Hope

1 Peter 1:3-9

1 Peter is a letter of hope in the midst of suffering. In the Bible hope is not wishful thinking, but rather firm conviction. Now according to this passage the foundation of our hope is rooted in the gracious and merciful act of God – the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. Through this act of salvation we are assured an inheritance of everlasting life! And since our salvation is secure, we can endure trials with hope!

The trials mentioned in this scripture were related to persecution. Persecution because of faith in Christ. Throughout the Roman Empire, Christians were being tortured and killed for their faith, and the church in Jerusalem was being scattered. So think about that for a minute, persecution was actually serving a very valuable purpose – it was introducing the Good News to the whole empire – it was spreading the gospel.

And just as these trials were serving a valuable purpose, trials come to us and help to refine our faith. They are also a means of testing our faith. And trials whether related to persecution for following Christ or related to catastrophe, pain, illness, or death, make us lean heavily on God’s grace.

We don’t like trials – they make life difficult! Do they not?? Yet as already mentioned they often serve a valuable purpose. So rather than respond with our typical “why me” question, or bitterness, resentment and anger, why not respond with confidence, perseverance, and courage – because those of us who believe have hope!

Confidence because God knows, plans, and directs our lives for good. Our God is a good God so we can be assured of this. And He always provides what we need – maybe not what we want – but always what we need.

Perseverance because perseverance builds character and character builds hope. Paul tells us in Romans 5:3-4 that we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Again, pointing to the value of experiencing trials and suffering.

And finally courage. Courage because with Jesus we need not be afraid. He will never leave us nor forsake us. And with Him we can do all things, as stated by Paul in Phil. 4:3 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Again, since our salvation is secure for those who believe, we can endure trials with hope! I’d like to share a poem that is very meaningful to me and I hope it will be to you as well again reinforcing the value of pain and suffering.

Malachi 3:3, reads, “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

 As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: ‘He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.’ She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’”

Pastor John Piper observes, “A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact.”  In other words, there really is no way to avoid the Refiner’s fire if we desire to become like Him because being refined, the process of being purged of our impurities, is a part of the process.”

Trials are a part of life. But the good news is when you follow Christ He uses them for our good and His glory!

Gracious God please be with Lamar, Monica and all the family who mourn the loss of their loved one. Bring them peace and comfort during this very difficult time. Help them to know that she is with You and that You are with them. 

This is a difficult time for many Lord — please help us to continue forward with confidence, perseverance, and courage during the many trials we are facing. We love You Lord and we praise Your Holy Name! Now let us pray with confidence the words our Savior taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. And all of God’s people said — amen!

And remember this virus does not impact our love for each other! It cannot stop our prayers for each other! And when we know the Lord, we have His peace……. Jesus loves you and so do I. If you need me I’m only a phone call, text, or email away…… 

Blessings,

Pastor Cathy

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