I am so thankful for another great discussion on ZOOM today – and so timely! These are not easy times we are navigating in our country, nationally or individually. We need GOD’s help to make sense of it all, to stop the swirl of opinions and voices, and to give us a clear path forward from the one voice we can always trust – HIS!
For those who are following along with our study of 1&2 Peter, see below for a recap of our chat about lesson 5 . . .
TODAY’S DISCUSSION – 1 Peter 2:11-25
The start of our conversation today reflected the LORD JESUS’ own prayers for His followers, recorded in John 17. Peter urges believers to actively avoid evil and any temptation to gratify desires of our fleshly nature, to be kept from the devices of the evil one, the enemy of our souls. Godless choices grieve the LORD’s heart, cause confusion, destruction, and distraction from GOD and His truth. Simply put, sin complicates. Everything. Our Savior prayed that we would be kept from the evil one. Not removed from a sin-marred world, but preserved within it. Peter implores us to make the conscious and committed choice to run in the opposite direction – to pursue honorable lives that shine brightly for GOD’s truth. He encourages us to remember there are others who may be watching, possibly unbelievers to whom we have the opportunity to show the genuine kindness, love, and peace that reflect the Father’s heart.
Sadly, as was true of the believers in Peter’s day, we may face difficult interactions with others, even unjust or hateful treatment, because of our faith in CHRIST. It may be in the form of harsh words or actions from a complete stranger, or simply rejection of the gospel from someone close to us, despite faithfully reaching out to that person in love and care. How do we respond? Our study took us to passages in Galatians, Philippians, and Titus, where we could gather further encouragement to choose GOD’s way. Despite any suffering we might endure, we are instructed to ask for the LORD’s help to reflect His character in honor, integrity, kindness, excellence, and good deeds.
In our discussion, we also reminded each other to PRAY. To sink into the Savior’s embrace as our safe place to unburden our aching hearts, to receive comfort and guidance. In that precious dialogue, we can confidently surrender the results of any outreach efforts to Him, relying on His own Spirit to lead and win others’ hearts, and to grant us an inexplicable peace to model before watching eyes.
The second half of our conversation centered on the concept of submission – a willing choice to yield to the authority or direction of another. Our passage today framed this concept in two areas: how we treat government leaders and how 1st-century slaves were to respond to their masters. Not one of us is naturally inclined to surrender control. We like things our own way. We want to be our own boss. Submitting to authority is especially difficult when doing so is uncomfortable, when we don’t agree, when we struggle to respect the person in a place of power, or when we feel threatened or unsafe. Again, how should we respond? As before, Peter urges that imitating the GOD’s character is the answer. And as Paul describes in Philippians 2:5-11, the LORD JESUS is our ultimate example to follow! Choosing the mind of CHRIST enables us to obey with deep respect, endure hardship patiently, humbly serve with enthusiasm, and commit our whole hearts to doing the will of GOD.
Again, we reminded one another to rely heavily on a sadly under-utilized resource – PRAYER. It is amazing to sense our hearts shift toward those in authority over us when we are lifting them up to the Father in prayer. When we acknowledge His hand in placing them in that position, and ourselves in our own circumstance, we are reminded to follow JESUS in resting confidently in the Father’s plan. Despite seeming evidence to the contrary, our GOD is always, ever, only in complete and sovereign control! It was the Father who orchestrated every detail of the Son’s journey on earth, every prophesy fulfilled to the letter, every eternal purpose accomplished. His plan was never derailed and never delayed. Can we not trust Him to orchestrate the details of our difficult situations as well – with farther reaching purposes than we could even imagine?
Trusting the Father’s plan brings us great peace. But He never discourages us from crying out to Him in honest anguish. Even the LORD JESUS prayed in the garden before His arrest, asking for the Father’s intervention. We can do the same. We have every reason to boldly come before Him and ask that suffering be removed or circumstances changed. As we look to Him to intervene, we express confident faith that He is the only One who can! He delights to meet our faith with answered prayers that can only be attributed to His doing! Those answers may unfold quite differently than we had hoped, but as we pray expectantly, we are also paying attention, and are more likely to notice GOD working in amazing ways. None of us welcomes suffering. But suffering does one beautiful thing – it draws us (sometimes drives us in desperation) to the Savior! We can trust that what He will do in and through our suffering will be beautiful too.
The title to this week’s lesson is “The Servant’s Life.” It may seem foolish to those who do not know Him yet, but there is no greater joy than willingly choosing service to a GOD who is worthy of our trust, our deep respect, the One with whom we will always feel safe. We serve a risen Savior who has gone before us, knows our struggles intimately, and will walk with us through every trial as we journey Home. We can trust that His Spirit is always at work, drawing those around us to join us on that journey! Take heart, friends. Stay the course!
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