BEFORE YOU GATHER
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Study Guide.
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon.
- Read 1 Peter 4:1-11.
- CLICK HERE to see the overall structure of the biblical letter of 1 Peter.
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants you to share during your group’s time together.
ABOUT THE LETTER TO THE EXILES
1 Peter gives persecuted Christians a powerful reminder that they have hope in the midst of their suffering. From the time of Abraham, God's people were a misunderstood minority and should expect to face hostility because they live under King Jesus' rule.
However, they are chosen by God, and their persecution is actually a gift because it offers them a chance to show others the surprising generosity and love of Jesus, which is fueled by hope in His return and victory over evil. Peter is hopeful that their imitation of Jesus and demonstration of His upside-down kingdom, which includes baptism and service, will give power to their words as they bear witness to God's mercy and show people the beautiful truth about Jesus.
1 PETER RESOURCES FOR FURTHER GROWTH & DISCIPLESHIP
- (Book) Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience, by Mark Sayers
- (Web Article) On Creative Minorities, by Chief Rabbi Johnathan Sacks
- (Commentary) 1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary), by Scot McKnight
- (Commentary) 1 & 2 Peter and Jude, by N.T. Wright
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here are some suggestions of how your group can invite God into your time together.
Pray that our hearts would be open to whatever God wants to speak to us today. Pray that God would clearly reveal to us ways in which we can follow Him more wholeheartedly and lean on Him more fully. Finally, pray that God would inspire us to encourage and support one another in helpful ways.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend’s message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say “Pass.”
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
This weekend’s message came from 1 Peter 4:1-11. If everyone has a Bible, let's go there together.
- Despite the fact that people may belittle our character, harass our intellect, exclude us, ostracize us professionally, or even mock us for leaving our old way of life behind as we follow Jesus, we are encouraged in verse 5 to not retaliate in the midst of these sufferings — because God is the True Judge. Practically speaking, what are some ways you can choose to “arm yourselves with the same attitude as Jesus” (verse 1) in the midst of your challenges?
- Pastor Becky reminded us that sometimes, God seems slow to render judgment in the lives of others because He wants his Gospel to reach every single human being’s life — which takes time. At the same time, God is also communicating to others through our lives, especially in the way that we respond to persecution and hardship. How might God be using your suffering to bless or speak to someone else? Does this bring a needed shift or encouragement to you when it comes to the difficult people in your life?
- In verses 1-3, we are reminded that we do not have to clean up our act in order to come to Jesus. Instead, after we choose to follow Him, God does such a work in our lives that we are "done with sin," and we begin to leave the old way of life behind. Let’s ask ourselves this: “What is the evidence in my life that I am following Jesus? Are there things in my life— things that I know are not in line with following Jesus — but I still haven't left them behind?” How can this community group help you in this area so that you can really be "done with sin" and follow Jesus more closely?
- In 1 Peter 4:7-11, Peter described what the life of a Christian could be in the midst of whatever challenges, sufferings, or persecutions we may be facing:
- PRAYING ALERTLY— attentively, with focus
- LOVING OTHERS DEEPLY— a painstaking, diligent, stretching, strenuous kind of love
- SHOWING HOSPITALITY— communicating to others, with our time and our presence that “you matter to me”
- SERVING OTHERS WITH OUR GIFTS
- How has God been talking to you about what it would look like to put some of these things into practice?
- Pastor Becky said: “You are too valuable and too needed to not use your gifts.” What is one particular gift or talent you have that you feel God urging you to engage during this season of your life?
- As we face challenges and feel like we are getting knocked down by people or life circumstances, it is key for us to lean into Christian community. Think of someone you know who is going through something challenging right now. How can you help encourage, support, and pray for that person this week?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here are some suggestions of what your group could talk about with God in prayer.
Pray that, despite our challenges, despite our sufferings, and despite any areas in which we feel we fall short, God would:
- Encourage us and speak truth to us regarding His great love for us.
- Help us discern the areas in our lives where He is calling us to grow or to change.
- Challenge us to keep fighting amidst adversity.
- Help us to be a people who are becoming so like Jesus, that we can point people to Him as the healer of their wounds.
- Remind us to look to Him, on a moment-by-moment basis, for guidance, affirmation, and worth.