A Living Hope

I Peter 1: 3-9


Introd.  Story of Phil Caputo – Viet Nam  job was to count the dead bodies “I could look into the eyes of the living and tell you what they would like when they were dead”

Our privilege as Christians is exactly the opposite;  The Bible says that non believer are spiritually dead – but as Christians who have the living hope of the resurrection, we can look into the eyes of the spiritually dead and envision what they would like if they were fully alive in Christ.  We have the privilege of bringing hope to the hurting.

For many people Easter is just another holiday, bunny rabbits and easter eggs.  For others it’s like a ghost story that is unbelievable. 

For believers in Christ; Easter means the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  It means the promise of life after death because Jesus conquered the grave. 

Resurrection Sunday is the single most important day in the history of the world.   It is the supreme miracle of Christianity – it is at the very heart of our faith.  If it never happened, Christianity collapses into mythology and billions of people have been deceived.  If it did happen, it authenticates everything Jesus said and did.  Paul says it strongly in I Cor. 15:17:  “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.”  The resurrection is the basis of our faith.

The words  he is not here = he is risen changed the course of history.  Let’s see why this event is so important: 

I PETER 1: 3-9    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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 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. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 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, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (NIV)

At the time of this writing Peter was an old man.  A disciple that had been through many battles.  He had sorted through life and determined there were some things that aren’t worth fighting for and there are other principles so important they are worth dying for. Wisdom is knowing the difference between the two.  Here is one truth he discovered:

Christians have a living hope because of the resurrection.   Not a dead hope –-not a cheery optimism but a hope based on a historical fact that Jesus died and rose again and promises that those who believe in Him will do the same. A living hope grows stronger with time.

There are a lot of things that I’ll never hear:

Joe Madden say:  Tom, would you like to play shortstop for the Rays this week

Shawn Viars say:  Tom, would you like to sing a solo this week

I will never have a stranger stop me and say:  Hey, aren’t you Brad Pitt

I will never hear Carol say:  honey, your getting so skinny, you need to put on a few pounds.

I will never hear God say:

            Tom, there is no hope for you.

Our very hope for the future is rooted in the truth of the resurrection.  It is one of the reasons, Christians changed the primary day of worship from the Sabbath to Sunday.  The Sabbath represented the sacrificial system but Sunday is the first day of the week called the Lord’s Day and we are to give him the first of everything in our life. Every week we hold a mini celebration of the resurrection.

Do you need hope today?    Over the years, life has a way of grinding us down.  Squeezing the hope out of us.  Some of you here today have been beaten down by the circumstances of life. Tough year for some of you.

…you are feeling the weight of yesterday’s failures

…you are being slapped around by the waves of broken dreams

…you are a wife who has been traded in for a younger model            husband who has been betrayed 

…you are a parent who has seen your child make some bad choices

….you have crossed a line you never thought you would cross

…you have had a recent visit to the cemetery for a loved one

…you have a boss who said I no longer need you

…you are ready to wave the white flag of surrender and give it up – it’s hopeless

If you can relate to any of those feelings, than the message of the resurrection is for you – it is a message of hope.

Have you ever felt rejected?  Because of the color your skin; the appearance of your body; your lack of education, a physical or mental handicap; or maybe for no apparent reason.  It hurts – it stings – a heaviness envelops you, you learn to cope by lashing out at others, withdrawing, become critical of addicted to something.  I want you to know that God loves you and offers you a living hope through Christ.

Jesus can identify with you because he too was rejected.   The Jewish prophets said that a messiah is coming that will save you from your sins but when Jesus claimed to be the Messiah he was rejected. His own brothers doubted him. His close friend betrayed him.  His disciples deserted him; even his father had to temporarily turn his back as he died.

Through his victory over sin and the grave Jesus wants to encourage you by helping you overcome:

1.      the scars of your past

2.      the problems of today

3.      the fear of the future

The cross was a difficult assignment for Jesus.  He suffered as no one before or since.  The agony of an innocent person dying for someone else is overwhelming.  How could he stand it?  The humiliation, the spitting in his face, the lashes of the whip, the crown of thorns, the suffocation  of crucifixion  

Hebrews 12: 2 gives us the answer to that?  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Endured it because he knew it was temporary.  We can endure any hardship because we know it is only temporary.   Once we get through the pain and grief, joy comes in the morning. 

In this life there will be many disappointments, heartaches, and suffering.  No one is immune.  We know it is only temporary.  Things may not get better, they may get worse on this earth. But there are things we know for certain:   God promises us:

1.      forgiveness of our past

2.      comfort for today

3.      hope for tomorrow

times when all we can do is hold on.  Space mountain illustration – small compartment – can’t move – people you don’t know – dark – car jerks you around – sudden dips   breakneck speed   but it all ends and people get out smiling   wow that was fun.

Life is often like that – unexpected turns – blackness – sudden stops and starts – when we put our trust in God and hang on to his promises, it all ends safely and we come out smiling.

Maybe you are one of the fortunate few who have never known rejection – life is good now – on target -why do I need the hope of the resurrection   because one day you will die

How can I know for sure that I will be resurrected with Jesus?

Gospel presentation – 3 men talking one day about how they want to be remembered.  What would you like for people to say when they file past your casket?

            First:  a great business man  very successful

            Second:  great family man  close knit

            Third:  hey look  he’s moving.

Rom. 10: 9 says that 'if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Our hope rests on the finished work of Christ.