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1 Peter 1--Hope2

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1 Peter 1:3—Hope—August 18, 2001

Good morning family. This morning we are going to do something a little different. Pastor Randy and I are going to team preach. We got together earlier in the week for prayer and planning. After we had prayed for the needs of our churches and community we looked at each other and just shrugged because the needs are so big, yet we knew we must press on. What is it that makes us press on? What is it that makes us pray for the needs of others when things seem hopeless? It is hope!!! As Randy and I continued to wait upon the Lord we found strength and hope in the Lord. As we prayed and discussed this Sunday we felt impressed to team preach on hope. I will share using 1 Peter 1:3 and Pastor Randy share using Hebrews 11:1. So lets read 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.

This is such a powerful portion of scripture. Genuine living hope is not just wishful thinking, but a firm assurance about things that are unseen and still in the future. HOPE is confident expectancy. Hope is one of the three main elements of our Christian character according to 1 Corinthians 13:13 that speaks of faith, hope and love. "Hope is essential to the Christian life, just like faith and love. Hope is available no matter what the odds are. I came across an illustration this week entitled “Against All Odds.” It goes like this… During one of the torrential rains that occurred in late August, my second planting of corn was completely beaten down. Four rows of beautiful healthy corn were lying flat on their sides. Between the hail and the rushing river that appeared in the middle of the garden, my corn was plastered to the mud.

After the initial wave of disappointment had passed, I went out to the garden, hoping to be able to save at least some of the plants. My plan was to hold the stalks up straight, and firm down the soil around the roots. As I surveyed the scene I became more than a little doubtful. The stalks were a tangled mess. It would be impossible to pick one up without first releasing it from 2 or 3 neighbouring plants.

One step into the garden confirmed my fear that this was to be a hopeless cause. I sank into the mud up to my ankles. Mud stuck to my bare feet as I tried to "pack" soil around the base of the stalks. The ground was so soggy it couldn't begin to hold up the corn. Disappointed and discouraged, I abandoned my mission.

Being human, I tortured myself each day by looking out to the garden and seeing my beautiful corn plastered to the wet ground. As the days passed however, it appeared that the corn was beginning to stand up on its' own. That's not possible, I thought. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but each day the corn stood a little higher.

I decided to take a closer look and found that the corn was not actually standing up at the roots. The bottom part of the stalk was still lying on its' side, but the main part was curving up toward the sun. Not content to be "counted out." It was rising up the best it could with each new day. The ones underneath were helping the stalks that did not seem to have the strength to stand on their own up.

Corn is not the only thing that is susceptible to life's destructive forces. We sometimes find ourselves in the same condition. The stress of our lives and situations can beat us down and plaster us to the wet ground.

It is after the " rain" has passed, as we lie figuratively on the ground, that we are called to make choices. We can continue to lie there or we can begin, slowly, to stand up.

I remember being amazed at my corn. How I thought, can it do that? The answer is quite simple: it stands again, because its one purpose in life is to grow and bear fruit. It can't rationalize or make excuses. It knows nothing more than to reach toward the sun and begin again with what's left.

And that is our choice too. At times when all things seem to be at work against us, when we feel like we can't take one more thing, we are able to reach deep inside ourselves and begin to stand. Those of us that are left standing are called to lend our support and strength as others around us begin again, sometimes with what's left.

It may be a long time before we actually stand straight again. Sometimes, we may never again regain our original posture. But each day we must take the opportunity to stand just a little taller just a little at a time. It's the best way to begin again and it is what we are meant to do.

We know from reading scripture that in the early decades of the church’s expansion it grew explosively in numbers. Christians in the Roman Empire were increasingly viewed as a distinct people – and were seriously misunderstood. Have you ever been seriously misunderstood because you are a Christian? Their enormous commitment to Jesus Christ, kept them from participating in worship of the Emperor and state gods and this was viewed as a lack of patriotism. The Christians strict morality, their private meetings for worship, all raised suspicion, rumours, and a growing hostility. Many Christians were slandered by their old communities and companions. And in various parts of the empire official persecution developed, to the extent that in some places individuals were executed merely for admitting that they worshipped Jesus Christ.

Against this background of misunderstanding and cruelty by the majority, Peter writes this pastoral letter. He understands their struggle and speaks encouragingly of hope that will sustain them. Peter speaks of a living hope that comes through the resurrection of Jesus and which promises us a grand inheritance in heaven. The word living in this verse caught my attention, so I did a word study. It means to live, breathe, be among the living. It is not lifeless or dead. Living means enjoy real life, have true life that is fresh, strong, and efficient worthy of the name Jesus. Isn’t that good?  Who can tell me what a beneficiary is? We are beneficiaries of a salvation the prophets spoke of without understanding it (vv. 10-12). As a result Peter is saying we are to consciously and deliberately focus our expectations on Jesus’ coming and dedicate ourselves to holiness (vv. 13-16).

Throughout the bible hope is discussed. We are to hope in God. We are to hope in Christ. We are to hope is the work of the Holy Spirit. Hope is obtained through his grace, and through His word. Listen to the words of the psalmist in Psalm 119:81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.

It is described to us in our verse as living or lively. This type of living hope makes us not ashamed. It does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Hope triumphs over difficulties. We are called to this hope. There is one body and one Spirit— and we are called to one hope. And he wants us to rejoice because we have gained access by faith into his grace. We are to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Amen!!

I leave you with this!! A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, "Eighteen to nothing--we're behind." 

"Boy," said the spectator, "I'll bet you're discouraged." 

"Why should I be discouraged?" replied the little boy. "We haven't even gotten up to bat yet!"

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