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Stoned at Lystra

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PAUL STONED AT LYSTRA 

Scripture: Psalm 37:39; Acts 13:13–14, 49–51, 14:1–23; 2 Timothy 3:10–12

Memory verse: Psalm 37:39
"The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble."

Lead—in

Display a clear drinking glass, a spoon, a raw egg, and salt. Fill the glass with water. Place the egg in the water; it will sink to the bottom of the glass. Stirring slowly the water above the egg, begin to pour salt in. As you slowly continue to pour, the water will become dense and the egg will rise to the top. The water will become cloudy, but the students should be able to see the egg rising.

Explain the object lesson like this:

Just as the egg sank to the bottom of the water, problems in our lives can overwhelm us and make us feel very low. If we are not developing our relationship with God through Bible reading, prayer, and obedience, we can become weighted down by our troubles. It is impossible to rise above them or overcome them in our own strength.

However, if Jesus is Lord of our lives, His Holy Spirit will help us. As the Holy Spirit—like the salt—fills our lives, He gives us the strength to get through troubles and rise above them. Our problems will not be able to bring us down; we can get through hard times with God’s help. We must remember to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the only one we can depend on to give us the help and strength we need.

Stress that God wants to help us, but we must ask for His help. We should talk to God about our problems first, not as a last resort. He will walk with us through our problems. The students can see this truth this week in Paul’s life.

Hearing God’s Word

After Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark left the island of Cyprus, they went to a place called Perga (PUR-guh). The Bible does not tell us what happened there except that John Mark left the group and went back to Jerusalem. We do not know why.

Paul and Barnabas then went to the city of Antioch. Then they went to Iconium (I-KO-nee-uhm). In both places Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel just as they always did. Many believed in Jesus because of their message. In both places, however, the angry unbelievers caused problems. Paul and Barnabas went on to the cities of Lystra (LIHS-truh) and Derbe (DUR-bee) and preached there.

A Crippled Man is Healed

While Paul and Barnabas were at Lystra, a man who had been crippled from birth was intently listening to Paul preach. Paul noticed the man and saw that he had faith to be healed. Looking directly at him, Paul called out, “Stand up on your feet!” The man stood and started to walk! Can you imagine the joy he must have felt to walk for the first time?

When the crowd saw the man walking, they were amazed and excited. They thought Paul and Barnabas must be two of the gods they had been worshipping. They wanted to make sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas.

How did Paul and Barnabas react to the people who wanted to worship them? (Have a student read Acts 14:14,15.) They told the people that they were only humans, sent to tell them the good news of the true God who created everything.

Ask: “Why were Paul and Barnabas so upset?” (Allow response.)

They knew they were only men being used by the Holy Spirit. They knew all praise and worship belong to God alone.

The People Stone Paul

Once again, there were some people who refused to believe the message of Jesus and tried to stop Paul and Barnabas from preaching the gospel. Some wicked men from Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra. They convinced the people that Paul and Barnabas were bad. The people became angry at the missionaries. They threw stones at Paul until they thought he was dead and dragged him out of the city.

The disciples gathered around Paul’s body. God gave Paul strength to get up and go back into the city. The next day Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe to preach. They were so bold they even came back to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (in Pisidia) later to strengthen and encourage the believers in those towns. They appointed leaders for the churches in each place, and prayed and fasted as they committed these early Christian leaders to God’s care. Paul and Barnabas then went back to Antioch (in Syria), where they had begun their journey. Although Paul did not stop pre3aching the gospel, this ended his first missionary trip.

Christians Sometimes Suffer

Ask: “Have you ever heard someone say that if a person is serving God, everything will go OK for him?” (Wait for response.)

Ask: “Was Paul serving God? Then why was he treated so badly in Lystra?” (Allow responses.)

God has never promised that everything will always go smoothly for us. (Ask students to read 2 Timothy 3:10–12 aloud.)

Paul told Timothy that God rescued him from the persecutions he faced. Paul does not mean God never let anything difficult happen to him, but that God gave him strength to keep his faith through it all. People who are living an obedient life for God can expect some opposition. We might lose family members to death or disease, suffer financial problems in our family, or experience any other kind of problem that people who do not know Jesus face. Satan is threatened by Christians who are actively involved in reaching out to others. He will do what he can to discourage or stop them. However, as we learned last week, God’s power is greater than Satan’s power. When  problems arise, non-Christians do not have access to the source of strength Christians have.

The Bible has something important to say about righteous people who have trouble. As Christians, we will sometimes face struggles, but God is always near to help and guide us through them. Trouble is a part of life, but God will help us be victorious. God never promised a life free of care, but He did promise He would always be with us.

Case Studies

(Stress that the account of Paul’s experience is true. The following case studies are examples of difficult situations that any young Christian may face.)

Naomi rode the bus to school every day. She often talked with her friends about her faith in Jesus. Some older boys heard the things she said. One day when she got off the bus at school, they held her arm and made her go with them to a corner of the schoolyard where no teachers could see them. One of the boys snarled, “You say Jesus is so great! Well, we are sick of hearing about him! If you talk about God any more, you will be sorry!”

Ask: “Should Naomi quit witnessing? What should Naomi do? What would you do?” (Allow discussion after each question.)

Let us think about some other experiences youth might have. Think about what you would do if these things happened to you.

One day Philip was with a group of boys on the football field. A smart, popular student named Samson said, “Our teacher was right in science class when he told about life evolving from the sea. Anyone who believes God made the world must be stupid!”

“That is right,” the other boys agreed. Philip was a Christian. He was afraid if he spoke up and said he believed God did create the world, the other boys would not like him and would force him out of the group. Yet he was uncomfortable staying quiet because that would mean he agreed with what they said.

Ask: “What should Philip do? What would you do in this situation?” (Allow discussion.)

Esther and her family loved God and tried to do right. One day their house burned down. They lost everything. One of Esther’s Christian friends said, “Someone in your family must be sinning a lot, or this would not have happened to you.” Esther was hurt by what her friends said, but she wondered if it was true.

Ask: “Was Esther’s friend right? How could you encourage Esther?” (Allow discussion for each question. Then read John 9:1–3.)

Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives so others will be able to see His work displayed in us. We should be aware that others who know we are Christians are watching to see how we handle difficult situations.

Accepting God’s Word

We can have all sorts of trouble in this world. Yet the worse kind of trouble is to have to go through life and then death without knowing Jesus as our Saviour. Jesus died to give us hope of eternal life.

Encourage the students to stand firm during the pressures and troubles they face. Tell them God will give them strength if they stay close to Him by daily reading their Bible, praying and attending church. Encourage them to also find Christian friends who can encourage them to remain faithful in their relationship with the Lord.

Village Visit

It was my privilege to visit a Bengali village in West Bengal State, India. The villagers received me graciously. Their homes and courtyards were very clean. The people are industrious as indicated by their large stacks of rice harvested from the surrounding rice fields.

The youth gave me a tour of the village, proudly showing their homes, small shops, fields, a Hindu shrine and their cricket field. My heart was touched and I have prayed for them often. The Bengali pictures in this study are of people in their village.

The next two studies will present a Bengali picture. Alongside the picture will be statistics showing different Indian tribal groups living in Southeast Africa. The Indian tribal groups living in Africa need to be introduced to Jesus. Please include these groups when praying for the Bengali.

REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Student Prayer Groups

1. Bengali believers to stand firm in their faith,
2. Youth to form a prayer and Bible study group at their school,
3. The believers on campus to find favour with teachers.

Prayer Promise

"Ask the Lord your God for a sign" (Isaiah 7:11).

Remember: PAUL STONED AT LYSTRA

Memory verse: Psalm 37:39
"The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble."

1. Preaching the gospel will make some people angry.
2. You, as God's messenger, may suffer a physical attack.
3. Your response may be what God uses to verify your witness for Him.

Pray for student prayer groups.
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Study 7 | Eternity— Apostle Paul | africaatts.org/go-teach

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