Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Be Hopeful 1 Peter Session 12 - Trust God Completely





The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is studying the book of 1 Peter.

The thing that separates Christianity from other religions is grace. It is simply God doing something for you with no strings attached. God’s grace is solely motivated by love: deep, abiding, unconditional, sacrificial love.


Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were going through various trials. The apostle knew that a severe “fiery trial” was just around the corner, and he wanted to prepare believers for it. God’s message to us is, “Be hopeful! Suffering leads to glory! God can give you all the grace you need to honor Him when the going gets tough! The future is still as bright as the promises of God, so—be hopeful!


Last week we talked about 10 things that will keep Christians balanced; be sober, pray, love, be hospitable, minister your spiritual gifts, don't think it strange, rejoice, don't be amazed, glorify God, and commit yourself to God.

Today as we come close to the end of our study Peter addresses the entire church family and gives them instructions on being prepared for the coming "fiery ordeals". These are instructions for us today in dealing with the persecution and suffering Christians have to endure because of our relationship with Christ.
  1. Be humble

  2. Be   watchful

  3. Be Hopeful



Suffering doesn't diminish the importance of faith and good works. Even in hardship, Christians can find comfort and strength by trusting God.

There is nothing for us to fear if we are suffering in the will of God. Our faithful Father-Creator will victoriously see us through!

10 things that will keep Christians balanced while we wait for the culmination of our glory and salvation when Christ returns.  

1. Be sober

‭1 Peter 4:7 NIV‬ The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 

keep your mind steady and 

2. Watch unto prayer

‭1 Peter 4:7 NIV‬ The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 

If we are sober-minded, we will “watch unto prayer.” If our prayer life is confused, it is because the mind is confused.

3. Have fervent love

‭1 Peter 4:8 NIV‬  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 

 4. Use hospitality

‭1 Peter 4:9 NIV‬ Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 

5. Minister your spiritual gifts

‭1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV‬ [10] Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. [11] If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

6. Think it not strange

‭1 Peter 4:12 NIV‬ Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 

7. Rejoice

‭1 Peter 4:13-14 NIV‬ 13] But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. [14] If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 

8. Do not be ashamed

‭1 Peter 4:15-16 NIV‬ [15] If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. [16] However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 

9. Glorify God

‭1 Peter 4:16-18 NIV‬ [16] However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. [17] For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? [18] And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

10. Commit yourself to God

‭1 Peter 4:19 NIV‬ [19] So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

The verse emphasizes trusting God completely, even in suffering.   Suffering doesn't negate the importance of good works and living a holy life. Even in hardship, Christians are called to act with compassion and integrity.  God is a "faithful Creator," trustworthy and capable of taking care of those who rely on him. This reinforces the idea of placing complete trust in God's hands.   It reminds us that God is with us even in difficult times, and that living a righteous life is important even amidst suffering.

1 Peter 5 focuses on living faithfully despite challenges. Here's a quick summary:

  • Leaders: Elders are urged to shepherd the church willingly and humbly, with a future reward promised.

  • Humility: All believers are called to submit to each other and cultivate humility, as God opposes pride.

  • Trusting God: Anxiety should be cast on God, who cares for his followers.

  • Spiritual Warfare: Be alert against the devil's attacks, resisting him with a firm faith.

  • Suffering and Glory: Though suffering may arise, God will ultimately strengthen believers and share his glory with them.

  • Closing: The chapter ends with a blessing and greetings.

How to Be a Good Shepherd


Times of persecution demand that God’s people have adequate spiritual leadership. This explains why Peter wrote this special message to the leaders of the church, to encourage them to do their work faithfully. Leaders who run away in times of difficulty are only proving that they are hirelings and not true shepherds


We talked church leadership and their qualifications as presented by Paul when we studied Timothy and Titus. Peter here is specifically addressing the elders.  In our previous studies we learned that The words elder and bishop refer to the same office. The word bishop is often translated “overseer”.



“Elder” refers to the maturity of the officer, and “bishop” to the responsibility of the office. The word pastor (which means “shepherd”) is another title for this same office.


 Peter identifies himself as an elder, a fellow leader alongside those he addresses. He also emphasizes his eyewitness experience of Jesus' suffering and future glory. This establishes his authority and shared experience with other church leaders.


‭1 Peter 5:1-4 NLT‬ [1] And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: [2] Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. [3] Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. [4] And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

Who is addressed?

  • Elders (also referred to as shepherds or pastors): Peter identifies himself as a fellow elder and witness to Christ's sufferings. He speaks to those entrusted with the care of the church community.

The Call to Shepherd Well

  • Care for the Flock: This is not a position of power, but of responsibility. Leaders are to watch over the congregation with a willing heart, driven by a desire to serve God, not personal gain.

  • Lead by Example: Effective leadership comes from setting a good example. Leaders should embody the qualities they want to see in their congregation.

  • The Reward: Faithfully leading the flock will be recognized by the "Great Shepherd" (Jesus) when he returns. The reward is a "crown of unfading glory" - a symbol of honor and victory.

This passage emphasizes the importance of Christ-like leadership within the church.

  • Leaders should be humble servants, motivated by love for God and the congregation.

  • Faithful leadership is rewarded by God.

From Grace to Glory!

Peter knew that a “fiery trial” was about to occur, and he wanted the entire church family to be prepared. As he closed his letter, Peter gave the church three important admonitions to obey if they were to glorify God in this difficult experience.

  1. Be humble

  2. Be   watchful

  3. Be Hopeful


Be Humble

‭1 Peter 5:5-7 NLT‬ [5] In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [6] So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. [7] Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

He had already admonished the saints to be submissive to government authorities

1 Peter 2:13-15 NIV [13] Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, [14] or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. [15] For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 

the slaves to submit to their masters

1 Peter 2:18-25 NIV [18] Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. [19] For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. [20] But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. [21] To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. [22] “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” [23] When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. [24] “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” [25] For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

and the wives to their husbands and vice versa 

1 Peter 3:1-7 NIV [1] Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, [2] when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. [3] Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. [4] Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. [5] For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, [6] like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. [7] Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 

 Now he commanded all of the believers to submit to God and to each other.

Verse 5: "Clothe yourselves with humility" is a metaphor. Humility isn't a physical garment, but an attitude we cultivate. It involves thinking modestly about ourselves and acknowledging our dependence on God.

"Under the leadership of the elders" instructs younger believers to submit to those in authority, but this submission only works if it's done with humility, not resentment.

The younger believers should submit to the older believers, not only out of respect for their age, but also out of respect for their spiritual maturity. Not every “senior saint” is a mature Christian, of course, because quantity of years is no guarantee of quality of experience. Too often there is a generation war in the church, with the older people resisting change, and the younger people resisting the older people!

The solution is twofold: (1) All believers, young and old, should submit to each other; (2) all should submit to God. “Be clothed with humility” is the answer to the problem.

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" is a core principle. Pride, an inflated sense of self-importance, goes against God's will. Humility, on the other hand, opens us to God's blessings.

We can never be submissive to each other until we are first submissive to God. God resists the proud because God hates the sin of pride.

‭Proverbs 6:16-19 NLT‬ [16] There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: [17] haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, [18] a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, [19] a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

‭Proverbs 8:13 NLT‬ [13] All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech.

It was pride that turned Lucifer into Satan. (Isa. 14:12–15). 

It was pride—a desire to be like God—that stirred Eve to take the forbidden fruit.

The only antidote to pride is the grace of God, and we receive that grace when we yield ourselves to Him. The evidence of that grace is that we yield to one another.

Submission is an act of faith. We are trusting God to direct in our lives and to work out His purposes in His time. After all, there is a danger in submitting to others; they might take advantage of us—but not if we trust God and if we are submitted to one another! A person who is truly yielded to God, and who wants to serve his fellow Christians, would not even think of taking advantage of someone else, saved or unsaved. 

Verse 6: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand" emphasizes God's power and our need for humility before Him. This doesn't mean groveling, but recognizing our place in His creation.  It says that when the time is right, in due time, God promises reward for humility. God will lift up those who are humble, not necessarily in this life, but ultimately.  When we humble ourselves before God, we can trust him to take care of our worries and burdens.

This is a powerful image. It's not just putting down a worry, but actively throwing it onto God. It signifies complete trust and releasing the burden of anxiety.

Life brings constant worries, so casting anxieties on God needs to be an ongoing practice. It doesn't mean God will fix everything exactly how you want. Trusting God's care involves believing He knows what's best, even if it's different from your desires. We must once and for all give all of our cares—past, present, and future—to the Lord. 

We must not hand them to Him piecemeal, keeping those cares that we think we can handle ourselves. If we keep “the little cares” for ourselves, they will soon become big problems! Each time a new burden arises, we must by faith remind the Lord (and ourselves) that we have already turned it over to Him.

This verse complements Philippians 4:6-7. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV) 

Casting anxieties on God involves both releasing the burden and trusting Him through prayer.

Overall, 1 Peter 5:7 is a message of hope and encouragement. By acknowledging God's care and surrendering your worries to Him, you can experience a deeper sense of peace and trust in His presence.

How does God show His love and care for us when we give our cares to Him? I believe that He performs four wonderful ministries on our behalf: 

(1) He gives us the courage to face our cares honestly and not run away

‭Isaiah 41:10 NLT‬ Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

(2) He gives us the wisdom to understand the situation 

‭James 1:5 NLT‬ If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 

(3) He gives us the strength to do what we must do

‭Philippians 4:13 NLT‬  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  

and (4) He gives us the faith to trust Him to do the rest 

‭Psalms 37:5 NLT‬ [5] Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

When You’re Overwhelmed, Stand Strong
By Rick Warren

“Put your trust in the LORD your God, and you will stand your ground. Believe what his prophets tell you, and you will succeed.” 2 Chronicles 20:20 (GNT)

When you focus on your problems instead of trusting God, you’re going to end up exhausted and defeated—because God didn’t design you to fight your battles alone. You don’t have the power you need to face every problem in your own strength. You need God’s power.

You can’t focus on your problems and focus on God at the same time. You’ve got to shift your focus to who God is and what he’s promised to do for you.

Life is full of experiences that test you, drain you, and wipe you out. But it’s often when you are worn out that you are finally ready to say to God, “I’m sorry. I can’t handle this situation, and I’ve tried everything. I need to give it to you because it’s bigger than me.”

When you do that, you’re standing strong—with an attitude of quiet confidence in the character of God. You’re trusting in what he says to you through his Word and the Holy Spirit

When life’s burdens are overwhelming, you may be tempted to cave in under the pressure. But God doesn’t want you to back down from difficult situations. He doesn’t want you to sacrifice your integrity. God wants you to trust him through the challenges and learn from them. 

If you run, you’ll miss out on learning from God. And chances are, you’ll need to repeat that lesson. Instead, stand strong as you rely on God.

God is committed to your success. But you need to focus on him and trust him and his Word if you want to stand your ground.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all” (Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG).


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Be Hopeful 1 Peter Session 11 - Your Attitude Matters




The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is studying the book of 1 Peter.

The thing that separates Christianity from other religions is grace. It is simply God doing something for you with no strings attached. God’s grace is solely motivated by love: deep, abiding, unconditional, sacrificial love.


Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were going through various trials. The apostle knew that a severe “fiery trial” was just around the corner, and he wanted to prepare believers for it. God’s message to us is, “Be hopeful! Suffering leads to glory! God can give you all the grace you need to honor Him when the going gets tough! The future is still as bright as the promises of God, so—be hopeful!


Peter described four attitudes that a Christian can cultivate in his lifetime (“the rest of his time”) if he desires to make his life all that God wants it to be.

Here are the four attitudes that Peter describes

  1. A Militant attitude toward sin

  2. A patient attitude toward the lost

  3. An expectant attitude toward Christ

  4. A fervent attitude toward the saints 


We talked about the first two, a militant attitude toward sin, a patient attitude toward the lost, last week we are going to talk about the final two attitudes that Peter says we need today. We are going to look at our expectant attitude toward Christ and our fervent attitude toward the saints.

Finally we are going to talk about 10 things that will keep Christians balanced while we wait for the culmination of our glory and salvation when Christ returns.


Review

A militant attitude towards sin would mean that we hate and oppose sin. We should have a militant attitude toward sin because of what it did to Christ and with a militant attitude toward sin we can enjoy the will of God.


We should have a patient attitude toward the lost.  Our contact with the lost is important to them since we are the bearers of the truth that they need. When unsaved friends attack us, this is our opportunity to witness to them. Instead of arguing with them, we should pray for them, knowing that the final judgment is with God.


Now to the next two  attitudes that a Christian can cultivate in his lifetime (“the rest of his time”) if he desires to make his life all that God wants it to be an expectant attitude toward Christ and a fervent attitude toward the saints.


AN EXPECTANT ATTITUDE TOWARD CHRIST


‭1 Peter 4:7 NIV‬ The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 

Christians in the early church expected Jesus to return in their lifetime. No matter what we must all live in expectancy. The important thing is that we shall see the Lord one day and stand before Him. How we live and serve today will determine how we are judged and rewarded on that day.


Things to keep Christians balanced while we wait. 

1. Be sober

‭1 Peter 4:7 NIV‬ The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 

keep your mind steady and 

2. Watch unto prayer

‭1 Peter 4:7 NIV‬ The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 

If we are sober-minded, we will “watch unto prayer.” If our prayer life is confused, it is because the mind is confused.

4.  A FERVENT ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SAINTS (4:8–11)

3. Have fervent love

‭1 Peter 4:8 NIV‬  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 

If we really look for the return of Christ, then we shall think of others and properly relate to them. Christians need to love one another and be united in heart. This love should be “fervent.” 

Christian love is forgiving. Love does not condone sin, for, if we love somebody, we will be grieved to see him sin and hurt himself and others. Rather, love covers sin in that love motivates us to hide the sin from others and not spread it abroad.

The opposite of that kind of love is to talk about the sin to others even unbelievers. This leads to gossip and slander

 ‭1 Peter 2:1 NLT‬ [1] So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.  

No one can hide his sins from God, but believers ought to try, in love, to cover each other’s sins at least from the eyes of the unsaved.  After all, if the unsaved crowd finds ammunition for persecuting us because of our good words and works, what would they do if they knew the bad things that Christians say and do!

 4. Use hospitality

‭1 Peter 4:9 NIV‬ Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 

In New Testament times hospitality was an important thing because there were few inns and poor Christians could not afford to stay at them anyway. Persecuted saints in particular would need places to stay where they could be assisted and encouraged.

5. Minister your spiritual gifts

‭1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV‬ [10] Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. [11] If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

Christian love must result in service. Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift that he must use to the glory of God and the building up of the church (see Rom. 12:1–13; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:1–16). God has entrusted these gifts to us that we might use them for the good of His church.

6. Think it not strange

‭1 Peter 4:12 NIV‬ Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 

Persecution is not something that is alien to the Christian life. Throughout history the people of God have suffered at the hands of the unbelieving world. Christians are different from unbelievers, and this different kind of life produces a different kind of lifestyle. Much of what goes on in the world depends on lies, pride, pleasure, and the desire to A dedicated Christian builds his life on truth, humility, holiness, and the desire to glorify God.

7. Rejoice

‭1 Peter 4:13-14 NIV‬ 13] But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. [14] If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 

Literally, Peter wrote, “Be constantly rejoicing!”. The world cannot understand how difficult circumstances can produce exceeding joy, because the world has never experienced the grace of God.

Peter named several privileges that we share that encourage us to rejoice in the midst of the fiery trial.

8. Do not be ashamed

‭1 Peter 4:15-16 NIV‬ [15] If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. [16] However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 

Peter warns against suffering due to criminal activity or meddling in others' affairs. He lists examples like murder, theft, or being a busybody. Suffering as a consequence of such actions isn't something to be proud of. It doesn't bring glory to God and isn't comparable to suffering for Christ.

This is when someone suffers because of their faith in Jesus. It could be persecution, ridicule, or even physical harm for following Christ's teachings. Peter encourages believers to rejoice in this kind of suffering because it identifies them with Christ, who himself suffered unjustly.

9. Glorify God

‭1 Peter 4:16-18 NIV‬ [16] However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. [17] For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? [18] And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”


Overall Message:

Suffering for Christ is a badge of honor, not shame.

God refines his followers through trials.

The righteous face challenges, but those who reject God will face greater difficulties.

  • Being identified with Christ, even through suffering, is a reason for pride, not shame. "If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." 


  • Judgment Begins Within One view suggests that God refines and tests his followers first. If the righteous face difficulties, those who reject God will face even harsher judgment.

  • The Difficulty of Salvation  This emphasizes the challenges of living a Christian life. It doesn't imply salvation is impossible, but highlights the importance of faith and perseverance.

10. Commit yourself to God

‭1 Peter 4:19 NIV‬ [19] So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

The verse emphasizes trusting God completely, even in suffering.   Suffering doesn't negate the importance of good works and living a holy life. Even in hardship, Christians are called to act with compassion and integrity.  God is a "faithful Creator," trustworthy and capable of taking care of those who rely on him. This reinforces the idea of placing complete trust in God's hands.   It reminds us that God is with us even in difficult times, and that living a righteous life is important even amidst suffering.