Study Guide: Shaken Not Stirred

Sunday February 21, 2010 | Dwayne Polk

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Despite Jesus clearly foretelling it, Peter didn’t think he would deny Jesus. But just as Jesus knew Peter would fall, he knew he’d get back up again too.

Extended Summary:

Dwayne Polk reminded us that this is the season of Lent when many Christians around the world are fasting in anticipation of Easter. Jim Wallis describes fasting this way:
“Fasting is intended to cleanse the body, clear the mind, create some time and space, nourish the spirit, and focus the heart. Prayer is for confession, repentance, turning back to God, and asking for both discernment and courage.”
And Dwayne quoted the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church as stating: “Let us fast with a fast pleasing to the Lord. This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessations of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing. The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable.”
In our spiritually hostile world, fasting is a practice that helps us strengthen our relationship with God. Today’s text shows that Peter was tested by Satan and that this would result in his turning away from what God is doing. But Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail but that he would turn back both for his own sake and for the sake of other believers. We can be sure that prayer, fasting and repentance were involved in Peter’s walk of faith. Just like Peter, we too will be shaken and influenced by Satan. And just like Peter, there will be times when we lose our focus and are distracted from God and what God is doing around us. And again, just like with Peter, Jesus intercedes for us and gives us the strength we need to come back to God.
Dwayne closed with this challenge: we will fall, but we will get back up again. You will be shaken, but don’t be stirred in your spirit for God has overcome all opposition on the cross!

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting text?
  2. Share a bit about how you understand prayer and fasting. What role did it play in the tradition you grew up in? What role does it play for you today?
  3. When you think about the Christian walk, do you imagine it steadily improving over time? Or do you see it as more erratic and unpredictable?
  4. Dwayne challenged us to be alert to Satan’s influence on us and on those around us. How does this opposition we face affect our walk with God?
  5. What does it mean that Peter “turned back”? Where was he turning back from? Share a time when you’ve needed to “turn back”. How could that experience be used to strengthen your community? (Recall that Jesus told Peter to turn back and strengthen the other disciples in our text today.)