Summary: Book sermon from 1 Peter. Introducing a series through the book

I Peter (*1:3)

Introduction: A man in Levelland, TX got his lost dog back after he put this ad in the paper: "Lost or strayed, Chihuahua dog answering to the name of Chico. Brilliant dog, acutely aware of national and world politics - he shakes all the time."

September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day. Statistics show that is has been on the rise in the US for the past 15 years at an alarming rate. Studies suggest there are many factors that contribute to the increase. But as I look them over and study it through, there’s something they all have in common: lost hope. Whether that’s caused by mental illness, relationships, financial stresses, or other things, they all lead to someone losing hope - hope that there’s a way out, hope that things can get better, hope that someone will care.

Like never before we live in a world that has lost hope. The arriving generations are missing it. There’s no real hope for national security - we were reminded of that on 9-11; for the drug crisis; for curing poverty; for peace. When was the last time you watched or read the news and got a sense that hope is just around the corner? NOT!

Then, I read this letter from Peter, where he puts in the introduction…

1 Peter 1:3 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,

The general message of the letter we call 1 Peter is a message of HOPE - real hope. Early radio, in the 1920’s, there was a show by Al Pearce who did a character named “Elmer Blurt, the world’s most nervous door-to-door salesman.” His running gag was that he’d approach a house, and as he knocked on the door say, “Nobody home, I hope, I hope, I hope."

It became a national catch phrase. We use a phrase today that shows our anemic view of what hope is all about.

Have you ever said something you hoped for and then said, “Knock on wood”? What that means to us is, if all goes well, and we’re lucky, and we somehow make it past Murphy’s Law, things just might possibly turn out to be OK, maybe, probably. That’s not what Peter is talking about. Typically, when we talk about hope today, what we really mean by that is, “I have a wishful thought that things might turn out OK but I really can’t control it. So, I’m saying, ‘I hope,’ but it doesn’t change anything.”

Peter’s letter is a letter of hope - Real hope that’s based on the certainties of God. Real hope is about things that are reliable and true. They just aren’t here yet.

To introduce this whole letter today, we’re just going to look at what real hope can produce in our lives. Remember the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness... Those are fruits that having the Spirit of God in our lives will produce. Peter shows us there are some fruits that real hope should produce as well. Our hope comes from the Lord, and it produces real fruit in our lives…

I. Obedience to God's Design

There were a lot of neat cars here yesterday! I like going around and marvel at the intricate designs that come together in a car. People do that - teams of people - engineers, craftsmen, financers, factory designers - it’s pretty amazing. But, you know what? We would never have been able to come up with all that if we hadn’t been able to observe design and structure in nature first.

We never would have put some things in order if God hadn’t done it for us in the first place. The way we mess them up when we neglect His design is proof of that. I know that a lot of it’s not on purpose, but we sure goof things up sometimes.

One answer to those mess-ups is HOPE. Hope helps us stick to God’s design. Peter is very specific about where it can help us.

A. For family members

Joke - A marriage counselor asked a woman, "Has your husband lived up to all the things he said before you were married?"

"No, not all, but he has lived up to one of them.”

"Which one is that?"

"He said he wasn't good enough for me."

Real hope helps shape a healthy marriage - not the high hopes that you take into marriage the day of the wedding, but real hope that comes from God. There were some women in the early church who had become followers of Jesus but whose husbands had not. That’s a tough situation that can put some stress into a relationship. Listen to what Peter will tell wives that hope will do for their marriage, even if it’s a difficult marriage…

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