He Picked Me!
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
—1 Peter 2:9
It had been a bad day. Nothing really big, just a whole lot of little things. I had complained to God and one of my close friends, but I was pretty determined to be in a bad mood. I only had one more errand before I could go home and wallow in self-pity for the rest of the evening. Since I only needed a handful of things from Walmart—milk, toilet paper, and fabric dye—I expected to be in and out in just a few minutes.
Storming around the store with my “poor me” attitude, I found the fabric dye on the aisle with the laundry detergent. Dark brown was only available in the liquid version. I needed a lot, so I started pulling bottles off the little shelf over my head. Each time I grabbed one, the others were pushed forward by a spring-loaded mechanism on the shelf.
As I lifted the next to last bottle, the one behind it shot out and up. There was no time to take cover, it all happened too fast. When the bottle hit the tile floor, the cap popped off, and dark liquid squirted across the aisle splattering everything in its path, including me. As I surveyed the damage, God spoke to me quietly. “OK, you’ve been whining all day. How are you going to respond to this?”
While I sponged myself off with the paper towels hung on a nearby post, I considered my options. I could continue down the path I’d been on all day and let this dark mess be the last straw that pushed me over the edge to a full-blown, self-absorbed tantrum. Or, I could remember that God is in control. He not only is aware of all the problems, issues, and worries in my life, He cares about each one.
In that moment of decision, God brought a Scripture passage to mind; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Rest in Jesus or throw a fit on the detergent aisle in Walmart? This time I chose Jesus. And I pray I will next time too.
Life is full of trials, both big and small. Most days, the troubles are nothing more than a messy nuisance. Sometimes, though, they aren’t so easy to clean up. As women, we are the rescuers, the nurturers, the ones that keep everything together and running smoothly for our families and friends. But can we stand strong—for ourselves and the ones who depend on us—when the truly hard times come?
A rock-solid faith in the one true God provides a firm foundation that is not easily moved. The life of the Apostle Peter reveals how God can grow a fragile faith into a strong, unshakeable faith. Over the next eight sessions, we will explore the life and teachings of Peter, to discover eight “faith traits” God developed in his life and to seek to apply them to our own.
In week one, we will witness Jesus choosing Peter to follow Him as a disciple. If you are a Christian—if you have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ—it’s because God chose you first. Have you ever taken a moment to dwell on the incredible truth that God chose you? As we study Peter’s teaching, you will discover the great significance of being chosen and the difference it should make in your life that Jesus chose you.
Unshakeable Faith Trait One
Secure in the God Who Loves and Chooses You
Many people gathered around Jesus during His earthly ministry, but Jesus specifically chose 12 men to follow Him. Jesus taught, trained, and prepared these men to carry on His purposes after He was gone. All four Gospels record Jesus calling His disciples. John’s account may be Jesus’ initial encounter with Peter, while Matthew, Mark, and Luke each report a variation on a later event.
Q1: Read John 1:35–42. Describe how Peter met Jesus.
Q2: Describe the time you first met Jesus. Who made the introductions?
Q3: What was your initial impression of Jesus? Did you accept Him as Lord and Savior right away or did it take time?
Q4: Reread John 1:42. What did Jesus say to Peter when they met?
The first time they met, Jesus gave Peter a new name. Today that seems extremely odd. However, in ancient Jewish culture, names were significant. They revealed character or represented a specific purpose God had for that person. The Simon that Jesus met was brash, outspoken, and a bit unstable. The name Peter (or Cephas as in some translations) means “rock.”
This young man named Simon, who would become Peter, was impetuous, impulsive, and overeager. He needed to become like a rock, so that is what Jesus named him. Jesus changed Simon’s name, it appears, because He wanted the nickname to be a perpetual reminder to him about who he should be.
Twelve Ordinary Men
Q5: Considering Simon’s personality, why do you think Jesus called him Peter or Rock?
Jesus did not completely replace Simon with Peter. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus occasionally called Peter by his old name, Simon. This usually happened when Peter acted in a way that did not reflect his new name, Rock. Jesus used the name Simon as a rebuke, to remind Peter to leave the old character behind. Jesus had a plan and purpose for Peter. To fulfill his purpose, he needed to be Peter, not Simon. From the time they met, Jesus worked in Peter’s heart and life, shaping and molding him into the man He could use.
The passage in John does not tell us that Peter left his fishing business to follow Jesus at that point. But Jesus made it clear He had plans for Peter by giving him a new name. Now, let’s take a look at what might have been Peter’s next significant encounter with Jesus.
Q6: Read Luke 5:1–11. What was Jesus doing on the shore of the lake? Why did He need Simon Peter’s boat?
When Jesus came along, Peter and his fishing partners were washing their nets and preparing to go home. They had fished all night without success. Yet, when Jesus finished teaching the crowd, He told Peter to take the boat back out into the water and put the freshly cleaned nets down for a catch.
Q7: How did Simon respond? How do you think he felt about the direction? What was the result?
Q8: Think of a time when God guided you in a direction that did not seem logical to you. Did you obey? How did God work in this situation?
Q9: Why do you think Jesus performed this particular miracle in Peter’s life? What change did it bring about in Simon Peter?
Jesus never does anything halfway! The catch was so large they had to call for another boat. But the large catch of fish was not the only miracle that day; Peter’s perception of Jesus changed. Therefore, Peter’s perception of himself changed. When Peter recognized the power and authority of Jesus, he also humbly became aware of his own sin. Now Peter was ready to follow Jesus.
This sea-incident represented a major crisis in Peter’s experience, for the miraculous catch of fish brought the fisherman to realize that the One who had commanded him to cast his net was no mere man, but the Master of ocean, and earth, and sky. Henceforth Jesus became his Lord.
All the Apostles of the Bible
Peter’s “obedience” in verse 5 seems more like appeasement than action based on belief in Jesus. But Peter went from tired fisherman one minute to eager follower the next. What made the difference?
Jesus had a plan and purpose for Peter before they even met. Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter to reflect the character Jesus would develop in him. Jesus knew that Peter would have to face many trials and intense persecution. Peter needed a rock-solid faith that would not be shaken when the hard times came.
Here on the lake, Peter recognized that he had been chosen by one with authority. It was enough to make him leave everything behind. But it was only the beginning of his faith journey.
As Peter followed Jesus, he learned more about the significance of being chosen by God. What Peter learned, he passed on to those he taught. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Peter became one of the primary leaders in the Jerusalem church. We also know from biblical evidence and church tradition that Peter traveled, visiting churches and spreading the gospel, before he was martyred in Rome under Emperor Nero in the late a.d. 60s. First and 2 Peter were probably written from Rome during the latter years of Peter’s life.
Q10: Read 1 Peter 1:1–5. Depending on your translation, you will see the words elect, chosen, or both used to describe the recipients of Peter’s letter. Considering this description, who took the initiative in the salvation of the “elect”? Was it Peter’s audience or God?
Q11: What does this truth mean in regard to your own salvation?
All three persons of the Trinity actively participate in salvation as verse two reveals. We are chosen by God the Father; our salvation is made possible by the sacrificial blood of Jesus the Son; and we move from spiritual death to life through the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit. That’s a miracle only God can perform!
Q12: How did Peter respond to God’s salvation in verse 3?
Read verses 3 and 4 from the NIV below. Take note of all the words Peter used that describe our glorious salvation.
“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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4).
Q13: Describe this great gift of salvation in your own words.
Q14: Now read 1 Peter 2:9–10. List the four phrases used in verse 9 to describe believers.
Peter also used some “before and after” language in these same verses to describe salvation. Read the “before” phrases below and fill in the correct “after” description.
Q16: Not a people
Q17: Not received mercy
Q18: According to the second half of verse 9, how does God intend for believers to respond to this glorious “choosing?”
I have been friends with Janet for more than 20 years. We met in church in Casper, Wyoming where both of our husbands had been transferred with their oil industry jobs. After our initial meeting, Janet began to call me to chat and invite me to lunch. Our friendship developed quickly and even though we have both moved several times over the years we’ve remained close. I’ll never forget something Janet told me a little while after our friendship was forged. “The first time I met you I decided I wanted you to be my friend. I picked you out.” She chose me. And I am so glad.
Q19: Think back to a time when you were chosen. For a job. As a spouse. To be a leader. To be a friend. How did you feel about being chosen?
Read Ephesians 1:4–5 from the New Living Translation below.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ ... and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:4–5 NLT).
Note the words in the passage above that describe God’s action on your behalf.
Q20: How did God feel about doing this for you?
Q21: How does it feel to be chosen by God for salvation and adopted into His family?
Q22: According to Ephesians 1:4–5, how should you respond to this “choosing”?
Believer, God chose you before the creation of the world. He picked you out for His very own, before you were even born. All of us were once spiritually dead because of our sin, but while we were still sinners, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin through His death on the Cross. And in His great mercy, God gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Read “Faith Shaker” and then answer the questions that follow.
Bill physically left Karen the day before their 25th wedding anniversary, but he had been in the process of leaving for a long time. He had started to drift away about five years earlier. He pursued interests on his own, resented the demands of family life, and even denied the God he had once believed in. Karen did everything she could think of to draw her husband back, but all her attempts seemed to push him further away.
Karen felt like she had lost her husband long before Bill admitted he wanted out of their marriage. His long disengagement had made her feel ignored, devalued, and ugly. His final act of walking out the door told Karen she was unwanted and unlovable. “The one person who promised to love me forever said he didn’t anymore.”
Karen begged God to fix everything—to fix Bill, to fix their marriage, to fix her. Many times she poured out her anger and distress while meeting with God on the floor of her dark closet. But the divorce still happened. So Karen clung to God.
“God did not save my marriage, but He did save me. He faithfully cared for me. Like when His people showed up to serve me, listen to me, or sit with me while I cried. And when the money I needed was there, and the lawn was mowed, and the children were loved on.”
After three years and a lot of prayer, godly counsel, and Bible study, Karen knows she is dearly loved and wanted by God. “I was told that if I let Him, God would fill my every need as a single woman—my need to feel safe, secure, and loved. I did not fully believe that when I heard it, but God has certainly done it.”
Q23: What new things did Karen learn about God and how were they confirmed through her experience with Him?
Q24: How did these things directly meet her most urgent need?
The fact that God chose you and loves you can sustain you through the difficult periods of your life. Write how this truth applies to the possible situations below:
Q25: When you’ve been rejected by others
Q26: When you feel alone
Q27: When you have experienced failure
Q29: What situation are you facing right now in which you need to remember that God loves you and has chosen you?
Q30: Sweet sister in Christ, God loves you and chose you to be His very own. As we end this session, take some time to consider this amazing, eternal truth. Write a prayer below to express your gratefulness to God.