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1 PeterStand Strong
By Bill Hybels Kevin Harney Sherry Harney
ZondervanCopyright © 1999 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Life of Hope
1 PETER 1:1-21
It is 2:00 A.M. and you are deep asleep. You wake up to the sound of pounding on your front door. You jump out of bed and race for the door as you notice your two children standing in the hallway crying. Before you reach the door, it comes shattering in toward you.
Men with guns, lights in your eyes, screaming, and then ... nothing! When you regain consciousness you realize hours have passed. Your wife is by your side, and so are your children. They are bandaging up the wound on your head with strips of cloth from your son's T-shirt. It is cold and damp. As your eyes begin to focus you see stars above.
"Why are we outside? What's happening?" you whisper.
With tears your wife says, "The government-they took everything! Our house, cars, clothes, food, money ... everything! All because we are Christians."
In one day, your whole life has radically changed. You are now poor, persecuted, a target, an exile. You won't gather with your friends for church this Sunday. As a matter of fact, you don't even know where they are. You sit there with a numb mind and bruised body trying to grasp what has just happened to you and your family.
Can you imagine this horrific scenario? Many Christians in the first-century church did not have to imagine, they lived it. They ended up running for their lives and hiding in tombs just to stay alive.
Making the Connection
1. If you lived through a time of persecution like the one described above, what are two things you would miss from your old way of life?
What are two things you have that no person, government, or time of persecution could take away from you?
Knowing and Being Known
Read 1 Peter 1:1-5
2. How could the words of Peter in these opening verses bring comfort and hope to people who had been driven from their homes and exiled to foreign lands?
3. 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 over this past year?
4. God has promised a priceless inheritance that never perishes, spoils, or fades. How might this news have brought hope to Christ followers who were living in the catacombs?
How does the certainty of your heavenly inheritance help you through times of loss and struggle?
Read 1 Peter 1:6-12
5. 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).
6. Tell your group members about a loss or time of struggle you have faced in the past year.
How did you experience God's presence and work in your life through this time?
7. Peter promises that our trials can bring "praise, glory and honor" to Jesus Christ. How have you seen God receive praise through a time of trial and struggle?
Read 1 Peter 1:13-21
8. In verse 13 Peter has a big "Therefore." It is a radical call to right attitude and action. What are five attitudes or actions Peter calls us to incorporate into our lives (vv. 13-16)?
Why are these attitudes and actions essential for an authentic Christian life?
9. How is God challenging you and growing you in one of these areas?
How can your group members encourage and pray for you in this area?
10. How would you respond to one of these statements or questions in light of verses 18-21:
"I don't think followers of Christ should talk about the blood of Jesus and His suffering; this topic could be offensive to seekers who are investigating the claims of Christianity."
"I've always admired Jesus. I think He was a good man and a wonderful moral teacher. What I don't get is why Christians think His death two thousand years ago could actually impact people today."
"I don't know a lot about world religions, but they all seem pretty much the same. What is unique or different about the Christian faith?"
The Voices of the Martyrs
God you are with me and you can help me; You were with me when I was taken, And you are with me now. You strengthen me.
The God I serve is everywhere- In heaven and earth and the sea, but he is above them all, For all live in him: All were created by him, And by him only do they remain.
I will worship only the true God; You will I carry in my heart; No one on earth shall be able to Separate me from you. -Quirinus of Siscia Arrested for his faith, tortured, and executed by drowning, A.D. 308
There is but one king I know; It is He that I love and worship. If I were to be killed a thousand times For my loyalty to him, I would still be his servant. Christ is on my lips, Christ is in my heart; No amount of suffering will take him from me. -Genesius of Rome Martyred by Diocletian in A.D. 285
A Grace Disguised
In his book, A Grace Disguised (Zondervan, 1996), Gerald Sittser addresses the reality of suffering, trials, and loss. His own loss came in the fall of 1991 when a drunk driver crossed into oncoming traffic and struck the van he was driving. In a fraction of a second, his life was changed forever. He watched his wife, mother, and daughter all die before his eyes. In the introduction of his book, Jerry writes:
As I reflect on the story of my loss, I have learned that, though entirely unique (as all losses are), it is a manifestation of a universal experience. Sooner or later all people suffer loss, in little doses or big ones, suddenly or over time, privately or in public settings. Loss is as much a part of normal life as birth, for as surely as we are born into this world we suffer loss before we leave it.
It is not, therefore, the experience of loss that becomes the defining moment in our lives.... It is how we respond to loss that matters. The response will largely determine the quality, the direction, and the impact of our lives.
What Is It "There For?"
It has been said, "Every time you see the word therefore in the Bible, be sure to ask, 'What is it there for?'" Too often we look right past some very significant words in the Bible. The use of therefore sets the stage for what will follow. In this case, Peter is pulling together all he has said and is getting ready to call people to action. The word therefore at the beginning of this section is very significant ... don't miss it!
Excerpted from 1 Peter by Bill Hybels Kevin Harney Sherry Harney Copyright © 1999 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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