“ He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. ” (Psalm 91:1) (Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Worth the Hassle
Many people want to avoid pain and
problems at all cost. But Scripture clearly
teaches that there is one kind of stress Christians
should not try to avoid. When they
experience problems and persecution
because of their allegiance to Christ, they
should accept these trials as part of the cost
of following him. This lesson will teach you
how to handle the trials that come as a
result of your faith in Christ.
1. What tricks or techniques do children use to escape the consequences
of their misbehavior?
2. What is something for which you were wrongly punished when you
were growing up?
Read the following three sets of Bible passages and application notes.
Answer the questions for each set before moving on to the next.
Matthew 10:34-36
Think not that I am
come to send peace on
earth: I came not to send
peace, but a sword. For I
am come to set a man at
variance against his
father, and the daughter
against her mother, and
the daughter in law
against her mother in
law. And a man’s foes
shall be they of his own
Do not suppose that
I have come to bring
peace to the earth. I did
not come to bring peace,
but a sword. For I have
come to turn “a man
against his father, a
daughter against her
mother, a daughter-inlaw
against her motherin-
law—a man’s enemies
will be the members of
his own household.”
Don’t imagine that I
came to bring peace to the
earth! No, I came to bring
a sword. I have come to
set a man against his
father, and a daughter
against her mother, and a
daughter-in-law against
her mother-in-law. Your
enemies will be right in
your own household!
Jesus does not bring the kind of peace that glosses over deep differences just for the sake of
superficial harmony. Conflict and disagreement will arise between those who choose to follow
Christ and those who do not. In saying this, Jesus was not encouraging Christians to stir up
dissension. Rather, he was showing that his presence demands a decision. Because some will
follow him and some will not, conflict will inevitably arise. As you follow Christ, expect to face
problems and significant personal stress because of your faith in him.
3. What is your natural response to problems and pain?
4. When has your faith created family problems?
L E S S O N 3 20
5. How does this passage of Scripture change your attitude toward
6. What do you want to remember the next time you encounter conflict
because of your faith in Christ?
1 Thessalonians 3:2-4
[We] sent Timotheus,
our brother, and minister
of God, and our fellowlabourer
in the gospel of
Christ, to establish you,
and to comfort you concerning
your faith: That
no man should be moved
by these afflictions: for
yourselves know that we
are appointed thereunto.
For verily, when we were
with you, we told you
before that we should suffer
tribulation; even as it
came to pass, and ye
We sent Timothy, who
is our brother and God’s
fellow worker in spreading
the gospel of Christ, to
strengthen and encourage
you in your faith, so that
no one would be unsettled
by these trials. You know
quite well that we were destined
for them. In fact,
when we were with you, we
kept telling you that we
would be persecuted. And
it turned out that way, as
you well know.
We sent Timothy
to visit you. He is our
co-worker for God and
our brother in proclaiming
the Good News of
Christ. We sent him to
strengthen you, to encourage
you in your faith, and
to keep you from becoming
disturbed by the
troubles you were going
through. But, of course,
you know that such
troubles are going to
happen to us Christians.
Even while we were with
you, we warned you
that troubles would soon
come—and they did, as
you well know.
Obeying God in a fallen world sometimes brings its own kind of pressure and problems. It’s
difficult for many believers to accept the fact that difficulties in life may result from doing what
21 L E S S O N 3
is right. When they stand up for the truth or proclaim the gospel, some people will choose to
reject both the message and the messenger. Rather than looking for a way out, accept the
trials, and ask God to give you the strength to handle the stressful situations well.
7. When have you endured pressure or rejection because of your
8. How would you answer a Christian who wonders why God allows
his people to suffer?
9. If we assume troubles will come, what aspects of the Christian life
will become more meaningful to us?
10. From what Christian friend can you draw encouragement and
strength in standing up for your faith under stress?
L E S S O N 3 22
1 Peter 4:12, 14, 16
Beloved, think it not
strange concerning the
fiery trial which is to try
you, as though some
strange thing happened
unto you. . . . If ye be
reproached for the name of
Christ, happy are ye; for
the spirit of glory and of
God resteth upon you: on
their part he is evil spoken
of, but on your part he is
glorified. . . . Yet if any
man suffer as a Christian,
let him not be ashamed;
but let him glorify God on
this behalf.
Dear friends, do not be
surprised at the painful
trial you are suffering, as
though something strange
were happening to you. . . .
If you are insulted because
of the name of Christ, you
are blessed, for the Spirit of
glory and of God rests on
you. . . . However, if you
suffer as a Christian, do not
be ashamed, but praise
God that you bear that
Dear friends, don’t
be surprised at the fiery
trials you are going
through, as if something
strange were happening
to you. . . . Be happy if
you are insulted for
being a Christian, for
then the glorious Spirit
of God will come upon
you. . . . But it is no
shame to suffer for being
a Christian. Praise God
for the privilege of being
called by his wonderful
Peter reminds Christians that suffering for their faith is unavoidable. But they can choose
their response: They can find an excuse to give in to the pressure, or they can trust God
through it all. When you suffer because of your loyalty to Christ, remember that God has
sent his Spirit to be with you. Depend on him to help you joyfully accept and endure the
11. Under what circumstances is it tempting to hide one’s faith or be
ashamed of it?
12. Why do you think some Christians have never had to suffer for their
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13. What price have you had to pay to stand up for your beliefs?
14. How can you learn to rejoice even when facing persecution or
difficult pressure?
These three passages warn us to expect trials and problems in life
because of our faith in God. Instead of trying to avoid these conflicts,
we should accept them and consider it a privilege to suffer for the sake
of Christ. The next time you face stress because of your faith, resist the
temptation to fold under the pressure. Stand strong in God’s power. In
light of eternity, suffering for Christ’s sake is worth every minute!
15. What are you willing to risk to stand up for your faith in Christ?
16. How do you want to respond the next time you have to endure
stress or conflict for the sake of Christ?
L E S S O N 3 24
Read Acts 5:27-42.
The apostles knew their priorities. While we should try to live at peace with everyone, conflict
with the world and its authorities is sometimes inevitable for a Christian. There will be situations
where you cannot obey both God and man. Then you must obey God and trust his Word.
17. Who was the ultimate authority in the apostles’ lives?
18. When you are forced to choose between obeying God or people,
what makes it easier to obey God rather than people?
19. What are you willing to sacrifice in exchange for sharing the gospel—
your life, your friends, your job?
Read John 15:18.
Christians will get plenty of hatred from the world. Sometimes this hatred will come from
authorities who are angry at those Christians who refuse to do wrong. Such authorities may
punish Christians for obeying God rather than them. Despite the stress the authorities may
cause in our lives, we should not be swayed to compromise our obedience to God. Let Jesus’
words in Luke 6:22 encourage you to be obedient to him under the threat of punishment:
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your
name as evil, because of the Son of Man” (NIV).
20. When have you had to disobey someone in authority in order to be
obedient to God?
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21. What were the consequences of your choice?
22. Is it easier or harder to obey God instead of human authorities
when you are unsure of the consequences you will face? Explain.
Read Luke 12:51-53.
In these strange and unsettling words, Jesus revealed that his coming would result in conflict.
That is because there is no middle ground with Jesus. Loyalties must be declared and
commitments made, sometimes to the point of severing other relationships. Are you willing
to risk your family’s disapproval in order to serve Christ?
23. Why is following Christ worth risking even family relationships?
24. How can you encourage another Christian who has been disowned
by family or friends?
L E S S O N 3 26


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