Keep Looking Up

By Anne Graham Lotz   •   February 22, 2005   •   Topics: , , ,

  • Philip was scourged and crucified.
  • Matthew was nailed to the ground with spikes and beheaded.
  • Jude was beaten to death with sticks and clubs.
  • Simon was tortured and crucified.
  • John, son of Zebedee, was tortured and exiled.
  • James, brother of John, was beheaded.
  • James was pushed from the top of a building; then his broken body was beaten to death.
  • Andrew, Peter’s brother, hung on a cross for three days before dying.
  • Bartholomew was beaten and skinned alive before being beheaded.
  • Thomas was speared with a javelin.
  • And Peter was crucified–upside down.

Every single one of our Lord’s beloved disciples suffered cruel torture. Why? Not for saying Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified–the world knew of and confirmed His death. The disciples were tortured, vilified, exiled and executed for saying He had risen from the dead! They were put to death for their conviction that Jesus Christ is alive and that He is Lord!

Have you ever wondered if you could maintain your commitment to Christ under intense pressure and persecution?

How can you and I be faithful to the end?

The Apostle Peter penned a letter to the Early Church that exuded passionate love for Christ and exuberant joy in knowing Him, even though his relationship with Christ would cost him his life within the year. How could he maintain a joyous, faithful commitment to the end?

Peter kept looking up.

Read 1 Peter 1:1-12
Focused on God’s Grace–1 Peter 1:1-2
Chosen by the Father (1 Peter 1:1-2a)

  • Describe Peter’s initial encounter with Jesus in Luke 5:1-11. Give the phrase that reveals Peter’s commitment to Christ from the beginning.
  • How does John 15:16, 19 confirm 1 Peter 1:2?
  • Describe your initial encounter with Jesus. What has been your commitment to Him since that moment?
  • With what spiritual blessings has God blessed you (Ephesians 1:3)? Apply Ephesians 1:3-6 to your life.

Changed by the Spirit (1 Peter 1:2b)

  • From the following verses, describe areas of Peter’s life that needed to be changed: Mark 8:31-33, 9:2-7, 14:32-42; John 18:1-11; Matthew 26:31-35, 26:69-75.
  • Who would change Peter, and how? See Acts 1:8, 2:14-18, 32-33, 4:8; 2 Corinthians 3:18.
  • What changes can be seen in your life as a result of your salvation?
  • How are you encouraged by 1 Peter 1:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13?

Cleansed by the Son (1 Peter 1:2c)

  • What was Peter’s original reaction when Jesus told him of the Cross? See Mark 8:32.
  • How does Acts 4:8-12 reveal that Peter changed his mind about the Cross?
  • What did the blood and death of Jesus do for Peter–and for you? Give phrases from the following verses: Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:13-14, 12:11.

Focused on God’s Gifts–1 Peter 1:3-5
Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3)

  • Keeping in mind that the last words Jesus had heard Peter say before the Cross were words of denial, what do you think the following meant to Peter? Luke 24:12, Mark 16:7, Luke 24:33-34, John 21:1-22.
  • Describe a time when God has given you another chance.
  • How does Peter’s experience give credibility to his words in 1 Peter 1:6-7?
  • If God can bring blessing and glory from the horror of the Cross, why do you doubt He can bring good from your present difficulty?

Lasting Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4-5)

  • How does Ephesians 1:3-5 describe our “lasting inheritance”?
  • How is this confirmed by John 1:16?
  • Make an alphabetized list of some of the blessings that are yours through faith in Christ. Memorize it so that you can repeat it to yourself and cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”
  • As Peter stared death in the face, why would this inheritance be especially meaningful?

Focused on God’s Glory–1 Peter 1:6-9

  • Describe God’s glory from the following verses: Exodus 16:10, 24:17, 34:29; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3; John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 4:6.
  • Give the phrases from 1 Peter 1:6-9 that indicate Peter’s focus remained on the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • What are some practical things you can do to keep your focus on Christ?

Focused on God’s Gospel–1 Peter 1:10-12
Their Promise (1 Peter 1:10-11)

  • From the following verses, describe the promise of the Gospel God gave to His people, even though they did not know the details of it: Genesis 3:15 with 3:23, Genesis 12:3 with Galatians 3:16, Deuteronomy 18:18, Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 53:1-5.
  • How does Hebrews 11:39-40 speak to this?

Our Possession (1 Peter 1:12)

  • How does a person “possess” the Gospel? See Ephesians 1:13.
  • How did you first hear the Gospel? Who “preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit” (1 Peter 1:12, NIV)?
  • When did the promise of the Gospel become your possession)?
  • What are you doing and what will you do to share the Gospel with others?

As we live in a world that is shaken by tsunamis, typhoons and terrorism … mudslides, snowstorms and suicide bombers … disease, destruction and death … floods, famine and fear É we can face tomorrow because He lives. Stay focused on Him–and keep looking up!

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