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This is Not the End - Easter 2018

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Movie night all by myself - been waiting for The Last Jedi - It can’t end like this! Certainly, that’s what the disciples thought as Jesus was arrested and crucified. They had given their lives for Jesus’ mission, and this is how it ended? What they didn’t realize: the end was the beginning.
Maybe you feel like you are at the end - nothing turning out the way you want. Life is miserable. You’re hopeless, discouraged, etc. Good news: the Resurrection of Christ gives you a new beginning!
One of my favorite passages! If you are worn out, if your world is crashing down, need to be reenergized in your faith – this passage is for you. A reminder that the because of the resurrection of Jesus - this is not the end. Your life is just beginning!

1. The resurrection gives you a living hope so praise Him.

· Believers suffering in modern day Turkey – elect exiles – strangers in their hometowns because of the radical change the Gospel had made in their lives. Because of their allegiance to Christ instead of the emperor, enemies of the state. Intense persecution.
· Peter gives hope to suffering believers. Notice he doesn’t start with empathy or sympathy. Not, “I feel your pain.” Or, “I know how hard this is for you.” Instead, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Almost seems insensitive! What would you think if you told me how bad your week has been and I said to you, “Praise the Lord?” Peter knows the bigger picture.
· Peter knows that God has given you what you do not deserve – a brand new life – born again. New hopes, new purpose, and a new eternity.
· Born again to a living hope. Living hope vs. dead hope. What have you placed your hope in that didn’t pan out? A promotion? (I hope my kids will be like me…) Dead hopes. Sometimes what we hope for pans out but many times it doesn’t. It’s a dead hope that leaves us discouraged.
· In Christ – we have living hope. Indestructible, certain hope. Put your hope in Him. He will do in your life what He has promised. He will be with you through the trials, He will make you like Himself, and He will ultimately bring you to home to be with Him.
· How do I know that Jesus is my living hope?
The resurrection is proof that Jesus comes through for His people. He did the impossible for us: He defeated death so we could have life. If He would have stayed dead death would not be defeated, and we would still bear the punishment for our own sin, but the resurrection proves that Jesus has and will come through for me.
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:14-17)
Therefore, no matter what life throws at you say, “Praise the Lord.” You always have a reason to praise God no matter how crummy life gets, because your crummy days do not change for one second God’s faithfulness to you or His plan for your life.
· Learn to say, “When my world falls apart I will rejoice because I always have hope in Christ.”

2. The resurrection gives you an eternal inheritance so do not despair.

· What is this living hope? What exactly are we hoping for? Not our best life now, but our best life to come! Peter gives us a glimpse of our future by describing our inheritance.
· A lot of questions unanswered – what does our inheritance look like? What is heaven like? Probably doesn’t answer because it’s too great for words and we don’t know the exact details of our future inheritance. (Don’t believe everything you read in Heaven tourism books)Peter describes the quality of our eternal inheritance.
· What suffering believers need to know: what God has for you is far better than anything in this world. Therefore, it is worth it to live for your heavenly home rather than live your days for a world that is passing away. Peter gives us a stark contrast between the inheritance God has for us and this world:
· Imperishable – indestructible. Do you have anything in this life that is indestructible? Everything we have is fragile – whether it’s material possessions, relationships, talents. Everything you have is here today and gone tomorrow, but not your eternal inheritance.
· Undefiled – Perfect in every way. Not contaminated by this world or sin. No imperfections whatsoever.
· Unfading – will not decay. It is not in the process of breaking down or dying, but everything in this world is. (Ill. – harmonica)
· Kept by God – If kept by God you know it’s secure. Who’s going to take it from God? (Food going out in freezer: cleaning it out at 4:30 a.m.)
· You are guarded by God through faith – God has done everything necessary in your life to ensure that your inheritance cannot be forfeited. Think about Hebrews 11 – men of faith – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samson, etc. All of them flawed to the core but God was gracious – and in spite of their flaws they enjoy their inheritance.
· Your flaws do not negate the inheritance God has for you. You receiving God’s inheritance isn’t based on your ability, rather it’s based on God’s faithfulness to you as you cry out, “God the only way I can receive this inheritance is by placing my life in your hands and trusting that you will guard me from myself, from my flaws, and my imperfections.”
· You do not have to despair. Do you constantly live in a state of despair? Misery? Depression? “Woe is me. Life can’t get any better.” Truth is life gets much better – you have no reason to give up, to live with a countenance of misery. Your best is always yet to come.
· Learn to walk in joy no matter what you face, and learn by focusing on what is to come. Have a Godward focus. (James 1:2-4)
· When you and I walk in constant despair instead of joyous faith we say to a lost and dying world that God cannot be trusted and that He is not bigger than our difficult circumstances. Not true!

3. The resurrection gives you a God-refined faith so keep pressing on.

· God isn’t wasting your hardships but using them to refine your faith. God is preparing you for your inheritance. God is not the cause of your pain and suffering. Your pain and suffering is the result of living in a fallen world, but God is so great that He is able to take your pain and suffering and use it to refine you and glorify Himself.
· Faith tested by fire – you’ve felt that way. We are ore-rific Christians. Ore – metal in its natural state (show picture). Much value but full of imperfections. Must be refined to reach the full potential of its value. That’s you! You are full of imperfections but of unlimited value to God. So because you are so valuable to Him, He doesn’t leave you the way you are. He refines you. He puts you in the fire to burn away the imperfections so that ultimately, when you come through this life with all of its pains and struggles, you will come through perfected. You will look back on this life someday and you will say every pain and heartache was worth it. So right now, today, in the midst of your pain, you keep pressing on.
· We love Christ even though we have not seen Him with our own two eyes because we know His plan and what He is doing in our lives.
· Unbeliever: You are of unlimited value to God and today you have the opportunity to be born again if you place your faith and hope in Jesus Christ. 2000 years ago He stepped into creation as a baby boy and grew up to be a sinless, perfect man. Never in His life did He rebel against the Father so He could go to the cross as our perfect sacrifice (substitute). On the cross He took our place, and took the punishment we were due so our sins could be forgiven. Three days later He rose from the dead so we could know that He had come through us and defeated death for us. If you turn to Him in faith and repent of your sins and surrender your life to Him you will be born again. You’ll be given a new life – a life worth living – a life of purpose – a life that won’t be easy but you will have a guaranteed eternal inheritance, a living hope.
Believers, three challenges:
Instead of always complaining, always rejoice. Do you realize how blessed you are?
Instead of settling in, prepare to move out. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Col. 3:1
Instead of running away from God, run to God. Don’t run from the work He wants to do in your life.
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