Thursday, September 24, 2015

Touching Base - Part 281

27 Sept 15
Series: Living in the Margins
Part 1 -
The Journey of Sea Glass
1 Peter 1:1-2

During our series, Living in the Margins, based on the book of 1 Peter, we are going to be turning our Touching Base into a prayer guide. This aligns with how we want people to be growing at Bethel. Being prayerfully engaged is one of the marks of a disciple, it characterized Jesus’ life and ministry and is essential as we learn to walk with Jesus. We encourage you to use this prayer tool in your Life Groups, and in your personal prayer time.

Peter writes to a group of believers (Jews and Gentiles) who have been scattered from their homeland (Israel) because of persecution. He writes as one who can identify with their hopelessness because he could tell his own story of being in a place that did not feel like home, a place where he would have thought God had forgotten about him. Remember Peter’s denial and how Peter wept? Exile - a place that is foreign, not our home - can take on many different faces. Peter wants to remind them that God Works in the Waves! Waves of turbulence, waves of unsettledness, waves that crash upon our lives and wash us up on to the shore. In your prayer time today use the language of Peter to shape how you pray.

“Elect” -
This is a word that means to be elected or chosen. There has been much theological reflection on election. However, let’s not allow the mystery of theology to rob us of the practical application of this timeless truth. Election means that God encountered us, we encountered him and He called us to Himself. Every believer like Peter (see John 1:42) has a story to tell about that encounter. Take some time to reflect on your encounter with Jesus when you first came to Christ. Use this as a time to thank God and praise Him for pursuing you and calling you to Himself.

“Exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” -
Here is the tension we all face: we sometimes move in our prayers from praise to pondering - “What, God, are you doing?” “Why, God am I walking through this?” “What purpose could there possibly be for me in this?” We experience the “waves” of life and wonder, is God really working? If we are elected, then why are we exiled?

Peter’s audience had been scattered, dispersed because of persecution. Exiled literally means to live as a foreigner in a place in which that we are not used to being. It is a place we can end up in because of disobedience or because, like Peter’s audience, culture is not Jesus-friendly. Take some time in prayer to reflect on where God has you these days. What is your “Pontus”, what is your “Bithynia”? Express that tension of elected-but-at-times-feeling in-exile-to-God.

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” -
Now in your prayer, acknowledge that while where you are might be a surprise to you, it is definitely no surprise to God. Foreknowledge means “to know beforehand”. It is a word that refers to the intimacy of God. It’s interesting that Peter refers to God as Father, and fitting when you consider the intimacy of this word foreknowledge. Only God has this capacity in the sense of how Paul is using it here. This, to me, is a fascinating aspect of God’s attributes. God sees how His perfect sovereignty and our choices result in where we find ourselves today. Why don’t you take a moment to praise Him for this attribute, but also to express your questions and ponderings on this aspect of God?

“…in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling of the blood” -
Note where Peter goes. It is exactly God’s foreknowledge that enables Peter to say what he does next. God Works in the Waves! Sanctification means that God shapes us, purifies us to reflect Jesus. This comes through obedience as we are in the “waves”, and this obedience and relationship with Jesus is made possible because of what God did in Jesus on the cross - “… and for sprinkling of the blood:…” Here are some questions to ponder as you go to prayer:

- Have you ever experienced exceptional spiritual growth because you walked through a very foreign experience, something you never saw coming but it grew you?


- Have you ever experienced exceptional spiritual atrophy because you walked through a very foreign experience, something you never saw coming and it wrecked you?

Why not tell God very specifically how you want Him to work in the waves of your life these days? List for Him the areas you know He is showing you that still need some sanctifying, that still don’t look to much like Jesus.

“May Grace and Peace be multiplied to you.”
Grace refers to the good will of Jesus and peace means to be free from worry. Certainly, Peter’s audience could have been, and probably many were, gripped by worry and wondering about the good will and grace of God. If you are praying in a group why not take some time right now to speak words of blessing over each other? We all have exile chapters, seasons where the waves are unrelenting. Let’s do as Peter does here and bless our brothers and sisters in Christ with our words.

May Grace and Peace be multiplied to you!
Mark Kotchapaw

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