Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh
Sundays in July and 5 August:
One Service at 11 am
Bible Reading Notes
These notes were compiled by the Reverend Dr James A P Jack. You will find reading the Bible rewarding and encouraging, but reading the Bible is not always easy!
These guidelines may help you.
July 1 1 Peter 1:1–2
There have been times when God’s people have had to endure unspeakable hardship – Jesus had to endure the agony and humiliation of the cross. Faith in, and obedience to, Christ does not guarantee a bed of roses in this life. Very often such faith and obedience inevitably lead to hardship, even persecution.
July 2 1 Peter 1:3–5
Christians are able to look beyond present hardships, to the assurance of new life through the resurrection of Christ. If we are totally united with him in faith, then we will share both in his sufferings in this life, and his glory in the life hereafter. No wonder Paul could say that, ‘this small and temporary trouble will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble’.
July 3 1 Peter 1:6–7
The assurance of eternal glory is not a compensation for the sufferings of this world. The sufferings of this world are the anvil upon which faith is either strengthened or shattered. Faith is like tempered steel – able to withstand the hardest blows which life can bring. Such blows will hurt the man or woman of faith but they will not break him or her.
July 4 1 Peter 1:8–9
Some pleasures are, like beauty, merely skin deep, but spiritual joy reaches very deep into the very being of the man or woman of faith. It can withstand the pains and disappointments of life. Notice that the salvation of the soul is the very purpose of our faith in Christ. Faith is not a crossing of the fingers in the hope that some day …! Real life looks confidently beyond the limits of this earthly life.
July 5 1 Peter 1:10–11
Many would jettison the writings of the Old Testament and retain only the Good News of the New Testament. Yet, in a sense, they are inseparable. The roof of a house does not remain unaffected if the walls and foundation are removed! The message of the New Testament is but the fulfilment of all for which the Old Testament is groping. The saints of olden times were searching for a spiritual treasure they knew was there – even though they could not put their hands on it.
July 6 1 Peter 1:12
The searching and yearning of the prophets was not for their own benefit, but for ours. If the peace of God means anything to us, then it must be our greatest and most urgent desire to share it with others. If we really know the joy of the faith about which we have been reading in the early verses, then there must be an inherent desire to share it with others. Call it evangelism, mission, outreach, or anything else you care, but the desire to share the faith is fundamental to the Christian life.
July 7 1 Peter 1:13–16
Faith can never be separated from life. It is not a ‘Sunday suit’ which we leave off as we go to work on Monday morning. If our faith is genuine, then it must find expression in thought, speech and action. Jesus once spoke of the impossibility of grapes growing from thorn bushes! (Matthew 7:16ff)
July 8 1 Peter 1:17–21
God judges all people! How foolish to think that if I pay no attention to God then God will pay no attention to me! God judges ALL people, irrespective of whether they be members of the Church or not – all will be judged. God also judges by the same standards. We have absolutely no reason to suppose that God will deal more gently with us and ours simply because we happen to belong to a particular part of the Church, or are engaged in a specific act or organisation. Our only hope is to acknowledge that a price has already been paid for our faults. It is this alone, which gives confidence before God.
July 9 1 Peter 1:22–25
‘All mankind are like grass’ may not seem too complimentary to the human race, yet where are all the former generations now – all the great kings and mighty warriors of earlier ages? Generations come and go – but the word of the Lord remains forever’. It is faith in the eternal word of God, which lifts us above the inevitable destruction of our physical bodies. This is why Peter says that ‘through the living and eternal word of God you have been born again as the children of a parent who is immortal’.
July 10 1 Peter 2:1–3
If we are to truly live a godly life then two things are necessary. First, we must keep clear of, get rid of, all that is contrary to such life. Secondly, we must fill ourselves with all that promotes a godly life. These do not depend on luck, or intellectual ability, but simply on the will to do them.
July 11 1 Peter 2:4–6
How odd that what man rejects as worthless is chosen by God as valuable! Here is the tragedy of Calvary – not that Christ suffered so terribly but that the Son of God, the Lord of life should have been done to death by people just like us. Unless our ways are truly God’s ways, we will continue to reject that which is of the ultimate value. Notice also how each of us can be a stone in the great Temple being built by God. In spite of all our faults, God still has a use for us in God’s eternal Plan.
July 12 1 Peter 2:6–8
The living stone, which is Christ, has become the corner stone of the Temple. As our lives are lain on him, we too become part of the great plan of God. That same stone can also be one that will cause people to stumble! It is, at once, both the foundation upon which lives can be built and the trip wire which will cause them to fall.
July 13 1 Peter 2:9–10
When men and women become convinced of God’s call to them, they find it impossible to believe that God should show such generosity of grace and love. Me! – One of the chosen race! Me! – One of the King’s priests! Never! Yet if our lives are truly founded on Christ then that is exactly what happens, incredible though it may seem.
July 14 1 Peter 2:11–12
Peter has be emphasising the sheer joy and confidence of the Christian life, but he also knew the spiritual danger which lurked for the unwary. It is relatively easy to maintain spiritual conduct while with spiritual friends, but when we are with the ungodly, then the forces we thought we had conquered stir within us.
July 15 1 Peter 2:13–17
If Christ is Lord of my life, should I ignore secular authority, or can I divide my life so that Christ is Lord of my spiritual life while earthly rulers control my secular life? Peter teaches that while God must be feared, earthly rulers must be respected. He refers to the governors ‘who have been appointed by him [God] to punish the evildoers and to praise those who do good’. This raises difficult questions for Christians. Should they ever engage in civil disobedience? What if the civil authority is totally unjust and opposed to all that is of God? Is there ever a time when Christians must disobey earthly rulers, or must they, like Christ, submit to the Cross?
July 16 1 Peter 2:18–23
In a sense, each of us is a servant under the authority of a master – whether at work, at home, or in local national affairs. Peter cites the example of Christ who ‘himself suffered for you and left you an example’. In all things, Christ ‘placed his hopes on God, the righteous judge’. Am I prepared to trust in God, no matter the cost?
July 17 1 Peter 2:24–25
It is because Christ submitted himself totally to the cruelty of the ungodly that his victory is so complete. He endured all that evil could devise and, by his resurrection, revealed a power that is greater than evil. If we share his victory, we must be ready to follow the path he chose.
July 18 1 Peter 3:1–2, 7
What we have been learning about trust and submission has its roots in the home – in the relationship between husbands and wives. First, we must be clear that Peter is dealing with Christian husbands and Christian wives. Where a husband treats his wife with the love and respect that Christ shows to his Church, then the wife need not fear to submit to such a husband. Even where the husband is not a Christian, he will not fail to notice and respect the Christian behaviour of his wife.
July 19 1 Peter 3:3–6
Verse 3 is not a lecture against fashion and cosmetics. There is no virtue in being carelessly or slovenly dressed. But we must also avoid the other extreme of thinking that beauty is simply a matter of fashion. How many people are so ‘fashionably’ dressed that the real person is hidden under a mask? Peter is appealing for the beauty to shine through. The beauty of Christ ought to be seen in every Christian.
July 20 1 Peter 3:8–12
How sad that churches and congregations can be hotbeds of dissension and suspicion. This is because there are often a wide variety of views and hopes in such a group and so he calls for them to ‘have the same attitude and the same feelings’. How often we forget that it is Christ’s Church and seek to do things in our way, or to suit our views.
July 21 1 Peter 3:13–17
We cannot live in a Christian community all the time – we inevitably meet unspiritual men and women in our ordinary daily contacts. They will not always understand us; they may even cause us hurt. Our conduct at all times must be above reproach, and our conscience must be clear. This we can only do when we have reverence for Christ in our hearts, and honour him as Lord.
July 22 1 Peter 3:18–22
A most difficult passage! What did Christ do in the time between being laid in the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and the moment of his resurrection? Peter says clearly that he preached to the spirits of those who had not obeyed God in the days before the Flood. This raises several questions for us. Was the Gospel so preached that these imprisoned spirits had an opportunity to repent? What of those who did not obey God? What of those who are not obeying God even now? Will they too have another opportunity to hear the Gospel, or did they have their chance in this life – and missed it?
July 23 1 Peter 4:1–3
There must be a complete transformation in the Christian life. Our faith must touch every aspect of our living, doing and thinking. If a person suffers from some terrible disease, then every trace of it must be removed. To leave a trace anywhere in the body is to leave a source of infection, which will again attack the whole body. The same is true in our moral and spiritual life.
July 24 1 Peter 4:4–6
Death does not place us beyond the reach of God’s judgement and power. How often we say of someone who had died after a period of suffering – ‘he is at rest now’. His earthly physical sufferings may be over, but what justification have we for thinking that he now dwells in spiritual bliss? The consequences of ungodly living do not expire at death. See Luke 16:19–31.
July 25 1 Peter 4:7–9
The apostles certainly believed that the end of the world was near. Two thousand years have passed, and it still hasn’t come. Does that mean they were wrong? No one knows when the end will come. We may not know when it will be, but that it will be is beyond all doubt. We should therefore so live as if this were our last day on earth. Moral discipline, prayer, fellowship and hospitality – these should be the marks of the believer as he or she waits for the close of the age.
July 26 1 Peter 4:10–11
We often envy those who have special gifts and skills – they make the rest of us feel so useless. Each of us has received a special gift from God. These gifts vary in nature and degree, yet each is useful and valuable for the whole fellowship of the Church. We have a responsibility to use ‘as a good manager’ the particular gifts God has given. Not to use them is a sin against God.
July 27 1 Peter 4:12–19
Peter returns to his theme of suffering. He was not morbid by nature, but they had to face up to the reality of oppression and persecution. Remember that he was writing to ‘refugees scattered’ over a large area. They knew at first hand about suffering. Peter pointed to the distinction between suffering as a Christian and suffering as a wrongdoer.
July 28 1 Peter 5:1–4
Peter addresses those of them who are church elders. So often the positions of leadership within the Church are seen as an honour. It is an honour to be called to leadership in the Church, but it is also a responsibility. God chooses such leaders for a purpose.
July 29 1 Peter 5:5–7
In the Christian fellowship we must serve one another. The young and strong must help those who are older and less strong, but they, in turn must, from their wisdom and experience, support and encourage the young. This, of course, assumes that the ‘older men’ have acquired wisdom to pass on to the younger ones. Age may bring experience, but it does not, unfortunately, always bring wisdom.
July 30 1 Peter 5:8–11
Peter has earlier warned about the dangers of what he called ‘bodily passions’ (2:11). Now he warns of the spiritual enemy, the Devil, who is constantly on the prowl for those whose faith he can destroy. Sadly, many Christians no longer believe in the Devil’s activity. They have fallen victim to his greatest deceit! If Christ himself knew of, and warned against the Devil (Luke 22:31), why do we think we can ignore his attention? Evil must be resisted, and our faith must be steadfast – only then will we know the eternal glory.
July 31 1 Peter 5:12–13
The letter ends on a personal note. Peter gives his reason for writing – to encourage his readers, and to give his own personal testimony. It is most unlikely that he expected his letter to encourage readers two thousand years later. Here is one of the great glories, or dangers of the Christian faith – we never know when a word, a handshake, a letter, a visit, may have an impact far greater than we ever thought.