Recently, our friends, David and Jenine LeMaster, said good-bye to their five year old son, Ethan. Many of you had prayed for him. Ethan had been born with a number of physical problems but he was making good progress and he was truly a happy, delightful child, the "family clown", his father said. But then on March 2 he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and given two weeks to live. After about two weeks in a comatose state he came out of it and began to improve - it seemed that the Lord was healing him. Then on August 15 he suddenly passed into the immediate presence of Jesus with all his family around him.
In visiting with David and Jenine it was clear that the Lord used His people to love them and support them through this journey through the dark valley of the shadow of death. Bills have been paid, food has been given, prayers have been offered, cards were sent, and Caring Bridge postings were made. And in the small town of Ced aredge, Colorado, over two hundred people attended the service for Ethan. David and Jenine did not walk alone; they were sustained by those who sojourn with them in love.
God has called us out of the world to follow Jesus in this world, and this world is a sad, dark place. So it is a primary concern of the Lord that we sojourn here together and do so in love for one another. Peter takes us back to loving one another in our text today. Read I Peter 4:7-11 and use the questions to help you meditate on this rich text.
1. Peter wrote this letter nearly 2,000 years ago. What can he possibly mean when he writes that "The end of all things is at hand"?
2. How would you describe a self-controlled and sober-minded person? What does he or she look like? (I Peter 1:13; Luke 8:35; Rom. 12:3; II Tim. 1:7)
* What is the opposite of being self-controlled and sober-minded? What does that look like? (cf. I Peter 4:3)
* How have self-control and sober-mindedness or the lack thereof affected your prayers?
3. Peter says that it is important to be self-controlled and sober-minded "for the sake of your prayers." What do you think he means by this?
* What would our prayers sound like if we were not self-controlled and sober-minded?
4. Let's unpack verse 8. "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
* Why do you think Peter tells us to love one another "above all"? (cf. Jn. 13:34-35; I Cor. 13:1ff.)
* What does it look like to love one another "earnestly"? (I Peter 1:22-23)
* In what sense does Peter mean that "love covers a multitude of sins"? Does our love for others cover for our sins or does love overlook the sins of others? What think ye? (Prov. 10:12; 19:11; I Cor. 13:4-7; Col. 3:12-14)
* When is it loving to overlook a sin and when is it loving to confront a sin? (Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1-2)
* How do you measure up to this standard of love?
5. Peter gives us two practical ways to love one another earnestly in verses 9 and 10. What are they?
6. What does it mean to show hospitality and why does Peter tell us to do so without grumbling? (cf. Phil. 2:14) Why might we grumble about being hospitable?
* How is hospitality an expression of loving one another earnestly? Can you think of times at BCC when you have felt loved by someone's hospitality?
* What has been your practice of hospitality?
7. Peter says that each of us has been given a gift which we are to use as "stewards of God's varied grace." What does it mean to be a steward of this gift? And to what end are we to use the gift given to us?
8. Peter lists two gifts as an illustration of what he is getting at in when he says we are all given a gift. Other lists of gifts are found in Romans 12:3-8, I Corinthians 12:4-11 and Ephesians 4:11. Do you think there might be other gifts of "God's varied grace" that are not listed as gifts in the Scriptures? If so, what might some of them be?
* What gift has God given you and how are you using it to serve others?
9. What does verse 11 tell us about how we are to use the gift God has given us? (cf. Jn. 15:1-8)
10. Peter closes this section with a doxology to Jesus Christ. "To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." What does this mean when Jesus already possesses all glory and dominion?
11. Is there one thing you think the Lord would have you take away from this meditation? What is it?
May the Lord bless your meditation on His Word and enable you to grow "in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!"