Summary: Some of the helps that God gives us to endure life's tests.
I want to start off this message today by reading the opening of Peter’s letter…
1 Peter 1:1-9 (ESV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Many of you have been in some kind of situation where you just aren't sure how you'll make it. More than discouragement, more than tired - just at a loss as to how you can possibly go on. Maybe it’s a medical bill. Maybe grades at school. Maybe a painful relationship or a terrible job.
The Christians that Peter wrote to probably wondered the same thing - how would they make it? First, he calls them “Exiles of the Dispersion.” Sure enough, in this life, we’re wanderers, aliens, sojourners. Then, this letter is full of comments about the need to hang in there. Trouble was at their heels, or was already upon them. These were people who needed help to endure in their journey of faith.
When you get ready for a long trip, you try to decide what you’ll need to survive. You can carry only so much with you. If you’re going on an airplane, there are size limits, then you start paying per bag that you check in.
I once saw a perfect formula for packing for a vacation: lay out all of the clothes you think you'll need and all of the money you think you'll need, then pack half of the clothes and twice as much money!
If you’re going backpacking, you think in terms of ounces because every pound matters after you’ve carried it a few miles.
2 guys were getting ready to go packing in bear country. One watched his buddy loading running shoes in his backpack. He said, “What are those for?” His buddy said, “That’s in case we have a bear coming after us.” His friend said, “I hate to tell you this, but you’re not able to outrun a bear.” He said, “I know that. I just have to be able to outrun you.”
In our spiritual journey, we need to know what it will take for us to "survive." Even if you're not what you would call a "spiritual person" this morning, you're still probably at least interested in whatever will help you survive the rat race.
This whole letter is about helping people press on. It’s like Peter is listing “Here are the tools you need to hang in there. These are some things you need to survive.”
Folks, Satan is working hard to discourage us. He’s attacking people on a number of fronts. So, I’m not wondering if this is relevant for anyone today. All around me are reminders that we can all use some real hope, and that we can all use some helps for the tests that are upon us.
Let’s start where Peter starts: if you’re in Jesus Christ, you’ve been born again! In God’s family, you have entered into a new life filled with a new set of challenges and new strengths to help us face those challenges. Three of them present themselves in a very easy to follow order here, vv3,4,5. 3 helps for the test that you’re about to face.
I. Living Hope (v3)
Last week we started this series on real Hope by talking about what Christian hope is and how different it is from worldly hope. Remember? This hope we have isn’t just a blind wishful shot in the dark. It’s a certainty that just hasn’t come about yet.
Yesterday, we were gathered for another funeral service in this auditorium. Verna Riley lived 96 years, and somewhere, way back there, came to believe in Jesus and was baptized into Him. Verna was born again into a living hope!