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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.

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1 Peter 2:9-10 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 2:9-10
  3. Peter was a person of Jewish descent, yet this letter was written primarily to Christians of a Gentile (non-Jewish background).  In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter uses a number of Old Testament allusions to describe New Testament Christians.  What are some of the phrases Peter uses to describe Christians in these verses?
  4. Though there are similarities between Israelites (Jews) and Christians, there are also some marked differences (beyond our belief in Jesus).  Take your list above and brainstorm differences between Jews and Christians in the descriptions given.  (EXAMPLE:  Peter says “chosen race.”  This was once only one ethnicity, but now the “race” is a spiritual identity . . . made up of people from all nations and ethnicities who accept Jesus as savior.)
  5. The Jews were called to be a holy nation.  The nation of Israel was a place for other nations to visit and see what God was like.  However, the church does more than just exist in our own world . . . we are called to PROCLAIM the Good News and go and shine His marvelous light among the nations.  Too many churches/Christians have an Old Testament understanding of our calling.  Christians are not merely to have an alternate lifestyle of holiness, but we are to be on a rescue mission with Jesus in this world, helping others connect to the “spiritual house” Jesus is building by faith.  What are some things you can do to help proclaim the greatness of Jesus outside the walls of the church this week?
  6. Throughout this section, we are reminded that it is God’s initiation and mercy that make it possible for us to thrive in the Christian life.  We have hope because of Him.  His grace has given us new life and purpose.  Take a few moments and praise God, thanking Him for His saving work in your life.

 

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

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1 Peter 2:4-8 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 2:4-8
  3. In 1 Peter 2:4-5, Christians are called “living stones.”  Literally, this concept makes no sense.  Stones are not alive.  However, Peter uses this idea here to make a point.  What do you think Peter is trying to communicate by calling Christians “living stone”?
  4. Peter here says that Christians are being built into a “spiritual house.”  In most every religion in the world, there are “holy places” where adherents to a particular religion go to worship.  For example, Old Testament Jews went to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship . . . a building which was still in existence when Peter’s letter was written.  Peter indicates, however, that the new spiritual house for Christ followers is something different.  To the best of your understanding, what is the new “spiritual house” and how does it differ from all other places of worship?
  5. STUDY NOTE:  No doubt, you have heard someone refer to a church building as “God’s house” or the “house of the Lord.”  However, this is a concept that does not jive with Christian thinking.  In Christ, people’s worship of God has radically changed.  Instead of being tied to one geographic location, it s mobile, found wherever Christians gather (in a home, in a prison, in a cathedral, or in a beautiful modern church building structure.)  The value of the new “spiritual house” is found in the Christians themselves and in their cornerstone Savior Jesus Christ, not in the precious metals used in construction of a building or altar.  This is such a tremendous game changer!  This passage does NOT teach that it is bad for a church to own a building or for a church to have a place where their main worship services happen.  However, this passage DOES teach that it is not the place that is holy . . . it is a redeemed people.  Jesus did not die for a building, He died for you and me.  Through this one amazing act, it became possible for the church to become the agent to transform the world.  No longer were the people of God tethered to a building, a specific language, or a finite number of priests.  Instead, the church now became a mobile people on mission, able to take the Gospel and the Spirit the Gospel empowers to the ends of the earth.
  6. In what way is Peter’s description of Christians as a “spiritual house” (as described above) a new idea for you?  What are some of the questions and implications you see related to this idea?
  7. In 2:6, Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 referring to the foundation Jesus provides for the church.  The cornerstone was the stone on which the entire building was secured . . . its foundation.  This implies that the Church has no hope apart from its sustained connection to Jesus Christ.  What are some ways in which Christians (and even churches) are tempted to wander away from their intimate connection to their “foundation” in Christ?
  8. In 2:7, Jesus is also described as a stone that was rejected (quoting Psalm 118:22).  Historically, who rejected Jesus?  Are there any others in your life today who have rejected the cornerstone of life?
  9. In 2:8, Jesus is described as a “stone of stumbling and rock of offense” (quoting Isaiah 8:14).  Peter is referring to the fact that Jesus can either be the source of growth, or someone that causes judgment to fall.  If Jesus is accepted in faith, He gives life and value.  If He is rejected, this disobedience leads to judgment.  Have you experienced these extremes among your family or friends?  (where some have accepted Christ and some rejected Him.)  Do these references help you make sense of this dynamic?

 

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

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True Grace (part 2) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, June 14, 2015, I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church based on 1 Peter 1:13-25.  This message was part 2 in our “True Grace” series.  To listen to this message, you can access it below via download, online media player, or video.

 

To download this message to listen to later (click on the link below):

True Grace #2

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch a video of the sermon, view below via our Vimeo site:

 

 

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

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1 Peter 2:1-3 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 2:1-3
  3. 1 Peter 2:1 begins by telling Christians to “put away . . .”  In the original language, this phrase is used to describe taking off certain clothing.  In what way do you think this is an appropriate analogy regarding a Christian’s behavior?
  4. Do you notice a common theme among each of the sinful behaviors noted in 2:1?  What kinds of sins are these?
  5. 1 Peter 2 continues the themes of 1:22-25.  In light of a believers “new birth,” they are called to nurse on the right milk.  The “milk” that believers need here is the Word of God — the Bible.  As milk is essential for the growth of a child, so the Word is essential for the growth of the Christian.  Christians are to “long for” or literally “develop an appetite for” the Word of God.  How can a Christian develop an appetite for God’s Word?  What kinds of things help Christians be excited about finding nourishment in the Word of God?
  6. What is your regular plan for finding spiritual nourishment from the Word of God?
  7. The end product of being nourished by the Word of God is that people “grow up” into their salvation . . . that is they live a life consistent with their identity in Christ.  In what way has studying God’s Word allowed you to grow in your life?
  8. Peter’s assumption in 2:3 is that the readers of this letter were already followers of Christ.  They were people who had already “tasted that the Lord was good” – in other words, they had experienced the salvation offered in Christ.  While anyone can find certain general encouragement from God’s Word, a believer has a new and special appetite for it.  Read Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:25-27.  These verses help to unpack WHY Christians (as recipients of the New Covenant promised in these Old Testament passages) have an appetite and aptitude for the Word of God.  Summarize your understanding of these verses below:

To link to the entire “True Grace” Study of 1 Peter for download, click here.

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True Grace (part 2) Sermon Discussion Questions

On Sunday, June 14, 2015, we continued our sermon series at Wildwood Community Church entitled “True Grace.”  This series (based out of the book of 1 Peter) talks about how God has given us the grit to stand in hostile territory.  The second sermon in this series was grounded in 1 Peter 1:13-25.  Below are questions for personal reflection or group discussion based on this message.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read 1 Peter 1:13-25
  2. In the introduction to today’s message, I mentioned that most “prisons” people find themselves in today are not a place they can escape from without outside assistance.  While this is certainly true of the correctional facilities of our penal system, it is also true of more metaphorical “prisons” – including prisons made by the consequences of our own sin.  Have you ever felt “imprisoned” by a circumstance or sin in your own life?
  3. The great news is that Jesus came to set the captives (that’s us) free!  According to 1:18-21, how has Jesus secured our freedom?  Have you ever accepted the freedom Jesus secured for you by faith?  If so, when?  If not, why not?
  4. Jesus has set us free from our sin for a specific set of purposes.  Instead of simply freeing us, only to watch us become enslaved to the futile things of this world, Jesus sets us on a better trajectory.  One thing that Jesus has set us free to do, is to have a “full” hope.  Yet living with hope is a difficult task (as 1 Peter 1:13 tells us).  What are some of the things that go through your mind that make it difficult for you to have hope?
  5. Jesus also sets us free so that we might live in holiness (1:14-16, 22-25).  This holiness comes both from modeling our Heavenly Father and allowing the seed of His Word to bring forth fruit in our lives.  Living in holiness sets our lives in the direction of obedience.  Obedience includes “not being conformed to the passions of your former ignorance (1:14), and “loving one another earnestly from a pure heart.” These two commands help form brackets around the moral/holy life God is calling us to.  As you have reflected on this message, are there areas of your life you are tolerating and justifying that are falling short of God’s best for your life?
  6. Jesus also sets us free so that we might honor God.  This honor (or “fear’ as Peter describes it in 1:17) is in light of the fact that we will one day see our Heavenly Father face to face, and He is the ruler of the world.  Of this fear, Warren Wiersbe has said, “In view of the fact that the Father lovingly disciplines His children today and will judge their works in the future, we ought to cultivate an attitude of godly fear. This is not the cringing fear of a slave before a master, but the loving reverence of a child before his father. It is not fear of judgment (1 John 4:18), but a fear of disappointing Him or sinning against His love. It is “godly fear” (2 Cor. 7:1), a sober reverence for the Father.”  What would it look like for you to live a life honoring God by fearing Him (in the right sense of the word)?
  7. What stood out to you most about the message today?  How is God leading you to respond?

 

The entire “True Grace” study on 1 Peter can be found at this link.

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Castaway (True Grace Week 2 Devotional)

Chuck Noland never saw it coming.  One day he was living his normal life as an executive with FedEx, the next day he was the lone survivor of a plane crash in the south Pacific.  Somehow Noland survived the crash and washed ashore on a deserted island with debris from the flight.  No one knew he had survived and the folks back home called off the search after a few weeks.  Chuck would have to live the life of a castaway, exiled in a faraway land, surrounded by water that tried to drown his hope.  So goes the story of the 2000 movie “Castaway” starring Tom Hanks.

Once ashore on the island, Noland began gathering up (and sorting) all the packages that had also survived the crash.  Though his reality had changed (he was now more of a survivalist than a FedEx exec) old habits die hard.  Instead of using the objects in the packages to survive, he was preserving them for delivery.  Watching the movie, the irony was so thick you could ship it.  It took weeks for Noland to finally altar his mindset and live into his new reality . . . and open and use the contraband that had washed ashore.

I was thinking about this example today as I read 1 Peter 1:13-25.  In these verses, Peter admonishes Christ followers to live into their new identity in Christ.  Though the temptation exists for Christians to live a worldly/selfish life (1:13-14), our reality has changed.  In Christ, we are born again and are a new creation.  Christians live on this earth with the transplanted heart of God.  This new seed that is planted inside followers of Christ encourages reverence toward God, not rebellion (1:15-17), and love for others, not selfishness (1:22-25).

We are all born with a flesh that has programmed us to do our own thing.  Therefore, we spend a lot of life stacking our stuff on the shoreline of our past, instead of thriving in the new life Jesus has made possible for us.  In Christ, we have a new reality!  He has set us free (1:18-21) from our bondage to sin and given us the capacity to live a Christ honoring life through the work of the Holy Spirit.  He wants us to unpack the gifts He has given us and enjoy them in this life.

Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Have you trusted in Him for the forgiveness of your sins?  If so, then stop living a life marked by your old identity.  In Christ, you have a new option to live out a new life connected to God and others.  Don’t spend your life as a castaway, isolated from your God and others — surrounded by waves of trials that want to drown your hope.  In Christ, He wants to rescue you into relationships that last and give life.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, join us in our 9:30 or 10:50 worship service as we explore 1 Peter 1:13-25 in greater depth and share in the Lord’s Supper together.  Hope to see you there!

 

To link to the entire “True Grace” Study of 1 Peter for download, click here.