Part 1: Abduction
The teaching began with Pastor Beau introducing the Alien Encounters sermon series. This sermon series will be the basis for our small group study for the next six weeks. Pastor Beau explained how Christians are aliens in the world, because they are living in a world that is not their home. John 17:16 explains this so well when Jesus says, “They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” Every believer has been “abducted” by God. When one puts their trust in Jesus, God abducts their heart. They are no longer a part of this world because heaven is their home. Pastor Beau also explained that even though the Christian’s home is not in this world, God did not take the Christian out of the world. God leaves His child in the world to tell others about Jesus.
Acts 8:35–40 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing…
Today’s Scripture tells about an Ethiopian eunuch that is reading Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus. The eunuch is confused as to whether Isaiah is talking about himself or someone else. This eunuch has never even heard of Jesus, and he has never heard that Jesus died to save the world. Philip began with this very Scripture and explained that Jesus is God’s Son whose death on the cross paid for sin. When the eunuch heard the good news about Jesus he believed and was baptized.
Pastor Beau asks three very important questions of each follower of Jesus who is an alien in this world.
- WHEN AND HOW DID JESUS GET A HOLD OF MY HEART?
Pastor Jody and Erica, our Children’s minister, both shared how God saved them as a child. Pastor Glenn said that the time when Jesus really got a hold of his heart was when he, as a teenager, was challenged to follow Christ as a disciple. Ask the group if any of them would share that time in life when Jesus got hold of their heart.
- WHO DO I KNOW THAT NEEDS TO HEAR ABOUT JESUS?
Pastor Steve talked about a new neighbor that moved in to his neighborhood. Beau commented that Steve’s emphasis on his neighbors is important because so many new people are moving into our community. Erica talked about the opportunities she gets to share Christ’s love in places in the community where she goes frequently. There are literally people all around us that need to hear about Jesus. Ask the members of the group to discuss where they might talk to others about Jesus.
- HOW CAN I BE A GREATER WITNESS FOR HIM IN THIS WORLD?
Mandy, who leads our young adults, pointed out that being an effective witness required that we reach the people where God has put us. She said that Philip was literally “abducted” by God to the place where this eunuch needed to be told about Jesus. Pastor Steve said God sometimes sends us to a place. It might even be dark. And Pastor Butch emphasized that just being like Christ makes us effective in telling others about Him. Ask the group to talk about ways that they might be greater witnesses for Jesus.
Neal closed the session by saying that it may sometimes be hard to share Jesus. We might feel inadequate and unsure. He said that often it is as simple as giving your testimony. Think about it. All Philip did was tell the eunuch about Jesus. He cared enough to take the time to share God’s love. There are so many people like the eunuch who need to hear that Jesus loves them, and that He died to save them. Who do you know that needs to hear about Jesus? Could you talk to them about Jesus or pray and ask God to give you an opportunity to show them God’s love? Finally, discuss as a group who you might invite to the group, and then share prayer requests and close in prayer.
Part 2: Alien Activity
Pastor Beau introduced “Alien Activity,” part 2 of our Alien Encounters series, by saying there are things in life that we as Christians should do. He reminded us that Jesus told us we that we are alien when He said, “They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” John 17:16. In this session we will look at things we are to do as aliens in a world that is not our home. Beau explained how Paul in today’s Scripture contrasts the differences between what the world does and what a believer is to do. We as citizens of heaven are to live true to the Lord as we wait for Jesus to return.
Philippians 3:19–4:4 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
What do we do while still in the world?
- Remember who is still in control.
"…He will bring everything under his control." Philippians 3:21
"…on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33
- Don't be a quitter.
"…stay true to the Lord." Philippians 4:1
"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." Galatians 6:9
- Repair broken relationships through forgiveness.
"Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement." Philippians 4:2
"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:35
- Meet needs with love.
"And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women…" Philippians 4:3
"If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions…" 1 John 3:17–18
- Choose to rejoice regardless of circumstances.
"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
Pastor Jody wrapped up the pastors’ teaching by asking three questions to direct your discussion.
- What are you trying to control that you need to give over to God?
Pastor Steve shared that over the last few years, his family has faced some very difficult trials. His family had to just rest in the fact that God is in control, and that doing so has encouraged them in these difficult times.
- Who do you need to forgive?
Several of the pastors talked about the importance of forgiveness in healthy and meaningful relationships. How we in the church are called to a higher standard, and that we should give grace to one another because God has shown grace to us. Who is God asking you to forgive as He has forgiven you?
- How can I as a Christian choose joy in my current circumstances?
Pastor Neal shared that in preparation for the teaching, he had gone back and read what Paul had said earlier in the letter. Paul said that in his flesh he had reason to boast, but that he had given up self promotion for the glory of God. Neal pointed out that no matter the circumstances, we can always rejoice in the Lord. How can you find joy in Jesus despite the trials of the world?
Close your group time by taking prayer requests and talking about ways that your group can meet needs with love. Try to plan a way to show Jesus’ love by serving someone in the community.
Part 3: Alien Mind Control
Pastor Beau introduced part 3 of our Alien Encounters series by asking if any of us are Trekies. He’s referring to the Star trek T V series, and specifically when Mr. Spock would conduct the mind meld- a way of controlling the mind. Mind control is what we are talking about this week - how we as Christians should think. Pastor Beau mentioned that last week’s message looked at Philippians to see how Christians live in ways that are alien to the world. This week we will look again at Philippians, but to see what Paul says about how we are to think. Beau again referenced our theme verse John 17:16 when Jesus said, “They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” We are not part of this world and we should think differently than this world.
Philippians 4:5–8 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Today’s discussion will address 4 ways aliens should think:
- THINK OF OTHERS FIRST. (verse 5)
Philippians 2:3–5 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
Pastor Glenn began the discussion by sharing how the members of the music team model this attitude. He said that normally musicians want to perform and be on stage as much as possible, but at Community we have a group of very talented people who encourage others to sing and play. They give up the limelight and allow others to shine. Mandy added that not everyone is as talented as the music team, but that it does not matter. There are still many ways to think of others first at Community. There are opportunities to work with children or youth, and many other places to serve. Discuss in your group ways that you can think of others first.
- THINK OF HOW SHORT OUR TIME IS ON THIS EARTH. (verse 5)
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Pastor Jody mentioned that his family intentionally numbers their days. How they plan special days, and how we as believers should celebrate the days God gives us. Pastor Brooks mentioned that one reason the believers in the early church were so effective in reaching others was because they literally expected Christ to return any day. The early Christians thought their time on earth was short, and we should live the same way. Talk within the group about ways that each person can better redeem their time.
- THINK OF GOD’S GOODNESS TODAY INSTEAD OF THE UNCERTAINTIES OF TOMORROW. (verse 6)
Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Mandy mentioned that these verses in Matthew chapter six that talk about how we should think about today and not worry about tomorrow are “red letter verses” (they are the words of Jesus). Jesus often emphasized the importance of focusing on God’s goodness and not on the uncertainty of this world. Pastor Jack said he starts each day thinking about the things that he is grateful for. Within your group, discuss the goodness of God. Consider how thinking about His goodness calms our fears about the uncertainties in life.
- THINK GOD’S THOUGHTS ABOUT YOURSELF. (verse 8)
Zephaniah 3:17 For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Pastor James started the discussion by saying how God’s Word reminds us that He loves us and is always with us. Pastor Brooks said that what is true is what God says about us, and he tells us he loves us in His Word. Pastor Butch explained that Zephaniah is talking about God’s love and salvation just after the Israelites have returned from 70 years of captivity. They had very little, but they had God’s promise, and that was sufficient. Ask the group to share some of the promises of God that they hold on to.
Part 4: Close Encounters of the Divine Kind
Approximately 40 million Americans claim to have seen a UFO or encountered an alien being. It is fascinating to view footage of mysterious aircraft, or listen to claims of interactions with extraterrestrials. But do these alleged sightings and interactions have any sort of positive impact on us, or our society? Jesus is the ultimate alien: God himself, who came from heaven to live among men on earth. The Gospels are filled with actual accounts of real people who encountered Jesus. All of these people were challenged and changed in radical ways. A close encounter of the divine kind impacts who we are, how we view God, and how we live. Let’s see what we can learn from the account of the three siblings, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, who encountered Jesus in the midst of uncertainty and tragedy. Read John 11:1-44 for the full story.
John 11:17-27 : On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
How to have a close encounter of the divine kind:
- Trust Jesus with UNCERTAINTY.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21
"The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
When Jesus heard that Lazarus was very sick, he didn’t immediately respond the way Mary and Martha hoped he would. (V6). How did Mary and Martha handle the uncertainty of what would happen to their brother? (V20, V29)
There is much uncertainty in our world today. What concern do you need to trust Jesus with today?
- Trust Jesus with SUFFERING.
Jesus wept. John 11:35
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3
Trusting God through tragic or difficult times is tough. But avoiding pain is destructive and can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like addiction, isolation, or a need to control.
How does knowing that Jesus personally cares about your suffering help you endure hardship? What purpose might God have for not removing the suffering that life sometimes brings our way?
- Trust Jesus with DEATH.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our lord. Romans 6:23
Fear of death can limit how we live. Jesus has conquered physical death and prepares a place for us when this earthly life is over. He also brings us back to life from the destructive hurts, habits and hangups that kill us spiritually.
Is there a fear, or an unhealthy behavior that is stealing life from you today? Take a moment to silently confess it to God and ask him to help you.
- Trust Jesus with LIFE.
….Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Have you ever had a near death experience? How did it change the way you live?
If you’ve ever seen a UFO, share the story with your group. Have you had a close encounter of the divine kind? Share how this encounter with Jesus changed your life.
Part 5: Alien Communications
Pastor Jody introduced part 5 of our series, Alien Communications, by referring to all the movie and television shows he watched growing up about aliens. In these programs the communication between the humans and aliens was very important to the outcome. The same is true in relation to how we as Christians communicate with those who do not know Jesus. Jody reminded us that we have a responsibility to tell the world about Jesus.
The Scripture for this study is found in Acts 17 where Paul is in Athens and becomes troubled by all the idols and to the ignorance about the one true God. So he starts talking to the people and reasoned with them about their beliefs, and these conversations allowed him to tell the Athenians about Jesus. From this passage Jody identified three attitudes that make Paul effective in sharing the gospel with people whose lives and thinking are alien to him. These same attitudes will help each of us better communicate Jesus to the world.
16 “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there… 22 So Paul, standing before the council,[e] addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about…30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council,[h] a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Acts 17:16-17, 22-23, 30-34 (NLT)
- OUR EMPATHY IS EVIDENT
“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there” Acts 17:16-17
Pastor James liked how Paul’s empathy was evident in how he found a way to talk and reason with people, even though his life experience was so different. Erica mentioned how the Bible relates that Paul was empathetic in other situations with many different kinds of people. There was a good deal of discussion about how to show empathy and how to find common ground with people whom you have differences. Pastor Glenn defined empathy as being able to share in another’s circumstance because you have a similar experience, and how empathy required humility. He said that Paul was at one time ignorant to the truth of God himself, and so this compelled him to want to share the truth with these unbelievers.
Discuss how you can show empathetic to others in your conversations. Share an experience of a time you have received empathy or a time you could have done a better job of offering empathy.
- OUR CONVERSATIONS ARE COURTEOUS
22 So Paul, standing before the council,[e] addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about” Acts 17:22-23
Pastor James said one way to be cautious in conversation is to ask questions and show a genuine interest in the opinions of other. Pastor Butch added that courteous people are good listeners. Pastor Jody said that in conversation you can either be a critic or a learner. A critical attitude usually stymies the communication, but a desire to learn increases the sharing of information.
Share what is required to be courteous in your conversations. Talk about the types of conversations where there is a need to be more courteous.
- OUR PURPOSE IS PLAIN
30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council,[h] a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Acts 17:30-34
Mandy pointed out that even though some dismissed Paul and even mocked him, he stayed on purpose and shared the gospel with any who would listen. Pastor Neal said that almost anything we say is going to offend someone, and sometime we just have to be truthful. James said that it is not our responsibility to change people’s hearts. God only calls us to share the good news. Even Jesus offended people, and we must accept that the gospel will create some tension in our conversations. Pastor Glenn reminded everyone that we can be both honest and courteous, and we must find a way to fulfill our purpose.
Discuss how today’s culture makes us afraid to share our true feelings or be vulnerable with others. Talk about ways you can share God’s loves in divisive environments.
Close out by taking prayer request and discussing who you might invite to the group.
Part 6: Our Home Away From Home
Pastor Beau introduced this week’s sermon, Our Home Away From Home, by asking us if we remembered the movie ET. ET was an alien who was stranded on earth, and the plot of the movie reveals what he went through trying to get back home. We are like ET. We long for heaven, recognizing that this world is not our home. But God has put us here, and He wants us to make this world our home while we are here. For this sermon, Pastor Beau picked what the prophet Jeremiah said to another group of aliens. This passage reveals how God wanted His people to live while they were living in a place that was not their home.
Jeremiah 29:4–7 "This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 'Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.'"
These are Jeremiah’s words to God’s people while they are in exile in Babylon. They are in exile because they have disobeyed God, and the Lord is using another nation to humble them and to get them to repent for their disobedience. Pastor Beau explained that there were false prophets at this time, who were telling the people to remain outcasts while they were in exile. But God tells Jeremiah to rebuke the false prophets and to tell the people to become a part of the community and to plan to stay. Beau identified three things that they must choose if they want to make this place their home away from home.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT HOME
- Choose to believe God has a purpose for where He’s placed me.
V. 4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Mandy pointed out that God tells them right from the beginning that He has put them in Babylon. It is not the Babylonian’s, but God’s plan and purpose for them to be in exile. Jody mentioned that Daniel had been a very influential person while in Babylon, and several of the pastors cited other Scripture where God had used people for His purpose while they were in places and in circumstances where they did not want to be. Discuss times in your life where God had you where you did not want to be and talk about how God blessed you while you were there or how he allowed you to be a blessing to someone else.
- Choose to love where God has brought me to live.
V. 5-6 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Pastor Beau talked about the importance of choosing to love the community and the people where we live. Pastor Jody mentioned that God calls us to be fruitful, and we have this responsibility regardless of where we live. Pastor James added that we are to love others, and that we can love people we don’t even like. Pastor Beau said that God wants us to choose to find joy no matter where we are. Ask the group if they love where they live, and ask them to explain why or why not. Discuss ways we can choose to love the people of our neighborhoods, our communities, and even our country.
- Choose to be a blessing to the community where God has planted me.
V. 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
Matthew 5:9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
Pastor Neal pointed out that verse seven tells us that God wants us to work for the peace and prosperity of our city. Pastor Butch added that verse seven also says that our personal welfare is linked to the welfare of the community. Pastor James explained that this message from God to bless the community was given to God’s people while they were living away from home in very poor circumstances. Even though they were living among their enemies, God told them to make this place their home and be a blessing to their foreign neighbors living around them. Pastor Jody said Christians should always choose to be a blessing wherever they are.
Pastor Jack closed the discussion by thanking all the groups. They meet all over the community, and they are truly a blessing to the communities where they meet. He also challenged them to get together as a group to serve. Lastly, he encouraged them to keep going. He said that even though the series is over, they still have a need to be connected with other believers. There are resources available through Right Now Media, and the sermon notes and the pastor’s weekly discussion of the sermon will continue to be sent out to them each week.
Take prayer requests and close the group.