Summary: Last of a five part series frm 1 Peter about finding hope for our lives.
Read 1 Peter 4:7-11
The end of all things is near… (V.7)
• Letter probably written by Peter in mid 60’s AD
• By then Christians were beginning to undergo persecution by Nero
• Peter sees what is happening and thinking back to the words of Jesus believes that the return of Jesus is near
Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
Matthew 24:33 (NIV)
• From a human standpoint the situation looks hopeless: Christians are undergoing suffering and persecution.
• We know from some of Paul’s earlier letters, like 1 and 2 Thessalonians, that people had lost their hope and they tended to respond to their loss of hope in one of two ways:
o Some had resorted to an ungodly lifestyle, reverting to lives full of sexual immorality and drunkenness
o Others had just withdrawn from society and become idle, figuring Jesus would return again soon, so that there was no sense doing anything at all.
HOW DO I REGAIN MY HOPE WHEN IT SEEMS LOST?
1. Ask God to let me see my situation from His perspective
Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (v.7)
• When we’re in a situation that looks hopeless there is a tendency to go to one of two extremes:
I think what Peter is telling us here is that we need to avoid both extremes.
“Be calm and collected in spirit with a view to giving yourself to prayer.”
Today we might say, “be cool” or “chill out”.
An astronaut bound for the moon was asked, “How will you get off the moon?”
He said, “We fire the rockets and take off in our module.”
“But what happens if it doesn’t fire?”
He said, “Then we’re stuck.”
“How long will your life-support system last?”
The reporter then asked, “May I ask you what you will do those last six hours?”
“Sure,” he said. “I’ll work on the engine!”
That’s what Peter is saying here. When all hope seems to be lost, don’t panic, but don’t just sit there and do nothing either. And the purpose for being clear-minded and self-controlled is so that we can pray. But what do we pray? I think Peter gives us a clue what we should pray back in verse 1 of this chapter:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude…
1 Peter 4:1 (NIV)
Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him.
1 Peter 4:1 (Message)
We tend to think of prayer as asking God for something, as if God were some genie in the sky just waiting to give us our three wishes. But when I look at the prayers in the Bible, especially Paul’s prayers contained in his letters, it seems to me that the real purpose of prayer is for God to help us see things from his perspective:
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe...
Ephesians 1:18. 19 (NIV)
I ask – ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength!
Ephesians 1:18, 19 (Message)
So the first thing I need to do if I want to regain my hope is to focus on God and try to see things from his perspective. That makes sense. In fact, that’s a pretty good principle to apply to every area of my life. But the second principle that Peter writes about comes as something of a surprise…
2. Focus on others
In verses 8-10, Peter makes it clear that once we focus on seeing things from God’s perspective, the next thing we need to do in order to regain our hope is to focus on others. In the self-centered world we live in today, that is not exactly how most of us would chose to do it, but God has a way of turning our world upside down:
- The world says: “hate your enemy”; God says: “love your enemy”
- The world says: “accumulate all you can”; God says: “give all you can”
- The world says: “try to earn God’s favor by your deeds”; God says, “Trust in what I’ve already done for you.”