Suffering November 13-17
In the Gospels, we saw that Peter wanted the kingdom of God to come immediately and without human suffering. Now in his first epistle, Peter writes about our heavenly hope—the kingdom of God which will come after the saints’ suffering for their faith. He proclaims that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary becomes the pattern for Christian living and service in this life. Suffering is not represented as an exception, but as the rule for true believers. While Peter encourages the church to live a holy life, different from the world, he also comforts those who are suffering by reassuring them of their identity and purpose. Peter exhorted his readers to turn to one another in love, and to strengthen one another.
Day 1 Acts 5:17-42
Reflect: What verse spoke to you loudest and why? What made the Jewish elders furious? Why? What made Peter and the others so motivated to speak about Jesus?
Apply: In your witness for Christ, how can you become more like Peter? Is there anything that would make you stop sharing? For what principles should a Christian stand at all costs?
Pray: Father, like these early witnesses, I want to live with conviction that Jesus is the only way to find life and all that Your salvation brings. We have this sure hope: that no government, institution, law, nor power, can silence the Word of God.
Day 2 1 Peter 3:1-12
Reflect: How does knowing that Jesus “submitted” to the Father, change our understanding of the word “submit?” What does this text tell us about how living uprightly will affect our lives?
Apply: Is there anyone with whom you have a poor relationship? What things can you do to improve it? How can knowing the “eyes of the Lord are on the righteous” comfort you?
Pray: Lord, I trust You to watch over me. Help me choose to be submissive, knowing that You give strength to sustain me, that You see me, and that You hear my prayers.
Day 3 1 Peter 3:13-22
Reflect: What answer does Peter expect to his opening question (v. 13)? Why is it better to suffer for doing good, not wrong? Instead of being afraid, what should we do when we suffer?
Apply: Is something amiss if a Christian suffers for his faith? If he never suffers? How prepared are you to respond to someone who asks about your faith?
Pray: Father, You don’t always answer why I suffer, rather Your Word tells me how to endure it. Give me faith and confidence in the reality of Your grace, love and provision, and to see times of suffering as opportunities to bear witness to Jesus.
Day 4 1 Peter 4:1-19
Reflect: What is the main message in Ch.4? Why does Peter mention the end, Christ’s return? What is the purpose of the gifts we are given? What more do you learn about suffering?
Apply: Is Christ’s return something you think about often? Why/why not? How can you cultivate humility and faithfulness in the gifts God has given you? Have you rejoiced in suffering?
Pray: Father, may I not be surprised at the fiery ordeals that I am called upon to endure, but to see it as training to draw me closer to You. Empower me to use the gifts you’ve given me to serve others.
Day 5 1 Peter 5:1-14
Reflect: What are the right and wrong attitudes in shepherding a flock? What does Peter say is behind the suffering Christian’s experience? Why is humility a strong focus for him?
Apply: Who is the “flock” that God has entrusted to you? How are you caring for them? If you had to choose one verse to memorize from this text, what would it be? Why?
Pray: Pray for our church’s pastors and leaders to faithfully follow Christ as they humbly care and shepherd this flock. Pray for your life to faithfully witness to Christ.
Put It Into Practice!
Week 8: Suffering
If you’ve never “suffered” for Jesus, ask Him why. If you have, ask Him for more opportunities.