1 Peter 1:3-5
“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope…” vs. 3b
8 yr. old Signs with the Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday (4/7/15) signed Georgia native Lake Bozman, an eight-year-old boy with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, to a one-day contract, per an official team release. Bozman was the recipient of the honor as part of “Bert’s Big Adventure,” a non-profit organization that provides families with children suffering with chronic or terminal illness with a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World. Sadly, Bozman isn’t able to make the trip to the Magic Kingdom, so “Bert’s Big Adventure” and the Hawks teamed up to do something wonderful for the brave boy and his family as a replacement. With the assistance of Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer and team CEO Steve Koonin, Bozman instead was treated to a VIP experience by the Atlanta NBA team. The youngster was one of 14 kids selected for this year’s “Big Adventure” and traveled from his home in Kennesaw on Monday to the studios of “The Bert Show,” a nationally syndicated radio show, where he was informed of his upcoming Hawks experience. Bozman and mom Anna, dad Travis, brother Trindon and sister Cambree received private transportation on Tuesday to Philips Arena where the youngster was signed to a one-day contract. He also received an official team jersey, took in the team’s warm-ups before hosting the Phoenix Suns and toured the locker room before sitting in courtside seats for the game. Here are a few pictures of his experience. Here he is signing the contract and then the press conference afterward, another with the coach, here he is getting the autograph of a teammate, here he is at his seat on the bench, one at his locker, and then finally every athlete’s dream, one with the cheerleaders.
Established in 2002, Bert’s Big Adventure is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World® for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families. To qualify for Bert’s Big Adventure, children must be between the ages of 5 and 12, live in “The Bert Show” radio listening area, prove financial need and have never been to Walt Disney World®. Following the annual trip, Bert’s Big Adventure provides year-round support through initiatives such as the Reunion Adventures, the Fairy Godparent volunteer program and additional charitable services. The trip and programs create a community of families that establish lasting friendships with others facing similar challenges.
I love stories like this one. They are fun, creative, positive, and they bring a little joy into someone’s life who is going through a big struggle. I also think it gives them something to look forward to, some amount of achievement and a little hope for moving forward. We have just experienced an incredible event, Easter, the realization that Jesus conquered death and completed our salvation. That brings hope. Peter writes about that in 1 Peter and we are going to look at his words today from ch. 1 verse 3-5. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – 1 Peter 1:3-5
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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
40 More Days
After the resurrection of Jesus, He didn’t just rise to be with God and that was it. No, there were some pretty incredible things that took place. First, he appears to Mary and Mary and the disciples, he interacts with them, eats with them, teaches them, and spends some time making sure everyone knew that he was alive and that things were different, God is in control and they were encouraged to go everywhere they could and spread the good news. Another great thing happens in Acts 1 is that as he is being taken away, he is blessing them. It seems like he is charging them what to do but he is actually blessing them.
But think of this as well; here is Peter, the one who denied him, turned his back on him in his darkest hour, and he has every reason to feel he is unworthy of Jesus time and forgiveness. Yet, Jesus appears to him, spends time with him teaching him and encouraging him, and then blesses him. That speaks volumes to us about our relationship with God. He does that for Peter and he does that for us as well.
The Reason and Theme of His Message
Now we have this great book of 1 Peter. Peter wants to really make sure the Jews understand the gospel fully and recognize that Jesus really was the Son of God. He want s them to understand that salvation is through Jesus. That is his theme – salvation. But he also wants to prepare them. For what? Because he knows better than anybody that when they do accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, the can expect to suffer. That is his reason for writing the book. He wants to make sure they know they will be persecuted. They will suffer. But it is all worth it when we realize what Jesus did for each of us.
The Benefits of New Birth
Peter starts with a concept that is essential to understanding who God is; mercy. So he starts this important message in verse 3 by saying:
“In his great mercy he has given us new birth…” vs. 3b
Mercy is: kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly, kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation,
compassion shown to an offender, and a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion.
Peter understands mercy because he has experienced it. He’s felt it. Not only did he feel the forgiveness of God and the release of the guilt, he had to forgive himself, put the part of his life behind him and be willing to move forward. It’s a funny thing about actually experiencing something like that (mercy), you want other people to have the same experience. You want others to have that joy, peace and love that you feel. When you get to that point, you grasp how deep and full God’s love for you is, an you realize that there are benefits to new birth, to accepting the work of Jesus on the cross and his victory over death, and the free gift of salvation that God provides for us.
1. Living Hope
The first benefit is that you experience a living hope. Peter writes in verse 3:
“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” vs. 3
Sometimes people mistake hope for something impossible that can’t happen, happening. But notice a few things about this verse:
1. Underline “into a living hope.” Peter felt great despair when Christ was crucified. He, in a sense, saw his hope die. But, when he sees the risen Christ, he now knows that this hope is different than any hope the world can offer. This is a living hope. A hope that since Christ lives again, we live again.
Ill. Man’s desire to find something to combat death and live longer. i.e. the fountain of youth, a magical formula, etc.
2. Second, underline ”the resurrection of Jesus Christ” How do we know Jesus really rose again? There were eyewitnesses. Peter, the disciples, the men on the road to Emmaus, etc.
Now let me follow this up with a passage form 1 Tim. 4:10:
“That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God…” 1 Tim. 4:10
Again, underline “the living God.” We serve the living God. Let me illustrate this by showing you a few pictures:
Here is a picture of the grave of the Confucius
Here is a picture of the grave of the Buddha
Here is a picture of the grave of the Mohammad
Here is a picture of the grave of the Bahá’u’lláh
I think you get the idea. You know what is kind of funny? We don’t have a tomb for Christ. According to early Christian sources the Church of the Holy Sepulchre occupies the location where Jesus is said to have been entombed. A second site claimed by a group of Protestants says it’s a place just outside of Jersulem called the Garden Tomb. The truth is, we don’t have one because we don’t need one. Like other religious leaders, he’s not dead. No tomb is needed.
When you don’t have this hope, you are trying to earn your salvation. When you have to earn your salvation you are on the spot every day. Every day you have to do enough good things to get to heaven. That is tiresome. That is exhausting. That’s not hope, that uncertainty.
2. An Inheritance
The second benefit of new birth is that we have an inheritance. Verse 4 says:
“…and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” vs. 4
Just a quick reminder; an inheritance is something you gain when someone dies. No other religion offers an inheritance. They promise life. They promise wealth. They promise lots of things, but not an inheritance. Jesus died. If he didn’t, we wouldn’t be offered an inheritance. He died but rose again. So putting these first two points together is that we have a living inheritance. Jesus died, rose again, and now we share in the inheritance with him. We are his co-heirs (Rom. 8:17). So we gain everything that the Son of God gains as well. We don’t go to an empty nothingness or state of bliss but to be with God and we gain a home, food, etc. all that can never spoil, fade or perish. Now we have a sign that this is true and we find that in Eph. 1:13-14:
“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession…” Eph. 1:13-14
I know I have had you underline a lot today but would you do it one more time? Underline “marked with a seal.” You have an identity marker on you that shows you have taken Jesus as Savior and Lord and you can now be identified by the Holy Spirit that lives in you. That is your deposit as it says in the verse.
Ex. Think about making a deposit at a bank (for our sake say WFB). You go down and put money into an account and you are now identified with WFB. When you received Jesus as Savior and Lord God makes a deposit in you, the Holy Spirit, and that identifies you with Him. It’s a guarantee that you belong.
3. A Shield of Power
Finally a third benefit of our new birth is that we gain a shield of power. Verse 5 says:
“…who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. vs. 5
This is great news. It means you don’t have to depend on your own power. Our power is limited. Our power is not sufficient for what we need to get through life. Our power is probably not enough to stop Satan’s ploys to lure us away. But you have additional power. You have his power. Let me give it to you in picture form from Eph. 6:16:
“Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Eph. 6:16
Here’s the picture. When men of ancient times went to war they carried shields. We still use shields today but most armies use natural shields like buildings, etc. as shields. You have this big shield that stands in front of you and stops anything that gets thrown your way. You just have to trust the shield. I am not talking about some little round metal thing that can barely stop a small rock. No, I am talking about a full body, head to toe, shield that can absorb anything thrown your way, including flaming arrows.
Ill. It might look like this (show picture)
Your shield is big enough, strong enough, and durable enough, to stop anything that comes your way. You just have to use it. Could you imagine having such a protection but then not using it? It would be like walking into war and not taking it with you or just leaving it down next to you. It’s there, but it’s not going to do it’s job if you don’t trust it and rely on it and use it!
So how do you get that? Great question.
The Eighteen Benedictions
There is a great tradition the Jewish people of this time had. Let me explain it and challenge you to use that same thing in your life.
Peter had learned in synagogue as a young boy how to pray and the importance of prayer. A typical Jewish prayer was called the Shemoneh Esreh which means the 18 benedictions which was a series of blessings to God. That’s how he starts this book. Notice the start of our passage in verse 3:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” vs. 3a
Two notes about this.
1. When you start this way you are inviting God into the situation or that part of your life. You acknowledge that you want him there and are trusting him.
2. It changes our focus. When you focus on the good things, the blessings, the gifts of your life the bad, hard, and tough situations tend to take a back seat and not be so difficult.
Remember, Peter is writing this book because he knows that those who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord will face tough times, will face persecutions.
Our prayers need to have more blessing to God in them.
The following are short prayers based on Scripture. They are very useful in setting the tone for a time with God, and for thinking thoughts based on Scripture.
Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
But you are the true God, the living God, the one only living and true God, and the eternal King.
This is the message we have heard of you, and declare it to be true: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? Who is like the LORD among the sons of the mighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
There is not any creature that has an arm like God’s, or can thunder with a voice like his?
You are God our Maker, and teach us more than the beasts of the earth and make us wiser than the birds of the sky.
Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.