Three studies in a simple format in order to expand and be more descriptive in any bible study or personal application.
I. Staying strong when everything else seems to be giving way; Peer Pressure
1. In 1 Samuel 1 & 2, there is a story of a woman named Hannah who struggled with a number of problems in her society and at home. It complicated the resolution of her own struggles. The following passages describe some of the pressures facing her. Can you describe these pressures as if they were happening to someone today (i.e., in our culture and in our town)?:
- 1 Samuel 1:6,7
- 1 Samuel 1:8
- 1 Samuel 3:1b
- 1 Samuel 2:12,17
2. Read 1 Samuel 1:10. What was Hannah’s approach to her problem in the face of all the peer pressure she was receiving?:
3. Read 1 Samuel 1:11. Just how desperate had Hannah become in order to have a child? If there had been a doctor with a procedure or some kind of medical approach to her problem, do you think she would have called on the Lord in this way?:
4. Read 1 Samuel 1:13-18; 2:19-21. Did Hannah end up with an earthly prayer partner and some positive peer pressure? Who was it? Was her prayer answered? To what degree?:
5. The Bible has much to say about negative and positive peer pressure. Try to identify at least one key principle on this subject in each of the following passages:
- Proverbs 13:20
- 1 Corinthians 5:11
- Ecclesiastes 4:9
6. Peer pressure is often very hard to resist. When the “gang” is getting off track but you’ve been with them for a long time, it’s hard not to go with them. Tell about a time when you saw peer pressure at work. Why was it so hard to say “No!”?:
7. Do peer pressure situations always have to be negative? Can you think of a time when peer pressure has actually worked for the doing of good instead of evil?:
8. Conclusion and prayer:
Often we face problems, sometimes very personal problems, which we find difficult to bring out into the open but which beg for an answer or a solution. We may be afraid to share them for fear that others will not treat them with the same concern we have for them; we may believe they will make us feel ashamed, foolish, or inadequate. We pray and pray, which works but soon find ourselves right back where we started. Our confidentiality has been a regression rather than a progression. The truth is that there is someone out there — yes, the Lord, and someone else too — that will walk with us, someone sent by God. That someone has made mistakes along the way, but they have learned from them and are God’s answer to negative peer pressure. They are there to help. Do you have something in your life that needs some positive peer pressure? You need to start by going to a pastor or overseer. One man said, “If you surround yourself with the good and righteous, they can only raise you up. If you surround yourself with the others, they will drag you down into the doldrums of mediocrity, and they will keep you there, but only as long as you permit it.” — Mark Glamack. God bless you as you seek Him for this now.
II. Staying strong when it seems you just can’t go on
1. Read 2 Corinthians 1:8,9. Paul had a number of trials in his life and at several points along the way he began to despair. How does Paul describe the circumstances in which he finds himself? If you had to guess, what kind of trial do you think he was going through. Rejection? Poverty? Disappointment? Illness?:
2. When a boxer quits a fight, his manager throws in the towel; when a racer car driver quits a race, he pulls into the pits; when a person leaves a job, he turns in his resignation (“gives notice”); when a fiancé quits a relationship, she gives back the ring (hopefully). What are some other ways of giving up on someone or something — or yourself?:
3. Tell about a time in your life or in the life of someone you know when it was difficult to go on. This can be a particular part of life (such as a job or a relationship) or about life in general. Describe in your own words the emotional state of a person in such a situation:
4. The following passages record the emotions of several individuals who were in despair. See if you can identify the individual and perhaps the reason for their despair:
- Acts 27:20
- 1 Kings 19:4
- Job 7:15
- Jonah 4:3
- Matthew 27:5
5. One of the individuals in question 4 is quite different in terms of the outcome of the despair. Which one is different and why is it so?:
6. Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. How did Paul deal with his despair? What did he do? What did he count on?:
7. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. What was the outcome of Paul’s despair? Did his approach to his “dark time” help?:
8. Conclusion and prayer:
Do you know someone in despair right now — even as we meet? What is appropriate for us to do under the circumstances? Would you, should you be able to help if you discovered them going through a difficult time? Do you try to advise them by gearing them toward spiritual leadership? These questions have one answer with two parts: show them God and demonstrate His love through prayer and caring.
Perhaps you are experiencing despair in one or more areas of life. Let your leadership pray for you — and love you. The saints of old used this method with great profit.
Do you know someone in such a situation. Pray for them right now. You need not mention names or you may not be ready to pray — but let someone pray. God will surely bless.
III. Staying strong with a faith that just doesn’t quit
1. Ol’ Faithful. Hearing the words might make us think of a famous fountain in Yellowstone National Park, or an old car that seemed to stay around the family for years — always there when needed. Think of some other things that might qualify as faithful in your world and in your experience. (Let’s limit ourselves to non-people items for this question):
2. Think back to your encounters with people that impressed you as being faithful. What were some of the attitudes and behavior patterns that qualified them as a faithful person?:
3. More than 100 times in the Bible God is described as being faithful. The following passages are just a few examples. As you read the verses, try to identify why God is seen as faithful by the writer of the passage:
- Psalm 145:13
- Deuteronomy 7:9
- 1 Kings 8:56
- Psalm 111:7,8
4. If, according to these passages, God is faithful, then what can we say about Him with respect to the following?
- His love?
- His patience?
- His promises?
- His forgiveness?
- His protection?
5. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24. If God begins to do a good work with respect to the spiritual life in a person, what can we expect of God as to the energy for the task? The completion of the task?
6. Read Psalm 111:2-10. What ought to be the response of people to the faithfulness of God? Specifically, how is it appropriated and what should be our attitude toward it?:
7. Conclusion and prayer:
Is God faithful? Yes, of course He is. But what difference does this make to the average person — like each of us? It means that God can be trusted, and that He consistently has mankind’s best interests at stake when He acts; we can count on it!
It also means that we can entrust either loved ones or specific situations into His care and know that he will do well with them. Is there someone or something you need to turn over to him as we close with a time of prayer? Consider: what might be holding you back from giving this situation into His hands?
There are many promises in the Bible that we fail to claim — at least in part — because we somehow feel that God is not trustworthy. Can you identify a promise that you might have difficulty trusting God in? If you can share that at this time, it may well be the first step in being able to claim that promise and trust Him for the result! God bless you as you share.