1 Peter 5:3-4 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 5:3-4

3.   Peter continues his charge to church leaders by exhorting them to “be an example to the flock” instead of “domineering over them.”  Have you ever been in a situation where you have been led by someone who modeled the behavior you were called to live out?  Have you ever been in a situation where you were led by a person who was “domineering over” you?  How did these different types of leadership effect you?

4.  If you lead anything (small group, ministry setting, workplace, family, club, etc.), how can you “be an example” instead of simply demanding people do certain things?  What are the key things to model for your group in the settings where you lead?

5.   STUDY NOTE:  Leaders in the church are never the “Chief Shepherd.”  There is one leader of the church, and it is not your human pastor . . . it is Jesus Christ.  Each church has other human leaders, but these Elders/Pastors merely help care for Jesus’ flock in a particular setting.  Peter writes to encourage these “under shepherds” that faithful service (as described in 5:1-3) will be rewarded one day when Jesus appears at His second  coming.  While congregations can be (and should be) affirming to their pastors, a pastors chief reward will come from Jesus Himself in the future, not in earthly benefits today.

6.   Peter talks about a “crown of glory” which will come to faithful Elders at the return of Christ.  This is not the only “crown” which God speaks of for the Christian in the New Testament.  Most scholars do not see these as material crowns, but as symbolic.  In other words, 1 Peter 5:4 promises that glory will adorn the faithful Elder like a crown adorns a king.  This is much better than a physical crown that can tarnish or be lost.  Below, look up the passages listed there and write down some observations about the other spiritual crowns discussed for Christians:

  • 1 Corinthians 9:25
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:19
  • 2 Timothy 4:8
  • James 1:12, Revelation 2:10
  • 1 Peter 5:4

7.   How do these “crowns” promised by God in Scripture serve as motivations for you in your Christian life?

 

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

1 Peter 5:1-2 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 5:1-2

3.   Peter begins the conclusion to his letter with some personal comments.  In 5:1-4, he turns his focus to the leadership of the church.  The grace that God gives to followers of Jesus living in this hostile world INCLUDES servant-leaders leading His church well.  Peter wanted to remind the leaders of the church what their leadership should look like.  Peter begins this exhortation to church leaders by addressing them as a “fellow elder.”  What strikes you about how Peter relates to other leaders in the church?

4.   Peter here calls the leaders “Elders.”  This is a common title for the leaders of local churches in the New Testament.  Paul instructed Titus to appoint Elders in each city in Crete (Titus 1:5).  The church in Ephesus was led by a group of Elders (Acts 20:17ff).  Qualifications for Elders (called “overseers” in 1 Timothy) are given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  From what you see in 1 Peter 5, Titus 1, 1 Timothy 3, and Acts 20, what is the job of an “Elder” in a local church?

5.   As was seen above in question 4, those serving in the role of Elder were called different things.  Sometimes “Elder,” sometimes “overseer,” and sometimes “Pastor” or “Shepherd.”  In the churches you have been a part of, what have the leaders been called?  (NOTE:  The diversity of titles used for elder/overseer/pastor should prevent us from judging churches based on the names they call their leaders.)

6.   Notice that the plural form, “Elders,” is used here and in other parts of the New Testament.  What is the benefit of a multiplicity of leaders (as opposed to one dominant leader)?

7.   STUDY NOTE:  Peter also says in 5:1 that he is a “witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker of the glory that is going to be revealed.”  Part of what leaders in the church have in common is a current experience (being persecuted in Jesus’ name) and future promise (sharing in glory when Jesus returns).  Certainly Peter saw Jesus suffer, but suffering in Jesus name continued as the church experienced persecution.  Peter was well acquainted with this, and he reminded all fellow Elders that He was in the fight with them, and awaited the same future glory as they did.  Peter did not think he would receive an extra special place at the “pearly gates.”  He knew that in Christ, all Christians would share in the same glory when Jesus returned.

8.   In 5:2, the Elders are charged with “shepherding” or “pastoring” the “flock of God that is among you.”  What stands out to you about this charge?  Specifically:

  • In what way is a “shepherd” a good model for a church leader?
  • Notice that the “flock” (the people) are not described as the possession of the church leader, but as connected to God.  Why is this important (in your opinion)?
  • The flock was “among” them.  What does this mean about nature of church leadership?

9.  Leaders are to provide oversight willingly, not under compulsion (5:2).  What do you think this means?

10. Leaders are to provide oversight “eagerly,” not for “selfish gain (5:2).  What do you think this means?

 

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

True Grace (part 8) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, July 26, 2015 I preached a message at Wildwood Community Church based on 1 Peter 4:12-19.  This message was part 8 in the “True Grace” series.  The audio and video from this message are included below.

 

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

True Grace #8

 

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

 

To watch the video of this sermon, use the Vimeo video below:

 

 

 

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

 

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True Grace (part 8) Sermon Discussion Questions

On July 26, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based out of 1 Peter 4:12-19.  This message was part 8 in the “True Grace” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection and group discussion.

 

Questions:

  1. Read 1 Peter 4:12-19
  2. Have you ever experienced any persecution for your faith in Christ?
  3. Why should Christians “not be surprised” when persecution comes their way according to this passage?
  4. What would it look like to rejoice while experiencing persecution?  What kind of a perspective would you have to have to be able to praise God in the midst of such a trial?
  5. How does the fate of those who do not know Christ motivate you to endure the temporary trials of life today?
  6. Have you “pre-decided” to follow Christ no matter what?  Why or why not?
  7. In what way is God the best “bank” in which to entrust our souls (4:19)?
  8. What is causing you to be anxious today?  How can you draw encouragement from entrusting your soul to your “Faithful Creator” today?
  9. What stood out to you most from today’s message?  Any applications you walk away with?

 

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

 

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Showing Your Colors (True Grace week 8 Devotional)

Located about five minutes southeast of downtown Dallas stands a large plastic man.  Big Tex is his name.  Every fall he welcomes hundreds of thousands of people to the Texas State Fair.  The State Fair attracts a diverse audience:  moms and daughters, boyfriends and girlfriends, high schoolers and those who are just plain high, and everyone in between.  On one Saturday each year in early October, however, Big Tex says “Howdy” to a whole different breed.  In College Football’s equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys, the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns square off in the shadow of Big Tex on the hallowed grounds of the Cotton Bowl.

Four times in my life, I have been lucky enough to attend this game, and it is an experience that I will never forget.  Each time I have gone to the game, I have been amazed at the contrast of colors.  The Cotton Bowl seats more than 90,000 people.  In a unique twist, exactly 45,000 of these people are wearing Sooner Crimson, and the other 45,000 are wearing Bevo Burnt Orange.  These obvious colors make it easy for all to identify your allegiance as you wander through the State Fair eating corn dogs and waiting for the start of the game.

As an OU graduate, I (of course) have cheered for the Sooners each time I attended the game.  In my four trips to the Cotton Bowl, I have truly seen it all both on and off the field.  On the field, the Sooners are 1-2-1 (one win, two losses, and one tie) when I have seen the game live.  Off the field, I have celebrated the win with those garbed in red, and been ridiculed by those in orange after a Sooner defeat.  In both cases, my affiliation with the Sooners was the reason for my celebration or suffering.

I was thinking about this experience today as I read 1 Peter 4:12-19.  These verses conclude a lengthy section of 1 Peter dealing with the suffering a Christian undergoes because of their faith in Christ.  As he wraps up this section, in 1 Peter 4:12, Peter wants all believers to not think that “something strange” was happening to them if they were experiencing persecution for their faith.  Peter writes to let them know that persecution for the Christian was to be expected.  As they lived out their spiritual lives in a hostile world wearing the colors of Christ, they should expect some suffering.

In 4:13-16 Peter says this, “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. . . if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”  In these verses, Peter is reminding Christians that they wear on their bodies the colors of Christ.  Everyone who passes around them knows that they are followers of Jesus.  Because of that, they will share in the fate of Christ.  In this life, Jesus was booed and beaten, mocked and marked, chided and crucified.  If that is how the world treated Christ, then it should come as no surprise when the world treats you in this way.  Because of my OU sweatshirt at the OU/Texas game, I was mocked by Texas fans.  Because of my faith in Christ, I may be mocked by those who do not know Christ.  In both cases they are not really rejecting me as much as they are rejecting the One whose Name I bear.

In the midst of this sobering declaration, however, Peter invites Christians to rejoice.  Why would Christians rejoice at the notion that they will be persecuted?  The reason is simple.  Just as my OU shirt brought me ridicule in defeat, so my OU shirt brought me celebration in victory.  In a similar way, our affiliation with Christ may cause us to be beaten down in the present, but that same affiliation with Christ will allow us to be with Him in His exaltation in the future. Because we are robed in His colors we get to celebrate His victory!  That is reason to rejoice.

So the next time you experience difficulty because of your faith in Christ.  Remember you are wearing His colors.  Our affiliation with Him is the reason for our temporary suffering and our eternal celebration.

 

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, join us in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship service as I will be preaching on this section of God’s Word.

 

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

1 Peter 4:19 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 4:19
  3. STUDY NOTE:  After detailing the certain persecution of Christians, Peter encourages us to “entrust our souls to our faithful Creator.”  This is a beautiful charge that deserves deep meditation by followers of Christ.  In today’s study, we will meditate on this comment deeply.
  4. In 4:19, God is described as our “Faithful Creator.”  This is a unique title of God in the New Testament.  While God is called “creator” or “faithful” in other places, here alone are these two words placed together in a title for God.  Why do you think Peter calls God His “Faithful Creator” here?  What about this title gives hope to Christians who are being persecuted in Jesus’ name?
  5. What does it mean to “entrust one’s soul” to Jesus as you experience persecution?  What would this practically look like in your life?
  6. Not only are Christians to entrust their souls to God, but they are to do this while also “doing good.”  This is a reminder that Christians are not to simply pull out of society and await their future deliverance.  They are to continue to engage in society as good citizens, spouses, workers, etc. (as seen in 1 Peter 2-3) out of reverence for Christ and love for one another.  In what ways have you been challenged to continue to “do good” in this life as a result of your study of 1 Peter over the last couple of months?
  7. In the space below, summarize what you think 1 Peter 4:12-19 is saying concerning the suffering of a Christian.

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

1 Peter 4:17-18 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 4:17-18
  3. What is the “judgment” that is beginning with the household of God (4:17)?  Given the overall context, WHO do you think is executing this judgment on God’s people (and for what reason)?
  4. STUDY NOTE:  It seems that Christians were experiencing judgment/persecution from the world because of their faith in Christ.  This might have tempted some Christians to wonder if it was really worth it to believe in Christ . . . since it had led to their struggle while their non-Christian friends avoided the persecution.  Peter here argues, however, that though Christians suffer now at the hands of the world, they will experience eternal glory.  In a converse way, those who have rejected Christ may glory now, but they will experience a much more severe judgment in eternity.
  5. Notice that though the struggle of Christians at the hands of the world PRECEDES (judgment  “begins at the household of God” (4:17)) the judgment of the world before a holy God, the judgment from God to the world will be more intense and final.  How does this encourage you to have compassion on those who are persecuting Christians?
  6. In 4:18, Peter loosely paraphrases Proverbs 11:31.  The argument is one of the lesser to the greater.  In other words, if this lesser situation happens, we can be even more certain that the greater will happen as well!  The point Peter is making is that each persecution in this life can serve as a reminder that if the world enacts justice as they see fit, certainly God will enact justice as He sees fit in the end times.  Have you ever been tempted to think that “evil wins”?  If so, how does this perspective help encourage you?

 

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

1 Peter 4:12-16 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 4:12-16
  3. STUDY NOTE:  In 4:12, Peter describes a coming “fiery trial” for Christians.  While we do not know exactly what this refers to, scholars have tied this proclamation to the start of Roman government sponsored persecution of Christians that began in the mid-60’s, probably around the time this letter was written.  The Roman Emperor Nero had gone mad and wrongly accused Christians of burning down the city of Rome.  He responded by literally burning on crosses Christians in the city of Rome.  Peter knew this “fiery trial” would spread even to the outer reaches of the Roman Empire where the original recipients of this letter lived.
  4. What are some of the fiery trials that face Christians in the world today?
  5. Peter wants his readers to not be surprised when these trials come.  This is similar to what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12 where Paul tells Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life will suffer.”  Persecution of Christians is more the norm than the exception.  Have you ever experienced persecution (in any form) because of your faith in Christ?  If so, what was that experience like?  If not, what does this verse tell you about what to expect in the future?
  6. Persecution comes, Peter says, to “test you.”  This is similar to the language used in 1 Peter 1:7.  The idea is that these trials help reveal our faith.  Over the past two months how trials you have experienced helped to reveal your faith to those around you?
  7. In 4:13, instead of being surprised by “fiery trials” Christians are to rejoice.  What is the reason that Christians should rejoice when persecuted according to Peter?  Is this an encouragement to you?
  8. What is the blessing that comes to Christians who are “insulted for Christ” (4:14)?  Have you ever seen this in your own life or in the life of someone you know?
  9. Peter concludes 4:12-16 with a similar refrain from earlier in his letter . . . don’t rejoice in suffering that comes due to your bad decision making.  Instead, rejoice in the suffering that comes as a result of following Christ.  This is an important distinction for Peter.  What are some examples of the difference between suffering because of OUR sin and suffering because of faith in our Savior?
  10. It is possible for someone to have physical or emotional scars associated with the persecution they had received.  Given human frailty and pride, it is also possible that these scars might cause some to want to hide their scars or their stories from others.  However, Peter encourages Christians who have been persecuted to “not be ashamed” because of their suffering, instead glorify God (4:16).  What would it look like for a person to not be ashamed of their suffering and to glorify God?

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

True Grace (Week 7) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday morning, July 19 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on 1 Peter 4:1-11.  This message was part 7 in the “True Grace” series.  The message is posted below in various formats to listen to, watch or share.

 

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

 

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

True Grace #7

 

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

 

 

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

 

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True Grace (part 7) Sermon Discussion Questions

This morning, July 19, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on 1 Peter 4:1-11.  This message was part 7 of the “True Grace” series.  Below are a set of questions based on this message designed for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Questions:

  1. Read 1 Peter 4:1-11
  2. In what way do you see our world getting “accustomed to the darkness?”
  3. Have you ever felt yourself tempted by the culture to accept sinful behaviors you used to resist?
  4. How does “arming yourself with the mindset of Christ” inspire you to obey God today?
  5. In general, are you living your life forward (toward your heavenly identity) or backward (toward who you were before trusting in Christ)?
  6. Speaking of 1 Peter 4:4, Warren Wiersbe said, “Unsaved people do not understand the radical change that their friends experience when they trust Christ and become children of God.  They do not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another!  But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!”  Have you ever experienced anything in your own life like this?
  7. Think of someone you know who had a vibrant relationship with Christ, and has physically already died.  If you were able to talk to them right now, what do you think their advice would be to you about following Christ in this life?  In light of where they are in eternity, and the spiritual life they now have eternally, obedience to Christ totally seems worth it . . . don’t you think?
  8. How does prayer help you get past the distractions in this life and focus on living your life forward?
  9. Living forward, also means loving fervently other Christians around you.  Of Peter’s admonitions in 4:8-9, what is most challenging to you?  How can you live out this challenge in your life today?
  10. In what ways has God gifted you for service?  Are you using those gifts to serve others?  Do you tend to have gifts of words or works (or a combo of both)?
  11. What most stood out to you from this message?

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

 

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