Summary: Sharing your hope.

We’re in the series "From Hurt to Hope." We’ve been gleaning encouragement from what the Apostle Peter said to the Christ followers of the first century who were being persecuted for their faith. We’ve been in 40 DAYS OF HOPE and considering a passage of Scripture every day and doing action steps, that, if you take these steps based on biblical principles, your hope will remain strong.

In the action steps in the 40 Days booklet you’ve been challenged to share your hope with others in tangible ways.

But today we’re going to look at one of the greatest ways to share hope with others.

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason of the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Normally we Christ followers talk about sharing our faith. Today we’re going to talk about sharing our hope – and there is a difference. The difference is this: when we share our faith we’re looking back. Looking back to the cross of Jesus where He died for our sins. Looking back to Christ’s resurrection, where He emphatically proved that there’s life after this life and we can have eternal life if we make a faith commitment to Him. [Sometimes we even look back as far as the Old Testament prophecies that Christ fulfilled.]

At other times when sharing our faith we look back to what we used to be before we sincerely began living for Christ. We look back at what He’s done for us. And we share those things with other people who don’t yet have faith in Christ.

But when we share hope we’re looking ahead. We’re saying to our friends and family and others who don’t yet know Christ, “Here’s why I’m confident about the future! Here’s why I’m optimistic when the rest of the world is pessimistic!” When we share our hope we’re looking ahead!

The Bible says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason of the hope that you have.” Someone says to us, “Why are you so optimistic? Why do you have joy even when bad things are happening to you? Where does this hope come from?” The Bible says, “Always be ready to answer those kinds of questions.”

Tony Dungy says in the introduction of his book, Quiet Strength, that he was hesitant to write a book about his life but people kept asking him why he had such hope in the midst of life’s adversities. He said, “I like the saying, ‘Life is hard, but God is good.’ It’s because of God’s goodness that we can have hope, both for here and the hereafter. And it’s the desire to share that hope that finally changed my no to yes."

People kept after him about revealing the source of his hope. So he shares his hope just like the Bible tells us.

How do you do that? How do you share your hope?

In the same passage that the Bible tells us to share our hope it tells us how! That’s what we’ll look at today.

What do I need to do to be ready to share my hope? What steps can I take to make sure that others will not only see my life and my hope and take heart – that’s just the first part of the equation – but also - how do I specifically help them to take the same steps that brought me hope?

I. Set apart Christ as Lord in my heart.

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord." 1 Peter 3:15a (NIV)

The word “Lord” means master; the person in charge; the one who calls the shots. We have to go from the place where we decide what’s best for our lives to the place where we trust Christ and follow His leadership about our lives. That’s the first thing that it takes for us to effectively share our hope with others.

Bill Hybels writes, “Recently, I saw a letter written by a relatively new Christian to the person whose life had influenced hers so greatly. She actually lists about a dozen qualities she found contagious in the life of this older Christian. Listen to some of what she wrote:

’You know when we met; I began to discover a new vulnerability, a warmth, and a lack of pretense that impressed me. I saw in you a thriving spirit - no signs of internal stagnation anywhere. I could tell you were a growing person and I liked that. I saw you had strong self-esteem, not based on the fluff of self-help books, but on something a whole lot deeper. I saw that you lived by convictions and priorities and not just by convenience, selfish pleasure, and financial gain. And I had never met anyone like that before.

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