mercy

A Living Hope - 1 Peter 1:1-12

1.      How do people use the word “hope” today? (Wishful thinking, maybe it will happen, maybe it will not happen, etc.)

There’s an older—now archaic—meaning for hope, which was active when the Bible began to be translated into English. The old definition was confident trust that some future event would occur. Jesus offers that kind of hope—a living hope—to all who place their trust in Him.  His resurrection gives believers a living hope! It is a living hope because the more we exercise it the greater our confidence grows that God will bring to pass His promises.

The word hope does not convey wishful thinking or express uncertainty but has the sense of confident expectation based on God’s ability. Hope based on happenstance or human ability can and does die. Christians’ hope is based on God’s ability, such hope never dies!

 

Read 1 Peter 1:1-2

Peter dictated this first letter to Silvanus (Silas), which accounts for the excellent Greek that was used. Although Scripture doesn’t record all of Peter’s travels, it seems evident that he had traveled through modern day Turkey. He seemed to have a close relationship with the people to whom he wrote this letter. The harsh, brash Simon had become the mellowed, loving, graceful Peter. God had done a real work in his life. It wasn’t a steady progression at times but progress was made none the less, much like in our lives. He had become “the rock” Jesus named him to be.

 

In these opening verses of his letter Peter included a number of important themes. These are: mercy, new birth, salvation, love, joy, faith and hope. 

Our real hope is only through Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

 

Hope Discovered! Read 1 Peter 1:3-4

 

1.      What caused Peter to break out into a doxology of praise? (We have a new birth.)

This new birth is because of God’s great Mercy!

2.      How did this new birth into a living hope come about? (“Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”)

Because of His victory over death, Jesus offered hope to those who were enduring persecution. The worst their persecution could do to them would be to take their lives, but because of the resurrection of Jesus, death was nothing to be feared. This was not some blind hope or false hope, but rather a living hope in Jesus Christ.

3.      What does a person’s response to suffering reveal about whom or what he or she places hope in?

4.      Which has the greater impact on those around us who are watching, how we live when things are going wonderful or when life caves in on us?

5.      How did Peter describe the nature of our inheritance? (Imperishable: It cannot be harmed by natural disaster, enemy, or theft; it is permanent. Uncorrupted: It cannot be touched by evil or sin; it is pure. Unfading: It never passes its peak; it is perfect. Kept in Heaven: cannot be touched by anything on this earth.)

The thought of an inheritance that does not perish, cannot be corrupted, and stays forever young naturally fills us with hope. We cannot attain this through our own power, but we can through Jesus Christ!

 

Though Peter explained the Christians’ inheritance as eternal in nature, the suffering believers probably wondered at times if they would be able to hold on to their hope in Christ!

Hope Assured! Read 1 Peter 1:5

 

1.      Have you ever wrestled personally with assurance of salvation or the security of your salvation?

2.      Based on verse 5, how would you counsel someone who is struggling with assurance of their salvation? (Our salvation is not based on our strength to hold on but on God’s great power through faith. You can’t hold on in your own strength, no one can. Only God’s power assures us of our salvation.)

Edward Mote said it this way:

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.”

“When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest in His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.”

“When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found, Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.”

“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

 

3.      If someone observed your life for the past month, what evidence would they find that you have a living hope, one that is growing stronger in you?

 

Hope Celebrated! Read 1 Peter 1:6-9

 

Peter, who knew a little about suffering, described the trials they were experiencing like this:

·         They may be diverse in kind.

·         They will be limited in time.

·         They are needful in purpose. (Peter was sure that God never needlessly afflicts His people, even though grief may be involved.

·         They are positive in outcome. V. 7

The word “joy” in this passage is not the usual Greek word used by secular writers. Rather, it is a deep spiritual joy! Read Luke 1:46-46 and Acts 16:34.

1.      How is Christian joy different from a sentimental feeling of happiness?

2.      In what ways is it more satisfying?

3.      According to this passage, rejoicing is the appropriate response to trials or persecution. When you see someone focus on their salvation rather than their circumstances, how does that affect you? (Generally, when we witness hope and a joyful attitude in others, it compels us to question the source of their hope. Hope is about focus! When we focus on a secure salvation, we can rise above our circumstances and look forward with joy to the inheritance to come.)

4.      What is the purpose of the trials and difficulties we have to go through? (Refining of our faith. Make it like pure gold!)

5.      What is the goal of our faith? (See verse 9)

 

The world says, “Seeing is believing.” Salvation says, “Believing is seeing.” We have faith in the One we have not seen. Read v 8-9.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      Would you describe your faith as a living hope?

2.      Does it have purpose?

3.      Is it growing?

4.      Is it dynamic and breathing?

5.      Does it affect others?

If hope is about focus, then focusing on the right things can help your faith to grow. Spending time reflecting on the salvation of our souls is an expression of faith and hope. Reading God’s Word regularly will encourage your faith.

 

Rather than focusing on our difficulties and circumstances, focus on God and His power to see you through. We know Jesus has the power to change, transform or deliver us from our circumstances.

 

Ask God to help us with specific trials or tribulations we may be going through. Change our focus. Help us turn our eyes upon Jesus.

 

Feared - 1 Samuel 12:12-22

1.      What is it that strikes the greatest fear in you? Or of what are you most afraid? (For me it has to be snakes!)

There are almost countless phobias. I saw a list of 200 this week, everything from fear of the navel to fear of heaven to fear of beards.

Some fears are healthy while some are destructive. In the Old Testament we find many passages talking about the fear of God.

2.      What does it mean to fear God in the Biblical sense? (The Holman Bible Dictionary has the following on the subject: “The fear of God is not to be understood as the dread that comes out of fear of punishment, but as the reverential regard and the awe that comes out of recognition and submission to the divine. It is the revelation of God’s will to which the believer submits in obedience.” “Fear protected Israel from taking God for granted or from presuming on His grace. Fear called to covenant obedience.”   This fear of God will accomplish the same in the life of a believer!)

 

Every time we read about someone in Scripture who has an encounter with God they are filled with this reverential fear and awe that spawns confession, repentance and obedience!

In today’s study, we’ll discuss God’s character and the place fear has in our relationship with Him.

 

Since last week’s study, Saul has been anointed king; he has been received by the people as king, delivered Jabesh-Gilead from the hands of the Ammonites, and finally Saul’s confirmation as king. Today’s Scripture text is part of Samuel’s final public speech, and his longest recorded speech.

The Covenant Revisited! Read 1 Samuel 12:12-15

 

1.      What caused the people to demand a king? (They were under attack by the Ammonites and they thought they needed a king to lead them into battle. In 1 Sam. 8:19-20 the people state that they want a king so they will be like the other nations surrounding them.)

The ultimate end here is evident! When we apply this principle to our lives we realize that when we want to become like the world around us we forsake God for our own selfish desires. We drift further away from God and His will for our lives.

2.      In whom were the Israelites placing their trust? (Their earthly king not God their ultimate King. They had rejected God as their King.)

3.      What three directives do we find in these four verses? (“Fear the Lord, worship the Lord and obey the Lord.”)

4.      How does obeying these directives show trust in God?

5.      What would happen if they did not follow these three directives? (God’s judgment would fall upon them.)

6.      How would having a king change the relationship between God and His people?

7.      How would it be different?

8.      How would it be the same?

9.      How do you see God at work in your life despite the times when you have failed to follow Him?

It is important for us to remember the fact that even though our circumstances may be different from that of other Christians in other places, the core of our identity and of what God expects of us remains the same!

 

Note: The last phrase in verse 15 is difficult to interpret. However, the Leader’s Guide states the following concerning this phrase: “The old Greek version says, “and against your king,” and in this case the old Greek could be correct. Samuel makes the same point in verse 25. If the Israelites failed to keep the Sinai Covenant, having a king would make no difference. Both king and people would be destroyed for their sin.”

 

A Sign Delivered! Read 1 Samuel 12:16-18

 

1.      How did God demonstrate His power before the people? (God sent a thunderstorm.)

2.      Why would a thunderstorm at this time be considered an act of God? (This was the dry season in Israel. It was very rare to have rain during harvest time. Also the fact that Samuel prayed to God and it happened just as Samuel said is another indication that it is an act of God and not a happenstance.)

Because of the thunderstorm, the people realized they had offended God, and they “greatly feared” Him. This fear produced both reverence and unease in the people.

3.      Is fear of God a positive or negative thing? (Fear of God can involve many things—terror, honor, submission, dread, astonishment, and awe. People who are enemies of God might feel terror in their fear because of His unlimited knowledge and power, for God is consistent in His judgement based on His righteous character. For believers, the same “fear” is used to describe the proper attitude toward God. But this carries the ideas of respect, reverence, or awe. Christ has satisfied God’s wrath once and for all, so we do not fear condemnation, but we are still accountable to a holy God.)

4.      What does the “fear of the Lord” look like on a daily basis in the life of a Christina?

 

God’s Mercy and Grace! Read 1 Samuel 12:19-22

 

It isn’t necessarily a sin to have a king but when we trust the king rather than God to deliver us we have sinned.

1.      Samuel warned the people to turn away from “worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you” (v. 21). What “worthless things” do people follow after today, hoping that these things can deliver them? (Anything that receives higher priority than God in our lives becomes a “worthless thing”. Our possessions, our jobs, our education, our skills—these may enrich our lives, but they can never deliver us.)

In turning from worthless things, Samuel called on the people to follow and worship God. In the end, only our relationship with God remains. We should invest wisely in that relationship.

2.      How can we avoid succumbing to the fear of the unknown?

3.      What did the people beg Samuel to do?

4.      What words of hope did Samuel offer the people? (Even though the Israelites had sinned in asking for a king, they could still choose to follow God and to worship Him. Samuel promised the people God would not abandon them.)

God is unchanged, still full of mercy and grace today. We can count on His faithfulness to His promises.

 

5.      How would you describe the balance between God’s judgment and His grace?

6.      When can God’s judgment and His grace complement each other?

7.      When do we see both working simultaneously?

8.      What hope do you find for yourself in verse 22? (God will not abandon you. He will work on you until the day He calls you home so that you can be the person of God He designed you to be. It may be painful at times but it is all for our good and His glory!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Samuel called the Israelite people to have a healthy, reverential fear of God. He encouraged them to avoid being scared or having an unhealthy fear of God. Samuel reassured the Israelites that, despite their sins, God would graciously continue to lead His people if they would obey Him. The same is true for us; God is ever-faithful and deserves our reverent fear.

 

Identify the sins that come between you and God. Spend time in prayer, asking God to forgive you and empower you to live a god-honoring life.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus, review the information on the inside front cover of you guide, or talk to the pastor or some other leader.

We honor God and show our gratitude in the way we live. Hebrews 13:15 reminds us that our lives should be “a sacrifice of praise to Him.

Father, may we approach worship this week with fresh eyes—with an attitude of respect, reverence, and awe!