In his book, "Come Thirsty (pages 47-48)," Max Lucado tells a story of a little Haitian Orphan by the name of Carinette. He says that she lived in a different world, a world called, “home-to-be.”
"See the slender girl wearing the pink shirt? The girl with the long nose and bushy hair and a handful of photos. Ask to see them; Carinette will let you. Fail to ask; she'll show you anyway. The photos bear the images of her future family. She's been adopted.
Her adoptive parents are friends of mine. They brought her pictures, a teddy bear, granola bars, and cookies. Carinette shared the goodies and asked the director to guard her bear, but she keeps the pictures. They remind her of her home-to-be. Within a month, two at the most, she'll be there. She knows the day is coming. Every opening of the gate jumps her heart. Any day now her father will appear. He promised he'd be back. He came once to claim her. He'll come again to carry her home.
Till then she lives with a heart headed home.
Shouldn't we all? Carinette's situation mirrors ours. Our Father paid us a visit too. Have we not been claimed? Adopted? 'So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family - calling him 'Father, dear Father' (Romans 8:15).'"
Max’s story of Carinette is a great illustration of a Christian’s hope. Carinette is an orphan who has already been adopted, but she has not yet been picked up by her new daddy. But, since she knows that she is going to be picked up soon, she lives with a joyous hope of what is going to happen any day now!
Christians live every day in world much different from the rest of those living around them who haven’t been adopted by God yet. Carinette called her different world, “home-to-be,” because she knew she was going there soon.
Like Carinette, this world is not our home! We’re foreigners here (“… elect exiles (verse 1)”); orphans that have been adopted, we just haven’t been picked up yet.
In the meantime... Our Father has given us a Teddy Bear (His Holy Spirit) to comfort us and keep us company and to be a constant reminder of His love for us and that He is coming soon to pick us up. “Till then we’re to live with our hearts headed home.”
That’s what Peter’s talking about in our passage. In verse 3 he says that we’ve been adopted (those who’ve received Jesus)!
It’s just that we’re still living in the orphanage – this world, which is not our home! The Bible tells in John 3:16 that God came looking to adopt all the orphans in the orphanage - “For God so loved the world that whosoever…” and those who accept His offer become His adopted children. Like Carinette, no-one earns this. God just wants us as in his family!
A. This Hope is for CHRISTIANS Only! “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope ...” Verse 3
(1) I love how Paul makes this point in Ephesians 1:1-14 when seeking to encourage them to stay strong in their faith, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
We are the King’s property! We became God’s precious and protected possession until He comes to pick us up!
(2) God didn’t have to adopt us any more than anyone has to adopt anybody. He didn’t birth us into sin, so He has no responsibility of delivering us from sin. But, because of His great love and mercy He acted to save us from our sins. Romans 5:8, ”God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”
Like the good Samaritan, God didn’t just walk by us in our pitiful condition and wish us luck. He stopped, cleaned us up; provided for our needs, then went even further and adopted us into His family.
When I was in Seminary I visited Henry, who was on Death Row awaiting his execution. When I entered the visitation room Henry was already sitting there. He looked up and asked me if I was a Christian. I said, "Yes. Are you? He said, "No." I then said, "Would you like to be?" He said that he would and we spent the rest of our time together sharing the Gospel of Jesus. At the end Henry received Jesus as his personal Savior. He was sill on our Death Row, but was no longer on God's because he'd been adopted. One day he'll be going to his "home-to-be." Do you know for sure you’ve been adopted?
B. This is a LIVING Hope! “..new birth into a living hope...” Verse 3b
Our’s is a “living” hope vs. those who do not know Jesus as their Savior! 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14a says, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again …”
I often share this hope at gravesides reminding folks there will be a great reunion one day. My wife and I recently went to her 50th High School reunion. She got to see classmates that she hasn’t seen in years. It was great fun and a great celebration.
We have this hope of a future reunion with Jesus and our loved ones who've died in him. And, it's a “fixed hope; a clear and sure vision of what God will do for us in the future.” It’s not in doubt … unlike a lottery or even the weather.
A truly saved person cannot and will not say, “I hope I am saved,” because he knows he is saved (verse 8); and knowing this, he lives looking forward to his “home-to-be.”
There a story of a little boy standing at the foot of an escalator in a large department store, intently watching the handrail. He never took his eye off the handrail as the escalator kept going around and around. A salesperson saw him and finally asked him if he was lost. The little boy said, “Nope! I’m just waiting for my gum to come back!”
That’s a living hope! Do you have this living hope? Do you know for sure you will go to heaven when you die?
C. This hope is Defined by Our INHERITANCE! Verses 4-6
(1) Maybe you have received an inheritance. You didn’t do anything to earn it! And somebody had to die for you to get it!
We tried to get my mom to spend ours. We'd tell her, “Enjoy it. You earned it!” She did a few things, but she was determined to leave us something. I think it was because when she and my dad were a young married couple with three kids, her dad gave them their inheritance, a house. She wanted us to have this joy!
God wants to bless us too. Not because we deserve it or have earned! And even though it meant that His Son had to die to make it possible, He gave because He wants to give us this joy!
We have an “inheritance” waiting for us “in Heaven.” It’s being kept there for us. “It can never perish (can’t spend it all); it can never spoil, and it can never fade. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now, for a little while (compared with forever), you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
This reminds me of the old television show, "The Fear Factor." The contestants faced all sorts of terrible circumstances but once they got through all the yucky, scary stuff ... they won a lot of money. We face some "yucky stuff" in life too, but in the end we will receive our heavenly inheritance.
(2) Peter was writing to Christians who were scattered to the four winds (verse 1) suffering all sorts of trials and he didn’t want them to get discouraged. He wanted them to be thinking about their awesome inheritance instead – and to be happy!
It's similar to “Little Orphan Annie” who sang, “It’s a hard knock life for us! Don't it feel like the wind is always howlin'? Don't it seem like there's never any light? Once a day don't you want to throw the towel in? Well it’s easier than puttin' up a fight.
No one's there when your dreams at night get creepy, no one cares if you grow or if you shrink. No one dries when your eyes get wet and weepy, from all the cryin' you would think this place would sink. Empty-Belly Life! Rotten, Smelly Life! Full of sorrow life! No tomorrow life! No one cares for you a smidge, when your in an orphanage! It's the hard knock life.”
God knows there are times we need some HOPE; when life gets tough … maybe even rotten and smelly!
Max says we tend to “grow accustomed to the hard bunks and tin plates,” as we live as strangers in the world. But, like Carinette, although we’ve been “adopted, we’ve not yet been transported. We know our Father’s name, but we haven’t seen his face. So, here we are, caught between what is and what will be.”
So, How do we keep our hearts headed home?
We live by faith! And as our faith is refined, it is proved to be genuine, and God is brought the glory! (verse 7)
As Annie was waiting for Daddy Warbucks to pick her up the other orphans encouraged her with a song, “You won’t be an orphan for long. Oh, you won't be an orphan for long! Where other men would call it quits and disappear; He'll use his fortune and his wits; So never fear; Cross the street Or cross the sea; Annie, sweet, We guarantee - that you won't be an orphan for long.”
Our response to our waiting time reveals we’ve been adopted (or not)! In the meantime remember, you won’t be an orphan for long!