Welcome back to our online Inductive Bible Study on the book of Acts, “The Holy Spirit Unleashed in You” at the Women’s Bible Cafe™.
First of all, I just want to express my gratitude and thanks to all of you who have prayed for my home State of South Carolina. As you are aware, we experienced a great deal of rain and flooding that began late Friday evening on October 3rd which continued throughout the day and night on Saturday and Sunday. South Carolina has been declared a State of emergency, and many people have lost their homes. We do not always understand why these tragedies happen, but what we do know is that we have a bigger God who is sovereign and in control over everything.
As we completed our study of Week Eight, “Not Perfect…But Faithful” and Week Nine, “Is Your Heart Grieved by the Idols People Worship,” we have seen firsthand how God is in control over all situations and circumstances even over the hardships that Paul and his companions endured.
This week we observed Acts Chapters 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 and continued to follow Paul’s second and third missionary journeys. Paul and his companions spread the good news of the Gospel everywhere they went. Paul’s primary mission was to seek the lost and point them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. He followed the Holy Spirit’s lead wherever he went, even if it meant persecution and prison.
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31 ESV
Do you ever question God about why we experience hardships and devastation, such as the devastation we experienced just this weekend with the flooding in my home State of South Carolina? I think it’s okay to question God, but more importantly, it is how we respond to our hardships that really makes the difference. Paul and Silas were flogged and imprisoned, but they did not let their hardships get the best of them. They continued to praise God despite their situation. Why? Because they knew God was in control, and they kept their eyes focused on God and not on their circumstances.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…” Acts 16:25 ESV
Did you catch the latter part of that verse? “and the prisoners were listening to them.”
What a lesson for all of us when we go through hardships, heartbreak and devastation in our lives. As Christians, we will undoubtedly experience hardships at various times of our lives, and people will be watching us and our reactions to the struggles we endure. Some of these people may not know Jesus but will want to know Him just by observing our reactions to troubled times. What a powerful witness and testimony for our Lord Jesus Christ to praise Him with prayers and hymns of praise in the midst of our dark days!
We can sing in our struggles, because we know He leads and blesses us in each step of our lives no matter how difficult and dark some days may be. There will be days when things are going great, but then the bottom drops out. In those times, too, we need to keep trusting God and sing praises in the midst of our struggles. We can experience His perfect peace during hard times as well.
Kay Arthur asks these questions in the Thought for the Week:
“Who has been close enough to you to see the way you live? Who has followed your teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings? Or are these things woefully lacking in your life, so that you cannot say with Holy Spirit boldness that anyone should follow you?
These are questions that we should ask ourselves and ponder as we continue with our study of “The Holy Spirit Unleashed in You.”
ASSIGNMENT FOR THE WEEK:
- Join a small group and fellowship with your fellow Bible students.
- Complete your study of Week Ten, “Will You Declare the Truth–No Matter the Cost?” and Week Eleven, “Bold and Confident Because of the Spirit.” Pray before you begin your study. Ask your resident Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to open your heart to wisdom and understanding to learn His truths.
- Store in your heart Acts 16:30-31.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK (answer in small groups or post a comment here)
- Hardships never seem to slow Paul down. Do you think Paul’s attitude is a result of positive thinking or something more? What helps us to move forward even when we’re discouraged.
- Every one of us has experienced hardships in life. Think through some of the difficult times you have experienced. How have you seen God bring good things out of our bad situations?
- Do you know of people who have never heard about God before? What strategy and message would you use to approach these people and introduce them to Jesus?
- As you have watched Paul on these three missionary journeys, what have you learned from him about sharing the gospel? What have you learned from his life about the consequences of being Jesus’ witness? Is it always easy?