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Victory Ahead

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VICTORY AHEAD 

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:3–10, 2:13–17, 3:6–14

Memory verse: 2 Thessalonians 2:15
"So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or my letter."

Lead—I n

Talk to a student before class about assisting you today, giving instructions ahead of time on what you want done (see below).

After prayer, have each student (except your assistant) choose one or two partners to study the Scripture for today’s study. When everyone else is in a group, the assistant will sit alone for a while and then begin to interfere by interrupting students while they say the verses or telling them they are wrong. After bothering every group, the assistant should begin playing alone and making loud noises that distract the others.

After a while, call the students back together. Ask them if they sometimes see other people playing around while they are working hard at home, school or church. Does it make them wonder why they should have to work so hard? Does that seem unfair?  (Allow responses.)

After discussion, explain that your assistant was distracting their work to make a point. Often when we try to do what is right, others interfere. Sometimes people persecute, or make fun of us, because of what we believe. Others are lazy, and that makes us have to work even harder. But when Jesus comes again, God will judge those who trouble us and those who did not do what is right.

Tell the class they will learn today that God’s judgements are right. The lives of the Thessalonians proved this, because even though they were experiencing trouble, their love continued to grow and they continued to stand firm in their faith.

Ask the students what standing firm means to them. (Allow responses.) Tell them that one thing it means is to keep on doing what is right—even when others do not.

Hearing God’s Word

Last week we learned that Jesus will come in the clouds and all believers will be caught up to meet Him in the air. After Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians, he heard another report about how the people in the church still had misunderstandings about the Lord’s second coming. They were also experiencing an increase in persecution. Paul wrote a second letter to tell the people to continue to hope in Christ’s return and not to quit because of persecution.

In his first letter Paul mentioned that he constantly prayed that the Thessalonians’ faith and love would be strengthened. (Ask a student to read 1 Thessalonians 3:10–13.) Now, he rejoiced that his prayers were answered. He gave thanks to God for the fruit that was growing in the church.

Ask: What fruit of the Spirit did Paul mention and give thanks for?

(Ask a student to read 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 4.) Make a list on the chalkboard of the qualities mentioned: faith, love, and perseverance (or patience) through suffering.

Sometimes when you face tough situations, such as sickness or death in the family, parents’ divorce, or friends leaving you because you are a Christian, you may begin to wonder if being a Christian is worth the trouble. Sometimes Christians lose faith when hard times come. They think that if they love God and are serving Him, their lives should be easy and they should never have trouble.

Some of the Thessalonians were probably feeling their lives should be better. Paul assured them that their sufferings were for the kingdom of God, and because their faith continued to grow even through hard times, they would be worthy of that kingdom.

God’s Judgement is Right

Paul also said that because this fruit of faith was growing in their lives, it was proof that God’s judgement is right. (Ask a student to read 2 Thessalonians 1:5.) God knew the Thessalonians were suffering. He also knew they would continue to suffer for a time. Paul told them that those who were treating them badly would someday be punished. They should not seek revenge on those people. God would judge them, and His judgements re fright.

When others hurt us, we should not hurt them in return. We would only be returning a wrong for a wrong. Let God take care of the situation. He will always do what is right.

Judgement for Sin

Paul told the Thessalonians that God’s judgement would not happen until Jesus returns to earth. Believers will have to go through trials here on earth because there are unbelievers in the world, but when Jesus comes again, He will punish them.

Ask: What will be the punishment for those who do not know and obey Him and for those who have persecuted Christians? (Allow responses.)

(Ask a student to read 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10). Eternal destruction and separation from God will be their punishment.

Paul wrote that those who will be punished are those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel. The gospel is the “good news” that Jesus died for our sins. That means that those who do not know Jesus as their Saviour will not be able to be with Him when He comes again. As Christians, we have a responsibility to tell the good news of the gospel to those who have not yet heard. If they hear and still do not accept Jesus as their Saviour, it is no longer our responsibility. They have made their choice.

Stand Firm and Unafraid

Paul wanted the Thessalonians to be confident that they would receive a reward from the Lord, so he did three things. (1) He gave thanks for their salvation. (3) He encouraged them to stand firm in their faith. (3) He prayed that they would be encouraged and strengthened by God. He wrote these three things to remind them that they should not fear the Lord’s coming. He reminded them that they were saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and their belief in the truth.

Ask: What is the sanctifying work of the spirit?

This is the part of salvation that god performs, taking away the sin in our hearts and helping us to do what is right.

Ask: What is our part in salvation? (Allow responses.)

We must believe the message of truth. God did all the work—He provided for our salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection—but we must believe it in order to receive it.

Paul had preached the message of the gospel to the Thessalonians, and they believed it. Because of this, Paul knew they would share in the glory of the Lord even though they were suffering trials now. Paul included a prayer in this letter that Jesus Christ himself would encourage them and strengthen them. (Ask a student to read 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17.) Standing firm in their faith was their responsibility; it is our responsibility today too.

Warning against Idleness

Paul’s first letter told the Thessalonians they needed to work so they would not be dependent on anyone. He even told them to warn those who were idle, or too lazy to work. (Ask a student to read 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 and 5:14.) The problem got worse, so Paul said the people who would not work were disobeying the teaching he had given them, and that the others should stay away from those people.

Paul used his own behaviour as an example for the church in Thessalonica to follow. He reminded them that while he and his friends were there preaching, they did hard work to support themselves. (Ask a student to read 2 Thessalonians 3:7–9.)

No Work; No Food

Paul knew those who are idle have no right to expect others to feed them. He warned the people that those who did not want to work should not be given food to eat. (Ask a student to read 2 Thessalonians 3:10.)

Christians should never stop doing what the Bible teaches is right. Paul even said again that if anyone did not obey this teaching, the others should not associate with them. (Ask a student to read 2 Thessalonians 3:11–14.)

Some of these people who were not working believed the Lord was returning very quickly so they quit their jobs. They thought that would make them ready for His return. Paul said that kind of behaviour was wrong. We should watch and wait for the day the Lord returns, but we need to keep doing the things we have been taught and keep busy serving the Lord and doing our work until He comes.

Sometimes people today have the same problem. They do not plan for their future, save money, or try to get good grades in school. They think it does not matter since Jesus is coming soon. We do not know when Jesus is coming, and we should keep on working right up until He comes.

Accepting God’s Word

Encourage your students to stay true to their faith in Jesus even when they go through difficult times. If things are tough at home, remind them that Jesus will strengthen them and help them through their situation if they ask Him. Life is not going to be easy because the world is full of people who do not believe the message of God’s love. Those people will be in the world with believers until Jesus comes again.

Present the information about the Haabe Fulani tribe in Nigeria given below.

Meet the Haabe Fulani

The Fulani were one of the first people groups in Africa to be converted to Islam, and today, almost all of the Bauchi Fulani are Muslim. In spite of their devotion to Islam, however, many Fulani continue to observe some of their pre-Islamic practices. 

The Haabe Fulani feel very strongly about morality. Their lifestyle embraces a high code of ethics, which includes respect, generosity, modesty, and kindness. To the Haabe Fulani, children are the future. They do not believe in an afterlife, so children are the only means by which they can live on from generation to generation. They believe that through their sons, their names and features will remain. If a Fulani dies with no children, it is as if he dies twice.

A reasonable effort has been made to reach the Haabe Fulani with the gospel. Christian broadcasts and audio recordings are available. Despite this, very few of the Haabe Fulani have accepted Jesus as their Saviour. 

REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for the Haabe Fulani tribe in Nigeria

1. Biblical truth be presented to the Haabe,
2. The Holy Spirit to anoint the Word of God,
3. Hundreds to accept the truth and find Jesus as their personal Saviour.

Prayer Promise

"So that all the Gentiles (tribes) might come to the obedience that comes from faith" (Romans 16:26).

MORE INFORMATION: www.joshuaproject.net

Remember: VICTORY AHEAD

Memory verse: 2 Thessalonians 2:15
"So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or my letter."

1. Troubles will come, even persecution because I am a believer in Christ.
2. I will remain true to Jesus and the teaching of the Bible.
3. Jesus' presence now and forever will be my reward.

Pray for the Haabe Fulani tribe in Nigeria.

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Study 13 | Give to God / Paul Writes | africaatts.org/go-teach

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