RELENTLESS: Pursuing Christ At All Costs

Session 1: Praising God

 

PREP

What We Want Students to Learn: That praising God is the only right response to the salvation He offers us, especially in times of trials or persecution.

 

Main Scripture: Main Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3-9

 

Session Snapshot: 1 Peter 1:3-9 is a collection of verses chocked full of theological truth! It’s a powerhouse of a passage, one from which you can draw a ton of different teachings. But one thing is unmistakable: Peter’s tone. This passage is an exuberant message of praise in response to what God has done for us through Christ. Through studying this passage, your students will see that praising God, even in the midst of tough times, is the only right response once we truly comprehend the salvation He has purchased for us.

 

 

Bible Background

The Bible Background is a focused, brief overview of some of the background info for the main passage you will be teaching.

 

Teacher Prep Video

Each Small Group Leader’s Guide comes with a Teacher Prep Video. These are simply short videos designed to help you grasp the main point of the lesson as you prepare to teach.

 

To access your RELENTLESS lesson 1 Teacher Prep Video, login to your account, navigate to your Small Group lesson 1, and click on the “Background” tab in your Lesson Manager. You’ll notice the Teacher Prep Video at the top of the Lesson Manager window.

 

The Details

Who wrote this book?

1 Peter was written by Peter, one of Jesus’ most trusted disciples and one of the key leaders of the growing movement of Christ-followers. Peter was one of Jesus’ “inner three,” along with James and John. This was the group within the disciples who saw Jesus pour specific attention into their lives. Peter was present, or at the center, of several key moments in the narratives of the Gospels and of Acts. And

 

When was it written?

The ESV Study Bible notes that Peter’s first letter should probably be dated during the reign of Nero (a.d. 54–68), in part because Peter references Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13, which is almost certainly a reference to Rome. Those who hold to this particular date believe Peter wrote the letter from Rome, sometime in 62–63 AD.

 

What was the purpose for its writing?

1 Peter was written to a people under persecution, likely under the reign of Nero. Peter calls the Church to persevere under trials because eternal life awaits them. He encourages them that God’s promises to His people will endure and should be the basis of their hope.

 

 

The Main Point

The main point you want to drive home from this passage is the celebration and joy Peter demonstrated at the thought of the salvation God makes available to us. Peter’s jubilation can be felt from the first words of verse 3. Peter even tells us that hard times can’t dull our spirits. On the contrary, trials because of our faith actually make our faith stronger. This lesson is foundational, in a way, and sets up the next three sessions well.

 

The Takeaway

The takeaway in this lesson is two-fold. First, you want your students to begin thinking about how they respond to the salvation God offers them through faith in Christ. So often, it’s not something they, or we, are daily thankful for. But Peter’s example pushes us beyond this. Second, they need to begin to think about the idea of persecution, and the way persecution influences the nature of their faith. The lesson will equip you to do this effectively. But, again, it’s a subject you’ll only expand upon more over the next three sessions.

 

Lesson Plan

The Lesson Plan contains three elements: an introductory activity called Getting Started; the Bible study section called Digging In; and an application-focused segment called Wrapping Up.

 

Getting Started

  • Student Book Pages
    • This lesson will utilize pages 5-9 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.
    • This activity will use pages 5 and 6.
      • To access the leader’s version of the Student Book, see the download section of your RELENTLESS lesson 1 webpage.

 

  • Additional Instructions
    • As this is the first Small Group session of your event, you will want to make sure you communicate any specific instructions, announcements, or details to your students.
      • If you’re staying in a host-home, make sure your students know the “house rules.”
    • Make sure students have Student Books, a Bible, and something to write with.
      • You may want to make sure you have a couple of extra Bibles in case a student forgets his or hers.

 

Start

FIRST, read or have a student read the Session 1 Small Group intro on page 5. Ask if students have any questions, then transition to the opening activity.

 

Explain that you’re going to introduce the concept of responses, specifically, the idea of a correct, or RIGHT, response. Explain that you are going to read five different scenarios. For each scenario, students are going to write down what they believe is the right response. Explain that you will award a winner for each response based on criteria you determine. (For instance, feel free to have fun with this! Maybe you award a winner based on creativity, correctness, entertainment, or overall absurdity. It’s up to you!) Once you’ve explained the rules, read the following scenarios and allow students a chance to record their responses.

Scenario 1

You arrive at the movies where you will be meeting your crush. This is your first date. You’re pumped. But just as you’re walking up to the theatre, you spill your drink all over the front of your pants. What is your response?

 

Scenario 2

You are in social studies. You are daydreaming. Your teacher calls your name and awakens you out of your daydream. She asks, “What do you think is the main factor behind escalating tensions in the Asian Peninsula”? Everyone turns to look at you. What is your response?

 

Scenario 3

You and two friends arrive at the pre-party for your school’s dance only to find that all three of you are wearing the exact same outfit. Even your hair looks the same. The three of you stare at each other in shock. What is your response?

 

Scenario 4

You are talking to your mom about how badly your stomach has been bothering you. Must have been the Mexican food you ate for lunch. Just as you’re describing in detail how the re-friend beans have “affected” your digestive tract, you realize your cell phone has accidentally dialed the boy/girl you have a crush on. He/she has heard your conversation. What is your response?

 

Scenario 5

Your boss gives you your paycheck for the week and you realize he’s given you double what you’ve earned. You were thinking about quitting anyway. And he has been a pretty awful boss to work for. What is your response?

 

After reading each scenario, take turns allowing students to share their responses.

 

THEN, when you have finished, lead students in a short discussion. Ask:

  • Did any of these have a single right response?
    • Answers will vary. Most didn’t, with the exception of the one about the paycheck.
  • Can you think of a response you’ve had in the recent past that you wished you could take back?
    • Answers will vary.

 

FINALLY, explain that this session is all about the right response to God. Say something like:

  • When it comes to living out a relentless faith, one that comes before anything else in your life, how we respond to God is pretty important. In this session, we’ll look specifically at what our response is to the salvation God offers us. And how our response doesn’t change even in tough times.

 

Ask if anyone has any thoughts or questions, then transition to Digging In.

 

Digging In

  • Student Book Pages
    • This activity will utilize pages 7 and 8 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.
  • Additional Instructions
    • You’ll want to make sure students have something to write with, and a Bible or Bible app.

 

FIRST, explain to students that you’re going to be focusing on Peter in your small group time together. You’ll be looking at some of Peter’s writings and a few examples from his life. Peter lived a relentless faith. He’s a perfect example of someone who put his faith first, no matter the cost.

 

If you’d like, remind students who Peter was using some of the bullet points below:

  • Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen, and were the first disciples called by Jesus.
  • Peter, James, and John made up the “inner three,” Jesus’ closest disciples among the 12.
  • Peter was always listed first among the disciples. He was their unofficial leader.
  • Peter preached the first post-resurrection sermon we see in the Bible at Pentecost.
  • He was arrested and imprisoned for his faith over the years, but his faith never waivered.
  • Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter.
  • Church history has Peter dying a martyr in Rome, under Nero.

 

THEN, direct students’ attention to page 7. Have them look up 1 Peter in their Bibles or Bible apps. While they’re searching for it, provide some context for the book using the Details section of the Bible Background. When they’ve found 1 Peter, read or have a student read 1 Peter 1:3-9.

 

NEXT, lead students through the discussion on page 7 under the “Part 1: Praise For What?” header. If they choose, they can write their answers down as you go. Ask:

  • Look at verse 3. Describe Peter’s tone. What hint(s) gives his tone away?
    • Answer: Peter is pumped! He is super-happy. There is an exclamation point to denote that Peter is really exited.
  • Why is Peter excited?
    • Answer: Because God has “caused” us to be “born again into a living hope”
  • What does Peter mean when he says “Born again into a living hope”?
    • Answer: He is talking about salvation! Peter is referring to the new life in Christ Believers have where we have been saved from the punishment of our sins.
  • Peter talks about the way in which this new life is obtained. What does Peter say?
    • Answer: God was merciful on us and provided a way that we might be freed from our sin debt. This way was Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Through faith in Jesus, His life counts as the payment for our sin. Through faith in Christ, we can be forgiven of our sin once and for all, having peace with God and a new mission and purpose on this earth.
  • In verse 4, Peter describes our salvation as an inheritance that God is keeping for us. What words does Peter use to describe this inheritance? How does this make you feel about your relationship with God?
    • Answer: The salvation God offers us won’t stop, it can’t be ruined, and it will not ever diminish. That should make us pretty excited about our salvation.
  • Look at the first few words of vs. 6. Peter says in “this” we rejoice. What is the “this”?
    • Answer: Our salvation.

 

When you’ve finished, summarize what you’ve learned by driving home the point that we should be pumped about our salvation. Make the point that praise is the RIGHT RESPONSE to considering the salvation Jesus offers us.

 

THEN, get a little real with students. Have them look at the text box at the end of Part 1. In the space provided, have them think about what emotions they think about when they consider the salvation God offers them. Allow them a few minutes to write their thoughts down. Encourage them to be honest. When they’ve finished, explain that many of us either don’t think enough of the salvation Jesus offers, or our response isn’t right. Don’t harp on this too much; you’ll come back to this in the application section of the lesson. Say something like:

  • It’s easy to praise God when things are going well. But what happens when things aren’t going well? Especially when we find ourselves made fun of or otherwise persecuted because of our faith? What is our response then?

 

 

 

NEXT, direct students’ attention to the section on page 8 under “Part 2: Praise In Spite Of Trials.” Direct their attention back to verses 6-7. Say something like:

  • In the first part of verse 6, Peter says that we rejoice because of our salvation. But then he shifts gears pretty dramatically. What subject does Peter shift to?
    • Answer: The subject of trials. Explain that Peter was talking about the persecution Christians were facing because of their faith in Christ.

 

Explain that Peter sees trials and persecution as a way of refining our faith. He compares our faith to gold. Explain that in Peter’s day, they would burn gold to purify it. The fire would burn away any impure elements, or material. What was left was pure gold. Our faith is the same way.

 

THEN, direct students’ attention to the boxes under part 2. Instruct students to think of something fragile and valuable. Have them write or draw this in box one. Next have them think of something that would be really bad to happen to that valuable, like being dropped or smashed, etc. Have them draw or write that in the second box. In the third box, have them draw an “X.” This signifies that the valuable wouldn’t make it out intact if it were dropped, or kicked, or so on.

 

NEXT, have them look at the second row of boxes. In the first box, have them write the word faith. Explain that this represents our faith in Christ as we try and live out our lives. In the second box, have them write or draw an example of a kind of persecution a 21st century teenager might face for his or her faith. When they’ve had a chance to write this down, allow them a moment to share what they wrote. Then, once everyone has had a chance to share, in the third box, have them draw a smiley face or a check mark. Explain that Peter says trials make our faith grow stronger. Say something like:

  • While we don’t love being persecuted for our faith (who does?), what Peter helps us see is that when we suffer for Jesus’ sake, we should rejoice because it makes our faith stronger.

 

THEN, direct their attention back to verses 8-9. Look at the questions under the “Part 3: Praise Today, Praise Tomorrow” header. Ask:

  • Verse 8 describes the concept of faith pretty well. What does it say?
    • Answer: Faith is loving and believing in God even though we can’t see Him.
  • Peter links faith and joy together once again. What is it about our faith that leads people to be joyful (especially in the face of persecution or tough times)?
    • Answers will vary. Remind students of the assurance, comfort, and power we get from the Holy Spirit.
  • In verse 9, Peter says that our faith obtains for us an outcome of salvation. This is all about the future. What future hope awaits Christ-followers?
    • Answers will vary. But help students see that if they have been saved through faith in Christ, a future of much hope awaits them. We will one day be with God, for eternity, far away from the pains of persecution.
  • How does this impact your life today?
    • Answers will vary.

 

FINALLY, see if anyone has any questions. Explain that you’re going to turn the page for a chance to apply what you’ve just learned. If there are no more questions, transition into Wrapping Up.

 

 Home Stretch

  • Student Book Pages
    • This activity will utilize page 9 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.

 

  • Additional Instructions
    • None

 

FIRST, instruct your students to turn to page 9. Remind them that praise is the right response to the gift of salvation. Explain that you want to give them a chance as you wrap up your session to voice praise to God for His presence in their lives. Say something like:

  • For some of you, this will be completely new. You’ve never taken a moment to tell God how much you’re thankful for His presence in your life. This may very well be a little awkward. But it’s an important part of your growth as a Christ-follower. For others, this will be part of a regular habit of thanking God for being a part of your life. Take this time to share your heart with God.

 

THEN, instruct them to see the blank space as an opportunity to share, however they see fit, praise and thanks to God. Instruct them to go find a place by themselves. Challenge them to use the blank page to focus on their own personal “right response.” Encourage them to write a letter, or draw a picture, or a poem of praise to God. If it’s not going well, if their response isn’t what it needs to be, encourage them to talk to God about it. Allow them a few minutes to do this.

 

FINALLY, when you’ve finished, gather them back and encourage their efforts. Explain that this first lesson is an important one in laying the foundation for your discussion over the next few sessions. Make sure there are no additional thoughts or questions. Then close in prayer.

 

Ask students if they have any questions or additional comments. Inform students of the devotions located on pages 35-42 in their Relentless Student Books. Provide them with a schedule or some structure as to when you would like for them to work through them.

  • The first devotion is on page 35 and works in concert with this lesson.

 

 Printable PDF 

Lesson_1_Leaders_Guide