Sunday School Material 9-27-15: Standing Firm Against Opposition





(Acts 7:2-4, 8-10, 17, 33-34, 45-47, 52-53; 9/27/15)


Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that Stephen stood strong in the face of opposition. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to stay strong in the Lord, even when faced with opposition.

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 Body:

Read Acts 7:2-4

I. Story of Faith. The story of Abraham is being retold. God called for Abraham to leave his home town. God told Abraham information, when God felt that he need to know.

 

Applications –

- Following incomplete directions. Notice in vss. 3-4 that God may call us to go without telling us where we are going. For those of us who like to feel as if we are at least half way in control of what we are doing, this can be rather stressful.

However, we are called to trust God. God has a long track record of working things out for those who trust and obey His will. Let’s work on developing the faith needed to simply follow God’s directions.


Read Acts 7:8-10

II. Story of Betrayal. Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of the patriarchs. God used the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers for the good of Joseph and God’s people.

 

Applications –

- Mistreated by siblings. Notice in vss. 9-10 that God can turn what people mean for our harm into that which is good for us. First, don’t be surprised when both your biological and spiritual siblings are so influenced by negative emotions that they try to harm you. Make sure you avoid such negative emotions but focusing on positive thoughts and actions.

Second, just as God turn things around in the text, God is able to turn things around in our lives. Third, God may allow us to suffer before He turns things around. This means we need to have faith that God has not given up on us. Let’s work on having enough faith in God to go through being mistreated by our siblings. Prayerful study of and obedience to God’s word with the support of disciples can help us with our faith development.

Read Acts 7:17, 33-34

III. Story of Deliverance. The descendants of Abraham had greatly increased, and the time for God to fulfill His promise to Abraham was drawing close. God talks with Moses. God is sending him back to Egypt to be a part of God’s people being set free.

 

Applications –

- God’s seeing, hearing, and moving. Notice in vs. 34 that God sees our suffering, hears our prayers, and does something about it, when the time is right. We should never think that God is so far above us or away from us that He doesn’t see our pain and oppression. In order for God to hear our prayers, we need to make sure that we are praying. There are too many non-praying people who claim to be Christians. It would be terrible, if God has to allow some more pain in our lives, so we can pray more.

We are called to not only remember that God sees and hears, we are called to trust God. God doesn’t always come, when we want Him to come. But He comes at the right time. This is easy to say, when all is well. But it takes great faith to believe and behave accordingly, when God seems to be running late and your pain seems to be unbearable. Let’s work on trusting God’s seeing, hearing, and moving on our behalf.

 

Read Acts 7:45-47

IV. Story of Victory. The Tabernacle was cared for, as God provided victory in the Promised Land. David wanted to build a Temple; however, that privilege fell to his son – Solomon. Notice that favor on David did not result in David’s building the Temple, as he wanted to.

 

Applications –

- Multigenerational victories. Notice in vs. 45 that God can carry out His plan across multiple generations and give us victory after victory. First, just as there was a large gap of time between Abraham and Joshua, there may be a large gap of time between our saved fore parents and our saved descendants. However, we can trust that the same God, who took care of our fore parents and is taking care of us, will take care of the generations to come. God is God in each generation.

Second, God doesn’t just feel sorry for us. Nor is He simply a cheerleader. God can give us the victory, in the battles that we face. Let’s live like we trust God to provide multigenerational victories. This kind of living should be known for our faithfulness and confidence.

 

- When God says “no.” Notice in vss. 46-47 that David’s having God’s favor did not result in David getting all that he wanted. David wanted to build a Temple for the Lord. Even though David was favored and anointed, God said “no.” In like manner, we can be saved and doing a good job with our discipleship and God still say “no” to what we think is a pretty good idea.

In spite of having God’s favor, marriages can fall apart, children can become wayward, money can dry up, and health can fail. Let’s work on trusting that God knows best, especially when He tells us “no.” See the previous thoughts about faith development.

 

Read Acts 7:52-53

V. Story of Murder. Stephen talks about how the history of the Jews shows that they killed the prophets. They even killed those who prophesied about the coming of the Righteous One. They received the law but did not obey it.

 

Applications –

- Confrontation. Notice in vs. 52 that there was a time for confrontation. As the prophets had times of confrontation, Jesus had times of confrontation, God had times of confrontation, and Paul will have times of confrontation, we should brace ourselves for some times of confrontation.

On one hand, we should try “nice” first. On the other hand, there are times when we may need to be a little more confrontational. And even when confrontation doesn’t lead to repentance, we should find some comfort in knowing that we did God’s will, and God will take care of the rest. Let’s seek God’s wisdom and courage to know when and how to use confrontation.

 

- Hearing and obeying. Notice in vs. 53 that the people received the law but didn’t obey it. In like manner, there are too many people today who have heard the word of God but don’t obey it. Think about how many church goers have heard about loving one another, tithing to God, and giving your best in service. And then look at what these same people do. Let’s work on hearing and obeying God’s word.

 

Conclusion: Let’s work on staying strong in the Lord, even when faced with opposition. God has much for those who obey His will.

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