Hope is Found, Easter, March 27, 2016

“No matter how devastating our struggles, disappointments, and troubles are, they are only temporary. No matter what happens to you, no matter the depth of tragedy or pain you face, no matter how death stalks you and your loved ones, the Resurrection promises you a future of immeasurable good.” -Josh McDowell
– Hope is Found – the tomb is empty (Luke 24:1-8)
– Hope is found and we are no longer in our sins ( 1 Cor. 15:17)
– “The cross is the victory, the resurrection is the triumph… The resurrection is the public display of the victory, the triumph of the crucified one.” (Leon Morris)
– Hope is found and we can all be made alive! (1 Cor. 15:22)
– Hope is found and we will be resurrected (Rom. 6:5)
– Hope is found and death no longer has dominion (Rom. 6:9)
– Hope is found and we can have a new life (Rom. 6:4)
– Hope is found and there is no one to condemn us (Rom. 8:34)
– Hope is found and we do not grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
– Hope is found and anyone can be saved (Rom. 10:9)

Good Things, Part 2 – The Origin of Favor, March 20, 2016

The Origin of Favor (Luke 15:22-24)
– God’s giving always follows His forgiving
– God’s favor is unearned. It’s based purely on relationship and identity iwth God. God’s favor is not about who you are. It’s about whose you are.
– He does amazingly good things for a son who does not deserve it.
– the robe (Isa. 61:10)
– the ring
– the sandals (v.15 – “joined himself to a citizen of that country”. To “join himself” meant to be taken into slavery)
– when we are living without God we are slaves
– two trees – the tree of mercy and the tree of favor
– the tree of mercy – mercy is like a judge finding you guilty but then withholding any punishment
– the tree of favor – favor is like the same judge then awarding you $10 million and making you his beneficiary after finding you guilty
– God’s mercy doesn’t give us what we deserve, God’s favor gives us what we don’t deserve.
– God’s favor is unearned. It’s based purely on relationship and identity with God.
– God’s favor is not about who you are but whose you are (2 Cor. 6:18)
– Matt. 7:11 – He’s interested in you in every way
– He wants you to be confident in His favor towards you
– He has come to proclaim the year of God’s favor

Good Things, Part 1 – God is in the Good, March 13, 2016

Luke 4:14-21, John 3:16-17
1. When God turned toward us through His Son, Jesus, it was the beginning of the never-ending year of the Lord’s favor (Ps. 30:5)
2. God’s goodness is based on an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 32:40)
  – when God makes a covenant, He keeps it – “I wil lnot turn away from doing good to them” (ESV version)
3. God’s goodness is promise based and not performance based (James 1:17)
  – be a good finder – develope a mindset to find the good everywhere

Fortress: Fortifying the Focus of our Hope, March, 6, 2016

– 1 Peter 1:1-25
– Foritfying the focus of our hope (v.13)
1. Our cjob is to fortify the focus of our hope
A. that is the primary exhortation in this passage
B. what it means to “rest your hope fully”
  1. it means to “set your hope perfectly, unchangeably, without doubt and despondency”
  2. as the NASV puts it: “fix your hope completely on the grace…”
  3. therefore Peter is exhorting us to make our hope one that is complete, strong, and not wavering
C. the cultivation of a strong hope is therefore a Christian responsibility
  1. we have a duty to develop and fortify our hope
  2. just as we need to cultivate patience, self-control, etc., so we need to cultivate our hope
  3. for without a hope that is strong…
    a. our faith may waver
    b. we are subject to fear, doubt, and depression
  4. yes, the cultivation (or fortifiction) of our hope is essential to living joyfu and victorious lives as Christians
2. Identifying the focus of our hope
A. as defined in verse 13, our hope is…
  1. the “grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”
  2. i.e., the unmerited favor that we will receive when Jesus comes again
B. as alluded to in the preceding twelve verses, our hope is…
  1. the “inheritance…reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4)
  2. the wonderful praise, honor, and glory we shall receive when He comes
  3. the complete and final salvation of our souls from sin and its effects
  4. the receiving of our wonderful inheritance, the heavenly city, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that does not fade away
3. What is necessary to fortify the focus of our hope
A. “Gird up the loins of your mind”
  1. “gird up” is an oriental expression
  a. it refers to the act of gathering up around the waist the long, loose robes warn by those in the east
  b. such “gathering up” was necessary or one’s progress in running or some other act of exertion would be impeded
  2. with the use of this metaphore, Peter is saying…
  a. we must put out of the mind all things that would impede the free action of the mind in connection with developing our hope
  b. we must put out of the mind such things like worry, fear, or obsession with material possessions
  3. i.e., remove anything and everything that is not conducive to having a strong hope in the coming of our Lord
  a. such as carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life (Luke 21:34-35)
  b. such things as these “choke” us and hinder our ability to bear fruit (such as the fruit of a strong hope) (Luke 8:14)
B. “Be sober”
  1. the word “sober” means “to be calm and collected in spirit, to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect”
  2. it is that state of mind in which the individual is self-controlled, able to see things without the distortion caused by worry or fear
  3. i.e., to fortify the focus of our hope requires a calm and serious attention to the task at hand (Luke 21:36)
  4. we cannot cultivate and fortify a strong hope if we are so “weak-minded” that we allow things to divert us away from our true calling

Conclusion
1. And what is our calling?  To sojourn through this life as pilgrims, but with a hope that is resting fully upon the grace we will receive when Christ comes again!
2. The problem with many Christians today is NOT that they have no hope…
  a. But that their hope is weak and shallow
  b. And that is because they are preoccupied with the affairs of this temporary life
3. To remain faithful to the Lord, we need to heed Peter’s exhortation to fortify the focus     of our hope by…
  a. Freeing our minds of those things which would hinder us
  b. Being more serious about the kind of lives our Heavenly Father  would have us live