Sunday School Material 5-19-13: Active Hope



(I Peter 4:1-11; 5/19/13)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is believers are called to live according to God’s will, not according to their evil desires. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to live according to God’s will, not according to our evil desires.

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Body:

Read I Peter 4:1-6

I. Distinctive Life. Peter urges his readers to arm themselves with the right attitude. Suffering demonstrates that believers are done with the sins of the world. Furthermore, it shows an alignment with living for the will of God. People may be surprised by living for God’s will, but judgment will set things right.

Applications -

- The focus of our lives. Notice in vss. 1-3 of our Sunday School material idea of being identified with Christ means that one is to live a life for the will of God, not for evil human desires. As believers, we are yet tempted to live for evil human desires like sexual pleasure outside of marriage, greed for money, power hunger, revenge, and other self gratifying concerns.

But we are called to live for God’s will, which is focused on loving God with all that we have and loving others, as we love ourselves. At the end of a self-centered life is an empty doom. But on the journey and at the end of a God centered life is fulfillment and great blessings. Let’s work on living for God’s will, instead of our evil desires.

 

- Judgment is coming. Notice in vss. 4-6  our Sunday School material are those who live as if there is no judgment coming. However, whether a person believes it or not, judgment is on the way. Let’s live the life that we want presented at judgment.

Incidentally, the life we live will be presented at judgment. If we live a sinful and selfish life then that is what we will have to answer for. If we live a life focused on obeying God and loving people then that is what we will have to answer for.

Read I Peter 4:7-11

II. Expectant Life. Peter talks about the end being near. The readers are urged to be alert and sober, so they can pray. Loving one another and being wise stewards of the gifts that God has given them is urged. The goal is for God to be praised through Jesus Christ.

Applications -

- Our prayer life. Notice in vs. 7  our Sunday School material believers are urged to pray with an alert and sober mind. First, we ought to pray. Perhaps worse than our low prayer meeting attendance, in our churches, is what our low attendance says about our private prayer life. In other words, if we are not praying together at church, we are probably not praying at home either.

Second, our prayer life should be nurtured by alert and sober mindedness. We should be aware of what is going on around us and in us, especially in regard to God’s word. We should be sober - not too excited about what we see but sensible. No matter how bad it is, God can work it out for good. No matter how good it is, without God’s grace, it will not last forever.

Let’s work on having an alert and sober prayer life. We ought to pray together at the house of prayer and we should pray in our individual lives.

 

- Loving one another. Notice in vss. 8-9 our Sunday School material the high priority given to loving one another. Not only are we to love one another, but we are to love one another deeply. Such love is said to cover a multitude of sins. The text goes on to show us an example of love - offer hospitality without grumbling.

First, our churches should be famous for their love. Too many of them are not. Second, love helps us to deal with the sins that all of us have. Where there is no love, we easily criticize one another for our sins. But where there is love, there is both forbearance and the practice of speaking the truth in love.

Third, we should practice love by practicing hospitality without grumbling about it. Too many of our churches lack hospitality and the list gets even shorter, when we add hospitality without grumbling. This is sad when compared with what Jesus did for us with such a positive attitude. Let’s work on loving one another. We don’t have to feel like it. We have to obey the command.

 

- Finding and using our gifts. Notice in vss. 10-11 our Sunday School material believers are urged to use their gifts to serve others. We don’t all have the same gift. But we all have a gift - a God given ability to serve others. Let’s work on finding and using our gifts. 

There are too many who do so much less than they are gifted to do. There are too many who operate outside of their gifted area - they are in the wrong ministry. We will do our best work and have maximum satisfaction, when we serve with the gifts and in the place that God is calling us to serve. 

We should use our gifts in ways that honor God. To be clear, we serve people as a means of honoring God. To be clearer, we put up with nerve wrecking people, forbear one another’s shortcomings, and put off our desires for the needs of others, not because the people deserve it or we desire it. We do it in obedience to and in honor of our great big, powerful, and loving God. To Him be the glory!

 

Conclusion: Based on our Sunday School material, let's work on living according to God’s will, not according to our evil desires. God has much for those who obey His will.

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