Salina, Robert, and Kim, three youngsters, aged five, seven, and eight were ready to swing in the swings and play in the sandbox and take Rupert the dog for a walk. But it was pouring rain. Salina was still sniffling from a bad cold. Kim was pouting because she didn’t get two pieces of pie for dessert. Robert, the eight-year-old, decided he’d better take over.
“Let’s play church!” he said. “Kim, why don’t you call Amy and ask her to join us. And Salina, how about inviting your new friend Sandra?”
Amy arrived shortly, but nobody else took the children up on their invitation even though they asked several who lived nearby.
Robert scowled. He had carefully arranged eight chairs in the living room, and now he saw that most of them would be vacant. Salina, who was just five, said, “Invite the angels. They can come.”
After some singing, Bible verses, and a prayer for their friends who weren’t with them, Kim asked God to bless them all, and the little church settled down for the sermon.
Robert was wearing his best church jacket and had combed most of his hair. He opened a Bible and held it in front of him, stood up straight and began to preach.
He waved his arms in front of him, sometimes holding one of them out for a long time. He moved his lips but no sound came out, but there was a big smile on his face as he bowed repeatedly and waved his arms some more. Kim giggled, and Amy did, too. Salina just stared at her brother.
Then Robert stopped. He stood still for what seemed like a long time. Then he looked up. “You Gentiles,” he said. “Come to Jesus. He’s waiting for you. Let’s pray.”
It was a short sermon, but I think the Apostle Paul would have been pleased.
[Thought Question for The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica July 3, 2012]
1. Always good news. Is the gospel always good news? Did Paul and Silas look like they were having a good time when they walked into the church in Thessolanica? What is it about the gospel that stirs people to be angry at those of us who believe it? Have you ever been taunted or endured sneers because of the way you worship God? Does the Adventist gospel message ever cause pain and trouble to believers? Is there good news in the gospel if we turn away from it? How easy is it for us to leave the gospel behind?
2. Go to church first. Have you ever moved into a new city or neighborhood and decided to stay home for a few Sabbaths while you were getting used to your new home? What do you miss by missing church? If there were a fire or a flood that destroyed your local church, on Sabbath would you still find your way to the place where the church used to be? Why? or Why not? What would you do there if you could reach the rubble? How do you think the Jewish people who listened to Paul preach that day were affected by Paul’s sermon?
3. Suffering or royal: What a king! Have you ever been puzzled thinking about Jesus, the Creator of the universe, equipped with power beyond our imagination, being put through the most horrible suffering and hatred anyone has endured? But did He really suffer? Didn’t He remind Himself that He still owned the universe and was the triumphant one no matter how it seemed? Or did He experience more pain than any of us stumbling humans? Why were the ancient Jews so confused about Jesus’ coming? Didn’t God tell them enough? What about today?
4. Suffer first. Is it a fact that most of us suffer a lot before we enjoy the rewards of a Christian life? Did Jesus suffer constantly while He lived on earth before His crucifixion? Were there times of rejoicing and happiness for Him? Were those “happy times” subsumed by the hours and hours of mental anguish he suffered? Will we ever see Jesus suffer again? Why? What about you and me? Can we endure suffering because of the rich award awaiting us? Or is there something better? Which occupies the greater portion of your Christian life–the discomfort or the joy?
5. New church. What was it like living in a Gentile nation and watching as hundreds, even thousands, gave their hearts to Jesus? What about members of the Jewish persuasion? Were they as eager as the Gentiles to surrender to Christ? Why have we come to expect apostasy or discouragement every time we are exposed to a new wave of belief? Why does God seem to want many church groups among His people? How do we benefit today from the establishment of Christian groups throughout the Holy Land? Do you and I in our individual comfort zones derive a blessing when groups of believers on the other side of the world join to share their love for God?
6. Who is being called today? If a special effort was established to welcome Gentiles and pagans into the early Christian church, should we be working harder these days than we are among non-Christian groups? What about Jewish people? Your lesson for the week ends with a strong appeal to take the gospel to the Jewish people. Many of us live in areas where there are few if any Jews. Should we find ways we can reach them or enable those who live near a Jewish community to witness to them? Are there other religious groups we can reach? How?