Sunday School Material 11-22-15: Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens

(Acts 17:1-4, 10-12, 22-25, 28; 11/22/15)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is Paul faithfully shared God’s word in several areas. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to faithfully obey God’s will for our lives, no matter what our circumstances may be.

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Read Acts 17:1-4

I. In Thessalonica. Paul and his team went to the city of Thessalonica. In our Sunday School material, Paul ministered the word to those in the synagogue. Some Jewish men believed. However, it appears that the God-fearing Greeks and prominent women were more receptive.

Applications –

- Stay faithful. Notice in vs. 1 that Paul and his team kept on serving, in spite of things not going according to their plans. First, we should not be surprised when things don’t work out as we had planned. The devil is always fighting against the good work that God wants to do through our lives.

Second, we must work on being persistent. We should not allow a few defeats to stop us from winning the victories that we are able to win. Let’s work on adjusting to the circumstances before us with a mind to do the best that we can with what we have to work with.

- Some will and some will not. Notice in vss. 2-4 that some believed and some did not. First, no matter how hard we try, those we minister to must make up their own minds to accept or reject what God is calling them to do. The final pieces of their decision are beyond our control.

Second, we should thank God for every “yes” and understand that it was the person saying “yes” to God’s will, not any big thing that we had did. And when a person says “no,” we must understand that it is a “no” to God’s will more than a “no” to us personally.

Third, we should make sure that we are a part of the “yes” crowd. We should prayerfully strive to obey God’s will, no matter how God makes His will known to us. Let’s work on being faithful in our service.

Read Acts 17:10-12

II. In Berea. In our Sunday School material Paul and Silas were sent to Berea. There they found people willing to examine the scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did a number of prominent Greek women and Greek men.

Applications –

- Seeking and obeying God’s will. Notice in vs. 10 that Paul essentially sneaked away in the night from those who sought to cause him harm. Some may see this as being cowardly, especially those who are not in any danger because of their Christian convictions.

However, we are challenged to seek God’s wisdom and courage for the issues that are before us. These decisions may not be understood by those around us. It is more important to make godly decisions than popular decisions.

Let’s work on seeking and obeying God’s will for especially hostile situations in our lives. God has a way of giving us peace when we are following His will.

- A great example. Notice in vss. 11-12 that the people of Berea set a marvelous example for us. They were known for hearing, comparing, and accepting.

First, we should be known for hearing what is being said. There are some people who are so distracted by the messenger or the manner of presentation that that they cannot even hear.

Second, we should compare what is said with what we understand the Bible to teach. If our friends are teaching things contrary to the Bible, our friends are teaching us the wrong thing.

If a stranger or even our enemies are teaching us biblical principles then they are teaching us what is right. Living by this application calls for us to have some understanding of God’s word, so we can have something to compare new ideas against.

Third, we should obey what is in line with God’s will. Hearing and comparing should lead to obedient accepting. Let’s work on hearing, comparing, and obediently accepting.

Read Acts 17:22-25, 28

III. In Athens. Paul is sharing the word in Athens. The people of Athens worship many gods. In our Sunday School material Paul talked about the “unknown god.” The Athenian “unknown god” was the God of creation that Paul preached.

Applications –

- Ministering to people at their level. Notice in vss. 22-23 that Paul ministered to the people where they were at. He ministered to Jews in the synagogue and referred to the Old Testament scriptures. He ministered to those in Athens in their hall and used logic.

In like manner, as we strive to evangelize the lost (i.e., help people get saved), we should seek common language and experiences to help us communicate the need to accept the loving substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for the penalty of our sins.

As we seek to edify the saints (i.e., help saved people grow in the Lord), we can use scripture and common experiences. Let’s work on ministering to people at their level, so God can get the glory out of the fruit of our labor.

- God our creator. Notice in vss. 24-25, 28 that Paul talks about God as the creator. We need God. God does not need us. First, we should know that God is our creator. We did not create ourselves, nor did we create God.

Second, we should know that we need God. God does not need us. There are too many who behave as if they are doing God a favor by being obedient. In reality, we get more out of being obedient than God does.

Third, given that we need God, we should obey His will to accept Jesus as our savior by faith and live lives of loving God and others, as we love ourselves. Let’s work on living like we believe that God is our creator – the One we should obey.

Conclusion: Let’s work on faithfully obeying God’s will for our lives, no matter what our circumstances may be. God has much for those who obey His will.

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