This week I began my study of the Book of 1st Peter. I do so love studying the Word of God, and extracting its practical principles for everyday living. It has always been my goal when studying Scripture to come to a conclusion or “big idea”, “the bottom line”: first of all, “what is this saying to me personally?”, and secondly, “How can I apply this teaching to my life.”
Key Verse: 1 Peter 5:10 “But he God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect (mature), stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
Theme: A Living HOPE
True Christian hope is more than “hope so.” It is confident assurance of future glory and blessing, one that gives us encouragement and the enablement we need for daily living.
The Writer: Simon Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ, one of the inner 3 apostles (Peter, James & John), leader in the early church, an older man at the writing, a big burly fisherman, a “ready, aim, fire” sort of man. I think of him as impetuous Peter.
I find myself loving this man and relating to his character…Peter, who failed, faltered, who made mistakes, was rebuked by the Lord, cried, was forgiven, restored, and filled with hope again. He was a work in process as I am presently.
The Recipients: Persecuted Christians scattered in five parts of the Roman Empire, all of them in northern Asia Minor. Christians were suffering because they were living godly lives and doing what was good and right. The were also suffering reproach for the name of Christ and were being railed at by unsaved people. Sounds pretty much like the times we live in today, doesn’t it.
The Purpose of the Letter: To encourage those suffering to be good witnesses to their persecutors, and to remember their suffering would lead to glory. Vs. 5:12
From C. Swidoll study guide:
Peter’s purpose is to remind Christians that painful times are not an end to themselves and that there is hope inspite of suffering. An echo of that thought is resonated by contemprary author, M. Scott Peck.
It is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom….When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems , just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those things that hurt, instruct.”
Lesson Learned from Peter’s character
1. Our failure in the past does not nullify our purpose in the future. It’s easy to convince ourselves that once we’ve stumbled and fallen on our faces to spent the rest of our days on the ground, staring at the dirt. Why, because we can’t forgive ourselves. Peter’s example shows us how to grasp the hand that reaches down to pick us up… and how to dust ourselves off and get on with life. (Ps. 51:1-13)
2. A broken heart is great preparation for healing fractured lives. Think about it.
When we are hurting, who touches us more profoundly and more permanently–the one who has been sheltered or the one who has been shattered? (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
3. One letter of hope brings more encouragement than a thousand thoughts never expressed. Expressing encouragement is so important. Peter didn’t just pray for those who suffered, He wrote to them as well. And his words fell on their parched hearts like cool water. (Prov. 25:25)
“Heavenly Father, how many times have I failed you, and how many times have you picked me up and restored me to some sort of useful state. I am thankful that I can look into your eyes and find forgiveness. Your grace is amazing. Even though I have not enjoyed times of suffering in my life, I do know that they have helped to deepen my faith, to have a closer walk with and dependancy on You and to be more compassionate to others’ sufferings. I ask You to reveal to me someone who needs encouraging this week that I might send a card or make a call to. ” In Jesus name, and for His sake, Amen.