Anne Graham Lotz: Keep Looking Up

Anne Graham Lotz: Keep Looking Up

Have you ever wondered what happened to the disciples of Jesus? 

According to tradition …

Philip was tied to a pillar and stoned to death.

Matthew was nailed to the ground with spikes and beheaded.

Jude was beaten to death with sticks and clubs.

Simon was tortured and crucified.

John, son of Zebedee, was tortured and exiled.

James, brother of John, was beheaded.

James was pushed from the top of a building, then his broken body was beaten to death.

Andrew, Peter’s brother, hung on a cross for three days before dying.

Bartholomew was beaten, crucified and skinned alive before being beheaded.

Thomas was thrown into a fiery furnace, then speared with a javelin.

And Peter was crucified … upside down!

All of our Lord’s beloved disciples, with the possible exception of John, died a gruesome death. Why? Not for saying Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified—the world knew and confirmed His death. The disciples were tortured, vilified, exiled and executed for saying He had risen from the dead! They were put to death for their conviction that Jesus Christ is alive! And He is Lord!

Have you ever wondered if you could maintain your commitment to Christ under intense pressure and persecution? How can you and I be faithful … to the end?

The Apostle Peter penned a letter to the early church that exuded passionate love for Christ and exuberant joy in knowing Him, even though his relationship with Christ would cost him his life within the year! How could he maintain a joyous, faithful commitment to the end? Because Peter kept looking up.

Read 1 Peter 1:1-12

I. Focused on His Grace, 1 Peter 1:1-2

A. Chosen by the Father, 1 Peter 1:1-2

  • Describe Peter’s initial encounter with Jesus from Luke 5:1-11. Give the phrase that reveals Peter’s commitment to Christ from the beginning.
  • How does John 15:16, 19 confirm 1 Peter 1:2?
  • Describe your initial encounter with Jesus. What has been your commitment to Him since that moment? Apply Ephesians 1:3-6 to your life.

B. Changed by the Spirit, 1 Peter 1:2

  • From the following verses, describe areas of Peter’s life that needed to be changed: Mark 8:27-33; 9:2-7; 14:32-42; John 18:1-11; Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75.
  • Who would change Peter, and how? See Acts 1:8; 2:14-18, 22-24, 32-33; Acts 4:8; 2 Corinthians 3:18.
  • What changes can be seen in your life as a result of your salvation?
  • How are you encouraged by 1 Peter 1:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13?

C. Cleansed by the Son, 1 Peter 1:2

  • What was Peter’s original reaction when Jesus told him of the cross? See Mark 9:31-32.
  • How does Acts 4:8-12 reveal that Peter changed his mind about the cross?
  • What did the blood, or death, of Jesus do for Peter—and for you? Give phrases from Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:13-14; 12:11.

II.  Focused on His Gifts, 1 Peter 1:3-5

A. Living Hope, 1 Peter 1:3 

  • Keeping in mind that the last words Jesus had heard Peter say before the cross were words of denial, what do you think the following meant to Peter? Luke 24:12; Mark 16:7; Luke 24:33-34; John 21:1-22.
  • Describe when God has given you another chance.
  • How does Peter’s experience give credibility to his words in 1 Peter 1:6-7?
  • If God can bring blessing and glory from the horror of the cross, why do you think He cannot bring good from your present difficulty?

B. Lasting Inheritance, 1 Peter 1:4-5

  • How does Ephesians 1:3 describe our “lasting inheritance”?
  • How is this confirmed by John 1:16?
  • Make an alphabetized list of the blessings that are yours through faith in Christ. Memorize it so you can repeat it to yourself as you cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”
  • As Peter stared death in the face, why would this inheritance be especially meaningful?

III. Focused on His Glory, 1 Peter 1:6-9

  • Describe God’s glory from the following verses: Exodus 16:10; 24:17; 34:29; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3; John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 4:6.
  • Give the phrases from 1 Peter 1:6-9 that indicate Peter’s focus remained on the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • What are some practical things you can do to keep your focus on Christ?

IV. Focused on His Gospel, 1 Peter 1:10-12

A. Not Just a Promise, 1 Peter 1:10-11

  • From the following verses, describe the longing for the Gospel that was in the hearts of God’s people, even though they did not know the details of it: Genesis 3:15 with 3:21, 23; Genesis 12:3 with Galatians 3:16; Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 9:6-7 with 53:1-5.
  • How does Hebrews 11:39-40 speak to this?

B. It’s Our Possession, 1 Peter 1:12

  • How does a person “possess” the Gospel? See Ephesians 1:13.
  • How did you first hear the Gospel? Who “preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Spirit”?
  • When did the promise of the Gospel become your possession?
  • What are you doing and what will you do to share the Gospel with others?

As we live in a world that is shaken at almost every level and in every area, we can face tomorrow because He lives! So this Easter, celebrate by focusing on Him. He’s alive! The tomb is empty! Then stay focused on Him every day. Keep looking up!  ©2020 Anne Graham Lotz

 

This article is adapted from a study originally published in March 2005.

Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers online.

 

Above: In Fayetteville, North Carolina, people respond to worship during the Decision America Tar Hell State Tour.

Photo: Paul Sherar/©2019 BGEA

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