Could you use some hope?

hopeHaven’t we all had those moments in our lives when we’ve made life investments based on flawed assumptions? And now maybe you’re coming to a point in your life in your 20’s or your 30’s or 40’s or 50’s or 60’s or whatever it is, and you say, “I thought this and I did that; and now I am living in so much regret.” Or, “I’d hoped this and I went after that; and now I find myself in need of resurrection in my own life.”

There was a guy in the Bible who felt exactly like that. He was a close friend of Jesus. He was a fisherman, a guy named Peter. He began to wonder if he’d had some flawed assumptions about Jesus. He began to wonder whether or not he had made a bad life investment and misplaced his hope when he decided to follow Jesus.

But I want you to know what he wrote one day. In 1 Peter 1:3, he wrote, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

You see, he found out his assumptions about Jesus weren’t flawed. Did you notice those two words: hope and resurrection? There are a lot of things in life that get way overrated: sports teams, some movies, some restaurants, cars. Youth is completely overrated. (Hair) There are

Lots of things in life that are just way, way overrated.

But I’m telling you this: hope is not one of them. We all need hope. What’s really cool is that the New Testament contains the word ‘hope’ 71 times: hopelessone time before the resurrection of Jesus; 70 times after the resurrection of Jesus.

When the Bible talks about hope, it’s not talking about mere optimism. It’s not talking about some hyped-up, rose-colored, power-of-positive-thinking kind of hope. It’s talking about real hope, a get-up-off-the-mat kind of hope.

It’s a hope that can sustain you through the hard times of life, a hope that can come along and heal your pain, a hope that can wash away your shame and regret. It’s a hope that can give you the power to recover from those bad life investments you made, a hope that really can breathe life into an empty shell because it’s a living hope. It’s a life-changing kind of hope. It’s a resurrection kind of hope.

Have you ever noticed that hope always begins in the darkest places? Think about that. One of the most common symbols of Christianity is a cross. There’s lots of artwork of crosses. Many of you wear a cross around your neck. But the cross originally was a cruel instrument of execution. Today it would be like somebody wearing a little electric chair or lethal injection needle around their neck. Wouldn’t that be weird?

Yet we wear crosses because God took darkness and brought it into the light. God took despair and brought hope out of it. God took death and brought about resurrection. Think about it: What is the single worst thing that can happen to you in your life? Single worst thing is death, right? You can go through many other things, and you can get expert advice from other people on making life investments financially or vocationally or relationally. But who are you going to get advice from about death?

You can’t get advice about death from anybody else. Why? Because everybody who has died is … still dead. Except one. And that’s why I’ve decided that I’m going to trust the one who died and was buried and who rose from the dead. If there’s power that can raise Jesus from the dead, that power can help us in any circumstances that we deal with in life. He’s alive. Who else would you rather trust?

Look at that verse again from 1 Peter 1:3, In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

New birth: Peter was talking about a new beginning, a fresh start. And that’s what Jesus Christ did for him. That’s what Jesus Christ did for me, too.

I grew up in Frankford, Delaware. I was 12 when I was baptized, but I question whether or not I really was serious about Jesus being the manager of my life.

hope 2I was a guy who had a lot of flawed assumptions about life and a lot of flawed assumptions about God and a lot of flawed assumptions about my own self-importance. Outwardly I was a pretty fun guy. I looked like a guy who had it together. But on the inside where the real truth resides, I was dying. I was so empty; and to be honest, I was really, really lonely.

When I was 14, the church group I was a part of came to Richmond to a week of summer camp. It was at Pocahontas State Park, right here in Chesterfield Co. It was the only time we ever used the park facilities for a church camp. During that week I made a commitment to give my life to serving God full time in some kind of ministry involvement. I was serious about the decision at the time. But that commitment soon waned as well.

Then, during the second half of my senior year in HS I decided it was time to decide once and for all where I stood with God and quit making empty resolutions and being just an empty shell. I had come to the point where I had to answer the question of whether or not I believed that Jesus Christ has life-changing power. I surrendered my life to his leadership and meant it that time. And God gave me a fresh start; he gave me a new beginning, a completely new direction in life. 

So I want to ask you: What about you? Are you ready?

 

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