Monday, April 29, 2013

"A Living Hope" Sunday School Lesson for May 5, 2013

                                    "A Living Hope"
International/Uniform Sunday School Lesson for May 5, 2013

Scripture Text: I Peter 1:3-12

Purpose: To lay hold of a holy life through the hope that is in us

1 Peter 1:3-12 (CEB)
3 May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 4 You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. 5 Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time.
6 You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials. 7 This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine. (Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.) Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor for you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you’ve never seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you trust him and so rejoice with a glorious joy that is too much for words. 9 You are receiving the goal of your faith: your salvation. 
10 The prophets, who long ago foretold the grace that you’ve received, searched and explored, inquiring carefully about this salvation.11 They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was saying when he bore witness beforehand about the suffering that would happen to Christ and the glory that would follow. They wondered what sort of person or what sort of time they were speaking about. 12 It was revealed to them that in their search they were not serving themselves but you. These things, which even angels long to examine, have now been proclaimed to you by those who brought you the good news. They did this in the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between “hope” and “wishes”? There is a tendency to think of “wishes” as something that might or might not happen short term. “Hope” is more long term, and in the life of a Christian is a certainty. Peter's letter to those early Christians in northern Asia Minor, (present day Turkey) was a message reminding them that “hope” in Christ is an assurance they can count on. Just as “hope” is not “wishes” so to “mercy” is not “pity.”

Because of God's mercy, Christians everywhere have been given an opportunity of a “mulligan” (to put it in golfing terms), we all get a “do over.” God lets us all start anew, or we are given a “new birth” or “born again.” Unfortunately we don't get that “do over” unless we are willing to put our faith and trust in God's promise of a new life, byway of the resurrection of His Son Jesus the Christ. Just as Christ obtained new life through the resurrection, we who believe, are also given new life, not only from death, but a chance to live a resurrected life. A life dedicated to teaching and following the example given to us by Christ.

The life we now live as Christians is a life filled with hope. Just like someone who has been named a beneficiary of a will, or a trust fund, we have an assurance, or insurance, that all that we hope to receive, will be given us a the proper time. God's promise is better than Prudential, Met Life, or Northwestern. This inheritance has been placed in heaven, and is under the stewardship of God, by His power.

Short term trials and troubles should not discourage us, or dampen our hope. Remember everything in this life is “short term.” I like to think of the words to Amazing Grace, the great hymn of the church. “When we have been there ten-thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing Gods praise, than when we first begun.”

You think you are having a bad day, or week or year, or even a lifetime, it is still not equal to a nanosecond in heaven.

Like gold that has been refined by fire, or any drug that has gone through thorough testing, our faith needs to withstand the heat, test, and trials that are sent our way. “Genuine faith results in praise, glory and honor..... when Christ is revealed.” (v7)

While Peter was an eye witness to Christ life, as well as his death, resurrection, and Ascension, he encourages us, who have not been witnesses, to trust his testimony as well as the testimony of all the prophets of old. The glory that awaits us is so amazing even the boisterous Peter is at a loss for words. Your inquisitiveness is not alone, Peter says, even the angels long to know the mind of God and his timetable.

Some things in life do not require “faith” such as death and taxes, but eternal life, our hope, requires us to have a genuine faith. We have many resources on which we can draw, to help us is in our faith. We have the promises of the Old Testament, the Psalms and the prophets. We have the testimony of Peter, James, John, and Paul, all eyewitnesses, and most importantly, we have the the Holy Spirit. 

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