The Delicate Balance
Community Discussion Guide

1. Have you ever felt like you were walking on a tight rope as you tried to balance your faith in God on the one hand, and the difficulties of life on the other?

2. Ironically, sometime the struggles we face may be a result of our faith. Using the following passage of Scripture, explain.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (NIV)
John 15:19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (NIV)
John 15:20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (NIV)
John 15:21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
(NIV)

3. Some have taught that if you have enough faith you won’t get sick or have financial difficulties. This would indicate that only those who are healthy and wealthy have great faith. However, true Biblical faith teaches us that our faith in God is strongest when it is tested by the fires of adversity. God will not abandon us or forsake us. When we are weakest, He is strongest! Discuss how your faith in God, and His presence with you, has pulled you through the dark times of your life.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,(NIV)
1 Peter 1:4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade —kept in heaven for you, (NIV)
1 Peter 1:5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.(NIV)
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (NIV)
1 Peter 1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)
1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,(NIV)
1 Peter 1:9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (NIV)

4. A person of faith has “great joy” even in the midst of trials and tribulations. This does not mean that a person of faith “enjoys” suffering and difficult times, rather, it means that the person of faith trust God to make good come out of the bad!! In other words, they focus on all the reasons they have to rejoice and in return, God gives them strength to overcome! Discuss how you’ve experienced this dynamic.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (NIV)
Romans 5:2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (NIV)
Romans 5:3 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; (NIV)
Romans 5:4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. (NIV)
Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (NIV)




The Delicate Balance
I Peter 1:3-9

 Last week we talked about being committed to the duty and calling of God on our lives. I told you the blessing outweighed the burden.
I got several emails from you in regards to the message last week.

 The Lord laid it on my heart to do a follow-up sermon to discuss some issues that we as committed followers of Jesus will inevitably face.
The title of today's message hits the heart of a dilemma many of us have faced, are facing or will face!!

 The Delicate Balance!

There's certainly joy in following Jesus, but there's also a burden we are called to bear and sometimes we will suffer for the cause of Christ!

Finding the balance between the joy of the Lord and the burdens, difficulties, struggles, and sometimes even suffering is not an easy thing.

 As followers of Christ we are sometimes asked to carry out certain duties that bring with them a burden. Now don't get me wrong, along with the burden comes everything we need to carry that burden, but following Christ is not alway easy! Along with the burden comes a joy unspeakable, but there are times you will weep!

 Some people focus on the burdens and difficulties to the point of getting discouraged and even burning out!

 Others ignore the burden that each follower of Christ is called to bear and focus only on the joy of the Lord to the point they simply are no earthly good to anyone! They sing the songs and talk the talk, but never walk the walk.

I want to read a passage of Scripture to you today from Peter's first letter to the believers who                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. That's a pretty big area.
These folks had been through some rough times and even some persecution, and Peter wanted to encourage them and challenge them.


Anyone here today who could use some encouragement?

Anyone here today who needs to be challenged?

 Let's read Peter's words...

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade —kept in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:4 (NIV)

5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:5 (NIV)

6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
1 Peter 1:6 (NIV)

7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:7 (NIV)

8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)

9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:9 (NIV)

Let's pray!

ETS: Peter reveals to his readers they have a boatload of reasons to rejoice and at the same time they will continue to face serious difficulties in this life!

ESS: Just like the recipients of Peter's letter we must learn how to balance the good times and the difficult times of the Christian life!

OSS: I want you to learn how to balance the joy of the Lord and the burden of the Lord, the blessings and the sufferings, the mountain tops and the valleys, the times of singing and the times of weeping!

Probing Question: How do we achieve a healthy balance between the joy of the Lord and the burden of the Lord, the blessings of the Lord and the sufferings that believers are sometime called to endure?

It is absolutely necessary to discover how to walk this spiritual tightrope and find the lifesaving balance!

I have had friends who at one time were strong in the Lord, but they became mountain top dwellers. They began a constant quest for the next big move of God and when they had to walk through a valley or desert they got discouraged and abandoned their faith.

They began to walk by feelings rather than by faith. The allure of feelings and emotions is powerful, but if we're not careful we will begin to trust our feelings rather than God's Word.

If we feel right with God then we must be right and if we don't feel right, something must be wrong. The problem with this is that feelings aren't infallible and they can't be trusted!

I had a professor who once said, "A faith that fizzles at the finish may have been faulty from the start!"

Is your faith in God only good when times are good? Is your faith in God only effective on the mountain top or does it sustain you through the desert places?

Is your faith in God's truth or is it based on what you feel?
And, speaking of God's Word, it's time to dig into our text. We will examine the joy side and the suffering side of following Jesus.

The Joy Side!

Peter gives us a rundown of the truths that supply the fuel for our joy in the Lord!


3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade —kept in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:4 (NIV)

5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:5 (NIV)

What a list!!!!
Do we have reasons to rejoice?

Indeed!!!

Peter gives us five things on the joy side. There are many more than five, but we'll look at these five!!

Great Mercy
New Birth
Living Hope
An Inheritance
Shielded by God's Power

1. Great Mercy

4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
Titus 3:4 (NIV)

5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:5 (NIV)

6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Titus 3:6 (NIV)

7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:7 (NIV)

Oh the difference between grace and works. More on this later...

2. New Birth

23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)

I was explaining to a young person just this week what it means to be born again. The new birth is a spiritual rebirth. The spirit that was dead in sin is brought to life when a person admits their need for a Savior, accepts the death of Jesus on the Cross for their salvation and commits their life to Jesus Christ.

3. Living Hope

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Our God is a God of Hope and He fills us joy and peace and we overflow with hope because of His Holy Spirit!!

Even in the worst of circumstances we still overflow with hope and the world is utterly confused by this, but at the same time mysteriously drawn by the strength of faith they see in us!

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

4. An Inheritance

4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade —kept in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:4 (NIV)

Paul put it this way...

17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:17 (NIV)

18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)

5. Shielded by God's Power

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Ephesians 3:16 (NIV)

17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
Ephesians 3:17 (NIV)

18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
Ephesians 3:18 (NIV)

19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19 (NIV)

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:21 (NIV)

Okay, would you agree with me that we have ample reasons to have joy in the Lord? Multiple reasons to rejoice in the Lord?

But Peter interrupts his marvelous explanation of the reasons we have to rejoice with a sobering reminder...

The Suffering Side

6In this you greatly rejoice, (the joy side) though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (the suffering side)
1 Peter 1:6 (NIV)

You might be tempted to say, "but Brother Larry, Peter says they only had to suffer for a little while, I've been suffering for a long, long time."

I think Peter is placing our suffering on this earth in context with the eternal salvation and joy that we will experience in God's great heaven!

  It seems long and hard, but we must remember that God gives us everything we will need to accomplish His will while we are here. When we realize and accept that God will even use our suffering on this earth for good, we will begin to find the balance between the joy of the Lord and suffering for the Lord!


 Peter continues by showing us one of the ways in which God makes good come out of the bad...

7These (the griefs and trials) have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:7 (NIV)

Anyone can have faith when things are going great. When you're riding high, when you're on the mountain top. But our faith is proved genuine when we go through the fires of suffering, trials and tribulations and trust God to use our trials for good.

 I can't always figure out what God is up to and I certainly don't always know why things happen the way they do, but when I can't trace what God's hand is doing, I trust the motivation of God's heart!

8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)

9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:9 (NIV)

 The writer of Romans was spot on when he wrote about suffering...

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:1 (NIV)

2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:2 (NIV)

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
Romans 5:3 (NIV)

4perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:4 (NIV)

5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:5 (NIV)

That last verse is another key to the balancing act we must perform when it comes to the joy of the Lord and the suffering that sometimes accompanies a faithful walk with God.

Hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit!

God's love and God's Holy Spirit bring to suffering a joy that overcomes. A joy that brings endurance! A joy that balances the suffering and the burden.

And when we realize that our suffering places us in the company of Jesus, the honor is almost beyond our ability to comprehend.
You see, through suffering, Jesus brought to us forgiveness and eternal salvation.

If God uses suffering in our life to bring a witness to someone and they eventually come to Christ as a result, it's all worth it.
Listen to what Peter wrote to his readers...

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)

13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:13 (NIV)

Now at this point, some of you may be thinking, "didn't Jesus tell His disciples  something about His burden being light?"
Yes, let me read it to you...

28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:30 (NIV)

Jesus knew this life can be hard so He said if people needed rest and were weary, He would give them rest. The context of these verses also suggest that Jesus was comparing the difference between those who were trying to live by the letter of the law and those who would accept His grace and righteousness.

Living under the Jewish law had been a huge burden to them. The law was a taskmaster and there was no shortage of self-righteous enforcers ready and willing to point out your failures.

Jesus wasn't going to throw a heavy burden on their backs, and comparatively speaking His yoke was easy and His burden light. However, He didn't say following Him would be a walk in the park!  

 In fact He told His disciples this...

18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
John 15:18 (NIV)

19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
John 15:19 (NIV)

20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
John 15:20 (NIV)

21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
John 15:21 (NIV)

A few moments later Jesus would tell His disciples...

33“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)

Are you weary, are you burdened, are you suffering? Jesus will help you. He will give you a strength even in the midst of the trial.

Jesus was honest with His disciples. He said that in this world, we will have troubles, it is our decision whether or not we will face those troubles on our own or whether we will let Him walk through the valley with us.

It is our choice whether or not we allow God to give meaning to our suffering or whether we just take a fatalistic view and say, "Well it is what it is!" Personally, I've never been satisfied with "it is what it is!"

I want to go beyond the veil. I want to know there's some greater purpose behind the circumstances of my life besides, "it its what it is!"

I want God to show me how to change the things I can, and the things I can't, to accept that He is intricately involved and will make good come from every situation I place firmly in His hands by faith!