What are your hopes in life? Put them on the board.
What sort of hopes are these? Are they knowable, predictable, or even certain?
These are good hopes and achievable hopes but they are not certain and many things can change the outcome of these hopes.
What can happen to these hopes? They can disappear very quickly. The rug can be pulled out and they are gone.
What drives our hopes?
A few of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours.
Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!
Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should is effect be on our lives.
These rats were driven purely by the hope of survival. So what drives your hopes? Is it these things on the board, they are fine but ultimately very easily gone. If we lose these things or these hopes do not eventuate where does this leave us? Sometimes it can leave us depressed and downhearted. Sometimes searching for a new hope in the wrong places and other times with no hope at all.
Today, We are going to read out a simple verse. One often quoted from the bible.
1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
What do you think this verse is saying?
Hope is an essential feature of Christian experience and here Peter urges us always to be ready to share why we believe, why we have hope.
So what is this hope we have, where did it come from, and what type of hope is it?
Peter had previously spoken about the hope we have as Christians in 1 Peter 1:3, 4. Turn there.
What was Peter’s occupation? A Fisherman. What do you think Peter’s biggest hope would have been each day? Probably to catch a boat full of fish each time he went out fishing.
Then Peter met Jesus Christ and his hopes changed.
Read 1 Peter 1:3, 4: In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you …
Where does Peter believe his hope comes from? Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we know Jesus Christ died and was brought back to life not just for Peter but for all who believe in Him, so this hope belongs to us all.
What is this hope we have, a hope of what? Look at the verse again from 1 Peter: 3-4. And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you … The hope we have is eternity with Christ, a never perishing, never spoiling or never fading hope. If you are a Christian this inheritance is already kept in heaven for you.
Earlier in the verse how is this hope described? A living Hope. What do you think is meant by that? This hope is active now; you can have this hope now. It is available to you now; you don’t need to wait for eternity. The bible uses a number of different metaphors to describe the idea of hope.
Read Hebrews 6:19. How is hope described here? An anchor, an anchor for the soul.
An anchor is normally associated with what? A ship. What does it do for the ship? It keeps it safe and secure.
For a boat an anchor is always there even when the water is calm. The anchor stops the boat from slowly drifting toward the shore and potential danger. Sometimes the anchor is used to stop the boat from drifting backwards, from losing ground. The captain of the boat will say “I have made it this far and I am not going to be carried back” so he lowers his anchor to keep from losing ground. Then the other use for the anchor is during the storms to keep the ship from being completely destroyed against the rocks and cliffs.
When I think of the original verse we read 1 Peter 3:15, Read again, a couple of questions always comes to mind and I am going to ask them to you all now.
What is the first feeling you get when someone asks you the question? Are you a Christian?
Are you able to answer “Yes” or do you look around for somewhere to hide?
If you do answer “yes”, how do you answer when they ask the question “Tell me the reason that you have hope in Jesus Christ” What would you say? Would you know what to say? Why do I believe? Can you answer that question?
Sometimes we think we need to give an elegant speech or list of facts as to why we believe in Jesus Christ and have our hope based on His eternal promise. This causes us to say nothing because we think we don’t have all the facts to present a good account. This is not the case; sure we can give plenty of logical reasons for our hope, even scientific arguments from biology, cosmology, genetics, anthropology, archaeology and geology but the best reason we can ever give is what is in our heart.
If you don’t believe in your heart that Christ is who He said he is and did for you what the bible says he did then there is no way anyone else is going to believe you either regardless of any facts you present.
Once you believe this yourself the hope you have will change, like Peters did, from a hope that desires only the things of this world that perish and fade away to an eternal hope which has Jesus Christ at its very centre, an eternal hope.
I like the story about a boy and his father who were planning a fishing trip for the next day. That evening as the father was putting his son to bed; the boy hugged his father’s neck and said, “Daddy, thank you for tomorrow.”
When you go to bed tonight think of the hope we have just talked about, think of the hope that Jesus Christ has given to you and be encouraged and thank Him for tomorrow and the hope of eternal life that comes with every tomorrow whether you have just one left of many.