SESSION 4 | YIELD
PART 1: WATCH THE VIDEO
In our previous session, we asked the question what does persecution have to do with me? And we looked at some of the letters Paul wrote to the early Church, letters he wrote while he himself was in prison for his faith in Christ. In this last session we’ll ask the question, what does God want me to do in response to what I have learned?
Before you start the discussion guide, watch the Session 4 video with Pastor J.D. Greear (above).
PART 2: AT A GLANCE
Ready for another pulse check? Take a moment to have each of your group members share their answers to these questions:
- When faced with a decision or with figuring out how to respond to something, do you find yourself turning to God first for direction, or do you try to determine what to do next on your own?
- Do you ever find it difficult to be still and wait on theLord? If so, why do you think that is?
PART 3: GOING DEEPER
Martha, a Nigerian widow, was left to care for her five children alone. Faced with this seemingly impossible task, she shared how she makes it through each day by depending on God. Seeing her trying situation, the Open Doors field team connected with her to provide relief and support.
When they asked if they might take her photo, they were astounded by the joy that filled her face as she smiled. Martha had nothing, but she had everything because she trusted Jesus. The team asked how they might pray for her. She responded, “Pray that my children would grow up in the Lord and that they would learn to serve in their community.” At the end of her list was a request for prayer for her health. On top of caring for her children, Martha was also battling Hepatitis C.
Despite her hardships, Martha’s priorities were clear—Jesus first, others second and herself last.
As Americans, we live in a culture of doers. We are constantly bombarded with messages that encourage this mindset. Think about it—the early bird gets the worm and the American dream says if you work hard, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. Even Nike tells us to “Just do it.”
Add to that the fact that life these days seems to be flying by at a frantic pace, and you see how it’s all too easy to get caught up in doing and forget to simply be. But being isn’t enough on its own.
God desires our attention, our hearts and our complete surrender to Him. We see in the scriptures a call to quiet ourselves in His presence. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s not a suggestion; it’s a command to slow down, to stop doing and simply be before the Lord. It’s a call to recognize His Sovereignty and meditate upon who He is, upon His character.
When we quiet ourselves before the Lord, we resume a right focus, with our hearts and minds set on Him. The things of this world that so often compete for our attention fade as we grow more aware of His presence. When we stop talking and doing, we can hear Him and what He has to say to us.
This simple act of slowing down is crucial when it comes to understanding how to respond to the persecuted Church. We often hear about people in need and rush to help—and we should help. But sometimes our first instinct isn’t actually the most helpful.
Remember how we shared in the first session about wanting to stop persecution? Our knee-jerk response is to jump in and put an end to the suffering and hardship. But the persecuted Church isn’t asking for that. They understand that persecution is normal. Instead, they ask for prayer for the strength to withstand it.
Being still before the Lord also helps ensure that our idea of how to respond aligns with what He would have us do. When we dive in without seeking God first, we miss the opportunity to pray for and hear what His plan is for our lives.
WAITING ON THE LORD
Along with His command to be still before Him, we also see a recurring theme of waiting on the Lord throughout the Bible. Part of yielding to God is trusting that His plan and desires for us are best, that His timing—however different from ours—is right, and that He is worth waiting on.
- Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield (Psalm 33:20).
- For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation (Psalm 62:1).
- But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31).
- The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him (Lamentations 3:25).
Waiting on God can be hard. Incredibly hard. But waiting on the Lord can also be incredibly formative. As we wait, He shapes our character, molding us into people of strength and wisdom. As we wait, He also brings maturity and clarity—gracing us with a seasoned perspective that it’s not all about us. Rather, it’s about Him and the work He is doing.
Waiting on the Lord is challenging, but it is inextricably linked to yielding to Him.
SURRENDERING TO GOD
A heart yielded to God is one that can be still before Him, that waits on His timing and is surrendered to His plan. We often think of yielding and surrendering as being passive postures. And in a way they are. You are no longer striving to make your own plans a reality.
But when you surrender to the Lord, you are surrendering to His plan. Instead of striving to advance your own ideas and agenda, you are now advocating to see God’s plans fulfilled in your life and in the lives of those around you. In that sense, surrender isn’t passive at all.
Every year, thousands of people feel God drawing them to support persecuted Christians by partnering with Open Doors. From praying for those facing persecution to donating to help restore damaged communities and provide relief to believers who are hurting, these individuals are embodying what it means to be the Body of Christ—what it means to share in the sufferings of their fellow brothers and sisters.
These people have yielded before the Lord, and they are living on mission to make a difference in the lives of persecuted Christians. And while they set out to help fellow believers, every one of them will tell you that supporting the persecuted Church has had a remarkable impact on their own lives. They’re seeing hearts around them change as they hear about the all-in faith of believers around the world. They’re finding a deeper appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy and experiencing a greater motivation to share their faith with others. All because they were willing to yield to God and His plan.
RELYING ON CHRIST
As we think about what it means to yield to the Lord, we need to look no further than the persecuted Church—to the millions of believers who are living wholly surrendered to His plans as they face hardship and suffering for their faith.
They understand what it means to rely on God for everything. Think back to the widow with five children you read about at the start of this section. She had nothing but trusted God to provide each day.
An Egyptian Christian shared his dependence on the Lord: “You Americans have plans A through Z. We only have one plan, and that is for God to show up. If He doesn’t, we are out of luck.”
How might living in this kind of complete surrender to the Lord change your daily life? How might it change the lives of those around you?
It takes courage to yield to the Lord—courage to be still, courage to wait on Him and courage to surrender to His plan.
Do you have the courage to yield to what He may be asking you to do for the persecuted Church?
PART 4: REFLECT
In the spirit of yielding, let’s slow down and take some time to reflect on what you have read in this session.
- We’ve talked about how being still before God gives you time and space to think about who He is. Have you thought about using stillness to meditate on what God has revealed to you—both about the world we live in and about His Word? What do you think God is saying or has said to you about these things?
- Have you ever thought about surrender being an active posture instead of a passive one? How does the idea of surrendering to God’s plans change the way you view this concept? In what ways do you think God is calling you to actively surrender to help the persecuted Church?
- Persecuted Christians seem to rest in utter dependence on God. They have to trust Him for everything. What can we learn from our fellow brothers and sisters about relying on the Lord? Do you think it’s harder or easier to trust Jesus here where we enjoy religious freedom?
PART 5: PRAY
Lord, I confess that I often don’t wait on You well. It’s hard to quiet my mind and heart before You when the world is rushing by so quickly. Help me to be still before You. Help me to yield to You, waiting for Your timing and surrendering to Your plans. Would you show me how You would have me help the persecuted Church? I know I have so much to learn from them, from their total dependence on You. Help me to bless them, support them and stand with them—even if it means breaking out of my comfort zone to do so. I want to live a life surrendered to You. Amen.
Congratulations on completing The Ripple Effect Series!
We encourage you to check out our “Take Action” page and look for tangible opportunities to stand with your persecuted brothers and sisters—and to make caring for the persecuted a part of your everyday life. You can also visit OpenDoorsUSA.org for exclusive prayer needs and opportunities to make a lasting impact.