Refresh & Restore – 7/30/2020

1 Peter 1:3-5 —

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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Greetings, Sojourners (I will explain this later)!

I am excited to continue writing to you about HOPE! Hope is something that we need to carry on in our day-to-day lives. And it is hope that is missing in much of what we take in on a daily basis.

1 Peter’s original audience was dispersed from their homes and were exiles in foreign countries. They were driven out of their homes for their faith in Christ. Persecution sought to silence them, yet, for these early believers, it did not steal their hope – it made them missionaries.

Last week, our focus was on the nature of our “living hope”. We were reminded of God’s “great mercy” and how He causes “us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. We looked at what it means to be born again and why it matters that our hope – found only in Jesus Christ – is living.

This “living hope” really helps to put things in perspective. By putting our hope in Jesus Christ and what He has done/is doing/will do for us, our point of view shifts. We shift from trying to earn, work, and do to trusting in what He did for us on the cross. We shift from looking at death as an ending because the grave could not hold our King. We shift from oppressive fear of the unknown to rejoicing in being known by a God who loves us, cares for us, and knows us.

So, if today finds you feeling hopeless, isolated, and alone, I am glad that God’s word has hope to share with you in today’s passage.

If you are born again, God has something special for you. We talk a lot about it when we look at the gospel and salvation, but, sometimes, we talk about it in such an abstract way that it seems as if it is not real to us. I am talking about eternal life.

You see, our “living hope” is not just for the here and now but for the always. Remember, these exiles were torn from the homeland where their ancestors had lived in for thousands of years – all the way back to their father Abraham (had many sons…). That land was intended to pass from them to their children, grandchildren, and so on. Now, that inheritance would go to someone else.  

It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of an inheritance like that. My branch of the Harris family came out of what is now the back corner of Grenada lake. A representative came to my forefathers with a check, and, despite their disinterest in selling, bought the family plot and flooded it for our recreational pleasure. My great-grandfather and grandfather ended up in Riverdale Road in Grenada across from the airport. If you ride by now, you will not see the old home place because it was cleared out for the fence and equipment where the runway extension lights now burn.

We have all, at one time or another, fantasized about that distant rich uncle who passed away and left you millions and a mansion, but, even if no Harris had been displaced, there was no vast inheritance waiting for me. For these exiles an inheritance was expected. They were of Israel, God’s chosen people of old. There was history there between them and God – history and many promises. What could compare with that? Verse 4 lays it out: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”.

Once we are born again, we are born into an inheritance that supersedes anything that this world could offer. We are adopted into the family of the King of kings. He has an inheritance for us that is imperishable – that will neither die nor decay. It is undefiled – never be polluted or stained with sin. It is unfading – eternally fresh and flourishing. Our inheritance is full of life, peace, and perfection.

Most often, we equate this reward with Heaven. There is a street made of pure gold. Every precious stone known to man is used in the craftsmanship of its walls. There are riches there that no place on earth can even remotely begin to match. Yet it all pales in comparison to the glorious companionship we will have when we see Jesus! Eternity with Jesus is our inheritance! To echo the hymnwriter of old:

“What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see. I shall look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace…. What a day, glorious day, that will be!”

What a Day That Will Be”, Jim Hill (1955)

What can give more hope than that? The worst threats that this world can throw at us cannot offer a terror that can stand against eternity. The world can threaten us, beat us down, and even kill us, but the world’s greatest threat, death, is our greatest reward, Life (Romans 6:23, John 14:6). So, we do not have to live hopeless frightened lives because we know there is more to the story.

Furthermore, there is nothing we can do to lose that inheritance! Peter tells us that it is “kept in heaven for you” (v. 4) and that we are protected by “God’s power…being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (v. 5). Since our salvation was not paid for by us, it is not kept by us. Because our salvation rests solely on the power and might of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there is nothing that can wrestle it from His power (Romans 8:35-39). This is good news! And it should spur us on to hopeful living (Romans 8:24-25).

Just as the exiles that Peter wrote to did not cease serving the Lord when things got difficult (Acts 8:4), we must continue, patiently serving, when things get difficult. I think that Paul gives us a good example for what this hopeful living looks like in Philippians 1:21-23:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ for that is far better.”

When he penned these words, Paul was near the end of his life in a Roman prison. His sentence was death. Rather than cower in fear, he looked at his options: to live and continue preaching the gospel or to die under persecution and be with Jesus. Because of the HOPE that he had in Christ, he saw the first option as possible because his future was wrapped up in the second.

I do not know what you are going through right now, and I do not want to minimize your trials. Thankfully, we have likely not suffered in the same way that these exiles have. So, does this mean that what you are going through is not valid since it is less severe? Absolutely not! God’s Word gives us context to know that He can absolutely handle whatever situation we encounter – bad or worse. We can take whatever our situation to the Lord and trust that He has got this.

Maybe you are reading this and are at your wits end. Maybe you are contemplating giving up. Know that the “living hope” that Peter wrote about is not a hypothetical idea; that living hope exists in the person of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” If you reach out to Jesus for help, it is comforting to know that “the mighty hand of God” will reach out to pull you up rather than beat you down farther.

Jeremiah 29:11 is often taken out of context. It was originally part of a promise for Israel when their Babylonian captivity was over. But its words echo the sentiment in today’s passage: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” If you have trusted in Christ, He has not forgotten you and has “a future and a hope” for you that is far beyond anything offered in the world.

In the meantime, between now and eternity, we do not have to continue to think of ourselves as exiles and outcasts. That word can also be translated “sojourners”. A sojourn is a temporary stay. Those of us who are born again are only here temporarily – worshiping and serving our Lord until we see Him face to face. And that future gives us hope on our way.            

So, Sojourner, know that you are loved and prayed for on your journey. As always, feel free to reach out if you need anything.

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