Remember, It’s not Happening to you, it’s Happening in front of you

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I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

We live in a hurting world, and we all have been made aware that hurting people hurt people. It is easy to want to lash out at others when we have been hurt, but here are some things we need to keep in mind.

We are not the intended target-God is. In Acts 7:54-60 when Stephen was being stoned for his faith, he could see Jesus standing up for him in heaven. Stephen asked God not to charge this sin against them. Stephen did not take this stoning personal, as he realized it was not so much happening to him as much as it was happening in front of him. He realized Jesus was the intended target. Stephen knew it was “not I but Christ” who lived in him. He knew it was the Christ in him who was being persecuted. Stephen was not afraid to die, because as far as Stephen was concerned he had already been crucified with Christ. Dead people aren’t afraid to die. When we have been crucified with Christ we consider ourselves dead to self, and realize it is Christ who lives in us who is being persecuted. After all didn’t Jesus tell Saul who became Paul, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting?” Acts 9:5 NKJV. It was Jesus, not Stephen who was the intended target. Therefore Stephen could have considered that it was not him but Christ who was being persecuted. We are the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body, and whenever the smallest part of the body is hurt, the head of the body is first to feel the pain.  

By dying to self I can say “It is not I but Christ who is being offended.” As Isaiah 63:9 KJV says, “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” In Luke 9:23 NKJV Jesus tells us to take up our cross and die daily. In 1 Corinthians 15:31NKJV Paul says, “I die daily.” Years ago I held a “Cross of Christ” revival series in a small town in Southeast Oklahoma. I mentioned that if I die daily I cannot hold grudges anymore. After all, if I die daily and am born again every morning, I cannot hold a grudge over something that happened yesterday. How can you hold a grudge over something that happened before you were even born? You could not have hurt me yesterday if I was just born today. Dying to self and being born again on a daily basis not only frees me from my own sins from the day before, but it also frees me from the insults and slights that came flying my way from the day before. I am a new creature. You could not have hurt me yesterday if I was just born again today. After sharing that idea I came back to the same church a couple of years later. The pastor told me there was a cranky old lady in the church who was always holding grudges, but she changed after the seminar. He told me she had shared with him that it was this very illustration that turned her life around. She became a new creation indeed! 

When people are being mean and nasty we are not to take it personally. It’s their issue between them and God. It’s not happening to you. It’s happening in front of you. If we are crucified with Christ, it is not us but Christ who lives in us. Therefore it is not us but Christ who is being persecuted. Like Stephen, by faith we can look into heaven and see Jesus standing up for us. We can pray for their sin to not be charged against them. And like with Stephen and Saul who became Paul, Jesus will ask those aiming darts at us, “why are you persecuting me?” 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

12: Dying Like a Seed-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class, Sabbath September 17, 2022.

Main Theme: We serve God better when we surrender our will to His will.

Read in Class: Philippians 2:5-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What important message is there for us in these verses?

Apply: What rights might we be holding onto that keep us from sharing God’s love and serving others better?

Share: Your friend tells you that Jesus’ example and teaching about being a servant and going the extra mile for our enemies appears to be tone deaf to the social justice issues of today. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Romans 12:1-2. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What are some practical ways we can offer our bodies as a living sacrifice in our day to day life?

Apply: What things might you have to give up in order to become a living sacrifice?

Share: Your friend asks, how do we transform and renew our minds? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Samuel 3:1-18. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is the difference between those who listen to God and those who don’t?

Apply: Preacher Charles Stanley describes how essential it is to cultivate openness to God’s voice in what he calls “shifting into neutral.” He says: “The Holy Spirit … does not speak for the sake of passing along information. He speaks to get a response. And He knows when our agenda has such a large slice of our attention that it is a waste of time to suggest anything to the contrary. When that is the case, He is often silent. He waits for us to become neutral enough to hear and eventually obey.” — The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), pp. 179, 180.

What do you think Stanley means by becoming “neutral enough”? When you think about your openness to God, what things often prevent you from being “neutral enough to hear and eventually obey”? What do you need to do in your life to cultivate openness to God’s voice and a decisiveness to be obedient to His direction?

Share: Your friend asks you why God allowed Eli to be priest while not even being able to control his own sons? After all, doesn’t the New Testament teach that a leader should control his own household? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Samuel 13:1-14. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What did Saul do that led to his downfall?

Apply: Why do you think it was so easy for Saul to follow his own judgment, even though he had God’s clear instructions still ringing in his ears? If we know that we are so fragile and have such imperfect knowledge, why do we still try to rely on ourselves? What can we do to learn to trust in the Lord’s commands more than in ourselves?

Share: How can we encourage our leaders to rely on God instead of trusting in their themselves and their own wisdom? Is there a leader in your church family who you could call this week and pray with and for them?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24, NKJV).