Summary: God desires for you to have a future and a hope!

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Life gives us plenty of reasons for despair, doesn’t it? When disappointment comes, I sometimes think about a quote: “It doesn’t matter how far you fall, but how high you bounce.” Once, I shared the first part with someone hoping they would finish the last part and end up being encouraged. I said, “It doesn’t matter how far you fall…” I waited and they finished, “…but how far down you go!” It’s sort of like those roadrunner cartoons where the coyote falls off a cliff and the impact creates a kind of grave.

That’s what happens to us when we don’t have hope. We crash and burn. We need hope. In fact, in the Bible, you’ll find three virtues grouped together: faith, hope, and love. I Thessalonians 5:8 tells us how to clothe ourselves for spiritual success. We are to “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” To survive and thrive in this world, we have to have hope!

Over the years at CVCC, I’ve shared another quote designed to express hope: “Our future’s so bright, I just gotta wear shades!” That’s what I want to talk to you today about - how God gives us a future and increases our hope.

Maybe you are losing hope. You’ve got a career decision to make and you’re not sure about the economic impact it will have on your family. Perhaps you are living in despair. You’ve tried everything you know how to try to patch up a relationship, but your spouse (or your child or a friend) is tearing your heart to pieces. God wants to give you hope this Easter morning! Or maybe you are struggling to be free from anger or pride or some addiction and it just seems like there’s no way out. God desires for you to have a future and a hope!

1 Peter

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 -

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.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)

We have a bright future with God if some things are true about us. I want to share with

you four big “ifs” for a bright future today.

Our future’s so bright we just gotta wear shades if…

I. God gives us His fresh start. v. 3a

In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope

New birth. The “bible scholar” word for it is “regeneration.” It’s a gracious, sovereign, and decisive work of God in the radical transformation of sinful people so that they become “new.” It is not living the old life in a new way, but entering into a new life. Regenerate people have a new spiritual vitality and direction in their lives. It’s a new birth, a fresh start.

I have found that when someone is pretty much satisfied with his or her life, then God’s offer to give a new birth isn’t too attractive. But most people who are satisfied with the status quo don’t really see themselves as God sees them. God offers all of us a new birth because we all need one. Notice the verse. It comes because of His mercy. Let’s not shut our minds and hearts to the power which can change us to be the best we can be.

The problem with so many of us is simply the fact that when Jesus Christ comes with his offer to change us and re-create us and give us a fresh start, we more or less say: "No thank you: I am quite satisfied with myself as I am and I don’t want to be changed."

No matter how much prestige we have or how good we are compared to others, we must see our desperate need for change. Ask yourself, “Could it be that in spite of my goodness and in spite of even my religion, I still have a spiritual need that must be addressed? Are you really deep down satisfied with your life?”

Educational seminars can’t really change a life. We all know well-educated fools. Government can’t change a life. Washington itself needs to be changed. Financial success can’t change a life. We all know that the pursuit and accumulation of wealth has ruined people.

Our fresh start comes as a gift from God. Look at verse three. The new birth is a gracious gift from God as a result of His mercy. We can’t make it happen. Something has to happen to us. It’s God’s free gift. That’s why we must cry out to God for His mercy and grace, “Please, God, blow Your winds of change across my life. Move me.” It’s a great lesson for people who have been brought up to believe that they can change themselves by keeping the rules of religion.

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