The teens filed into the sanctuary, as was their custom, filling the first three rows. On the front pew, almost in a direct line with the pulpit, a lovely girl sat down, her exceedingly-mini-skirt sliding up her legs as she got comfortable. The pastor, my cousin, came down from the platform and went to his wife, sitting about five rows back. She had a shawl with her. He leaned over, talked in her ear, and calmly went back up the few steps to open the service. Meanwhile, his wife came to the front, where she draped her shawl over the girl’s skirt and legs. Without saying a word, she returned to her seat–with the whole church watching. The girl’s bright red face indicated she knew exactly what had happened, and why.
Take a moment before delving into this study by watching the sermon for Sunday, June 19. You will find this at http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, then click on “select.” It will give you the background for the questions below. Do them slowly if you’d like, taking a couple each day, or do it all at one sitting. Even better, ask a friend or more to join you, and use it for a once-a-week group study in your home! Get your notebook, have it handy, and keep notes of your answers.
What conviction do you hold so dear that you would take a stand against society, your neighborhood, or friends?
This week we’re going to determine if we have the inner strength to stand firm, taking God at His word, and knowing Him well enough to trust Him fully–much easier said than done! We will look at one scene from the life of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, who stood alone against the pagans of his day.
Read 1 Kings 18:21-39. There are many amazing facts in this passage: some were statements Elijah made, and some revealed his strong belief in God. List those in your notebook. Can you see yourself doing something similar?
Make A Choice
1. Read verse 21, and think about the courage it took for Elijah to stand firm. What would you have done? List the reasons you would not take such a position, or if you would, what inner convictions do you hold that would give you the strength?
2. As you look at your friends, do you see them walking a strong line for Christ, riding the fence, or being silent in the face of questionable behavior? Read Proverbs 13:20. What can you learn about your friends? What message does being silent send to the world about your faith in God?
3. Read verse 25a again. What were some very real dangers that could have occurred as Elijah faced off the 450 prophets of Baal? List those. Do we in today’s world face enemies who are just as opposed to the beliefs of Christians? List all you can think of. Read 1 John 4:4. Are we to live in fear?
4. How much confidence do you place in the God you follow? How much power do you believe He has? List the things you know He has done, and then ask yourself, if I had to stand against society or friends, do I trust Him enough to take care of me?
Go All In!
5. Read verses 30-35 again. Often we manipulate situations so that the answer falls in our favor, don’t we? Did Elijah do that? What did he do to make it obvious that his God would have to be the true God to light the fire?
6. Elijah seemed full of confidence, not concerned that he was taking a stand that was incredible. The audience had to have included hundreds–if not thousands–of people who were watching. Yet where was his faith? When we tackle something big, is our faith in our own ability, or do we depend 100% on our God?
7. Read James 5:17a. What type of man was Elijah? Was he different from us? What was the focus of his strength?
As you end this study, meditate during the week on your own actions, and write down times when you cave, and times when you stand firm. It might be in something so simple as parenting your child, or something difficult like confronting a co-worker–or “placing a shawl!” Think deeply about your choices, and do a self-examination to see if you strive to please God, standing firm on His word, or are you seeking praise from people? Read Galations 1:10, and see that God has something to say about being a “man-pleaser.” Where is your faith in comparison to Elijah? Is it bold, or are you usually silent? Take a few moments to read Romans 1:18-32, in a modern version if possible. It sounds as if Paul is writing about today’s world, doesn’t it? So many of the characteristics that God denounces could be right out of our community! But focus on the last verse, and think this week about the judgment that comes as he writes, (paraphrase), that “not only are those who actively do the things listed condemned, but those who give approval to those who do them”! Do you ride the fence on issues that may be splitting your community, church, or school? Are you silent when groups gather to propagate unrighteous lifestyles? By your silence, are you giving approval? Pray for God to give you a holy boldness that you will be strong to stand firm when/if adversity comes. He will never let you down!
Father, please give us the courage to stand strong, never wavering in our faith, when the going gets tough. Amen
Photo: copyright, Sandra Day.