[Adorned with True Beauty 3] Adorned with Beauty through God's Word
A Precious Word from God
“The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NET)
God’s Word is our authority for life and godliness. It holds the truths that we are to believe and by which we are to live. My heart so wants you to believe what you read there and to open your life to all that God wants to do in you through His Word to make you a more beautiful woman. Just reading the Bible, however, is not enough - we must commit to live out what we see there; we must turn from the things that God hates and pursue the things that He loves; we must recognize that God is revealed in all that He does and seek Him in the stories of His Word and the truths that are stated about Him.
Day One Study
Read 1 Peter 1:22-2:3 .
1. Write down all the commands or instructions that you are to do according to this passage. (You will recognize them by the lack of a subject. When I say to my child, “Clean your room,” I do not put a subject as to who is to do it. The “you” is understood.)
2. Why would it be important to recognize the instructions given in a passage?
When you study a verse, it is helpful to consider how each phrase relates to the others. Every part of the verse will tell either who, what, where, when, how, or why about the main idea. This is one way to help us do the observation part of Bible study that forces us to really look carefully at what is being said. If you look for the answers to these kinds of questions as you read the Bible, you will be able to see amazing truths for yourself!
3. Here is 1 Peter 1:22 in the NASB: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.” Write down the phrases that answer these questions:
a. What are they to do (the basic instruction)?
b. How are they to do it (2 ways)?
c. What have they already done that allows them to obey the instruction?
d. Why are they to do this according to v. 23?
The truths that we are to obey are found in God’s Word. God wants us to use the Scriptures like soap to scrub us clean of the things that make us dirty if we are to grow in beauty. I know that each day I need to be washed by God’s soap. It reminds me of a shower when my hair and clothes are full of sand from being on the beach all day. There is no better feeling than to come out of there totally clean!
4. What does God promise about His cleansing power in 1 John 1:8-9?
5. Why is it necessary for you to be pure if you are to love others? What are some sins that might keep you from truly loving others?
- Diamonds in the Word –Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a. Look up the Greek words for the various qualities of love. How do you measure up with your husband, your roommate, your parents, or your boss?
Spend some time before God, asking Him to show you the areas of your life that are preventing you from truly loving other believers. You might even think of a specific person that you are having trouble loving (not a feeling but an action). Confess your lack of love and any sinful attitudes that God reveals to you.
6. Sharing question: What is one specific way that God has shown you to put 1 Peter 1:22 into action in your own life?
Day Two Study
Reread 1 Peter 1:22-25.
7. What do you learn about God’s Word in these verses? Make a list of everything that is said about it. Use words straight out of the text. Don’t paraphrase.
8. When we see a contrast between two things in the Scriptures, it makes an emphasis and helps us better understand God’s point. How does the contrast in vv. 24-25 make Peter’s point about God’s Word stronger or help you understand it better?
This is your verse to memorize this week. How are you coming with your verses? It will help if you will review all of them each week. What were the verses from Week 1 and Week 2?
- Diamonds in the Word –Read Isaiah 40:1-11, which is where Peter gets his quote, and write down any additional insights that you have from the context of that passage about God’s Word.
In 1:23 Peter says that God’s Word is an agent in our salvation. In Wayne Grudem’s commentary on 1 Peter, he says, “The implications for evangelism are obvious: ultimately it is neither our arguments nor our life example that will bring new life to an unbeliever, but the powerful words of God himself - words which we still have preserved today in Scriptures. It is in reading or hearing these words that people are given new life.”2
9. How can we use the Scriptures when we share Christ with others without beating them over the head with the Bible? Share your ideas and/or strategies that have worked for you.
Reread 1 Peter 1:22-2:3.
The Bible uses many analogies to help us better understand truth. We are visual people and these images give us insights. We have already seen God’s Word contrasted with the grass and flowers.
10. What other images are compared to the Scriptures in 1:23 and in 2:2? How do these two images help you in your understanding of the Bible? In other words, what truths do they show about the Word of God?
- Diamonds in the Word –What other images for God’s Word are used in Scripture and where are they found? If you don’t know of any, try using your concordance. How do they help you better understand the work of God’s Word in our lives?
11. Sharing question: Describe a specific experience in your life when God’s Word acted in ways like these images.
In order for the Scriptures to make a difference in our lives, we have to take it into our hearts. Although I would have always said that the Bible was important in my life, my actions would have proven otherwise. It’s hard for God to speak to us when we aren’t reading His Word, which is His message to men and women everywhere.
12. Sharing question: If the importance of God’s Word to you were to be judged by the amount of time you spend in it, how would you be doing? Evaluate yourself on a scale of 1-5.
13. Sharing question: Think of a specific plan that you could implement in order to help you make the Word of God more of a priority. As your group shares these answers, you may get some good ideas from one another.
Day Three Study
Today we are going to take a short break from 1 Peter itself to study Psalm 119, which extols the benefits of God’s Word in our lives. You may be aware that it is also the longest of all the Psalms. Don’t worry; you don’t have to read the whole thing unless you want to! Take your time as you read and truly think about the message that this Psalm has concerning the Scriptures.
- Diamonds in the Word –Read all of Psalm 119. Read the instructions to #14 below and write down the same kinds of insights for the entire Psalm. You will have to use a separate piece of paper for any that aren’t listed below.
14. Read these verses from Psalm 119 and meditate upon both their significance in your personal life and also the benefits that God’s Word can bring to us when we pay attention to it. Choose a favorite from the group and copy it at the bottom of the list. Write down your insights:
a. vv. 1-2
b. v. 11
c. v. 14
d. v. 24
e. v. 28
f. v. 38
g. v. 50
h. vv. 97-100
i. v. 103
j. v. 105
k. v. 165
My favorite verse from Psalm 119:
15. Responding to God: Several of the verses in this Psalm are prayers as the Psalmist asks God to take the Word and use it in a personal way in his life - vv. 18, 25, 58, 133, 169. Read these verses and then write a prayer, a song, a poem, or a psalm from your own heart incorporating the thoughts that you want to pray for yourself. You can draw a picture if you prefer. Use whatever meaningful method works best for you to respond to God!
16. Sharing question: Has there ever been a time in your life when God used His word in a similar way? Share with your group your praises about that situation.
Day Four Study
Today we return to 1 Peter as we continue to look at God’s Word and its work in making us beautiful.
Reread 1 Peter 2:1-3.
17. In our Day One Study we looked at the instructions or commands in the passage from 1:22-2:3. One of them is found in 2:2. Copy it below:
18. We already noticed the analogy in 2:2 describing how we should relate to God’s Word and why. How does this picture help you understand Peter’s instruction?
19. Look again at 1 Peter 2:1. What is the prerequisite for growing in God’s Word? Why would that be necessary if you are to grow more beautiful internally?
When Peter tells us to be like babies, he doesn’t mean that in a bad way. Even if we are mature believers, we are to still act like babies in the sense that he suggests. In fact, by acting like a baby, we become mature. Some believers are like children who are stunted in their growth because they don’t eat as they should. Doctors always check a baby’s growth to make sure that she is growing in accordance with her age. I am glad that no one had a spiritual growth chart with which to compare me for much of my Christian life! What if there could be a way to measure our growth at church each week - sort of a check-up? How embarrassing to be a Christian for years and still look like a baby!
20. Compare similarities you see between immature believers and the actions of children. (No names and no specific stories!!!)
- Diamonds in the Word –Paul describes the Corinthians as “babes” (NKJV). Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Sometimes we miss the fact that the “fleshly” (NASB) or “carnal” (NKJV) believers are synonymous with infants in Christ. What do you learn here (and in the rest of this book if you have time to read it) about the actions of Christians who are acting like babies?
21. Sharing question: Is your growth consistent with your age as a believer? Why or why not? Name one specific thing that you will do in applying 1 Peter 2:1-3. Write it in the first person - “I will . . . .”
Day Five Study
When we looked at Psalm 119 we saw that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path in times of confusion; it is our counselor in times of uncertainty; it brings us peace in times of distress. I am sure that you can testify to periods in your own life when the Scriptures impacted you in those kinds of ways.
22. What does the Bible do for us according to Hebrews 4:12?
23. What do you learn in 2 Timothy 3:16 about the work of the Scriptures?
In the following story, Betty Jo shares how God’s words from Habakkuk have been both a light and a peace in her life. Look up Habakkuk 2:2-4 and 3:17-19 before you read her story.
Betty Jo’s Story
Beginning in December 2000, the words in Habakkuk 2:2-4; 3:17-19 took on personal meaning for my husband and me. After twenty-four years on staff in a sports ministry, my husband and I felt the Lord telling us to take a huge step of faith and walk away from it--to come aside for a sabbatical season with the Lord while awaiting His next assignment. Little did we know at that time that His timing would be much longer than anything we could have imagined.
We began to "watch" intently as several opportunities were presented, but kept being impressed that we were to continue to "wait." One day about six weeks after our resignation, I remember my husband (being very much the male and Type A personality) declaring that we had "waited" long enough and surely the sabbatical season was over. It was time for him to get a job and move on with the next assignment, a new "passion", as many well-meaning friends encouraged him to find. About three months after this declaration, during his morning quiet time, the Lord spoke to his heart: "Dennis, You keep looking for your new passion. You said you had passion for coaching and then for ministry, but now you are struggling with finding a new passion. The reason you can't find a new passion is because I never intended for you to have a passion for anything but ME! All of your passion is to be attached to ME, not another job. Be patient, I will give you another assignment. But right now, you are to concentrate on sitting at MY feet and being more like Mary and less like Martha." So the waiting continued. About eighteen months later, God began to give the "vision" and we began "to write it down". Currently we are still in the process of "writing it down" (almost two and half years after He gave us the verses in Habakkuk 2:2-4). It has been a definite re-shaping of my husband's posture and position before the Lord.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 has been such a comfort during this time when material things appear so barren. Each time that we turn on the news or read a paper declaring the drastic decline of the economy and record unemployment increases, or hear reports of long-time established ministries financially struggling, only God's assurances in His Sovereign plan keep us going forward. Attendance at any peer function usually includes being asked, "What are you doing now?"; once again, these verses sustain us. As our savings account is now depleted and our meager ministry retirement fund dwindles, we are "rejoicing in the Lord and being joyful in God our Savior." The Sovereign Lord is (has been and will continue to be) our strength.
Our prayer has been always to know Him better, deeper, and to go to new heights with Him. We have now come to realize that passion for Him does not mean the absence of wilderness experiences in our soul along the journey. But rather passion is a Spirit-led ability to walk in obedience--bringing deep joy to the soul--even when His answers to our prayers don't come wrapped like we expect. However, we are grateful for His wrappings today, because He has shown us what true passion for Him means: to trust Him when our eyes cannot see and our minds cannot perceive, knowing that He walks beside us to take us to the heights. In these past two and a half years, our intimacy with Him has grown sweeter, richer and fuller than ever before. "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 15:57)
In various situations of life we turn to various verses as our strength. I like to have them memorized, but if not, I find it helpful to write them down where they are handy as I pray. In times of trouble, I have often turned to the Psalms for strength or reassurance. In grief, there is comfort in God’s promises of heaven. As I pray for what looks hopeless, I remember that nothing is impossible for God to do (Jer. 32:17). When I pray for my children, I often ask Him to complete the good work that He has begun in them (Phil. 1:6). Many of you probably have favorite verses that you use as you pray for certain things. There is power in the Word of God and it is so helpful to pray that word back to Him. Then we know that we are praying with the mind of Christ and in His will.
- Diamonds in the Word –Find some verses that you can claim in a specific situation in your life right now by using your concordance. Write them on cards or put them in a journal that you can carry with you and whip out whenever you need a reminder of God’s power and His promises for specific situations.
24. Sharing question: We have seen this week that one of the ways that we are adorned with true beauty is through the power of God’s Word. Share a way that God has used the Bible in your life to make you more beautiful.
25. Responding to God: Write a prayer thanking God for the power, comfort, etc. of His Word. Incorporate some of the verses that have been meaningful to you this week as you write.
2 Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leon Morris, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 91.