“And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NET)
We are on the home stretch of our study of 1 Peter. I hope that God has used it in your life in mighty ways. I have been praying that He would adorn us as women as we apply the truths that we have seen. I know that God has shown me areas of my own life where I need to be changed within as I have worked through Peter’s letter. Because God has promised that His Word does not return to Him void without accomplishing the work that He sent it to do (Isaiah 55:11), I know that He has used it in your life over these weeks that we have spent together. I thank Him for all that He has accomplished in making us more beautiful women.
Read 1 Peter 5.
We are going to come back to vv. 1-4 tomorrow. Right now we are focusing on the verses that are specifically addressed to everyone.
1. List all the instructions given in vv. 5-10.
The first two instructions concern humility. What is humility?
2. If you have a Greek concordance, look up the word and its definition in the Greek. If you don’t, at least check an English dictionary, understanding that the Greek definition was the one that Peter used when he wrote this letter. Write out the two instructions with the expanded definition in them. What insights do you gain?
3. Why is humility important according to v. 5?
4. How did Jesus humble Himself according to Phil. 2:5-8? What do you learn from Him about humility?
5. Sharing question: How do you obey these instructions concerning humility? Give at least one specific thing that you can do in your situation to be like Jesus in this way.
Today we are going back to the first few verses of 1 Peter 5, written to the elders of the church. In some churches there is an actual board of elders. In other churches, the pastors are considered to be the elders. The issue in this context is not exactly what form this takes but how they should rule.
Reread 1 Peter 5.
6. What specific instructions does Peter give to the elders (vv. 1-4)? What promise?
7. What general principles of leadership do you see in these verses, which are written specifically to the elders but also apply to all leaders in our churches?
8. How do these principles relate to the instructions on humility that follow it? Why would they be mentioned together?
9. Sharing question: Where are you a leader either within or without the church, perhaps even in your home or your job? Can you apply these principles in any way to that position, whether it is an actual assigned position or a place where you influence others? If so, how?
10. Responding to God: Talk to God about humility and leadership. Is there an area of your life where you are not proving to be an example to others?
Reread 1 Peter 5:5-11.
11. Sharing question: We already saw that Peter gives three instructions about dealing with the devil. Write for each one of the three a specific action that you might take to obey it.
12. What is happening in the lives of the believers to whom Peter is writing that made them susceptible to the devil (v. 9-10)? What similarities do you see to situations in which lions may attack?
13. To what promises are the believers to hold onto (v. 10)? How does this parallel other promises in 1 Peter concerning suffering? Review 1 Peter, and write down specific similarities.
14. How do humility, suffering, and the devil relate? When different subjects are put together in the same context, we always need to think about their relationship. What would make Peter think of them at the same time?
15. Sharing question: In what circumstances are you most vulnerable to attack from the devil? What can you apply from the book of 1 Peter to make you stronger and less open to attack?
16. Responding to God: Ask God for the grace to obey the instructions in 1 Peter 5. Describe your feelings about the areas where you are struggling with temptation. Ask for the strength to stand firm against the devil.
Reread 1 Peter 5:5-11.
Review the three instructions concerning the devil. Today we will consider some examples of dealing with temptation as well as considering some of the devil’s tactics so that we are able to resist, etc.
17. Compare James 4:6-10 with this 1 Peter passage. Give any insights that you gain about dealing with Satan.
18. Read these passage and write down what do you learn about dealing with temptation:
a. James 1:13-18
b. 2 Timothy 2:22
c. Matt. 4:1-11
d. Matthew 16:21-23
There is no question that we are not beautiful when we fall into sin. Laura shares her story of how she applied 2 Timothy 2:22 when she was tempted to sin.
I was single and working. I was attracted to a non-believer at work. We had gone out as friends a few times. We went on a road trip that was supposed to be a group, but it worked out just being the two of us to see a college football game. We ended up kissing. We had to figure out a way to go back to work and just be friends. However, I was hooked. We were friends, and I had kissed him. I had strong feelings for him.
The Lord kept telling me he was the wrong man for me. Finally, I decided to obey and leave this guy alone. However, it wasn't easy. I was attracted to him, I worked with him, and I had the memory of his kiss.
One day at work, I started dwelling on the situation. I was overcome with desire and wanted to pursue the relationship. However, instead I left the office at lunch. I drove my car to a bus stop parking lot and read 1 Thess. 4:1-7 over and over. I prayed. I asked the Lord to help me overcome the desire I was experiencing. That is exactly what happened. I went back to work and the power of God's word helped me not act on my temptation that day.
19. Sharing question: Relate your own story of a time when you were tempted and how you stood firm instead.
Sometimes our temptation is not to sin in an overt way like our story, but to distrust God. Romans 14:23b says, “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” Whenever we decide that God is out to get us, is not good, is not faithful to His promises, etc., we are sinning because we are failing to trust Him.
Much of 1 Peter deals with trials, with suffering and persecution. In the midst of all of that, sometimes Satan encourages us to turn from God. Here is a story of a woman who went through a trial and trusted God in the midst of it and ended up with great blessing.
I would say that my life has always gone pretty close to plan for what I wanted to happen. Probably the only hitch in that plan was not finding my husband until I was 35. But that's another story.
I had been a Christian since I was 11. However, I realize now that because things were fairly easy, there was not a reason for me to feel a deep dependence on the Lord. After we married within a year of knowing each other, we wanted to wait awhile to have children. So at age 38 or 39 we started “trying.” (That phrase has always cracked me up, but what else do you say?) After several months without success, I talked with my gynecologist, and we began the blood tests and things that you do to make sure that your body is functioning the way it is supposed to. Then, it was time to make an appointment with an infertility doctor. After waiting two months for the appointment and another hour in the waiting room, we went in to see him where he talked with us between mouthfuls of a late-lunch hamburger. We weren’t feeling so great about this path.
So, we tried another doctor who happened to have a cancellation fairly soon and he was very nice. All the while we were praying for God to let us have a family. We had not talked about adoption – it was not even a consideration at this stage. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I was afraid that that was where God was leading us.
With infertility treatments, you make a plan – we’ll do this for x months and then evaluate where we want to go next. The pills were ok, but the shots were a real drag. Everything had to be timed perfectly. Once when my husband was out of town and I needed a shot at midnight, my dad came over to my house at midnight and gave me a shot. I always thought I was a strong person and knew that God gives me the strength I need to handle any situation, but this was starting to push it. We lived in two week cycles from ovulation to menstrual cycle and at the sign of my period would come a huge let down. Tears together brought us closer and more in love.
We had been bearing the load ourselves and had only told a few people about what was going on. My small group Bible Study was a great comfort, and knowing that they were praying was a big support. The feelings were embarrassing, admitting failure at something and an acknowledgement that everything was not ok. All these things I am well acquainted with now, but at that time did not want to share. Plus, it was so difficult and painful that it was like a constant open wound.
As I grew closer to that magic age of 40 every day, I began to think of other options. There had been some things in the news about international adoption, and my heart was touched that there were so many children who would never have a home. When I mentioned this to my husband, he seemed open to the idea. We went on a hot summer day to The Gladney Center in Ft. Worth – armed with questions from all the horror stories we had read on the Internet about international adoption. After the meeting, we felt encouraged and wanted to seriously consider that path. We began to pray that God would show us His plan. We set one more treatment as the last one and if it worked, great. If it didn’t, then we would adopt. When something happened with my body that I could not complete the treatment, I told the doctor’s office that we would not pursue more.
That night, we went to dinner with friends. I felt giddy from the freedom I felt to be free of the infertility treatments and excited about God’s plan for adoption. The process to adopt our son took about six months total. All along the way, God was starting to work on my heart to be free to give Him the credit. He was providing the avenue to give Him the glory. And today, because of the way our family was formed, I still have the opportunity to prove my faith when I talk about how God is the one who brings families together.
I used to feel awkward about how to put God in a conversation. But the work that He has done in my heart through this trial and the growth that happened as a result makes giving Him the glory natural. He changes hearts, and rich spiritual blessings come from trusting in Him to work all things together for good.
In writing this story, it has been somewhat difficult to pull up the pain of the trial. Isn’t it interesting that the way that God works so often is that he erases the painful details when they are no longer needed? One thing I have seen so clearly in this is that when God does a work, He does it COMPLETELY. I praise God every day for the beautiful gift of my children – that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.
20. Sharing question: When we lack faith, we sin. What are some ways that the devil tempts you to distrust God or to act independently of Him? What have you learned this week to help you stand firm against this?
21. Responding to God: Write a prayer asking for God’s grace and strength in the area of your greatest temptation or the area where you are doubting His love, etc. Think of a specific way that you need to avoid the situation or the sin or of ways to grow in faith rather than unbelief.