks we've talked about our rational for coming together to worship! Why we come to worship and who we come worship! If you missed those two sermons, please go to the web site and listen to the podcast!

 Today we begin our discussion on what it means to connect. Over the next two weeks we will discuss 4 Critical Connections we must make if we are to be the church God wants us to be!!
Today we will discuss the first two!


Will you pray with me this morning that God will teach us how we can make Northshore more of what God wants it to be?

Let's pray and we'll read our text for today!

Two weeks ago I read a portion of Peter's message he preached on the Day of Pentecost. Today we'll read another part of that powerful message...
Acts 2:36-47

36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Acts 2:36 (NIV)

37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Acts 2:37 (NIV)

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38 (NIV)

39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Acts 2:39 (NIV)

40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Acts 2:40 (NIV)

41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 2:41 (NIV)

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42 (NIV)

43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 2:43 (NIV)

44All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Acts 2:44 (NIV)

45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Acts 2:45 (NIV)

46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
Acts 2:46 (NIV)

47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:47 (NIV)

Critical Connection #1

Connect to God

36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Acts 2:36 (NIV)

But Pastor Larry, I wasn't there, I didn't do it!

You remind me of two young brothers who were alway getting into trouble. One day the mother took them to talk to the preacher.

He was going to talk to them one at a time and he started with the youngest. He asked him a question, "Do you know where God is?" The little boy said, "Excuse me, I need to talk to my brother just a minute."
He walked out of the office and over to his big brother and said, "They've lost God and they think we did it!"

 You and I weren't physically there on the day Jesus died, but we are every bit as responsible as the soldiers who nailed the nails into His hands and feet. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus' death many years before Jesus even lived and it makes some astonishing accusations about you and me. Listen...

3He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)

4Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:4 (NIV)

5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

Okay, now that we understand our culpability and guilt in Jesus' death, maybe we should have the same reaction as those Peter preached to on the Day of Pentecost...

37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Acts 2:37 (NIV)

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38 (NIV)

The way you connect with God is to first repent of your sins. Sin separates us from God! Repentance means that we admit our wrongdoing, ask God to forgive us, and then turn away from those sins and reconnect with God through Jesus Christ!
Let's read verse 38 again...

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38 (NIV)

Some have misinterpreted this passage of Scripture to mean that Baptism is essential for Salvation. The Greek language actually reads, "Repent and be Baptized because your sins were forgiven! Baptism doesn't wash away your sins, it paints a beautiful picture of what Christ did when He poured out His Precious Blood to wash away our sins.

When we repent of our sins and cry out to God for salvation, He forgives our sins, everyone of them! Praise God!!
Jesus paid the price for our sin so we could be reconciled and reconnected to God. Jay talked about the atonement last week. A payment made on your behalf!!

Paul put it this way in his letter to the Colossians...
 

19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
Colossians 1:19 (NIV)

20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:20 (NIV)

21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
Colossians 1:21 (NIV)

22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —
Colossians 1:22 (NIV)

Okay, I've got it!! Jesus paid the price, now what do I do to connect to God in a personal way? God's Word tells us clearly...

9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9 (NIV)

10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Romans 10:10 (NIV)

Now you know why we call it "The Good News!"

Okay, back to our text, Peter's sermon. Peter goes on to say who the promise of forgiveness and the gift of the Holy 
Spirit is for…

39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Acts 2:39 (NIV)

Now there are those out there who believe God's call is only for a select few! Whom does the Lord call?  
Let's just see what God's Word says about this...

5You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Psalm 86:5 (NIV)

18The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145:18 (NIV)

16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Mark 2:16 (NIV)

17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:17 (NIV)

16“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)

12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
Romans 10:12 (NIV)

13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13 (NIV)

2To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
1 Corinthians 1:2 (NIV)

9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

God has called out to everyone, but not everyone will respond. Some, sadly and tragically will reject His offer of cleansing, forgiveness, restoration, relationship, and salvation! Some simply do not want to connect with God. They are too much in love with the things of this world to let go.

Peter knew there were folks struggling with the things of the world and who had no connection with God. We don't know every thing he said that day, but listen to the next two verses of our text...  

40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Acts 2:40 (NIV)

Peter wasn't saying they could literally save themselves, he was saying they needed to get saved by accepting the salvation offered to them through the Cross!!

41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 2:41 (NIV)

Can you imagine the excitement of having 3,000 people get connected with God in one day?

Must have been one fantastic celebration in Heaven.

Listen...

10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:10 (NIV)

Don't overlook the second part of the promise. Not only would they be forgiven if they repented, but they would receive the very Holy Spirit of God Himself. God's presence, power, peace, protection, provision, and prudence! All in one package. The Holy Spirit is how God lives in each of our hearts. He is the ultimate connection with God and He powers all other connections within the church.

And one of the most important activities of the Holy Spirit brings us to the second Critical connection...

Critical Connection #2

Connect to God's Word

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42 (NIV)

They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching! What were the Apostles teaching.
They were teaching what they were taught by Jesus. What they heard Him teach and what they saw Him live. They taught from the Law and the Prophets how Jesus had fulfilled the prophecies of old!

And what role was The Holy Spirit to play in this connection to God's Word? Jesus told His disciples...


26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26 (NIV)

The Apostles desperately wanted to connect the new believers with the teachings Christ and the wisdom of God!! The Apostles took advantage of every situation to connect the people with God's Word, God's truth. There's a really cool story in the book of Acts, that happened not long after Peter preached his now famous message.

Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer and there was a man crippled from birth. He begged at the temple gates for money. He asked Peter and John for money. Peter replied...

6... “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Acts 3:6 (NIV)

7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.
Acts 3:7 (NIV)

8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
Acts 3:8 (NIV)

9When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
Acts 3:9 (NIV)

10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Acts 3:10 (NIV)

A crowd of people gathered and asked Peter and John how this had happened. Peter used this opportunity to once again preach Jesus and how He was the fulfillment of the prophesies.

Now listen to what happened next...

1The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people.
Acts 4:1 (NIV)

2They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
Acts 4:2 (NIV)

3They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.
Acts 4:3 (NIV)

4But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
Acts 4:4 (NIV)

5The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.
Acts 4:5 (NIV)

6Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family.
Acts 4:6 (NIV)

7They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
Acts 4:7 (NIV)

8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!
Acts 4:8 (NIV)

9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed,
Acts 4:9 (NIV)

10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
Acts 4:10 (NIV)

11He is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. ’
Acts 4:11 (NIV)

12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 (NIV)

13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:13 (NIV)

14But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
Acts 4:14 (NIV)

15So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.
Acts 4:15 (NIV)

16“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it.
Acts 4:16 (NIV)

17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
Acts 4:17 (NIV)

18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Acts 4:18 (NIV)

19But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.
Acts 4:19 (NIV)

20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:20 (NIV)

21After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.
Acts 4:21 (NIV)

22For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
Acts 4:22 (NIV)

It fascinates me that everyone was focusing on the physical miracle of healing, but Peter keeps talking about salvation! God can heal and at times chooses to do so. But the greatest miracle of all is Salvation. Even if God heals you of a physical condition, you will still have to face death someday, but salvation of the souls is eternal.

This is the kind of wisdom and truth of God we must connect with in the church today. Remember, the angels get pumped and excited when a soul is saved.

When a person connects with God in Salvation, God will give them everything they'll need to serve Him. If a physical healing is what you need He will work through the doctors and medicine, or work a miracle. If it's strength you need, He will give you a miraculous strength to endure whatever trial you are going through, and others will see Jesus in the way your faith sustains you!

Let me leave you with a connection to God's Word that speaks to this...

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Ephesians 3:16 (NIV)

17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
Ephesians 3:17 (NIV)

18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
Ephesians 3:18 (NIV)

19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19 (NIV)

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:21 (NIV)