• Tony Birkhead

UNBOXED Week - 3



Joy doesn’t depend on present circumstances but on promises of God!



INTRODUCTION

When have you experienced joy and pain at the same time?


What activities or disciplines do you engage in that you know before you begin will be unpleasant, yet you do them because you know they will also be rewarding?


Expectant mothers share among themselves (and sometimes with others) about their travails—morning sickness, back aches, discomfort, trouble sleeping, perhaps medical issues. Mothers of newborns acknowledge the pain of childbirth—natural or caesarean section. But if you asked them if their suffering along the way was worth the end result, most would not hesitate to answer positively. They simultaneously experienced joy and pain, knowing the pain would cease but the joy would continue.

So it can be for believers who experience the pain of suffering—even persecution. They can draw upon the sustaining joy of their salvation, knowing that the former will cease while the latter never will.

KEY SCRIPTURE

1 Peter 1:3-9

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read 1 Peter 1:3.

Although there may be some disagreement on the process of salvation, all Christians believe that salvation belongs to the Lord. We do not save ourselves; God saves us. In this section of verses we are going to be told that God has done some things for his people. We are recipients of his grace. Because God has done something, we can be confident he will continue to do what he promised. This should build our hope to soaring heights.

How is the Christian born again?

What is the result of being born again? What are those who are born again brought into?

Upon who or what is Christian hope based? Where do you tend to find your hope?

Read 1 Peter 1:4-5.

What is kept in heaven for you?

Who guards all that is promised to us?


Our hope is in the power and ability of God to keep His promises. Consider the weakness of your power. How would our hope differ if your future was based on your power alone?


Read 1 Peter 1:6-7.

What is the anticipated response to these awesome truths? Is this your response? Are there seasons of life when you have not responded this way?


How does our hope in the promises of God anchor us in times of suffering and hardship?


Would someone be willing to testify to a time they observed hope in the midst of suffering? How does such a resilient hope in Jesus result in God being glorified?


Read 1 Peter 1:8-9.

This whole passage is filled with joy. Peter expects that these Christians are full of unspeakable joy even through hardship. We live our lives surrounded by people without hope. The Christian, however, has promises from God about what is to come. Since this hope is ours in Christ, we have grounds to be joyful in every circumstance.


What is the outcome of our faith?


You have an inheritance that God is keeping for you, and not from you. He will not fail to bring you into the very thing He has promised.


What are some of God’s promises about your future? How does thinking about His good plans for you bring you hope?


What are some of God’s promises about heaven? How does thinking about heaven bring you joy?


MOVING FORWARD

  • What are some of God’s promises found in Scripture that you can pray over yourself this week?

  • What can you do to remind yourself that God’s promises are trustworthy?

  • What would intentional rejoicing look like for you this week?

PRAY TOGETHER

Lord, thank You for the promise that You are mine in Christ. You have not withheld any good thing from me (Psalm 84:11). You are gracious to give me the very inheritance that Jesus paid for me. Holy Spirit, make this truth a greater reality to me this week.

COMMENTARY

1 Peter 1:3-9

1:3. Peter piled up expressions in verses 3-5 to talk about a believer’s relationship with God through salvation. His opening words are those of worship and praise, reminding us that salvation did not come because of who we are or because of what we have accomplished. Salvation came as a gift of mercy. Salvation represents a new birth (see John 1:13), a changing of who we are. Salvation makes us dead to sin and alive to righteousness in Christ.

Peter linked our salvation relationship to what he termed a living hope. Amid present and difficult dangers we are justified in viewing the future with optimism because we are securely attached to the God who deals in futures. Furthermore, our hope is a living hope because it finds its focus in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our living hope comes from a living, resurrected Christ.

1:4. Peter used the word inheritance to describe our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Inheritance emphasizes the believer’s eternal home in heaven. Peter used a triple word picture to describe this inheritance. Our inheritance can never perish, spoil, or fade. These three verbal adjectives indicate that the inheritance is untouched by death, unstained by evil, and unimpaired by time. Our inheritance is death-proof, sin-proof, and time-proof. This inheritance is kept in heaven, for believers. Kept means “to guard or reserve.” The tense of the verb emphasizes the state or condition and underlines the fact that the inheritance already exists and is being preserved. God Himself has reserved this inheritance in heaven for believers, and it continues to be there, still reserved for us. The difficulties we experience cannot undermine the certainty of our coming inheritance.

1:5. The salvation that is ready to be revealed is synonymous with the inheritance described in verse 4. Believers are cared for by God the Father. We are shielded by God’s power. Shielded means “to guard” or to “watch over.” This military term describes how soldiers guard someone. The present tense emphasizes the continual nature of this shielding. It does not suggest that believers are shielded from pain, difficulty, or anguish. It means that God Himself guards and watches over our salvation, our inheritance. Our relationship with God now as we grow more like Christ is a foretaste of that salvation which will be revealed when Christ returns.

1:6. This kind of care from God the Father suggests a response of great rejoicing. Verse 8 repeats this emphasis on joy, calling it an inexpressible and glorious joy. Such joy springs from the contemplation of God and of the salvation that comes to us from God.

This joyous response occurs even in the midst of grief caused by suffering through all kinds of trials. Suffer grief forms a metaphor derived from a military expression for being harassed. It includes the inner mental distress or sadness that comes because of painful circumstances. All kinds of trials literally means “varied, multicolored, or diversified” trials. This takes on a depth of meaning against the background of the ghastly persecution led by the Roman emperor Nero. In that persecution, Christians were wrapped in freshly slaughtered animal skins and fed to dogs and wild animals. They were dipped in pitch or tar and set on fire as torches to light Nero’s gardens at night. This persecution was the first of nine that took place under the Roman Empire during the next 250 years. Peter himself very likely died during this first persecution.

1:7. Why does God allow this suffering to occur? Faith is being proved genuine through the trials. One purpose of trials is to sift out what is genuine in a person’s faith. Followers of God, in both the Old and New Testaments, know that God uses trying circumstances to test the hearts and lives of His people in order to mature them spiritually. Through difficulties God often tests whether our faith is genuine. Peter cemented his point with the illustration of a goldsmith. To form a useful object, raw gold must be cast into a mold. For that to occur, the solid ore must be melted, requiring a temperature of 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit. When the gold is melted, the impurities rise to the surface, where they are skimmed off or burned off. A goldsmith knows the gold is ready to cast when the liquid gold becomes mirror-like and he can see his face reflected in the surface.

The parallel in a believer’s life is obvious. Through the refining heat of trials, we as followers of Jesus Christ grow spiritually and thus reflect more of Christ’s character in our lives. The language of this illustration may also refer to the first-century process of making pottery. Potters baked clay pots to give them strength. The process sometimes cracked pots that had flaws, but the ones that survived the process were then marked with the same Greek word that Peter used here (dokimos) for “genuine.”

1:8. How could these Christians face their suffering? They chose to love Christ and to believe in Him even though they had not actually seen Him in the past and had not encountered Him visibly in the present. Most of Peter’s readers had no personal contact with Christ while He lived on earth. They were a generation removed from the time of His earthly ministry. This did not become an excuse. Instead, by accepting the testimony of those, like Peter, who had seen Christ, they entered into a personal relationship with Christ marked by love and belief.

1:9. Not only our joy, but also the assurance of salvation is not contingent upon our circumstances. We are marching, even though in pain, toward the final goal of our faith—our place in eternity and in heaven. One day believers will enjoy salvation to the full in the presence of Jesus Christ. Pain and suffering will be no more.


DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4

Every time time I read this verse, I am reminded of a few things: first, that even though James is writing to “scattered Jews”(v-1), we need to remember that they are Christians who have been bought from Judaism and into Christianity, so these truths are applicable to all we who believe.

Secondly, he exhorts us to count the issues we go through while living this life with joy, which takes on a different spin when knee deep in the midst of an issue.

And thirdly, it almost seems that he sneaks in the word “when” as he talks about these “diverse” or many kinds temptations or trails.

If we have been called to serve Jesus, part of that serving is going to include a time of testing/trials. Imagine training a student to scuba dive, but all of your experience has been confined to your swimming pool. It would be hard to share your wisdom on what to do when trouble occurs in the rough ocean if you have never experienced scuba diving in the ocean. God teaches us His truth and wisdom through His Word. Part of His teaching process also includes applying that very same truth to our lives in a way that it will never be forgotten. Many times this will come in the form of a testing or a trial of some sort that the Lord allows or sends.

Are you finding yourself in the middle of something that you know is not sin related and you have been crying out to the Lord for relief? GOOD, because if He is the source of your issue, then only He can bring that relief. “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience”. verse 3 goes on to say, which helps us to know that God is trying to teach us something in the midst of a trail, a lesson that we otherwise couldn’t learn apart from where He has us, and a lesson learned in a trial, is a lesson learned well (the trials of Job teaches us that).

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

When asked what the primary objective of life is, most people will answer, “to be happy”. In fact, many people arrange their entire lives around trying to be happy. Society tells us that if we’re happy, we’ll be healthier and may even live longer. Sounds great! Happiness by itself is certainly not a bad thing. However, relying on it to make ourselves feel better day after day is not only missing the mark, it’s dangerous for our souls. The reason? Happiness is only triggered by external forces like people, places, things, or events. It’s temporary and certainly not anything we can rely upon to get us through our most difficult days.

Joy, on the other hand, is the essence of God’s character and resides deep in our spirit. It’s the result of God’s endless mercy and grace, fully realized through praise and worship, as well as prayer and meditation. When we pursue God and spend quality time with Him, we experience joy in His presence. And this joy is freely available to anyone, no matter what.

Consider King David, one of the greatest leaders of ancient Israel, yet a man of significant transgression. He knew this about himself yet was still able to sing praises to the Lord. In Psalm 65:4 (NLT) he writes, “What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts.” No matter what we’ve done, God welcomes us into His presence. This closeness to Him changes us, makes us more aware of the plans He has for us and brings abundant joy.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

“..and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.”

Hebrews 7:2

God’s righteousness is what always precedes His peace. It is the garment of righteousness that protects against worry. The breastplate of righteousness guards the heart against enemy’s infiltration. In order for you to lose your peace, satan will aim to make you second-guess your right standing with God. Once he wins this battle of identity, it is easier for him to sell you deception and worry – a labyrinth of lies that always leads to destruction.

Beloved, your identity is righteousness. It is Jesus’ righteousness that God adorns you with. You did not work to earn it; it is a free gift. It is not until you accept this right standing that the peace of God can rule in your heart. Prayer for peace might bring momentary peace, but enduring peace will come from continually affirming and believing this reality “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus”.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (Romans 5:1 NLT)

The more you accept in your heart God’s verdict about you, the more peace you will have. The more peace you have, the more you will abound in grace; and the more you abound in grace, the more fruits of righteousness you will produce.

Beloved, you can’t produce works of righteousness in order for you to know that you are righteous. No, you KNOW and ACCEPT that you are righteous first; only then will you produce works of righteousness that lead to abiding fruits of the spirit.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

1 John 1:1-4

John was one of Jesus’ closest friends, even called the “beloved disciple.”He heard Jesus speak, saw him with his own eyes, touched him and spent time physically with him (1 John 1:1-3); but this did not complete his joy. Just knowing Jesus wasn’t enough for him. Some of us may be wondering why the joy Jesus said we would have (John 15:11, John 16:24) just doesn’t seem present in our life. Could it be because this joy is not intended as a personal well, but an overflowing, communal spring?

John wrote this letter to his Christian brothers and sisters to complete his joy. His joy was complete only when sharing Jesus with others, and the joy he possessed he shared. Some think we only talk of Jesus to non-Christians, and when that’s finished there are weightier matters of the faith to converse with Christians about. But Jesus is the source of our joy.

Have you been talking with other Christians about Jesus lately? Have you shared about what Jesus has done in your life with those who are not Christians? Examine your life and see if your joy isn’t complete because you have not been sharing Jesus with everyone.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 5

In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11

Throughout Scripture, we see how God used men and women in the corridors of power to influence leaders. Daniel was taken along with other Israelites into the captivity of Babylon, but he had great influence on King Nebuchadnezzar.

We know that Joseph had great influence on the Pharaoh. And Esther, because of her influence with King Ahasuerus, was able to save her entire nation.

As believers we should be asking, “Lord, where do you want me to be?” He may put you in a corridor of power. Or, He might have you laboring in relative obscurity. Wherever you are, you need to use your influence for His glory. Ask yourself, “Am I going to enjoy life in my own way, or am I going to employ my life serving God and others?” Serving the Lord is the most joyful thing you can do.

The psalmist David wrote, “In [His] presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). Those of us who serve the Lord have discovered a secret. Jesus said it very clearly: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NKJV).

Another way to translate blessed is “happy.” If you want to be a happy person, then be a giving person. If you want to be an unhappy person, then be a selfish person. If you want to be happy, then be generous. If you want to be miserable, then be stingy.

Be generous with everything God gives you. Be generous with your time. Be generous with your money. Be generous with whatever is at your disposal.

Are you going to enjoy your life or employ your life? If you employ your life for the glory of God, then you will enjoy your life as never before.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

1 Peter 1:6

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