Ready For Tough Times. AG Teen Sunday School Manual
Assemblies of God Teen Manual

Ready For Tough Times. AG Teen Sunday School Manual

Ready For Tough Times. AG Teen Sunday School Manual

 

 

TEXT: 41 Thess 2:2,14-16; 3:1-7; 2 Thess 1:3-5; 3:1-2

 

Key Verse: 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. (NIV)

 

>Focus while many adult Christians have experienced resistance to their faith, the immaturity of youth tends to intensify the cruelty that many Christian teens can experience. As you prepare for this study, try to remember (or imagine) what it’s like to be a Christian teen in a hostile environment. If you weren’t a Christian as a teen, consider how you felt toward Christians, and what you thought you understood about them.

 

It’s quite possible that at some point your students have already wondered if it’s worth being different when they could be accepted by simply coming to a compromise on their beliefs. This temptation will become more prevalent as resistance to Christianity intensifies in the days ahead. While it’s difficult to understand or explain all the reasons for Christian suffering, history proves that believers’ attitudes and actions in the face of persecution caused many others to believe. Encourage your students to remember that their reaction to trouble might help others accept God’s truth for their lives. Be prepared to address the reality that many who compromise their faith seem to prosper. Although there are temporary benefits to compromise, the eventual outcome can be eternally devastating.

 

The Basic Message

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
Suffering is an inevitable part of the Christian life and, if handled right, can help us develop spiritual strength.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?
If we don’t handle persecution correctly, it could leave us bitter and spiritually defeated.

HOW DO I LIVE IT?
Recognize suffering as an opportunity to grow, draw encouragement from Jesus’ example through suffering, and pray for those who suffer for their faith.

Illustration Option: SUFFERING FOR JESUS

Relate the story of John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, who was imprisoned twelve years for preaching the gospel. He had a wife and children, one of whom was blind. At any time during his stay in prison, he could have gone free if he promised not to preach the gospel. But John Bunyan believed that his faithfulness to God was more important than anything in this life, and to compromise it would deny all he held true, including his life and family. Over those twelve long years, Bunyan’s family lived in poverty beyond description, and Bunyan was haunted by the consequences of his decision to remain faithful to God. Yet, during his imprisonment, he wrote works that have since been read by millions — enriching their lives at the expense of his own. Discuss with students the following questions:

• What do you think causes a person to make the kind of decision Bunyan made?
• What is the toughest thing that you have gone through as a result of your Christian faith?
• Why do you think God allows people who love Him and faithfully serve Him to suffer? >>Guide: Explain that most Christians will face times of sufferings for their faith, it is important to understand why this happens and how we can be victorious through suffering, realizing that the results of suffering can be beneficial.

Study Overview: Explain that today’s study considers:

• The reason Christians experience trouble.
• The proper attitude Christians should have in times of trouble.
• How persecution can have positive results in the lives of believers and others who are influenced by Christian suffering.

>>Inform and Discuss
a). The Reason for Trouble >>Guide: Read or have volunteers read 1 Thess 3:1-7. Explain that suffering should not surprise us as Christians. It is part of our calling as we live in a world that opposes us by nature.

1. Why do you think there is such opposition to the principles of Scripture by those in the world? [Hint: God’s principles contradict people’s lifestyles and choice. People don’t like to feel restrained in this way. While the gospel demands that we deny ourselves and love others as we love ourselves, the world’s standards tend to regard self-satisfaction and personal fulfilment as top priorities. Thus, the principles of the gospel! Put a roadblock in the path of finding satisfaction according to the world’s standards. As such, there’s bound to be tense conflict.) .

2. What role do you think unseen spiritual forces play in the suffering Christians’ experience?
>>Hint: Although other people’s attitudes, words, and actions might inflict suffering in the lives of Christians, Paul recognized that persecution against Christians is spiritual in nature and an attack of Satan.

3. What does the fact that the apostle Paul suffered tell us when we suffer for Christ now?

>>Hint: it doesn’t matter how spiritual we become, we are not exempt from spiritual attacks.

b). Our Attitude During Trouble

1. Read or ask a volunteer to read 1 Thess 2:14-16. How can this passage encourage us when we face persecution? [Hint: We would not be facing persecution if we weren’t making a spiritual impact in our world. Besides, we are not the first to be persecuted for our faith. Jesus suffered persecution, and those who present the salvation messages will meet with persecution.]

2. Read or ask a volunteer to read 2 Thess 1:3-5. Why do you think our faith can grow as a result of persecution? [Hint: One of the reasons for which Satan orchestrates persecution is to bring us to a point where our conviction is compromised and rubbished. His ultimate aim is to hinder God’s work. But when we stay faithful to God in the face of persecution, we show that our faith is genuine. And as we respond to persecution by drawing closer to Jesus, we’re strengthened, and our faith increases as we see Jesus come through for us in such difficult time.]

3. Paul commended the Thessalonians for “enduring” persecutions and trials (2 Thess 1:4). What attitude do you feel is represented by the word “enduring”? How does this reflect the way you face persecution in your life? (Guide: Explain that the English word “endure” comes from a Greek word that is proactive rather than defensive. In essence, it refers to pushing against or pressing on rather than retreating or just holding on. So, while the term forces us to acknowledge that something is coming against us, we choose to stand firm and move forward despite the pressure. It is a call to action.

 

>Note: We do not have to enjoy persecution, but it glorifies God when we defy the world’s standards, and face opposition to our faith with a correct attitude. If we will view our persecution as an extension of the persecution Jesus faced, and realize that we are making a spiritual difference in the lives of people, we will be able to put up with the difficulties it causes in our lives.

 

c). The Result of Trouble

1. Read or ask a volunteer to read 1 Thess 2:2. Why do you think people become bolder in sharing their faith after they have faced persecution for their faith? [Hint: When faith costs something, its value increases, and it’s embraced more firmly. That’s why individuals who successfully faced persecution for their faith will develop the boldness to share the gospel with others.

2. Do you think that John Bunyan (from the opening illustration option) would have been as successful for the cause of Christ if he had not been imprisoned for his faith? Why? [Hint: We don’t know the answer to this, but much of what we read of him was written while in prison. The passion that kept him in prison likely made its way Into the words he wrote.

3. Read or ask a volunteer to read 2 Thess 3:1-2. In what ways do you identify with other Christians who suffer for their faith, and how do you respond to their situation? (Guide: Answers will vary. Perhaps fellow students at school have been made fun of, and your students have either prayed for them or stood by them. Explain that Paul could call on the Thessalonian brethren to pray for him and his team because they had faced persecution. As such, they could pray for others who are facing persecution, knowing what the power of prayer could do at such a difficult time.

 

Involve Them: TROUBLING TIMES

Have students respond to the following questions in the light of what they have learned in this study: i. You are a missionary in a foreign country and the people there do not want to hear your message. ii. You are in school and confronted by a popular student concerning your opposition to immoral living. iii. You are with other Christian friends when someone comes up, spits on you, and calls you a “super-Christian.” iv. You see a fellow Christian from another church being mocked for his or her faith. v. You hear of people being persecuted or killed for their faith in another part of the world.

 

Inspire Them: Remind students THE BASIC MESSAGE of this study (pg 73), even as you explain WHAT the Big idea behind the study is; WHY it Matters; and HOW we can live the lesson captured in this study.

Guide: Explain that Christians have always been persecuted for their faith. Unbelievers are often offended by the way we live and what we proclaim because it causes conviction in their lives. The persecution we face actually confirms that we are living in right relationship with God.

 

Conclude the study by challenging students to live faithfully for God regardless of the cost. Remind them that serving God is always worth it in the scope of eternity; and that although persecution is painful, it is only temporary. Then pray for them, and encourage them to equally pray for one another throughout the week.

 

Teacher Hint: Ask Yourself…
1. Do students realize that being persecuted for their beliefs is a normal consequence of being a true Christian?

2. Are they prepared to look at the potentials available through persecution, rather than focusing on the pains?

3. Have they embraced the importance of offering support to others who face persecution for their faith?

 

Action Point

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PS: I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We would appreciate it if you could drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.

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