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1 Peter 3:1-2 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”
  2. Read 1 Peter 3:1-2
  3. 1 Peter 3:1 begins with the word “likewise.”  What is the connection between 3:1-7 and 2:13-25?
  4. STUDY NOTE:  In these verses, Peter addresses Christian wives.  While this seems normal to us today, it was radical in the first century.  Women in the Roman Empire in the first century were not seen as moral agents with equal value.  In fact, they were regularly looked down upon and discriminated against.  Therefore, Peter’s comments here show a dramatic change for women inside Christianity.  One commentator says it this way, “Peter clearly focusses his address on women whose husbands are not Christians (not that he would give different advice to women whose husbands were Christians), and he addresses them as independent moral agents whose decision to turn to Christ he supports and whose goal to win their husbands he encourages.  This is quite a revolutionary attitude for that culture.”  Peter celebrates this Christian women’s faith, and encourages them to bring the Good News of Jesus into their families.
  5. In 3:1 (and again in 3:5) Christian wives are called to submit to their husbands.  To the best of your understanding, what does it mean to “submit”?
  6. Can you think of any situation where a Christian wive should not submit to her husband?  (NOTE:  look back over the discussion in week 4 about a Christian’s role in response to government for more ideas).
  7. Submission is not a concept directed only toward women.  Ephesians 5:21 (among other places) direct ALL Christians (regardless of gender) to submit to one another — that is to place another’s wants/needs/desires above your own.  In what way do you think a Christian wife’s call to submit to her husband is different than the call to submit to others?
  8. One of the purposes of this call for Christian wives to behave in a certain way is so that non-Christian husbands might place their faith in Christ.  What does Peter indicate in 3:1-2 is the big influencer on the husband, words or actions?  What are the implications of these verses for Christian husbands and wives who have unbelieving spouses?
  9. If you are a Christian wife, what personal applications do you draw from these verses?

To access the rest of the “True Grace” Study, click here.

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True Grace (part 4) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, June 28, 2015, at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based out of 1 Peter 2:11-25.  This message was part 4 in the “True Grace” series.  If you missed the message and want to listen to it, or it you heard it and wanted to share it with a friend, the message is posted below in various forms.

 

To listen to the message online, use the media player below:

 

To download the audio to listen to later, click on the link below:

True Grace #4

 

To watch the video on the sermon, use the embedded Vimeo Video below:

The video will be added here once it becomes available.

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study, click here.

 

TG 4.001

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True Grace (week 4) Sermon Discussion Questions

On Sunday, June 28, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based out of 1 Peter 2:11-25.  This message was part 4 in the “True Grace” series.  Below are a set of questions for personal reflection or group discussion based on this message.

 

Questions:

  1. Read 1 Peter 2:11-25
  2. Do you ever struggle with wondering how we are to live as Christians in a secular society?  What are some of the topics/areas/questions you have about how we are to live as Christians in the United States in 2015?
  3. Christians are called to stand out, not merely fit in with their lifestyle.  This requires believers denying their fleshly desires and choosing to obey Christ instead.  What are some of the temptations you face in your life today?  In Peter’s words, on what issues is your soul at war (2:11)?
  4. So far in 1 Peter, we have seen that Christians are called to live a stand out holy life “for God” (1:15-16) and “for us” (in harmony with our new identity – 1:23-25).  However in 2:12, Peter reminds believers that they also live a righteous life to influence the pagan world around them.  How have you seen the righteous actions of Christians influence people to follow Christ?
  5. In 2:13-17, Christians are called to submit to governing authorities.  What do you think Peter means that Christians are to submit to rulers . . . including Nero (who was Emperor of Rome at that time)?  Based on what these verses say (and the overall context of this section), why are Christians to submit to governing authorities?
  6. Is there ever a time when Christians are not to obey their government?  Under what circumstances would a Christian practice civil disobedience?
  7. In 2:18-20, Christian slaves are called to submit to their masters.  Placed in a larger context (for application today), Christians are called to submit to their employers (even if their employers are not very Christian in their behavior).  What does this mean for you as you work within your job?  Any applications you take away from this section?
  8. In 2:21-25, Jesus is put forth as the One who provides both our example and our salvation.  In what way is Jesus an example to those who are suffering in the world today?
  9. What did Jesus do to secure salvation for those who believe in Him?  Have you placed your faith and trust in Jesus to be the Savior of your sins and the Shepherd of your soul?  If so, when?  If not, what is keeping you from trusting Christ today?
  10. What applications or takeaways did you have from today’s message?

To access the entire “True Grace” study, click here.

 

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Is the Water Worth It? (True Grace week 4 Devotional)

After a long, difficult hike that saw my companions and I ascend nearly 1,500 feet in about an hour, I was exhausted . . . and thirsty . . . but I kept on hiking.  What string of events led me to this point?  Was I being forced at gunpoint to hike ever onward?  Was this the Baton death march or the trail of tears?  No.  This was vacation . . . and I was supposed to be having a great time.

In reality, I was having a great time, except for the fact that I was just about to the end of where my legs could carry me.  Earlier that day, two of my friends and I had set out to climb halfway up Yosemite’s famous “Half Dome Trail” to see the scenic beauty of both Nevada and Vernal Falls.  When we started our ascent we were all gung ho and stupid —  a lethal mixture of testosterone and machismo that caused us to embark up that trail with no water in our canteens and with a firm commitment to not be the guy who requests that we stop and take a break.  Growing up in mainly paved neighborhoods had convinced me that when you needed something to drink, you simply went to the local 7-11 and bought a slurpee . . . the only problem was that half way up Half Dome hill, there is no slurpee machine in sight.  The combination of the thin, dry mountain air and the lack of water was beginning to wear me out.

When we finally arrived at the top of Nevada Falls, I was very excited to find a beautiful gentle pool of crystal clear mountain water.  This was not 7-11, but it was going to serve just fine.  I walked quickly over to the stream and peered deep into the water.  I was just about to kneel, cup my hands, scoop up some water and take a drink, when my friend (and more experienced outdoorsman) told me some valuable information.  “Don’t drink the water.  There are all kinds of microscopic parasites inside that water that will make you very sick . . . for a very long time!”  Suddenly I was faced with a dilemma.  I was very thirsty.  In front of me lay a body of water that looked like it could be filmed in an Aquafina commercial.  I wanted to take a drink.  However, my friend (who knew more than I did) warned me that a drink from that water would not be worth it.  With a scowl on my face, I decided to not drink the water.

If I could not drink the water, however, I was convinced that swimming in that water would be the next best thing.  The water felt cool to the touch and a few laps around this mountain stream would feel so nice on my skin.  I was thinking about jumping in the water when I saw a sign.  In big red letters, the sign read, “IF YOU SLIP AND FALL IN THESE WATERS AND GO OVER THE FALLS YOU WILL DIE.”  Though the waters looked calm, just beyond this gentle pool the waters were picking up velocity, and tumbling hundreds of feet over Nevada Falls.  Not wanting to die, I chose to not take a swim.

When I accurately assessed the situation I determined that I would rather be thirsty than a host for a parasite, and I would rather be hot than dead.  When viewed correctly, those activities simply were not worth it.

I was thinking of that day in Yosemite National Park today as I was reading 1 Peter 2:11-12.  In these verses, Peter discusses a real dilemma every follower of Christ faces.  In the first two chapters of his letter, Peter has pointed out a number of times that his readers are “born again” in Christ.  They have a new identity, a new life.  However, Christians live out their new life in Christ at an old address – the flesh.  In Christ, they have a new desire to obey God and glorify Him.  However, in their old address, they have desires that tempt them do things that always over promise and under deliver.  Peter says it this way in 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

Let’s be honest.  The reason we sin is because at some level sin is attractive to us.  Though God has placed warning signs in His Word the waters of sin still look swimmable to us.  Though God’s voice through the indwelling Holy Spirit tells us “no,” we still want to take a drink.  Why?  Because the passions of our flesh try to convince us that we (not God) know best.  Can you relate?

Alcohol, pornography, affairs, lying, theft, gossip, gluttony . . . all have an appeal to our flesh.  We think that giving in to those desires will make us happy.  In fact, however, these passions are at war with our souls.  They want to suck the life out of us like a parasite.  Taking a swim in their waters will cause us to fall to great harm.

In 2:11, Peter reminds his fellow spiritual hikers, that their true home is not of this world. They are merely sojourning in this land.  We need to remember this as we live our new life at an old address.  Our flesh (and the flesh of others) will try to convince us on a number of occasions that sin is in.  However, we know better.  Therefore abstain from the things that want to war against your soul.

But Peter does not stop with the command to abstain.  He goes on to give a reason for obedience that goes beyond the personal to the corporate . . . goes beyond ethics to evangelism.  One reason to abstain from the passions of the flesh (according to Peter) is that we would “keep (our) conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (2:12).”

In other words, we live a life of obedience to Jesus, not just for us (and not even just for God) but in part so that non-Jesus followers would not have ammunition against us.  Non-Christians see the good works of Christians and can be led to glorify God as a result.  Part of the reason we keep our conduct honorable is for them, not just for us or Him.  Have you ever thought about that?  Your faithful lifestyle is a part of God’s plan to win your neighbor for Christ.

Therefore, as the passions of your flesh tempt you to sin, remember two things:  (1) Giving in to that temptation leads to death as sin wages war on your soul.  (2) Swimming in sin can sweep you far away from God’s desire to use you to lead others around you to Himself.

In light of these thoughts, it is never worth it to drink from sin’s streams, no matter how attractive they look to us.  Remembering our new identity in Christ, we realize that we have a full canteen of Living Water with us all the time . . . and this is the only thing that truly satisfies our thirst.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, join us as we will look more in depth at 1 Peter 2:11-25.

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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1 Peter 2:18-25 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. Take a moment to pray.  Praise God for His Word and ask Him to teach you its truth, just as the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:12-16, “Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.  I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
  2. Read 1 Peter 2:18-25
  3. STUDY NOTE:  In the first century, roughly 40% of the population  (some 18 million people) were slaves in the Roman Empire.  Apparently, some of the original recipients of this letter were household servants or slaves who had trusted in Christ.  Though Roman slavery had differences to slavery in the Americas in the 1700-1800s, the fact that millions of people were “owned” by others in the first century cannot be denied.  Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:18-20 to instruct these slaves how to behave.  By application, however, the principles described in these verses can apply to employer/employee, teacher/student, coach/player relationships today.
  4. What kind of a “master” deserves the respect of the Christian?  Do you find that hard to believe?  What inside you challenges this notion?
  5. In what way does it honor God when a Christian respects those who mistreat them for no reason?
  6. Peter moves into seeing Jesus as the example for how to endure while being persecuted unjustly.  In your own words, summarize what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:21-23.  How does Jesus’ example help you to honor the “hard to honor” in your life today?
  7. In 1 Peter 2:24-25, Peter communicates deep theological truth about what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished for Christians.  Again, summarize in your own words what Jesus’ death accomplishes for us according to these two verses.
  8. In 2:24, Peter again makes the point that we have been saved by Jesus so that we might live a new life.  This is a consistent refrain of this letter.  Here, Peter says that Jesus died that we “might die to sin and live to righteousness.”  What would it look like for you to “die to sin and live to righteousness?”  Any particular changes come to mind as you read this verse?
  9. Peter concludes this theological section of chapter 2 by encouraging Christians to return to Jesus who is the Shepherd who protects their souls.  This is one of the most beautiful pictures of Jesus in the New Testament.  What comes to mind when you think of Jesus as one who “protects your soul”?

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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1 Peter 2:13-17 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.  Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24.  “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
  2. Read 1 Peter 2:13-17
  3. 1 Peter 2:13-17 describes a Christian’s behavior toward the government authorities placed over them.  In general, what is Peter’s exhortation to Christian’s concerning the governments they live under?
  4. We have already seen in this study that the government and Emperor Peter was living under at the time he wrote the letter were NOT Christian.  In fact, they were hostile toward Christians.  What are the implications of this as we try to apply the truth of this passage today?
  5. Why are Christians to honor their governments?  (Look for answers to this in 1 Peter 2:13-17, but also look at Romans 13:1-7.)
  6. While Peter primarily indicates that Christians should honor and obey their governments, the book of Acts tells us that there are a few times that Peter disobeyed government.  Acts 4:19-20 is one of those sections.  Scan Acts 4 and see what the circumstances were that led to Peter’s disobedience of the Jewish authorities then.  Can you develop a principle to help you understand when (if ever) it is appropriate to disobey the government?
  7. As a Christian living in a democracy today, what does it look like to honor our leaders, while still engaging in healthy debate and voting?
  8. 1 Peter 2:17 gives a list of general commands to the Christian.  Why do you think Peter had to mention the Emperor by name in this list?  Peter had already told Christians to honor everyone (and the Emperor was certainly a someone!)  What do you think singling out the Emperor implies?  Are there any applications even BEYOND government figures of this principle?

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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1 Peter 2:11-12 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”
  2. Read 1 Peter 2:11-12
  3. In 1 Peter 2:11, Peter returns to calling Christians “sojourners and exiles.”  In this verse, he connects their status as “exiles” with a moral life they are to live.  What is the connection between their status as sojourners and their conduct?
  4. Peter talks about the “passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul.”  This is an indication that even after a person comes to faith in Christ, there are sins that still tempt them.  What are some “passions of the flesh” that are especially tempting to you right now?
  5. Peter indicates that these “passions of the flesh wage war AGAINST your soul.”  Even though the passions of the flesh are appealing to us, they ultimately seek to destroy us, not help us. How have you seen this to be true in your life?  Has there ever been a time when sinning looked fun or attractive, but after you did it, you realized that the sin was bad for you (waging war against you)?
  6. STUDY NOTE:  In 64 AD, the Roman Emperor Nero slandered Christians, wrongly accusing them of setting fire to the city of Rome.  This false accusation was used by Nero to then start an Empire wide persecution of Christians.  Scholars debate the exact date of the book of 1 Peter, but most scholars date the book either just before or just after Nero’s slanderous decree in 64.  This historical event is very important to understanding 1 Peter 2:12.  Peter was either preparing Christians KNOWINGLY for the persecution that was to come (i.e. he had already heard of Nero’s insanity), OR God was preparing Christians for this coming persecution through Peter, even if Peter did not yet know what Nero was getting ready to do (i.e. the letter was written just before Nero’s outburst).  Either way, the historical context of this letter shows God’s immediate care and counsel for His people.  The direction God gives Christians here is still valid and applicable today as Christians live life in society.
  7. Christians are to have an influence in the world around them for Jesus.  One of the ways this happens is by living exemplary lives that keep non-Christians from being able to lampoon Christian’s immorality or justify their mistreatment.  Can you think of any examples biblically or historically when God used the righteous lifestyle of one of His followers to help convince a pagan that God was real and worthy of worship?
  8. Is there anything God is leading YOU to do in response to 1 Peter 2:11-12 so that the non-Christians around you might glorify God as they see God’s work through your ethics and life?

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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True Grace (pt 3) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, June 21, 2015 I preached a message on 1 Peter 2:1-10 at Wildwood Community Church.  This message was part 3 of the “True Grace” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio and video from the message for you to listen to online or download for later use.

 

To listen to the sermon online, use the media player below:

 

 

To download the sermon to listen to later offline, click here:

True Grace #3

 

 

To watch the sermon video, watch via our Vimeo feed below:

 

 

 

To download the entire 1 Peter “True Grace” study, click here.

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True Grace Part 3 (Sermon Discussion Questions)

On Sunday, June 21 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message from 1 Peter 2:1-10.  This message was part 3 in the series “True Grace.”  Below are a list of questions for personal or group reflection based on this message.

 

Questions:

  1. Read 1 Peter 2:4-10
  2. What are some buildings you have seen before in your life that told you that something was important?  Have you ever discredited a business before because they did not have uniformed staff or a facility to meet in?
  3. In the first century, Gentile Christians did not have a temple or church building to worship in, fancy leadership, or a track record of public support.  What do you think it would have been like to be a follower of Christ in that day?  How would it be different than your experience following Christ today?
  4. The significance of the church is found by its connection to “Him” (Jesus Christ).  In 2:4, He is described as the living stone.  Why do you think Peter describes Jesus in this way here?
  5. Though the world rejects Jesus, God chooses and values Him and has made Him the cornerstone in His new Temple.  What do you think Peter meant when He described Jesus as the “cornerstone”?
  6. Many people throughout history have rejected Christ and “tripped” on Him.  What are some of the reasons you have heard before about why people reject Jesus Christ?  Are you currently rejecting Christ?  What is tripping you up about Him and His claims?
  7. For those who do not reject Jesus, but come to Him in faith, He honors and does not disappoint.  What are some of the ways in which Jesus blesses the church according to this passage?
  8. Of this list of blessings, which is most significant to you right now?
  9. Do you regularly make “pilgrimages” to the “new temple” in order to worship God with the other “stones”/people?  What would you need to change in your life to make regular worship and fellowship more a part of your life?

 

To access the entire 1 Peter “True Grace” study, click here.

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Appetite (True Grace week 3 Devotional)

About the time my son turned 3 years old, he became a very finicky eater.  One day he would eat fish sticks, the next day he didn’t want them.  One day he would eat carrots, the next day they were just funny orange sticks to throw at the dog.  I guess every child goes through phases like this.  It is probably a rite of passage that parents go through with their kids.  I hope to get my “I don’t like that/I’m not hungry” merit badge from some secret parental society in the mail any day now.

Josh’s selective thoughts about food were new at that time.  When he was born, he ate the exact same thing multiple times a day for months, and never complained.  Josh lived on a diet of milk (like all children) for several months.  This diet helped nourish him and allow him to grow “big and strong.”  After all, he was born at just over 3 pounds, and grew to nearly 20 on his mostly all liquid diet.  It was only after Josh started trying other foods that he got selective.  After all, once you have had a cupcake, why would you choose a carrot?  After chocolate covered granola bars, a plain bowl of Cheerios does not look quite so appetizing.

While Josh picked and choosed his way through various food options each day, he kept an appetite for milk, and has at least one cup of of 2% every day.  This is a nutritional staple for him that he should not wander away from if he wants to grow “big and strong.”

I was thinking about this today as I read 1 Peter 1:23-2:3 which say, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.  For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.’  And this is the Word that was preached to you.  Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

In those verses, Peter is reminding all Christians that in Christ they have been “born again.”  This new birth has hardwired them with an appetite for the imperishable Word of God.  The passage indicates that living by the Word of God will help Christians grow up in their salvation.  When we hear this, we all probably are nodding our heads in agreement on the theoretical level.  Of course Christians are to live their lives according to what the “good book” tells them to do.  As people who know Christ, we also know that we have received a new birth, with the gift of eternal life.  The problem in understanding these verses for Christians is not in the rhetoric, but in the practice.  If I have been born again with an appetite for God’s Word, then why do I not always want to read it?

I think this passage gives us an interesting insight into this issue in 1 Peter 2:2 when Peter commands Christians to “crave pure spiritual milk” (contextually we know “pure spiritual milk” is the Word of God.)  This command gives us insight because it indicates that even though we are born again with a desire for God’s Word, we still have to do something to help keep our appetite for it up.  If we had to do nothing, then the command would be meaningless.  The fact that Peter commands us to “crave” the Word, indicates that it is possible for Christians to (at times) feel no appetite for it.

Why do we sometimes lack an appetite for the Word?  When Christians first enter into a relationship with Christ, many times (like a newborn baby), they just suck up all the truth they can find.  All the Bible stories are new.  All the concepts are revolutionary.  Because of this, new Christians devour the Word of God like Joshua drinking milk alone for the first months of his life.  As time goes on, however, Christians begin to taste again from other “foods.”  Worldly philosophies, entertainment outlets, and other things become the cupcakes of their spiritual and mental diet.  Tasting too much of these things can sometimes spoil the innate appetite believers have for the Word of God.  While it is not bad to eat a cupcake or a chocolate covered granola bar, you would not want to make those the staple of your diet.  There is a deeper nutrition that your body is craving.  When it comes to our spiritual lives, our bodies are craving the deeper nutrition of the Word of God.

If you are reading this today and God’s Word has become stale, stop for a moment and consider your new birth.  Consider what Christ has done in your life, and remember that He has designed you with a certain spiritual nutrition that you need.  Even if you don’t think you want to read the Word of God, know that it is the very milk your spiritual life needs to help it grow “big and strong.”

Most of us want to grow strong spiritually, but we are feeding ourselves a steady diet of “junk food” and wonder why the results are less than impressive.  By faith read God’s Word regularly and see that craving return.  Reading the Word helps whet the appetite for more of its nutrients.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.  His Word is a nutritional staple that we should not wander away from if we want to grow strong in the Lord.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, join us for worship at 9:30 or 10:50 AM, as we look further at 1 Peter 2:1-10 together.

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.