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Build a rock-solid faith to weather the storms of life

Unshakeable Faith – Week Eight

Note: This is the last lesson of this study. You can still access previous lessons here. I would love to hear from you about any particular topics or Bible books you would like to study online in the future. Email me at kathy@kathyhoward.org

Download a PDF of Week Eight here.

If you made a list of your family members who would you include? Parents, grandparents, and children? Aunts, uncles, and cousins? Would you include anyone from your church?

Every Christian belongs to God’s family. When God saves us, He saves us into His family. We can never experience all God has for us apart from a local body of believers. Jesus made it clear to His disciples that God designed the Christian life to be lived in the context of community.

Unshakeable Faith trait eight: Connected to a local church body with love and service

Peter spent roughly three years learning from Jesus how to live in a community of believers. This group traveled together, ate together, and did life together. But Jesus didn’t merely teach about love and service. He set the example.

Read John 13:1-17. Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet? (Look back at verse 1 to help you with your answer.)

 

Thirteen pairs of feet needed washing after walking the dusty roads, but none of the disciples offered to do this job usually reserved for the lowest servant. Although Jesus deserved their honor and worship, He humbled Himself to meet a need and to set an example of service. Jesus established a standard for all His disciples – then and now – through this humble act.

Later that same night – while their feet were still clean – Jesus emphasized His act of service with a command. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13, NIV). Jesus did not mean that we all need to run around washing each other’s feet (though sometimes it’s a good idea!). He wants us to love each by putting each other first and meeting each other’s needs. Peter got the point.

Read 1 Peter 3:8-9. List all the characteristics and behaviors that describe how we should conduct our relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

My life does not perfectly reflect Peter’s description for brotherly behavior. How about yours? Praise God, He is faithful to continue to work on us! Let’s look at one more passage from Peter’s first letter and then make some personal application.

Read 1 Peter 4:8-10. How did Peter say we should love each other? What is this kind of love capable of illustrating and being?

 

Peter used the Greek word agape to describe the kind of love Christians should have for each other. Therefore, Peter commanded his readers to love each other in a way that is benevolent and unselfish, always acting in the best interest of the other person. According to the The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “agape love is capable of being commanded because it is not primarily an emotion but a decision of the will leading to action.”

Jesus commanded us to love each other like He loves us. Deeply, unselfishly, with the other’s best interests at heart. In this way, Jesus loves His children through the local church. He cares for us, comforts us, provides for us, and encourages us through our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Do you know of a need right now in your church family that needs your love in action? List some concrete ways you can show your love.

 

God’s purpose for your life includes a vital connection to a local church body. He has designed this interdependent relationship to benefit each of us. When times are shaky and difficulties storm your life, God will use His body to hold you up. In turn, He will use you to encourage someone else. If you are not fully connected to a local church, don’t wait any longer!

Let’s talk! Let’s share today some of the ways God has loved you through the local church.

 

Note: This is the last lesson in our Bible study, “Unshakeable Faith.” If you would like to go a little deeper into this subject consider getting Kathy’s Bible study “Unshakeable Faith.” Purchase links are below.

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Christian Book Distributors

Barnes & Noble

New Hope Publishers/WMU Store

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Unshakeable Faith – Week Seven

Note: You can still access previous lessons of “Unshakeable Faith” here.

Download a PDF of Week Seven here.

Christians around the world are imprisoned, beaten, and even killed because of their faith in Christ. We hear stories regularly from places like China, North Korea, and Pakistan. Our friend Peter knew by experience that God uses trials to refine our faith. Scripture teaches us this again and again. The Bible also shows us that persecution specifically because of our faith in Christ bonds us with Jesus in a unique way.

But persecution such as that hasn’t yet happened in the US. Should we be glad? It’s clear that views in America are changing about Christians. All you have to do is turn on the television or go online. We have lost favor with popular culture, and the only thing that is not tolerated in our tolerant society is Christianity. Increasing persecution in various forms could soon find us, right here at home. How will you respond when it comes?

Unshakeable Faith Trait Seven: Prepared to Endure Persecution for the Sake of Christ

Jesus clearly taught Peter and the other apostles that they would suffer because they followed Him. Although He warned them to be on guard, He also promised they wouldn’t have to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit would give them the right words. (See Matthew 10:17-20 and Mark 13:9-11.)

Read John 15:18-21. List all the reasons Jesus gives in this passage that explains why the world will persecute His followers.

 

After His resurrection, Jesus warned Peter about severe persecution he would personally face. “When you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18b, NIV). Jesus said this to “indicate the kind of death” Peter would die.

It is generally accepted that Peter died a martyr’s death under Nero’s persecutions in Rome. Church tradition and the writings of the early church fathers report that Peter was crucified head downward because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner Christ died. But Peter did not let persecution deter him from following Christ. He joyfully endured beatings and imprisonments and continued to spread the Gospel message.

Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. Use the passage to explain and elaborate on the following statements.

  1. We can have joy in the midst of trials –

 

  1. Trials are only temporary –

 

  1. God uses our trials for His purposes –

 

Scripture clearly shows us that everyone – believer and unbeliever – will experience temptation, trails, and difficulties as the due course of a fallen world. These things aren’t wasted in a believer’s life because God uses them to refine our faith and shape our character. While trials are common to all humans, only Christians will experience persecution because of their faith in Christ. This kind of suffering is a direct result of obedience to God.

Read 1 Peter 3:13-17. List all the instructions Peter gives about how a Christian should prepare for and respond to persecution.

 

Read 1 Peter 4:12-19. Write a summary of the attitudes and actions we should have regarding Christian persecution.

 

Times are changing quickly. Christians in the United States may well begin to suffer persecution for the name of Christ. Ask God to prepare your heart and mind for the possibility. The Bible promises that when we do suffer we will know Christ more fully and more intimately. Do you desire to know Christ more fully?

Let’s talk! How do you feel about the possibility of facing persecution? Are you prepared? Are you prepared for persecution?

 

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.                 

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Unshakeable Faith – Week Six

Note: You can still access previous lessons of “Unshakeable Faith” here.

Download a PDF of Lesson Six here.

As my three children were growing up, there were periods when my relationship with one of them was marked with silence and distance. Almost every time the trouble started because that child had been doing something he or she knew I wouldn’t approve of. So they tried to hide their behavior by “hiding” from me.

There have been seasons when I avoided God for the same reason. Because I had allowed something into my life He did not want there I pulled away from Him. I failed to pray or read His Word because I didn’t want to “hear about it.” The result was a lack of fellowship with God and no sense of His presence. It’s impossible to be intimate with God and rebellious at the same time.

Unshakeable Faith Trait Six: Pursues Holiness with Eyes Focused on the Father

Peter wrote clearly and passionately about a Christian’s need for holiness. He knew that holiness is necessary for intimacy with God. He heard this truth many times from Jesus Himself.

Read Matthew 5:8 from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. What is a blessing given to the “pure in heart?”

 

The word translated as “pure” in Matthew 5:8 is the Greek adjective katharos. It means to be “free from corrupt desire and sin; to be blameless and innocent.” From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus taught about the importance of a “clean” life. He taught this to the multitudes and scolded the Pharisees (Matthew 23:23-28) for being clean only on the outside.

If you have cross references in your Bible, Matthew 5:8 probably refers you to Hebrews 12:14. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” The noun holiness is similar to pure in Matthew 5:8. It refers to a heart and life that is pure and consecrated to God.

Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. Peter’s call to holy living begins with a “therefore” in verse 13. Look back at 1 Peter 1:3-4. What is the wonderful truth that deserves our response of a holy life?

 

How does Peter describe a holy life in verses 13-14?

 

According to verses 15-16, why does God say we should be holy?

 

 

If you have time, read the following verses, penned by the Apostle Paul, and list every character trait you can find in the appropriate column.

Holy behavior/characteristics           Worldly behavior/characteristics

Eph 4:17-32

 

Eph 5:1-21

 

Col 3:1-17

 

I don’t want to be far from God when tough times hit. I want to be close enough to God to feel His breath on my cheek and His strong arms around me. What about you? If there is something in your life that’s gotten between you and your Savior, don’t wait another day without going to Him in repentance.

As we strive to live a holy life that is pleasing to God, our intimacy with Him will deepen. We will understand Him better and more fully sense His presence. We will continue to face trials, temptations, and difficulties as long as we live in this earthly body. But if we pursue holiness, we will not fall when adversity strikes. We will be unshakeable!

In what ways can a deeper experience with God and a more intimate understanding of Him bless our life and help us in times of trials?         

 

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.                 

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Unshakeable Faith Week Five

Note: You can still access previous lessons of “Unshakeable Faith” here.

Download a PDF of Lesson Five here.

Although we can’t see the wind, we can certainly see and feel its effects. Its power is unstoppable. In the third chapter of John, Jesus uses wind as an analogy for the Holy Spirit (See John 3:5-8). The Holy Spirit has the power and authority to do what He pleases. Although we cannot see Him, we can see and feel His activity.

If you are a Christian – if you’ve entered into a saving relationship with Jesus – it’s because the Holy Spirit gave new life to your sin-dead spirit. You were “born again” by the power of His presence. That same power is now living and active in your life. The Holy Spirit is a gift from the Father. He equips and enables us to live the life God has purposed for us. And that includes standing firm through the storms of life.

Unshakeable Faith Trait Five: Living by the Power of the Indwelling Holy Spirit

In last week’s lesson, we witnessed how Peter fell to temptation on the night Jesus was betrayed. That same night, Jesus had promised the disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit. Ten days after Jesus’ ascension back to the Father – which was fifty days after His resurrection – the promised Spirit came!

Read Acts 2:1-8. How is the Holy Spirit’s arrival described in verses 2-3? How did the Holy Spirit demonstrate His presence and power in the believers?

 

Read Acts 2:14, 36-41. What difference do you see in Peter compared to the night Jesus was arrested? (Particularly note the descriptive verbs in verse 40.)

 

Before the Holy Spirit came, Peter was willing in spirit, but weak in his flesh. He deserted and denied Jesus. Fifty days later Peter stood in front of a crowd of thousands and boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus. He pointed out their sin and called them to repentance. The Holy Spirit had transformed Simon the fisherman into Peter the rock!

If you read through the book of Acts, you will see many other ways that the Holy Spirit demonstrated His power through Peter – from physical healing to the resuscitation of a dead woman. Peter learned that in his own strength he was weak, but that the Spirit of Jesus within him was strong. And he did not fail to teach others what he had learned.

Read 2 Peter 1:3-4.

In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul clearly states that every Christian has the Spirit of God. If someone “does not have the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). The presence of the Holy Spirit is the “divine power” Peter talks about in 2 Peter 1:3-4.

According to 2 Peter 1:3, what has “His divine power” given us?

 

“Everything” means everything! Just think… when God asks us to serve Him in a particular way He equips us for the task. Any trial or difficulty God allows us into our lives He gives us strength to endure. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence and power within us!

According to 2 Peter 1:4, what do we escape when we “participate in the divine nature?”

 

God intends for us to become like Jesus, to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).  God demands our cooperation, but the Holy Spirit supplies the power to accomplish this sanctifying work. Peter recognized that God, through His Spirit, gives believers everything we need to live the life God wants us to live. Whatever our circumstances, physical weaknesses, limited material resources, or emotional needs, God will supply. The Holy Spirit even gives us everything we need to escape our selfish, evil desires and act like Jesus.

In what current life situations do you need a fresh encounter with the Spirit of God? It might be a trial, temptation, or a call to an overwhelming task.

 

How does God’s promise in 2 Peter 1:3 apply to your situation?

 

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.

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Unshakeable Faith – Week Four

Note: You can still access previous lessons of “Unshakeable Faith” here.  Download a PDF of this lesson.

Most of us naturally protect our physical property and the people in our care. We lock doors, screen babysitters, change the batteries in the smoke detectors and back up important files on our computers.

Think for a moment about some of the precautions you take.

Are you that diligent about protecting yourself from temptation?

The trials of life can tempt us to be less than completely submitted and obedient to God. Sometimes we don’t trust Him enough to follow Him down a hard path. Sometimes we try to fix our problems the world’s way instead of depending on God. Often we give up on God too quickly and hastily act in our own strength.

Unshakeable Faith Trait Four:

Determined to Stay Alert and Guard Against Temptation

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He warned Peter and the other disciples about the upcoming trial. Jesus declared that all of them would run away and Peter would deny Him three times before the night was over. (See Mark 14:27-31.) Of course our friend Peter emphatically insisted, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (verse 31). But once again, Peter had to learn a lesson through the pain of failure.

Read Mark 14:32-41. What did Jesus ask Peter, James, and John to do? (Note verses 34 and 38.)

 

Here’s a definition for the Greek word translated as “watch” from The Complete Word Study New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates:

To rouse, to watch, to refrain from sleep; to be mindful of threatening dangers which, with conscious earnestness and an alert mind, keeps one from all drowsiness and all slackening in the energy of faith and conduct.

Based on the definition above, how could “watching” combined with prayer help them – and us – to withstand temptation?

 

Jesus told the inner three that “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Peter really did plan to stand by Jesus even if it meant death. But when the testing came, Peter ran. When things got tough, Peter denied His Lord. So often we want to stand firm, we want to obey to God, but when tough times come all our bold plans fall apart. Have you ever experienced that?

Peter may have fallen to temptation, but he learned from his failure. In turn, he wanted others to learn from his experience and not make the same mistakes.

Read 1 Peter 5:6-9. Peter made four exhortations or “strong, urgent recommendations.” Each verse begins with one. List them below.

 

Peter knew from experience that pride comes before a fall! He did not want others to learn the hard way. He also wanted to remind his readers that God cared for them. Whether we are facing an illness, material need, a strained relationship, or Christian persecution, God knows and cares.

What might we be tempted to do if we doubt God’s loving concern for us?

In the NIV, the first part of 1 Peter 5:8 reads “Be self-controlled and alert.” That word alert is the very same Greek word translated as the word watch in Mark 14. Jesus’ warning to Peter did have an impact!

Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.

Paul used the Israelites’ disobedience to teach Christians a vital truth: God expects obedience and disobedience brings consequences. Although God miraculously brought them out of Egypt, guided them, and provided for them they still went their own way when things got difficult. Just like Peter! Peter “thought he was standing firm,” but instead he fell (1 Corinthians 10:12). He failed to pray for God’s direction and help. He failed to watch out for Satan and his schemes.

What wonderful promise do you see in 1 Corinthians 10:13?

You and I do not have to yield to temptation. God always provides a way for us to choose obedience. We don’t sin by enduring trials and facing temptation, but we do sin when we reject God’s way and choose our own.

Group discussion: What decisions lay before you today? Where are you weak and susceptible to temptation? What are some specific ways you can guard yourself against these weaknesses?

 

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.

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Unshakeable Faith – Week Three

Note: You can still access the previous lessons for this online study of “Unshakeable Faith” on this summary page. Download the PDF version of Week Three here.

Many of us have had experience with “strong-willed” children. Doesn’t it seem ridiculous that a four-year-old – or a teenager for that matter – will stand up to an adult and stubbornly insist on their own way? They really think they know better than their wiser, more-experienced parents!

Yet, I sometimes do the same thing with God. In fact, at one time or another, each of us has been that strong-willed child who refuses to submit to the Father’s authority. Sometimes we act out of rebellion. Sometimes, we simply think we know best.

Peter had the same problem, but even this hard-headed Apostle eventually learned that God deserved his yielded obedience.

Unshakeable Faith Trait Three:

Submitted to the One Who Knows the Future and Has a Plan

 More than once, Peter thought his way was better than Jesus’. In fact, he even tried to impose his will on Jesus. We would never do that, right?

Read Matthew 16:21-23. (This happened shortly after Peter acknowledged Christ as the Messiah in Matthew 16:16). Describe the Father’s plan for Jesus as He details in verse 21.

 

The Father had revealed His plan to the Son. Then the Son revealed the Father’s plan to His disciples. God’s plan of salvation for the whole world was unfolded to 12 ordinary men. They should have humbly responded with worship and thanksgiving!

But how did Peter react? How would you have responded?

 

Although Peter calls Jesus “Lord” in verse 22, the nature of his correction shows Peter was not really yielding to His lordship in that moment. D.A. Carson remarks on Peter’s response in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary on the book of Matthew:

 Peter’s strong will and warm heart linked to his ignorance produce a shocking bit of arrogance. He confesses that Jesus is the Messiah and then speaks in a way implying that he knows more of God’s will than the Messiah himself.

In Matthew 16:23, Jesus identifies the core issue of Peter’s misguided intentions. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Many of us have the same problem Peter had. We see things with our limited, selfish, human perspective instead of God’s eternal, all-knowing perspective. Intellectually, I accept that God knows best and His way is perfect. However, I still want to do things my way, even while knowing from experience that I usually get it wrong.

We know from Scripture that Peter matured. He learned to focus more and more on the “things of God” and less and less on the “things of men.”

For instance, in the 4th chapter of Acts, Peter and John were arrested for teaching about the resurrection of Jesus after they healed a crippled man in Jesus’ name. They were commanded not to speak about Jesus again, threatened, and released. However Peter and John declared they had to obey God even if it meant arrest (Acts 4:19).

Did you notice the change in Peter? Instead of thinking in human terms or considering his own comfort, he kept God’s will and Kingdom priorities first. In turn, he taught others what he learned.

Read 1 Peter 4:1-2. Peter taught that one of two things will determine the direction of our life. What are those two choices?

1.

2.

 

Just think, if I am not living for the will of God, by default I am living for my sinful, fleshly desires. Either God’s will or mine.

Peter stated that those who live for the will of God are “done with sin.” That doesn’t mean we won’t ever sin, but it does mean our lives won’t be ruled by our sinful desires and passions. Choosing our will over God’s will be the exception rather than the rule.

Read Romans 8:12-14. Paul says we have an obligation to God because He has given us eternal life through the presence and power of the Spirit of Christ within us. What is this obligation?

 

If you are a believer, you are not your own. You have been bought and paid for with the blood of Christ. Not only is God worthy of your obedience, He also knows what is absolutely best for you.

What area of your life is the hardest to allow God to control?

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.

 

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Unshakeable Faith – Week Two

Note: You can still access the introductory lesson or Lesson One for this online study of “Unshakeable Faith.”  Download the PDF version of Week Two here.

Do you sometimes feel like life is mundane? Each day we drag ourselves out of bed, get ourselves or the kids off to school, spend hours at work, do laundry, cook dinner, clean toilets, tackle homework, then fall into bed – only to get up and do it all over again.

Or maybe you wish your life was mundane. Perhaps you are facing a difficult trial or circumstance that consumes your thoughts, time, and strength. Maybe your world has been turned upside down by grief or tragedy and you don’t know where to turn.

In the mundane or the overwhelming, do you have confidence in the One you call “Lord?” In this week’s study we will examine the identity of Jesus. We’ll see how Peter’s growing understanding of the nature of Jesus strengthened his faith and gave him the confidence to follow Him no matter where He led.

Unshakeable Faith Trait Two:

Secure in Your All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Sovereign God

When Jesus called Peter to follow Him, Peter knew He was a great teacher sent by God. But as the weeks and months passed, Peter learned much more about the power and authority of Jesus.

Look up the following Scriptures. Each passage relates a miracle of Jesus that demonstrates His divine authority over a specific area. Draw lines from the passages on the left to the corresponding areas of power and authority on the right. (Note: Many biblical scholars believe that Mark based his gospel record on Peter’s eyewitness testimony.)

 Mark 1:21-28                                      nature

Mark 1:40-42                                      demons

Mark 2:1-11                                        material world

Mark 4:35-41                                      disease

Mark 5:35-43                                      forgiveness of sin

Mark 6:39-44                                      death

 

Jesus has the authority over demons. He can heal any sickness and cure every disease. Jesus can still the wind and calm the waves. He even has power over sin and death. Peter witnessed all this firsthand. His experiences with Jesus strengthened and grew his faith. Peter came to know that Jesus was more than a great teacher. Peter learned that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Now consider how He is able to work in your life.

Does Jesus have the power and authority to work in any and every circumstance of your life?

 

On the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus’ ascension, Peter and the other believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. Armed with his knowledge of Jesus and the Spirit’s power, Peter preached his very first sermon and 3,000 were saved! Not long after this, Peter and John were arrested for teaching about Jesus.

Read Acts 4:8-13. What declaration did Peter make to the Jewish ruling council (Sanhedrin) in verse 12?

 

Did Peter seem concerned about his current life circumstances? If not, why do you think he wasn’t concerned?

 

Peter’s complete confidence in the Person of Christ impacted every aspect of his life. For over thirty years the identity of Jesus kept him standing firm. Through persecution, hardship, prison, and even martyrdom, Peter stood unshakeable on the power and authority of Jesus.

Read Colossians 2:9-10. What do you learn about the nature of Jesus?

 

Based on these truths, how is Jesus able to work in the circumstances of your life?

 

God is able to do anything! However, He doesn’t always act like we want or expect. Even though He is all-powerful and loving, sometimes He allows us to go through circumstances that cause pain. But even in the midst of the pain, God is always with us. He strengthens and comforts us in the midst of our troubles. And we can trust that He will work through our circumstances to accomplish His eternal purposes. (For more on these truths read the following Scriptures: Isaiah 43:2; Ps 23:4; John 14:16; Matt 28:20; Ps 147:3; Is 40:27-31; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Phil 4:13; James 1:2-4; Romans 5:2-5; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Rom 8:28-29.)

Group Discussion: Has your view of Jesus been limited? What specific circumstance do you need to trust Jesus with today?

 

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.

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Unshakeable Faith – Week One

Note: If you missed the introductory lesson for this online study of “Unshakeable Faith” you can view that here.  Download the PDF version of Week One here.

When I was in high school, a social slight felt like the end of the world. Now I know that rejection can be much more serious and hurtful than not getting asked to the junior prom. A departure of a spouse, a job layoff, or a broken friendship can make us feel unloved and discarded.

No matter how much rejection you may have faced in your life, never forget that God will never reject you. In fact, if you are a Christian – if you have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ – it’s because God chose you! (Here’s more about how to have a saving relationship with Jesus.) Have you ever taken a moment to dwell on the incredible truth that God chose you?

Unshakeable Faith Trait One:

He Picked Me! – Secure in the God Who Loves and Chooses

Jesus chose a brash, impetuous fisherman named Simon to follow Him. Let’s read about how Simon met Jesus.

Read John 1:35-42. How did they meet?

 

What did Jesus say to Simon when they met?

 

In ancient Jewish culture, names were significant. They revealed character or represented a specific purpose God had for that person. The “Simon” Jesus met was outspoken and a bit unstable. The name “Peter” (aka “Cephas”) means “rock.” This name change shows that Jesus had a plan and purpose for the fisherman before they even met.

Jesus also knew that Peter would face many trials and intense persecution. Jesus changed his name to reflect the character Jesus would develop in him. From their first meeting Jesus began to transform the shaky Simon into the firm, stable Peter. Peter needed a rock-solid faith that would not be shaken when the hard times came.

Peter taught others what he learned from Jesus. He led the church in Jerusalem and he also traveled to visit other churches and spread the gospel. He practiced being a “rock” right up until the time he was martyred in Rome under Emperor Nero in the late 60’s AD. Peter’s letters – which we know as 1 and 2 Peter – are believed to have been written from Rome during the latter years of Peter’s life.

Read 1 Peter 1:1-8. According to verse 2, who takes the initiative in our salvation?

 

Believers are chosen by God the Father; our salvation is made possible by the sacrificial blood of Jesus the Son; and we move from spiritual death to life through the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit. That’s a miracle only God can perform!

Read Ephesians 1:4-5 from the New Living Translation below.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.       Ephesians 1:4-5, NLT

Circle the words in the passage above that describe God’s action on your behalf. How did God feel about doing this for you?

 

How does it feel to be chosen by God for salvation and adopted into His family?

 

Believer, God chose you before the creation of the world. He picked you out for His very own, before you were even born. Like Peter, He saved you for a purpose: “to be holy and without fault (Eph 1:4).” You were chosen by God, saved by the blood of Jesus, and now the Holy Spirit is working in your life to transform into Christ’s holy likeness. Like Peter, God wants to grow your faith from shaky to unshakeable!

Group Discussion: What situation are you facing right now in which you need to remember that God loves you and has chosen you?

 

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.

 

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Unshakeable Faith – Introduction

Note: This is the introductory lesson for the online Bible study “Unshakeable Faith.” You are welcome to join in! Would also love for you to share the study on FB or Twitter.

This study is an a condensed version of the traditionally published Bible study, “Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock Solid Living.”

Download a PDF version of the lesson or read it below. Be sure and check out the question for group interaction at the bottom of the blog!

Should Christians experience hard times?

Some well-known Christian leaders teach what is known as “prosperity Gospel.” This is the belief that God rewards obedience with wealth, health, and happiness. Scot McKnight, in an article on beliefnet.com defines it this way:

“The prosperity gospel (or the health and wealth gospel) teaches that God desires the material, spiritual, and physical prosperity of his people. To become prosperous, all one has to do is believe, receive, and act upon God’s promises.” (Read McKnight’s entire article here.)

Well, that’s all well and good until some faithful Christian encounters a trial or difficulty. What do we do with the prosperity gospel then?

  1. What have you been taught about the presence of trials in a Christian’s life?

 

Many Christian women I love and admire have faced or are facing significant trials like life-threatening illness, divorce, death of a child, and financial hardship. These kinds of situations would knock many people flat. But these women are standing firm on their faith in God. They’ve discovered that God works in the middle of it all for His glory.

Of course, the biggest problem with the teachings of the prosperity gospel is found in the teachings of the Bible.

2.      Read the following passages and record what the Bible does teach about trials in the lives of believers.

       a.      John 6:33 –

        b.      John 15:18-20 –

        c.       2 Timothy 3:12 –

        d.      James 1:2 –

        e.       1 Peter 1:6 –

  3.  Based on these Scriptures, what conclusions can you draw about trials in believers’ lives?

 

Scripture makes it clear that believers will face trials and difficulties. However, as we continue to faithfully follow God those trials are never wasted. He uses them to refine our faith, shape our character, work out His purposes, and bring glory to Himself. And yes, God does care about every aspect of our physical well-being. But He cares even more about our eternal well-being.

Are you ready for the inevitable trials of life? You can have a faith that will stand rock-solid through whatever comes your way. Over the next eight weeks we will discover how God grew Peter’s faith from shaky to unshakeable. Let’s take a brief look at this growth.

4.  Read Mark 14:27-31. How did Peter think he would respond when hard times came?

 

5.  Read Mark 14:50; 66-72. How did Peter actually respond when Jesus was arrested and tried?

 

 6.  Read Acts 4:13-20. Peter and John had been arrested for healing a crippled beggar in Jesus’ name. How did they respond to the command of the Jewish rulers?

 

7. What kind of change do you see in Peter?

 

Peter went on to endure beatings, persecution, and other imprisonments because of his faith in Jesus. History and church tradition also reveal that Peter was martyred for his faith in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero. The brash, impetuous Peter, who once denied Jesus to a servant girl, willingly gave his life rather than ever deny Him again.

We will probably never be asked to deny Christ or die. But, every trial and difficulty of life will threaten to shake our faith. I’m excited to spend the next 8 weeks with you exploring the faith traits God instilled in Peter. Our goal for this study is to allow God to do in our lives what He did in Peter’s. Are you ready?

Let’s talk/Group discussion (feel free to share in the comment section): What trials and difficulties have you encountered that have threatened to shake your faith in Christ? Can you see how God was working in them?

 
For more information on the prosperity gospel, watch this video by John Piper .


Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.

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You are invited to build a Rock-Solid faith

When was the last time you faced a difficult circumstance or trial? Did your faith in God stand rock-solid through it all or did it feel a little shaky?

Join me in an online Bible study that will help build your faith from shaky to unshakeable! Beginning right here on September 14th – one week from today – we will explore 8 key “faith traits” found in the life of Peter. We will see how God used Peter’s relationship with Jesus to transform his weak, fragile faith – that once denied Jesus – into a faith that stood firm even in the face of death.

During next week’s introduction we will dispel the incorrect teaching that Christians shouldn’t encounter difficulty. Then we will explore one unshakeable faith trait a week through November 9th.  Here are the 8 unshakeable faith characteristics we’ll study:

  1. He Picked Me! – Secure in the God Who Loves and Chooses
  2. It’s Who You Know – Confident in Your AllPowerful, All-Knowing, Sovereign
  3. Let Yourself Go – Submitted to the One Who Knows the Future and Has a Plan
  4. Don’t Forget to Lock up – Determined to Stay Alert and Guard Against Temptation
  5. A Mighty Wind – Lives by the Power of the Indwelling Holy Spirit
  6. Spring Cleaning – Pursues Holiness with Eyes Focused on the Father
  7. Let ‘er Rip – Prepared to Endure Persecution for the Sake of Christ
  8. Share the Love – Connected to a Local Church Body with Love and Service

Shaky times demand an unshakeable faith that stubbornly clings to God no matter the circumstances. That’s the kind of faith I long to have! How about you?

I would love to hear from you if you plan to join in. Just leave a comment. Maybe tells us where you’re from and why you want to have “rock-solid” faith. Or simply say “hi!”

 

Note about the study: We will be studying deep truths of God, but the study will not be extremely time intensive. My goal is for you to be able to complete the reading and questions each week in about 15 minutes. So, even if you are participating in another study you can join in! Also, although no other material is required, the Bible study Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, would be great companion material. Get it now from Amazon.

 

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