Sojourning in Grace

For most of my life as a Christian I had a deep-seated doubt about our heavenly Father’s love for me.  On some level I feared that He would at some point become weary of me and forsake me, even though I knew scriptures to the contrary.  In 2008 I was granted a sabbatical and I sensed that the Lord wanted me to go on a long walk with Him; a 500 mile walk!  I hoped and prayed that He would meet me in some powerful, life-changing way that would make me love Him more, obey Him more, please Him more.  And I was sure it would be painful; it seems that most of His work in our hearts is painful.  40 days and nights in the wilderness with a great plan for spiritual disciplines would certainly lead to the life-altering encounter with God I longed for!  
It didn’t go as planned.  I kept up the spiritual disciplines all right, but there was no dramatic, painful encounter with God.  To be sure the walk was physically demanding and even emotionally discouraging and frustrating at times; I hate getting lost!  But every day and all along the way, all I seemed to experience was the lovingkindness of God.  He kept me safe and spoke words and songs of grace to my soul.  
At the end of the trail I bemoaned the fact that I had not had a dramatic, heart-changing encounter with God, only His daily tender mercy!  Then the penny dropped:  it was the unfailing love of my heavenly Father that I needed to know, and He had shown me that.  At that moment something deep within my heart was healed.  My heavenly Father had taken me on a long walk in my favorite place on earth and spoke to my heart of His unshakeable love for me (Isaiah 54:10).   
In our text today, Peter draws his letter to a close and tells us that what he has written about is “the true grace of God.”  All of our sojourn here, as Peter has described it, is a journey in the grace of God.  Our text today is a short one, I Peter 5:12-14, but I will ask you to read the entire letter.  May the Lord open your eyes and heart to His grace toward you as you follow Jesus in your sojourn here.  
1.    To begin with, read I Peter 5:12-14.  There is some biographical/historical information that gives us some more contextual information.  What do you learn in these few verses (5:12-14) about Peter and the context in which he wrote this letter?
•    What do you know about Silvanus and Mark?  
•    “She who is in Babylon.”  Who is this and why does Peter call her by this name?
2.    What does Peter say was his purpose in writing this ‘brief’ letter?
3.    Take time to read the entire letter.
4.    What are the themes of this letter?  
5.    How does Peter describe his readers in this letter and what were the circumstances of their lives?
6.    What does Peter say that God has done for them (us) and promised them (us)? 
7.    In light of I Peter, how would you describe what it means to be a follower of Jesus? 
8.    What does God require of us?
9.    How do you think suffering, which is a significant theme in this letter, fits in with Peter’s statement that this is the true grace of God?  How do suffering and the grace of God go together?
10.    As you have reviewed this letter, its readers and their circumstances, its themes and declarations of what God has done for us, promises us and requires of us, what do you go away with?  What do you think the Lord wants you to specifically know and do? 

God be with you, and hope to see you on Sunday!

Dan