Sorry this is late. The week got away from me. So, in our last lesson Peter is all about the suffering and I'm not exactly thrilled with this idea. I don't like pain in any form, be it physical or mental. And yet, Jesus spoke of this when He said that in this world there would be trouble. Our hearts are going to break. Our children will choose paths that we don't want them to travel. They'll use language we don't want them to speak, sleep with people we'd rather not see at our Thanksgiving table and stray from the faith we tried so hard to instill in them.
People we don't even know will slash our tires because we drive our cars into a church parking lot. Co-workers will exclude us from social gatherings outside of work. I once had a co-worker set a plate full of cookies at the nurse's desk and then look me straight in the eye and tell me " These are for my friends-not you"
Here's the thing. That's not really suffering. Most of those things are annoyances, things we can shrug off and pray for heart changes. No one has ever put my head on an actual chopping block simply because I follow Christ. Losing out on cookies stung a little, but I've never been beaten, had my finances stripped away, lost my freedom, my family or my way of life.
Honestly I don't know what my response to torture would be but I know what I want it to be. I want to be a woman who sings God's praises no matter what circumstance I face. And while I want to pray protection over each of you every minute of every day that's just not life as we know it. Instead I pray that you feel God's hand in yours as long as you walk through those circumstances.
Love, as always, Renée
Now on to this week's lesson:
Read 1 Peter 4:1-19
Memory verse 4:8 " Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins"
1. Verse 1 states that whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. How can you make this statement more clear?
2. How was your life before Christ different from how it is now?
3. Who in your circle of friends and family members needs to know about the difference Christ has made in your life?
4. What holds you back from sharing your story?
5. Do you have the gift of hospitality? If not how can you change your attitude when it comes to serving in this way?
6. Jesus warned that in this world there would be trouble and Peter reiterates that warning. Why do you think we're still surprised when struggles come our way?
7. What has been your most recent trial?
8. Who benefited most by watching how you faced that?
For personal growth:
Verse 16 says " However if you do suffer as a Christian do not be ashamed but praise God that you carry that name". Are you ashamed because of some struggle you've experienced? Has that shame stopped you from reaching out to others? How might that have robbed you of the joy of being lifted up by others? Are there struggles that are easier to share with non-believers than with your friends at church? Is that because you think worldly friends are less likely to look down on you? How might your situation change if each of your believing friends followed Peter's advice in verse 8 to love each other deeply above all?
For the good of the group:
Not that I want any of us to suffer but how can we pray for you so that you do so in a way that honors God?