Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. We here at “Word For Life Says” want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons. May God bless you!
November 15, 2015
“Impacting the World with the Word!”
Acts 16:1-5, 8-15
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Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. Blessings!)
Lesson Text: Acts 16:1-5, 8-15 (read verses 1-15)
- “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
- Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
- Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
- And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
- And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
- And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
- And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
- And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
- Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
- And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
- And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
- And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
- And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”
What exactly comes to mind when we think of the word impact? To me, it means influence. It means taking one’s thoughts, ideas, and yes, beliefs and sharing them with others in hopes to see effective change for the positive happen in their life. To me there is no greater way to do this than through the Word of God. It’s sharing the truths of the Bible, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to those who don’t know Him yet.
Our love for people and the desire to follow the Great Commission should compel us to reach out through our God-given platform to reach a world in need; to share the love of Christ through His Word to a desperately seeking people.
It is quoted that there are “roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe,” (Quote Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortality_rate). That’s a large number of people! So my next questions would be, “How many of those souls do we think were saved? How many of those that died just on yesterday alone knew the love and sacrifice of Christ and accepted Him as their personal Savior? Have they been impacted and harvested (so to speak) for His heavenly Kingdom?”
Statistically speaking (for example purposes only – no boasting or bragging) in the month of October (just last month) there were approximately 93,241 views (hits) and approximately 33,480 visitors that stopped by this website here at wordforlifesays.com. Let use this number for an example and speculate: What if with every one of those visitors alone in that one month reached just one person for Christ in one year? What if each one reached more than one for Christ? And, so on and so on . . . You do the math.
To make the numbers smaller (for impact purposes) let’s use last week’s data alone from November 2-8, 2015 where we had approximately 20,689 views (hits) and approximately 8,055 visitors. Either way you look at it, if each visitor alone for either category reached just one person for Christ the results would make a positive impact for His Kingdom. Yet, the results still don’t compare to the amount we lose everyday
The need to reach others is great! No wonder Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and the cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest,” (John 4:35). Harvest time is always now! Souls are dying everyday right now!
Therefore, He said in Matthew 9, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest,” (Matt. 9:37-38).
This is what the Apostle Paul is doing in today’s lesson. He was impacting the world with the word by going into the ready harvest. Through his gift of being what I call the greatest missionary ever, he traveled through many territories and cities reaching the unreached for Christ. Today’s lesson expounds on some of his traveling and works of impact during the beginning of his second missionary journey.
Leaving behind the Jerusalem council of last week with the confirmed decision that the Gentiles do not need to be circumcised or become Jews under the compulsion of the law before they can be bona fide Christians, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas, along with “Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren,” (Acts 15:22) went to Antioch carrying the letter stating the council’s decision on the matter. There they stayed for a time “preaching the word of the Lord,” (Acts 15:35).
After the which, Paul wanted to revisit the cities where they already preached. But, with this decision at the beginning of his second missionary journey, contentions arose between himself and Barnabas due to the fact that Barnabas wanted to take with them “John, whose surname was Mark,” (Acts 15:37). To this Paul disagreed because he had previously left them and “went not with them to the work,” (Acts 15:38).
With differing views on the matter came contention. Therefore, it was this point that the team of Paul and Barnabas split up. Barnabas took with him Mark and Paul chose Silas to continue on with him during his missionary journey (Acts 15:39-41).
Coming to “Derbe and Lystra” they met with a disciple named “Timotheus” (whom we know as Timothy). He was a “son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek,” (Acts 16:1). Reading in 2 Timothy 1:5 we know his mother’s name to be Eunice and his grandmother’s name to be Lois.
Timothy’s name preceded him in that it was told of Paul he was a man “well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium,” (Acts 16:2). A good reputation is hard to come by. It requires consistency in doing what is right over and over again. One’s life, actions, and choices will speak louder for you than any words can. That’s why in order to be impactful one has to be above reproach. In order to make a difference one has to guard their name. Proverbs reminds us, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold,” (Proverbs 22:1). A good name or reputation cannot be bought – this must be earned over and over again.
Therefore, Paul selected him to travel with him. In doing so, he must first be “circumcised . . . because of the Jews which were in those quarters,” (Acts 16:3). Is this a contradiction to the letters Paul was carrying and delivering that stated the Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised to be a Christian (the focus of last week’s lesson)? Absolutely not! Here Paul has a specific reach in mind to the audience of the Jews in that area. Knowing that his father was a Greek and that Timothy wasn’t circumcised may make the Jewish audience less receptive to receive him and limit his activity as far as the synagogue was concerned.
To Paul this would be a small thing to perform in order to have an opened door to reach more people for Christ. He stated in 1 Corinthians, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew . . .” (1 Cor. 9:19-20). This may be just an example of that.
So, continuing on their mission they “went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem,” (Acts 16:4). Reading back through Acts 15 we see those of the Jerusalem council sent “letters” stating their decision that the Gentiles should not be made to come under the law. The letter also contained specific “necessary things” (Acts 15:28) they should follow, such as: they should not eat meat offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and they shall stay away from fornication, (Acts 15:29).
Going through these “churches” it is noted that they were “established in the faith, and increased in number daily,” (Acts 16:5). They were rooted and grounded in the foundational gospel of Jesus Christ which promoted increase. Could it be we aren’t seeing the increase in our churches because we have strayed from the foundation of delivering the word that can save multitudes; the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we more focused on increase of finances than we are souls? Are we more caught up in programs and theatrics more than we are Jesus? This is most certainly something for church leaders to take into consideration.
In order to make an impact for the world it has to be through His word.
Acts 16:6-7 (not in today’s text) lets us know that after this, Paul, with Timothy and Silas “had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.” These areas would have taken those men more to the right instead of a more direct path toward the sea where God wanted them.
Although these verses are not included in our lesson text per se, they are very much worth noting that the work of impacting the world through the word is the work of the Spirit. It has to be Spirit-led. Infectiveness comes when we try to do the work without His involvement. This was not where He wanted them at the moment. He had other plans in mind; He had other people that specifically needed help.
“And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them,” (Acts 16:8-10). In impacting the world with the word you have to be and go where God called you. God was directing their route across the Aegean Sea. Therefore it was needful to be at “Troas,” located on the border of the Sea into order to find a ship to make the journey across when the Macedonia call came.
Please be aware, your anointing will not be effective doing someone else’s work or traveling a route outside of what God planned for you. God has a calling and a place for each of us to be and work that He has designed for us. He is the one that knows who needs help or not in a specific area. We are to be Holy Spirit driven in our work for Him. Paul knew he was going where God wanted him to “preach the gospel unto them,” (Acts 16:10). Therefore, he answered the Macedonia call and went. We must always remember this is not our ministry, but His.
Also notice here the switching of the word “they” in previous verses up to verse 8 with “we” in verse 10. This is an indicator that now Luke (the author of Luke and Acts) has now joined the expedition and is writing from his personal, first person encounter.
“Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days,” (Acts 16:11-12). Obeying the leading of the Spirit, Paul, along with Silas, Timothy, and now Luke board a ship from Troas and arriving at “Samothracia” which is a little island in between Troas and Neapolis before they made their final land fall in Neapolis “the next day.”
From Neapolis they traveled to “Philippi.” Founded by Phillip II of Macedon it was a major, bustling city that had a lot going for it. But, one thing they didn’t have a lot of was true spiritual leading toward the one true God. Oh, they had the city, the systems, the trade routes (The Egnatian Way) and Roman influence (a city that needs no introduction), but they were deprived of even one synagogue.
What they needed most of all was a true introduction into the gospel. What they needed was Jesus.
Due to the lack of a synagogue, Luke recorded that on the “Sabbath” they went down by the “river side” (Acts 16:13) where they came across women who were praying. It was there they met with “Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God,” (Acts 16:14). These women believed in God and sought a place to worship. Although their backgrounds may have differed being that they were converted from what they used to believe (proselyte), it would not deter them in their efforts to draw nearer to God.
These women were also receptive to hearing what Paul had to say as far as the gospel was concerned for it is recorded, speaking of Lydia in particular, that she “heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14), which means she attentively paid attention to and gave heed to the teaching of Paul. But, not only was her ears opened, God opened her “heart.” God’s word has to be ministered to the heart as well as the ears, for it is in the heart where effective change can take place.
Seeds of faith for the Lord Jesus Christ were being planted for the first time in Europe through this prayer service and mini meeting with the women down by the river side. How awesome is that?! The call had not been in vain (of course, no work of the Spirit is). Lives in this city were already being impacted by the word of God all because of obedience to follow the Spirit wherever He may lead (even if it’s’ not the original course you may have chosen for yourself).
“And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained them.”
Missionaries, particularly those traveling to unknown regions need physical and financial support. They need those who are able to step up to plate to help care for their needs and the needs of the mission that the word of God could continue to go forth without hindrance.
Lydia was just the person to do this for Paul and his company. Being a seller of purple (which may indicate the soundness of her financial status based on her lucrative business involving this valuable color) she “constrained” them to stay with her while they were in the region.
The book of Hebrews encourages Christians in the area of hospitality, stating, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” (Heb. 13:2). Hospitality during the Bible era was crucial due to the lack of other resources we may take for granted in our modern era. Many literally depended on the kindness of others to open their hearts and their doors to them as Lydia did.
Does that mean we open our door to everyone/every stranger we meet? In my personal opinion, I would have to answer no (emphasis on “my personal opinion”). You would really have to be in tune with the Lord’s guiding in our day, but we are to help with the needs of one another, particularly those of the saints. (Some hospitality verses to study would be: Romans 13:12; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4.) Whatever we do for others keep in mind we are doing it as unto the Lord, (Colossians 3:23-24).
You may feel overwhelmed at the statics in the beginning. After all 150,000 leaving this earth daily is astronomical to say the least. You may feel like what’s the point. Here’s the thing – you matter in this effort. We may not be able to reach everyone, but everyone can reach someone. After all, Jesus let us know that all of heaven rejoices just over one sinner that turns and repents (Luke 15:7, 10). Therefore, work where God put you. Reach those you can and you will make an impact in this world with the word.
(Click here for PDF: Impacting the World with the Word Sunday School Lesson, or click print button below. Enjoy!)
Below you will find activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Memory Verse: Impacting the World with the Word Memory Verse
Crafts for Lesson:
Younger Children: to demonstrate “Reaching or Impacting the World” students can put together this simple activity using the earth template below and by tracing and cutting out their own handprints.
World: (click for template)
Older Children will enjoy making these “Witnessing Bracelets” to remind them of how to live before the world and as a tool for sharing:
“Witness Bracelet Craft” (click for directions)
Below are more Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“A Good Reputation” (Here you will find maps and real life pictures of the church at Philippi and more. A great study tool with wonderful pictures to show your class. Enjoy!)
“Lydia Becomes a Christian” (With slideshow and activities focused around baptisms. Enjoy!)
“Teaching Paul’s Missionary Journeys to Kids” (Here you with find plenty of links to helpful resources that help to visualize Paul’s missionary journeys for kids including printing out passports for virtual tours. But, that’s not all. There is also a helpful link to Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (base of this week’s lesson) youtube video I believe adults would enjoy.)
Previous lesson activities and helps:
“Selling God’s Word” (A witnessing activity for kids. Enjoy!)