Monday, April 30, 2012

Trials

Connect Group Questions
 
1.  Read 1 Peter 4:12-14 aloud in your group.  In verse 13 why does Peter say we should be glad when we go through trials?  Have you ever experienced a time where you knew God was with you in a difficult time?  How did knowing God was with you affect your ability to get through the trial?
 
“these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”
Peter tells us that going through trials makes us more like Christ and that when we win the battle it brings joy.
 
 
2.  Read 1 Peter 4:15-18 aloud in your group.  Peter identifies two reasons we might suffer.  What are they?  The first step in determining if our trials are a test from God or an attack from Satan is to assess why we are suffering.
 
We might suffer from our own sin, disobeying God’s commands, rebellion against God’s purposes.  When we do stuff that God clearly says will harm us, we have only ourselves to blame.
 
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is
 
Proverbs 19:3 (TEV)  “Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the LORD.”
 
Ouch!  That hurts doesn’t it – LOL!
 
We might also suffer for being a Christian, for doing the right thing, for following God’s plan and obeying His will.  Peter says we should “praise God” when this is the case.
 
 
3.  What should we do if our suffering is a result of disobeying God’s plan?  Read 1 Peter 3:10-17 for insight.
 
The simple answer is to “REPENT” to turn from our disobedience and follow God’s plans and purposes.
Be sure and read through 1 Peter 3:10-17 for more insight.  Here’s an excerpt from the passage to guide your thoughts.
 
1 Peter 3:10-12 (NLT)
10 For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”
4.  Read 1 Peter 4:19 aloud in your group.  What should we do if our suffering is a result of obeying God and doing what is right?  Does it surprise you that Peter says we can “suffer in a manner that pleases God”?
 
19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
I’ve also included this verse in the New International Version rendering.  I like the wording “suffer according to God’s will”
I don’t think it very often occurs to us that we can suffer in a way that is “according to God’s will”.  Somehow we’ve adopted the idea that God’s purpose is to always provide us with safety and comfort.  When in fact God is much more interested in our character and our strength for battle.
 
5.  Are you going through a trial right now?  Is it a result of disobeying God or obeying God?  Based on this study, what do you need to do?  Ask the group to pray for you “to do what is right and trust your life to the God who created you…”
 
I hope you are emphasizing the prayer focus each time your group meets.  Now that the group is getting to know each other better, you should encourage people to be real.  Especially when it comes to being honest about our struggles.  Just the other day I was thinking about the power of
 
James 5:16  “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
The flip side of that coin would indicate that when we aren’t in connections where we are real about our sin and confess those sins to others who will pray for us... we don’t get healed.
 
OK, that should give you plenty to chew on as your prepare for your groups this week.  As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
 
Have a great week,
 
Pastor Jim
 
 
1 Peter 4:12-19 (NLT)
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.  14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.  15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.  16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!  17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?  18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?”  19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
 
1 Peter 4:19 (NIV)
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.