Who Are You?: You Believe in God

“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:21)

We started out this week-long study of 1 Peter 1:13-21 by asking, “Who are you?” The reason for the question is because our choices often follow our sense of identity. In other words, we tend to act like the person we think we are.

whoaryou_350If I think of myself as a baseball fan, it makes sense to me to say “yes” when invited to go watch a game with someone. If I think of myself as “good student,” I’ll usually choose to study for tests instead of just blowing them off. If I think of myself as the kind of person who hates country music, I’ll turn it off (or complain about it) every time I hear it.

As Christians, we must place one part of our identity above all the others. We are Christians. That is, we are children of God who believe in him, obey him, and live for him. When we remember that is who we are, we are more likely to choose to live like it. When we forget – or want to forget – that is who we are, we make choices to do the opposite of what someone who is God’s child would do.

Think: Would you say that your faith and hope are ultimately in God because you have trusted in Jesus for your salvation? If you were watching your own life from the outside, would you say your choices line up with your identity as a child of God?

Pray: Assuming that you are a Christian, thank God for helping you to believe in him through faith in Jesus. Ask him to help you to live like someone who believes in him this week.

Do: Read 1 Peter 1:22-25 to follow Peter’s train of thought through to the end of the chapter.

Who Are You?: Mystery Revealed

“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:20)

I love a good mystery. You probably do, too. But a good mystery has rules. For one, it has to keep us guessing right up until the truth is revealed. But it also has to make sense; we have to be able to think back over the story and see how the answer was in there all along. It’s not a satisfying story if the writer didn’t plant real clues along the way.

whoaryou_350God’s story of humanity was built on a mystery: How would he ever be able to bring his sinful, willful, stubborn characters (humans) back into relationship with himself, the holy, sinless God who loves them so much? It seemed impossible, but he kept promising it would happen.

Like all the great writers, he built the solution right into the story. All the clues were there from the beginning right through the Old Testament. The Hero was even chosen before the first word was written. And when he was revealed, those reading the story said, “Of course! What a great story. What a great God! How much he loves us!”

But this is no fairy tale. The solution to the mystery demands a response from the readers. Come back tomorrow.

Think: If someone asked you to briefly describe God’s story of time and humanity, how would you do it? How would you describe the great mystery in the middle of the story and its resolution?

Pray: Thank God for revealing the mystery of Jesus in these last times for your sake.

Do: Next time you watch or read a good mystery, notice how the storyteller plants the clues to the answer along the way – and think about how God did the same with Jesus in his story.

Who Are You?: Stuck on Empty

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Peter packs giant ideas into small spaces. You’ve got to read these verses two or three times to really catch what he’s saying.

whoaryou_350First: You were stuck on empty. Your only option was to relive the futile lives of all those who came and went before you. You could not escape into a life of meaning with God. Then he bought your way out. He paid to free you from the emptiness – and it was expensive.

Second: God didn’t write a check to get you out of emptiness and into fullness with him. He didn’t drop a million gold bars to pay the way. He paid in blood, lifeblood. That was the price.

Third: Jesus lived a perfect life. He was spotless, sinless, guiltless. He didn’t earn a parking ticket, let alone the electric chair. But that was the price. His blood for your life. And God paid it.

Think: Does being reminded that the cost of our salvation was the blood of Jesus make you feel guilty or grateful? Does it motivate you to want to live for God, to live in the freedom he purchased for you?

Pray: Thank God for paying the blood of Jesus to buy you out of emptiness and into his family.

Do: Notice today how you are using the freedom that comes with your new life in Christ.

Who Are You?: Fearful Strangers

“Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” (1 Peter 1:17)

Have you spent any time in foreign countries? I remember being in Italy once and feeling very “American.” After a few days, my wife and I bought some Italian clothes, worked on our accents and a few Italian phrases, and tried to blend in a little. But we couldn’t hide; it was obvious we weren’t locals.

whoaryou_350The day after you became a Christian, you woke up in a foreign country. You might not have felt it, and probably nobody could tell, at first. But your citizenship had been transferred to heaven, the kingdom of light. You had become a stranger here.

Peter wants us to live like we’re from somewhere else. He wants us to stop trying to blend in to our worldly culture. He wants us to stand out, trying harder to honor our King back home than the customs of this land. He wants us to remember that the King is watching, and he is a fair judge of our choices.

Think: Do you ever feel like a stranger in your world because of your commitment to God through Jesus? How can that be a good thing?

Pray: Ask God to help you live your life here in reverent fear for him.

Do: Listen to how the writer of Hebrews 11:13-16 expresses this same idea.

Who Are You?: Are Holy Be Holy

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ ” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

I think lots of people read this verse and just check out. “I can’t be holy. God is holy. He is perfect. He has never done or said a single sinful thing in all of eternity. He doesn’t even have sinful thoughts. That’s not me. I can’t do that.”

whoaryou_350Here’s what we miss: That is us. That’s the point. God is not saying to us, “Be holy, and then you can be my child.” He’s saying, “You are my child. Now be holy like me.”

Still think it’s impossible? Listen to these words from Paul in Colossians 1: “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

In his eyes, you are holy. Now, Peter says, start using his power to live up to who you already are. You won’t live perfectly free from sin before you see him in person, but you can make choices that reflect his holiness in your life today. You are holy. Be holy.

Think: Does understanding that God sees you as holy right now motivate you to try harder to live up to your new identity? Where does the power come from to live that way?

Pray: Ask God to help you to understand what it means to be holy in your everyday life. Ask him to help you to be holy in all you do.

Do: Ask your pastor or youth pastor or a Christian teacher what it means for a Christian to live a holy life. How do they practice that from day to day?

Who Are You?: Rebel Against Yourself

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:14)

Peter continues to answer the “what now?” question with this verse. After describing all God has done to bring us into his family, to secure our future with him in eternity, to reveal to us the mystery of Jesus, what should a child of God do with the years we have left on Earth before we get to heaven?

whoaryou_350Peter says the next step for us is to learn to say to ourselves one of the most powerful words in any language: “No.” Before we knew Jesus, he says, we were ignorant – not stupid, but literally clueless. We didn’t know any better than to do what we wanted to do.

Now, he says, learn to be who you are – a child of the King – by learning to say “no” to your want for wrong things. You might still want to do evil – satisfying your legitimate desire for pleasure, glory, and security in illegitimate ways like having sex outside of marriage, hurting others for revenge, and living for money.

Instead, Peter says, don’t conform to yourself. Rebel. Do what doesn’t come naturally. Say no to sin.

Think: Have you ever thought about rebelling against your own desire to do wrong? How can exercising your power in the Holy Spirit NOT to sin feel like freedom?

Pray: Ask God to help you to not conform to your evil desires.

Do: Make a list of 2-3 “evil desires” you can intentionally say no to this week with God’s power in you.

Who Are You?: Become Who Your Are

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13)

Who are you? I’m not asking how you describe yourself in your profile. I mean, who are you really? Could I figure it out from looking closely at how you live your life?

whoaryou_350In the verses leading up to today’s verse, Peter has just finished describing our salvation – how God brought it about and how it has changed our destiny with him forever. We have been shown the mystery of Jesus. We have believed and become children of God.

What now?

This week, we’ll listen as Peter tells us to “become who we are.” Start with this very efficient verse:

Prepare your mind for action: Unplug from anything that makes it hard for you to think and focus on God’s Word and his will for you.

Be self-controlled: Exercise the power of “no” so that you can say “yes” to the best things.

Set your hope on grace: Stop living for dead-end pleasures, possessions, or statuses; live for the heaven you could never earn – the heaven you belong in because you are God’s kid through faith in Jesus.

Think: Is your mind prepared for whatever action God has in store for you? Are you controlling your desires – or visa-versa? What are you most hopeful for today?

Pray: Ask God to help you to have a mind prepared for action, self-control, and your hope set fully on his grace.

Do: Read 1 Peter 1:1-12 to get into Peter’s train of thought for this week.