“Commitment Under Fire”
Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Love Under Fire - Ch. 13
The Netherlands and Scandinavia
Unlikely Leaders - Ch. 14
Truth Advances in Britain
Often our problems are so bad that we try to pretend they don’t exist. But acknowledging their existence and God’s power over them can make all the difference!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
1 Peter 4:12-14
1 John 3:13
Jesus gave us the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, which involves telling others about Jesus and His gift of salvation. But, why isn’t witnessing easy? In this world we have an enemy, and until we reach heaven we will be jabbed by Satan’s painful attacks. The peaceful scenes of Jesus on a hillside teaching thousands of people about God’s unfailing love and His kingdom are beautiful, but we can’t forget that Jesus was also always under attack by those who hated Him. Jesus faced the pressure of interrogation and the pain of rejection in almost every place He went. He is our ultimate example of how to overcome the most fiery of trials when witnessing. Jesus promised in Matthew 11:28-30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He provides the power of the Holy Spirit so we don’t have to fall under the heavy weight of trying to bring people to a saving relationship with Jesus.
WHO IS THE LEADER?
As disciples of Jesus, we look to Him to know how to act and what to say in our witness to others. To illustrate this concept, everyone will play a game called “Who is the Leader?” Form the group into a circle. Ask for two volunteers. The first volunteer will be the guesser, and he or she will leave the room or at least turn into a corner with their eyes closed so they can’t see what is happening with the group. Guessing who the leader is will be that person’s challenge. Within the group, you will ask someone to be the leader. They will be chosen silently so the guesser will not know who the leader is. The leader will do various actions and all the rest of the group will follow their actions as they change every 10-15 seconds (clapping hands, nodding head, snapping fingers, moving one hand or foot, etc.). The guesser returns to the room and stands in the middle of the circle. As the actions change, the guesser will try to guess who the leader is.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions.
Read 1 Peter 4:12-14 (NIV).
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
A Hostile World
Read 1 John 3:13 (NIV).
Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
Spying on Jesus
Read Luke 20:20-26 (NIV).
Keeping a close watch on Him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something He said, so that they might hand Him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned Him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” They were unable to trap Him in what He had said there in public. And astonished by His answer, they became silent.
Either we are willing to endure pain, suffering, persecution, and even death for the process and ministry of sharing the gospel, or we could end up being like a lifeguard who stands still and does not save a drowning person. Like a lifeguard commits to watching over the swimmers and saving them if they start to drown, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we commit to seeking and saving others. Yes, there will be opposition, but God has promised to never leave us alone through whatever we face. Commit to being a lifeguard for Jesus today!
Consider applying what you learned in this week’s lesson by doing one or all of these activities:
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
The Youth Sabbath School lesson for this week, following the curriculum in the book The Great Controversy, covers two chapters regarding the Christian Reformation in Europe in the 16th century. Reformers were needed in both Old Testament and New Testament times, as well as during the European Reformation. They are probably needed in North America today, and quite possibly in your own church.
We’ll adjust our focus from reformers to missionaries, drawing on Paul’s second missionary journey in the first century AD. While reformers seek changes within their own country, missionaries take the message of Jesus from their country to another country. That often involves hardship and challenges such as learning a new language and a new culture, and possible resistance when it comes to changes within an established culture.
For centuries, Christians in the northern hemisphere have sent missionaries to the southern hemisphere. Today there are actually more Christians in the southern hemisphere than in the northern hemisphere. Some missionaries are now going the other direction—from south to north!
Young people are often idealistic and hopeful. They can make great missionaries. Many who go on short-term mission trips are teens. Just last month more than 150 teens went on Maranatha’s annual Ultimate Workout mission trip—this time to the country of Peru. And lots of adults provide financial sponsorship and prayer support for these teens.
Christ’s disciples began as young people. Imagine starting the entire Christian church with teens and 20-somethings! On Paul’s first missionary trip, he partnered with Barnabas who took his younger cousin, John Mark, with them. Due to John Mark deserting them partway through that mission trip (Acts 13:13), Paul refused to allow the young person to go on the second mission trip. Barnabas stood up for John Mark. Acts 15:36-41 describes this interaction, which could be termed a stand-down or a standoff. Barnabas left with John Mark and we hear little about them after that (except that John Mark later wrote the Gospel of Mark!).
Paul teamed up with Silas. And shortly after they began their mission trip, when they reached the town of Lystra, Paul recruited a young man, Timothy, to join them. Put that into the dynamics of your youth group. Should a young person be included in a mission trip? Do they have what it takes? After a disappointing showing, would you ever let young people have a chance again? Apparently, Paul had a change of heart, and he selected Timothy. But as the story continues in Acts 16, Paul and Silas got thrown into jail because of a mob reaction. We don’t hear what happened to Timothy in this ruckus. Pursue this with the sanctified imagination of the young people.
With this background, we’re ready to begin our Relational Bible Study for Acts 16:1-40.
Why have you gone, or not gone, on a mission trip?
Read Acts 16:1-40.
1 Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi
11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Paul and Silas in Prison
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”
37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.
1. Why would Paul recruit you to be on his mission team (vs. 1)?
2. What would you be willing to suffer for Jesus?
3. What do you gain by becoming a missionary for Jesus?
4. Why were Paul and Silas put in jail?
5. What happened to Timothy when Paul and Silas went to jail?
6. What stands out in your mind about Paul’s mission trip to Philippi?
7. When is it better for you to just go along with people’s expectations (like be circumcised, or leave town quietly) rather than take a stand?
8. What comparisons would you make between Paul’s mission trips and a typical Maranatha mission trip?
How thrilling! Did you place the youth in your Sabbath School into this story—filling the role of Timothy? How did they respond? How are they responding right now? Some young people feel as if they’re in a long holding pattern to prepare for life rather than recognizing that what they do right now is life! This counts for their relationship with Jesus as well as sharing Jesus with others. They are called to share Jesus with others, just as Christ’s first disciples received that call. And Christ will teach them as he leads them “on the job.” Be a missionary for Jesus right now—in your family, your neighborhood, among your friends, this coming school year, and beyond your country as well.
The applications from Scripture for being a missionary can draw from multiple examples. Our focus this week was on Paul and Silas, along with youthful Timothy, as recorded in Acts 16. Here are three ideas for applying this week’s Bible study to your life this coming week. Choose one or more of these, or let them spark other ideas for you to live out the Scriptures this week through the power of God.
The disciples first received a call from Jesus to follow Him (Matthew 4:19; 9:9). After Christ’s resurrection, He prepared them to share the good news with others, including going as missionaries to the entire world (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Christ’s call might be the most important, and possibly the only reason for a person to respond to become a missionary. Most of us have multiple reasons for responding to such a call.
Download the “Called to Be A Missionary” PDF
God’s people have suffered throughout history. Christ suffered. His disciples suffered. In his positive letter to the Philippians about gratitude, Paul wrote about experiencing “the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings” (see Philippians 3, especially verse 10). Many Christians expect an easy life as a follower of Christ. Missionaries know better than that. But such suffering pales in comparison to their joy of being with Christ, even experiencing the joy of suffering for Christ (see Acts 5:40-42).
Download the “You Call That Suffering?” PDF
Paul and Silas sang while they were in stocks in the jail (Acts 16:25). There’s nothing quite like singing, especially when you’re being persecuted, and also when there’s an earthquake (Acts 16:26)!
You Are a Leader
By Seth Yelorda
Every day when you wake up and look in the mirror, the person staring back at you is your primary follower, and you are their primary leader. That person will do what you tell them to do. They will go where you tell them to go. They will say what you tell them to say. They will follow you up a mountain, through a valley, and even over a cliff. Who that person ultimately becomes and what that person achieves will be dependent on how you lead them? You Are a Leader gives examples of leaders and leadership traits along with exercise that will help develop your leadership ability.
As a leader, the influence you have with people is a sacred trust given to you by God. You Are a Leader will help you to maximize your influence.
1. Food Care Kits For Homeless Shelters / Street Ministry
Help eliminate hunger. Purchase ready to eat and easy to open food items and assemble them in resealable plastic bags. Donate to shelters or use for street ministry.
Cost: Less than $10.00
2. Sleeping Mats For The Homeless
Re-use plastic bags for a great cause. Save plastic bags and convert them into a sleeping mat for the homeless.
Cost: Less than $5.00
3. Early Learning Bean Bags
Help small children learn at home. This easy sew bean bag craft can help children learn alphabets, numbers, or shapes.
Cost: Less than $5.00