Don’t Let Suffering Affect Your Spirit And The Importance of Baptism

It’s been awhile since the last Online Bible Study (summer is super busy), but let’s jump back into 1 Peter as we are talking about suffering and baptism.

Read 1 Peter 3:8 – 1 Peter 4:6

Reflect on this passage 1 Peter 3:17-22 (ESV)

17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

Jot down anything that you found interesting or important.

Take a few minutes in prayer asking God for wisdom and understanding.

Let me share with you my own thoughts on these passages

Do Not Let Today’s Suffering Affect Your Spirit

Suffering can happen, even to the most the faithful Christians.  If you hear someone tell you that suffering doesn’t happen to people of faith, then you need to have them open a Bible app on their phone and show them 1 Peter 3:17.

Whether you are faithful or a heathen, suffering can happen.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:45b “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Now if suffering comes, I would rather suffer for righteousness for that suffering will only be temporary.  For I rather suffer for a short time in my mortal life, than suffer in my eternal life forever.   See the suffering of Christ which lead to His death did not destroy Him completely.  His body was damaged, but His spirit remained.  And as my Lord and Savior, I will choose my body to suffer and not allow it to damage my spirit.

Question: In what way are you suffering today?  Have you allowed it to affect your spirit as well?

Baptism

I am from a sect of Christianity where we put a high priority into immersion, but I want to make something clear.

Baptism means nothing without faith, which the Christian faith can only exist through God’s grace.  Paul says in Ephesians 2: 8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

But every person recorded in the Bible, once a person had faith they were immediately immersed in water that they called baptism.

Baptism is a huge theme in the New Testament, and Peter makes the connection between God washing the world of death and bringing Noah and his family into a new life through water.

Unfortunately, thousands of years of theology and denominational tinkering has made many Christians miss this important step of obedience found in the New Testament.  Like suffering with our Lord and Savior, we also can be figuratively resurrected like Jesus through baptism.

Again, I am not saying baptism alone saves us because baptism without faith is just taking a bath.  But when we accept God’s and put our faith in God, then baptism brings us closer to being Christ-like.

You can easily say that I am biased because of the churches I am part of, but I can tell you that I think baptism is essential because the New Testament say’s it is important.  One cannot ignore the number of references found in the early church.  Baptism appears more times in the New Testament than other important subjects that we stand firm on, so let’s make sure we don’t lose the significance of this great spiritual discipline.

For Parents

In verse 22, Peter says that Jesus has power everything.  He has power over angels.  He has power over the authorities and other powers.  Jesus is above us all.

Our children may not know about suffering, but if they do, understanding that Jesus is in control can help our children handle that suffering better.  We can teach them that this world is not our home and although we may not be having a good day (or life), that there is something greater on the other side.  So let’s live for each day in anticipation of the eternal day ahead.

But if you children have not felt suffering, this can also be a good scripture to help us understand whom we are praying to every night.  We are not praying to somebody in heaven; we are praying to the ultimate authority of our life.

Question: From this section of scripture, what do you find helpful to teach your kids?


Doing Good, Knowing Your Hope, And Let God Be God

In this week’s Bible Study we are talking about always doing good, knowing your hope, and allowing God to be God.

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Read 1 Peter 3

Reflect on this passage (1 Peter 3:13-16 ESV)

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

There are a couple of things in these verses that stick out, that I would like to flesh out a little bit more.

Do Good Always

In the verses before vs.13, Peter explains what it means to do good.  And by doing good Peter say’s “who is there to harm you?”  If we took that verse out of the context of the scripture around it, this would make an excellent verse to build a church around.  “Do good and bad things will stay away,” but we need to move to vs.14 and it starts off with a “but”.  Peter say’s “but even if you should suffer.”

Question: Why would someone hurt you for doing good?  Have you ever been hurt for doing the right thing?

I can’t tell you why good people get hurt.  There could be a variety of reasons, but I can say this, “Do good always.” Regardless if you get mocked at work.  Do good.  Regardless if  you are getting pressured by today’s society.  Do good.  No matter what happens today, tomorrow or years down the road. Do good.

Know Your Hope

Vs.15 is that verse that terrified me for many years.  I came across it close to the beginning of my spiritual pilgrimage, and I felt that I didn’t know enough about God to be confident in my faith.  So I went to a Christian college, learned theology, apologetics, greek, hebrew, spiritual formation, discipleship and I still wasn’t confident.  Then a few years back, as I was writing a lesson for youth group, I realized something profound.  Peter isn’t talk about knowing God fully to defend the faith.  Peter is talking about knowing why you have faith.  I don’t know every type of theology out there; I can’t debate the nuances of apologetics.  But I can tell you why I believe what I believe.  I can tell you why I believe that Jesus lived, died and rose from the grave.

You will never know everything about God and you will encounter people who have a deeper knowledge about Christianity than you.  But, If you know why you believe, then you can silence those people who will question your faith.

Little Extra:  Think back to the day you started to truly believe in Jesus.  Jot down the reasons why you started believing.

Allow God To Be God

Peter then goes on to vs.16 and say’s “God will put them to shame.”  Christians are the worst at getting upset for any reason.  Outsiders, look at Christians and think “they need to cool down”.  Christians get upset over everything.  From theology to politics, to what my children watch at home.

If you are one of those Christians who get easily offended, I would say “grow up” but that wouldn’t fix the problem.  Instead, take Peter’s reply to the Christians (WHO WERE BEING KILLED FOR THEIR FAITH) which say’s “God will put them to shame.”  Or “God will judge them.”  There is no if’s, and’s and but’s about it.  The day will come when those who defile God, will have to face God’s judgement.  Don’t be overly sensitive, allow the worldly to look stupid for their over sensitivity.  Be different, and when you feel God is being disrespected, don’t protect God.  God doesn’t need to be protected; He is our refuge.  We are not His.  Allow God To Be God.

For Parents

One of the things that worries me most is having my child in the world.  Will they be treated fairly? Will they be bullied or harassed?  What if there is a dangerous person who wants to harm them?   Those uncertainties can make any parent stay awake at night.

So, what I can do right now? I can prepare them to be good, to know Jesus, and not to get upset over trivial things.

Question: How can you teach those things to your children?


Stay Together And Live At Peace With Everyone

In this week’s Bible Study we are talking about why Christians need to stay together, and live at peace with everyone.

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Read 1 Peter 2:13 – 4:11

Reflect on this passage (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

Peter moves away from talking about the submission of slaves, wives and husbands to talking about Christians in general.

Question: Keeping the previous sections about submission in mind, how does Peter expand that idea from slaves and married couples to all Christians? 

Something to keep in mind, when reading this section, is that at this time Christians were being persecuted.  Peter is writing a general ethical principle that he deems to be a requirement for all Christians to have in their life, even though the world is opposing both their lifestyle and existence.

Inside the Church

Peter calls for all Christians to have five things within in the Church.  He calls for the Church to have  (1) unity of mind, (2) sympathy, (3) brotherly love, (4) a tender heart, and (5) a humble mind.  This is not an individual church or denomination, this is the worldwide Christian community.  It is not a call for harmony only within a certain doctrine, but harmony in the entirety of the Gospel.  Does this mean we drop denominational barriers?  No, but it means that we don’t make denominations a barrier in order for someone to be saved.  I can live with harmony over communion differences, but I cannot live in harmony over someone who does not acknowledge the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one God.  I can pray for them, but I cannot consider them brothers or sisters.

Outside the Church

Peter than talks about how Christians are to act outside the church. He calls for us not to retaliate with evil.  Christians are not only known for their love, but also for their peacefulness.  Instead of gossiping, or speaking ill of someone, we should have words of blessings and praises.

Question:  Why is it important for us to live both within and outside the church in this way? 

Peter tells us that our God is watching over us every moment of every day.  Although evil people may be around and they may find temporary success in their plots and schemes, their ultimate demise will happen.  It might not happen in this world, but God does not forget and the unrighteous will be judged for their wrongdoings.

Now living for Christ is easy to say, but difficult to do.  It is hard to live in harmony with other believers.  It is hard not to retaliate against those that say bad things about us.  So what? Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you don’t try to live God’s way every day.

Question: How can you live in harmony with other Christians and with blessings for non-Christians?

For Parents

This is an important lesson not just for adults but also for our children.  Because of their immaturity, they will be burdened by Christians and non-Christians.

Faithful believers may yell at them for misbehaving.  They may get an evil eye from their leaders.

In school, their peers may insult them for personal matters.  They might be questioned for their faith if they can’t stay the over night on Saturday because of church Sunday morning.

Those are just a few examples of things that might happen and those things might leave a sour taste in your child’s mouth about the Church and God.

Question: How can you teach and model 1 Peter 3:8-9 with your children? 


Submitting And Developing Inner Beauty

In this week’s Bible Study we are discussing submission and developing inner beauty in our children.

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Read 1 Peter 2:13 – 3:22

Reflect on this passage (1 Peter 3:1-7)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

Take a moment to consider the “likewise” in each section. What is Peter trying to correlate between submitting to authority with slaves, wives, and husbands?

Submission is not a word we like to hear in the U.S. In our culture; we want to be free from authority. I have free speech, religion, and government. I am a free person, to make the choices I want, to live the way I want, and to be my own person. Those things are all good to have, and the Bible speaks favorably of having freedom. But and it’s a strong “but,” even though we are free, we are called to use that freedom to submit.

What is even harder to understand, the submission to husbands from wives is not about the wives submitting no matter if their partner is a believer or not. Peter asks them to live in such a way, that their non-believing partner “may be” won by their conduct. And one of the ways is to make sure their beauty is more so inward than outward.

Then Peter goes even deeper and calls husbands to be submissive to their wives and slaves. Often in this passage people get stuck on the “weaker vessel” and many people use that as a verse to degrade women. Those who get upset with that word or use that word to degrade someone is missing the point of this section. Women were considered second thought in Peter’s culture and Peter isn’t degrading them; he is upgrading them. Peter is telling men, who thought themselves high and mighty to be equal to their wives. In the culture, women were considered weak. And Peter is going against the culture saying “if women are weak than men submit, so they are equal. So it’s not about the weaker vessel, but about men submitting, so both men and women are equal.

 

Question: How does this passage depart from the views of society today? 

Question: In what areas of your life do you need to submit to your spouse? How does your relationship reflect that of Peter’s message?

For Parents

Although this passage is about wives and husbands being submissive to each other, there is one thing that we can teach our children from these passages and in verses 3 and 4. I like the Message paraphrase

Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.

There are many outside things our children and students are pressured into having to be relevant. Maybe it’s new technology. Maybe it’s clothing. Maybe it’s other luxury items.

As a Christian parent, we are called to work developing our children’s inner beauty rather than worrying about being trendy in our culture.

Question: What are some way’s you can work on your child’s inner beauty? 


How To Handle Suffering

This week’s Bible Study deals with handling suffering and the importance of our children believing in Jesus Christ.

1 Peter Bible Study

Read 1 Peter 2:13 – 3:22

Reflect on this passage

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. ~ 1 Peter 2:22-25 (ESV)

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

Suffering is not absent from the Christian life. Our Lord and Savior, suffered even though He did not commit any sin (v.22), so why should we be surprised when suffering happens to us? One of the biggest Christian fallacies that churches propagate is that being a Christian means that God will bless you with health and wealth if one has the proper faith. But Jesus, who lived a perfect faith, had no wealth and was killed for that faith.

Question: How does the suffering of Christ impact your faith?

Suffering is not out of the question for a Christian, so one must prepare for how to live like Christ during the suffering. How did Christ react? He didn’t react with force. He didn’t react with threats? Instead, He trusted in God (v.23)

Read Psalm 5

Question: What can we learn about trusting God in our suffering from David’s lament?

For Parents 

Suffering will happen to us all and even our own children. One of the hardest things about being a parent is watching our children suffer. I have seen my share of parents sitting with their children in hospitals and it never gets easy. Almost every parent would change places with their suffering child if they could.

That is why it is important for our children to know Jesus as Lord. If our children learn about Jesus, then when suffering happens they will already know of the promise that awaits us. Will it make it easier to deal with suffering? I can’t promise you that, but I can promise you that a life without hope is a lot harder then suffering with hope.

Take time this week to read John 10:1-21 with your children and talk to them about following Jesus.


Family Devotion About Giving That Little Something Extra

Sometimes children can be too honest with their words.  This devotion is meant to help kids see the not so obvious thing that is needed.

Question: What is going on in this comic?  (Charlie Brown gets hit so hard is clothes get scattered)

Question: Is Lucy telling Charlie Brown something good? (Yes)

Question: It is important to have our clothes, but what does Charlie Brown need the most right now? (encouragement)

Some men brought to him a man who could not walk. He was lying on a mat. Jesus saw that they had faith. So he said to the man, “Don’t lose hope, son. Your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:2 (NIrV)

Question: Why did this man come to Jesus (To Be Healed)

Question: What did Jesus do instead? (Forgive his sins)

Question: What is more important, walking or having sins forgiven? (forgiveness)

Sometimes in life, we need something different than the obvious. In the comic, Charlie Brown doesn’t need to know where his clothes have gone, he needs something different. Does he need his clothes back? Yes, but he needs more to be encouraged and built up from being totally embarrassed on the field.

In the Bible verse, the paralytic came to Jesus wanted to walk. It is obvious that this man wanted to walk, but instead Jesus sees his heart and forgives his sins. That didn’t fix the problem that presented, but Jesus knew he needed something more.

Sometimes you can tell people the truth, but they don’t need that at the right moment.  They need to have something a little extra.  Maybe when your (insert sibling) or (insert friend) does something they need to know how proud you are, instead of telling them that you are better.

Question: What can you do today that can give someone that little extra something? 

Additional Reading: Matthew 9:1-8

image source:www.gocomics.com


Submitting To Our Authorities

This week’s Bible Study deals with household slavery in ancient times, however, we can use these principles to learn how we can submit to authorities in our life.

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Read 1 Peter 2:1 – 3:7

Reflect on this passage

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. ~ 1 Peter 2:18-21

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

Peter was writing to a very different culture than the one in the United States.  During this time, slavery was abundant and it was not uncommon for households to have at least one slave.  Slavery was such a fixture in the society that Aristotle claimed that man was either born a slave or born free,

“For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.”

In the United States, we abolished slavery and it is something that is now against the law.  But, even if we do not have slavery in the sense of being owned as property, we are still subjects under someone.  For example, I am an associate minister, so I am subject to the head minister and a board of elders.  They don’t own me, but I work under their control.  With that being said, even though it is a different time and culture, we can learn how to live under the authority of another person.

Question: Why should we, as Christians, be subject to our authorities?  (vs. 18 – 19) 

When we are called to be submissive to others, it is not because we respect those people.  We submit, because we respect God.  Even though our faith makes us an easy target, we need to be submissive.  Because it conforms us to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Read Mark 8:34-37

Question: While thinking of Mark 8, how is suffering for doing good a gracious thing in God’s sight? (vs.20)

Question: What does it mean to follow Jesus?

For Parents

As the spiritual leader in my home, I can easily look at this section of scripture and apply it to my children.  But one can’t apply this scripture onto others until you can apply it in your own life. “Do as I say, not as I do,” is not biblical, so the best way to teach submission is by showing submission.  In our children see disrespect of authorities, how will they learn to be respectful as adults?

Question: How can you be the example of godly submission to your children? 

Feel free to comment your thoughts below or maybe add your own tips of submission.


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