Tag: Hope

1 Peter 1:1-21: “Live in Hope”

by on Jun.29, 2007, under Uncategorized

I love the apostle Peter. I love the way he always knows exactly what not to say, and exactly when not to say it. I mean, come on, if there was anyone of whom the saying “he doesn’t open his mouth except to change feet” were true, it’s Peter. Many of you, like me, would have been amused at Stephen Hilaire’s Black Stump renditions of “Jesus and his Merry Men” – with poor Peter the butt of every joke and the source of much frustration and headshaking on Jesus’ part.

As we read on in the Bible, however, we start to get a glimpse of a very different Peter indeed. Here is a man confident to speak in front of huge crowds1 and courts2, to heal cripples3, to pronounce judgement leading to death4 and even to minister to his gaoler. What could possibly change a man who is afraid even to be associated with Jesus( (Luke 22:54-62)) into one who can rejoice at being flogged because he had been counted worth of suffering disgrace for the Name5?

  • What do you think could cause such a change in you?

I believe that Peter reveals some of his secrets in his first letter. Throughout the course of this and the next couple of studies I reckon we should get a picture of exactly what motivated this change in Peter… and what can bring about the same kind of change in you!

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Background to 1 Peter
The first thing to know about 1 Peter is who it is written to and why. Peter, probably writing from Rome, is writing at a time when Christians are just starting to enter a time of intense persecution. The emperor Nero had recently come to power, and tormenting, torturing and killing Christians was starting to become the in vogue thing to do. History tells us that people lost their jobs for being Christians, were shunned by their society, cast out of their houses, deprived of all their possessions. Many ended up running for their lives and hiding in tombs just to stay alive, whilst others were cast into the Circus Maximus to do battle to the death with gladiators or lions for the public amusement. Peter himself was crucified (upside down, because he did not consider himself worthy of suffering in the same way Jesus did) under Nero. Peter no doubt had some insight into all of this, and so he writes to those who are strangers in the world (1:1), for whom the world has no love but rather hatred and enmity.

  • Imagine that you were facing such horrific prospects. Where would you look for strength? What would give you hope?
  • On the flip side, what kind of things would you offer as encouragement to Christians today who are suffering persecution?

Living Hope
Read 1 Peter 1:1-5

  • How could the words of Peter in the opening verses of his letter (1-5) bring comfort and hope to people who had been driven from their homes and exiled to foreign lands?
  • God has offered a storehouse of treasures for all who follow Him. What are some of the treasures Peter highlights that can never be taken away? How have you experienced one of these treasures in your own life?

Our “inheritance is kept for us, and we are kept for it”6. Not only will it not perish, spoil or fade, but we ourselves are shielded by God’s power until we receive it.

Read 1 Peter 1:6-12

  • Peter describes some of the fruit that is born in our lives through times of trial. What grows in the life of a follower of Christ through times of struggle, loss and trials? (vv. 6-9; cf. Romans 5:3-5)
  • Tell your group about a loss or time of struggle you have faced. How did you experience God’s presence and work in your life through this time?

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.”7

  • Peter promises that hardships lead to “praise, glory and honour” to Jesus. Do you believe this? Have you seen it happen? How?

Read 1 Peter 1:13-21
Verse 13 signals a big shift in Peter’s train of thought. The first 12 verses have been focused on the hope that God provides us, but now he is more interested in how we are to respond. He is calling us to have right attitudes and actions.

All of us have faith that may be mixed with improper attitudes or sinful motivations… In the crucible of life, God our Goldsmith skims off our impurities. Through trials, God burns away our self-reliance and self-serving attitude, so that our genuineness reflects his glory and brings praise to him.8

  • What are some of the attitudes and actions that Peter calls us to?
  • How is God challenging and growing you in one of these areas? How can your group members encourage and pray for you in this area?

Christians look toward the return of Jesus, when pain will end and perfect justice begin. Faith will be rewarded and evil will be punished. But what should we do until then?

The Bible’s answer is simple but not easy: Because we know the future, we must faithfully server God here and now. If today that means resolving a conflict, mending a hurt, working a dull job, confronting a belligerent child, rebuilding a marriage, or just waiting for guidance – do it all with the joy of God, who will return with his reward!9

Some prayer suggestions

  • Pray for group members who shared about a trial they are facing.
  • Pray that God will show you how to respond to Peter’s call to right attitudes and actions, particularly the specific areas that God is challenging you in at the moment.

[Parts of this study were adapted from 1 Peter: Stand Strong by Bill Hybels (Zondervan 1999)]

Endnotes

  1. Acts 2:14-41
  2. Acts 4:1-22
  3. Acts 3:1-10
  4. Acts 5:1-10
  5. Acts 5:41
  6. Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, IVP 2006, p. 47
  7. Mary Stevenson, “Footprints in the Sand”
  8. Life Application Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Peter and Jude (Tyndale 1995) p. 32
  9. ibid. p. 33
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