Sabbath School Lesson for June 8-14, 2019


Themes that pertain to maintaining a family of faith in the midst of one’s culture are…

  • holding fast to what is good (Sunday)
  • the power of culture in Bible times (Monday)
  • remaining faithful despite seasons of change (Tuesday)
  • making our faith personal–not relying on the faith of our fathers to save us (Wednesday)
  • sharing the gospel in our culture today (Thursday)


There are many factors that affect our ability to hold onto our faith. Especially in these end times of earth’s history when cultural practices slip further and further away from God’s will, we will see the spiritual life of family members suffer. It takes a decided effort to cling to God and make Him the number one priority in life, leaving all the harmful cultural influences behind.

Besides cultural changes, there are also changes related to occurrences common to families that affect our faith–such as chronic illnesses, accidents, death, economic hardship, career changes, or just moving to another neighborhood. In addition, strong outside influences might include war, natural disasters, and ethnic (or religious) persecution. These and other unexpected changes challenge our ability to cling to our faith.

Memory Text: “Therefore…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1, 2 NKJV

There are some encouraging thoughts in these verses…

  1. We are in a spiritual race that requires endurance and stamina.
  2. Jesus provides us with the faith to win the race.
  3. The victory of Jesus at the cross assures us of a place in heaven, when we look to Him for strength.

Sunday: “Hold Fact What is Good”

For generations now, Christian missionaries in foreign lands have struggled with the different cultural norms they encounter. Although we know that God shows no partiality with people from different backgrounds and cultures, it must be recognized that not all foreign cultural practices are safe for a Christian to embrace.

I Thessalonians 5:21, 22 can be helpful in determining the best course of action, that will preserve both the relationship necessary for sharing the gospel and yet, at the same time, not jeopardize one’s own integrity in the process.

“Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22 NKJV

Although Satan tries to spread confusion about what is good and evil, we can depend on God’s Spirit to guide us in these decisions. Even in one’s own culture there is likely to be increasingly more and more need to keep a watchful eye on cultural influences.

Accepting and valuing others doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice God’s principles for living the best lifestyle possible wherever you are. Love and respect can surely be shown to others, as you conscientiously live out your professed beliefs in a manner that will be a strong witness of God’s power to change hearts.

Discussion Questions:

Read Acts 10:22, 34, and 35. What lessons about tolerance can we gain from Peter’s experience with Cornelius?

Read 1 Corinthians 2:2. What is the most important doctrine we can share with those in our mission field, wherever that is?

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22. How do we keep our own cultural identities out of the picture when we try to determine what is good and evil?

Monday: The Power of Culture on Family

Besides foreign missionaries struggling to exist in cultures so different from their own, we find some examples in the Bible of families making the same kind of decisions within their own culture. And very often, they turn out to be wrong decisions…

  • Abram using Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid, to produce a male heir (a custom totally acceptable in their culture at that time)–Genesis 16:1-3
  • Jacob having to cleanse his household of idols that had been secretly worshiped by those in his family (something you might expect with all the pagan religions that existed where they were living)–Genesis 35:1-4
  • all the pagan wives of  the Hebrew priests (quite acceptable in that area of the world)–Ezra 10
  • King Solomon’s large household of concubines and wives, who he admitted had turned his heart from God (kings were expected to follow that practice back then to extend their power)–1 Kings 11:1

These examples and others reinforce the need for us to adapt our faith to whatever culture we find ourselves. But God expects us to do it without compromising our beliefs. Sharing the gospel with the world cannot occur without our effort to let God lead in these delicate decisions and choose His will above all others.

Discussion Questions:

Read Genesis 16:1-3 and 18:19. How does Abraham’s experience show us that our faith can grow and families do change over time?

Read Genesis 35:1-4. What is the correct way to address problems within the family? How can we get compliance without using force as we try to lead our loved ones into a better way of life?

Read 1 Kings 11:1-6. Why was Solomon without excuse when he followed the wrong example of his father David? Besides the present culture, why is it so hard to break from family traditions?

Tuesday: Sustaining Families Through Seasons of Change

They say that there’s one thing that doesn’t change: and that is change itself!

Yes, there are many kinds of changes facing families, both now and in the past: having children, taking care of elderly relatives, experiencing the loss of a loved one. Whether these things occur naturally, or are the result of disasters, accidents, illnesses, or sudden economic hardship, we must learn to accept our family’s current condition and deal with changing circumstances in a way that does not jeopardize our faith.

Some of the ways Bible families dealt with change were to…

  • move to a better location as God directed (Abraham, Sarah, and Lot leaving Ur–Genesis 12:1-5)
  • stay and adapt to the culture around you as much as possible (Hadassah, the orphaned girl in Babylon who later became Queen Esther–Esther 2:7-9)
  • stand up for your beliefs when necessary in the culture you reside (Daniel and his friends’ refusal to eat some foods at the king’s table)

Adjustments to change in the family, and the stress that comes with it, can either cause us…

  1. to grow spiritually, or
  2. to start doubting, which leads to distrusting God

Remember to…

  1. rely on God’s promises, knowing you are in God’s hands, and
  2. keep reaching out to family and friends who can help.

Discussion Questions:

Read Genesis 12:1 2. Why do you suppose Abraham was told to leave his home country, and what was Abraham’s descendants to accomplish by this move? How hard would it have been to answer God’s call and go to Canaan?

Read Esther 2:7, 10, 11 and 4:14. Why does it seem that Esther made the right decision to go along with her fate in the palace? How did it later save her people?

Read Daniel 1:8, 20, 21, 2:48, 49. How did it later prove beneficial for Daniel’s friends to take such a stand on diet? If they hadn’t done this, do you think Daniel would have later been able to reveal the king’s dream? Why, or why not?

Wednesday: Toward a First-Generation Faith

Studies have found that those who participate in the development of an organization or institution are much more committed to its beliefs and goals. The mission seems to lessen in urgency with those who later take up the cause.

This, of course, also applies to our religious life. We must be cautious about taking up the religion of our parents and grandparents, without thoroughly making their beliefs our own. Over the years, habits become traditions; so we must make sure we aren’t just following traditions, but personally following Christ.

Families can do much to create an environment that encourages young people to make right choices, but ultimately, the choice is theirs. Without a personal experience, everything becomes just a formality for them. There are no grandchildren in the family of God…only those who know the Father and have a living relationship with Him will enter His kingdom.

Prayer is probably our handiest tool as parents, especially as children grow older and we have less control over their environment. Setting a good example by having a personal religion of our own is also helpful. The gospel message is spread most effectively one person at a time. Salvation must become an individual goal.

Discussion Questions:

Read Judges 2:7-12. What were some of the factors that may have caused those later generations to forsake God?

Read John 1:12, 13 and 3:7. Why is a new birth necessary when it comes to our faith in God? What other kinds of birth are not adequate, when it comes to our salvation?

Read 1 John 5:1. How do we know we are born again?

Thursday: Twenty-First-Century Runners

One can only imagine that Christian believers in the first-century must have preached extensively and convincingly of Christ’s death and resurrection. What astounding news it must have made for those who hadn’t heard of the event! All their faith hinged on that one astounding fact of a risen Lord.

For us today, perhaps the message of the cross isn’t quite as lustrous. Two thousand years have passed, and to most people, it seems more like history than the current event news it was for those early believers.

But another vital message has been given to us today. We look longingly to the Second Coming of Christ, especially as prophecy tells us we are now in those final hours before He comes. We, too, have thrilling news to deliver to a dying world.

As families recognize their need of God and for each other, they will spontaneously take the gospel message to all those who will hear. Just as whole households embraced the Christian cause when the apostles preached, we will soon see whole families converted and on fire to serve God.

Discussion Questions:

Read Matthew 28:5-7 and 1 Corinthians 2:2. Why is the news of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection still an important part of the gospel message today?

Read Romans 1:16, 17. Why was Martin Luther, and other Protestant reformers, especially drawn to these verses?

Read Revelation 14:6-12 and Matthew 28:19, 20. What gospel message is especially important for us in the twenty-first century? Why is it important for all the world to hear it?

And, finally…

“…’Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ ” 1 Samuel 8:5 ESV

God understood Israel’s desire for a king as a rejection of Himself. They were bending to the cultural norms around them. But, despite their less-than-perfect choices, He did all He could to forewarn them of the dangers and finally worked faithfully within the framework they demanded.

God is also merciful and gracious enough to allow us to experience the folly of our decisions. Even though we may suffer the natural consequences of our actions, if we later cooperate with Him, His Holy Spirit can help make up for our mistakes.

Many of Christ’s parables dealt with the kingdom of God, leaving us with a description of that ideal culture to hope and strive for…

  • the wheat and the tares–the kingdom of God is where the righteous and unrighteous are finally separated (Matthew 13:24-30)
  • the mustard seed–the kingdom of God is where our faith is grown to its fullest (Matthew 13:31, 32)
  • the pearl of great price–the kingdom of God is worth everything we have suffered and paid for it (Matthew 13:45, 46)

Any sacrifice we make, as we adjust to God’s ideal culture and become families of faith, will be richly rewarded in the heavenly homes of the earth made new.

Next Week’s Lesson: What Have They Seen in Your Home?

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