THINK: What comes to mind when you think of holiness? Many people think that holiness puts large limitations on life, viewing it in terms of all things we shouldn't do. But in verses 13-16, God calls us to prepare for action and be holy in all we do. Holiness is active, not passive. It's liberating, not limiting. If we focus on all of the positive actions God gives us the opportunity to do, we will not get caught up in the negative behaviors He expects us to avoid.
RESPOND: What does it mean to be "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God"? (See 1:2 first note.) God's foreknowledge implies what choice on His part? (See 1:2 note, sub point 2.) What is "the sanctifying work of the Spirit" (v. 2)? (See article on Sanctification, p. 1852.) What does it mean to be sanctified? In what way is sanctification im- mediate and in what way is it ongoing? In what ways are Christ's followers "shielded by God's power"? (See 1:5 note.) What is the condition for receiving this protection (v. 5)? What does it typically take to prove genuine faith? (See 1:7 note.) In what ways has the Holy Spirit worked to deliver the message of Jesus (vv. 10-12)? (See 1:11 note.) How are the Old and New Testaments interrelated by the Spirit's work? (See 1:12 note.) What does this indicate about the origin of all Scripture (God's Word in written form)? In light of God's message to us, how must we be prepared to act (vv. 13-17)? What is significant about the fact that a passage dealing with holiness (1:13 - 2:13) begins by telling Christ's followers to prepare for action? (See 1:13 note.) What does it mean to be holy, and why are we to be holy? (See 1:16 note.) What do you think it means to "live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear"? (See Acts 9:31 and Philippians 2:12 notes.) What does it mean to be "redeemed"? (See 1:18 note .) How is "the precious blood of Christ" involved? (See 1:19 note.) What does it mean that Christ "was chosen before the creation of the world"? (See 1:20 note.)
PRAY: Surrender to the Holy Spirit's spiritually purifying, refining and developing work in your life. Ask Him to help your faith grow through tough times and to help you pursue holiness. Give God thanks for His constant care and protection.
ACT: Go through the day with two specific thoughts or aims. One: look for the positive actions God would like you to take to develop your spirit and character. Watch your attitude through challenging circumstances. Do what you can to help others and take steps to convey your faith in both words and action. Two: maintain a strong awareness that regardless of what you encounter, you are "shielded by God's power." That awareness should inspire faith and boldness.
THINK: When you were a child, you may have been afraid of "aliens," and you were probably told not to talk to "strangers." For kids, both terms can carry negative, even fearful connotations. But when the Bible tells us to live as "aliens and strangers in the world" (v. 11) it implies a positive, beneficial difference. God isn't asking us to be odd or isolated, but He wants us to understand that to a large degree we will be outsiders whose way of life is foreign to most people. That's because our citizenship is not of earth, but of heaven, and our priorities are not temporary but eternal. Our lives can provide hope and inspiration to all who are searching for something beyond what this life can offer.
RESPOND: How enduring is God's Word, and why is this significant regarding its message of spiritual salvation? (See 1:25 note.) In light of the enduring truth of God's Word, what attitudes and behaviors must we remove from our lives (2:1)? What does it mean to "crave pure spiritual milk"? (See 2:2 note.) What does it mean that Jesus' followers are "a holy priesthood" (v. 25), and how should this affect our lives in practical ways? (See 2:5 note.) Who is the "stone that causes men to stumble" (v. 8), and why is this stone precious to some (v. 7) and destructive to others? (See 2:8 note.) What does it mean that Jesus' followers are "a holy nation"? (See 2:9 note.) What does it mean to be "aliens and strangers in the world" (v. 11), and how should that affect what they do and don't do? (See 2:11 note.) Why is it important to live good lives among those who don't know God? (See 2:12 note.) What influence can this have (vv. 12-15)? In what way can Christians follow Jesus' example through suffering, and what can this produce in their lives (vv. 21-23)? (See 2:21 note.) What's the primary purpose of Jesus' death, and how should this affect our daily lives? (See 2:24 note.)
PRAY: Give God thanks for His eternal Word, and pray that you'll gauge your behavior by it's instructions, commands, principles and guidelines. Pray that your life stands out with a positive difference that draws attention to God.
ACT: Make a deliberate, humble effort to stand out in a positive way today. Be considerate, cooperative and helpful in ways that most people overlook. Make sure that your conversations and behaviors reflect godly character and devotion to Christ. Don't be a follower, but instead set an example that others can follow.