For God so loved…that we have everlasting life
I Peter 1:3-9

[An audio recording is not available online for this service.]

Reverend Todd Buurstra - Pastor of Worship and WitnessHow are you doing with all of the depressing news lately? I hesitate to remind you:
That the last week of January saw 100,000 jobs lost.
That the Dow Jones is down over 40% since October.
That unemployment claims have hit an all time high.

That every week there is a new Prayer Chain message for people losing jobs or homes.
And now New Jersey is #14 in the Misery Index for bankruptcies and home loss.

I hear/read all of this and I wonder how I would handle job loss like some of you. Where would I find hope in that storm? Where do you find hope with all of this depressing news?

If Paul is the apostle of faith, and John is the apostle of love, then Peter is the apostle of hope. Faith, hope and love. Indeed Peter’s people needed hope. His congrega-tion in today’s Turkey consisted mainly of slaves and feriners. This was a group that was easily spat upon, easily beaten, easily shut out of opportunity. To them God’s spirit says:
By [God’s] great mercy he has given us a new birth in to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

God didn’t offer these slaves with stripes on their backs just any old hope, but a living hope. What’s that? Ζαω–living, not in the sense of still breathing like Terri Schiavo, but really living like she used to be. Full of life, no matter how life treats you.

On this last week that I preach from his book on John 3:16, Lucado likens us to a dead car battery. He writes: I turned my ignition—no noise. So I did what anyone would do: I doused my car with a fifth of whiskey… Nothing happened. I rolled a television in front of the grill and flipped on the game [because] a good contest perks up the deadest cell, right? Not this time. So I purchased the latest issue of Pent-Garage and let my car feast its headlights on some European beauties. No response… And you think I have the IQ of a screwdriver. Who turns to booze, screens, or bodies for renewal? Too many. Far too many. The only hope for renewal in these discouraging times is the resurrected Christ. As someone once wrote: The man who knocks on the door of a brothel is seeking God.

How can we live in resurrection hope now? In one word? Repent.
Turn from the negative news. A mind can only absorb so much bad news. Soon we twitch when the boss calls our name because we expect a lay off. Or we jump when the phone rings because Grandma has probably died. Then broken shoelaces can depress us.

Turn from mostly bad news and turn toward the good news. The news that God so loved the world that God gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life! That’s a verse to attach to your refrigerator or car dashboard. Read that 3 times a day and call me in the morning. See if you don’t feel more hopeful.
One classic bulletin blooper tries to look at life positively. It reads: The Pastor will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: ‘ Break Forth Into Joy.’

And yet even with powerful positive affirmations of God’s love you may not land a job soon, your investments may never recover, and depression’s cloud may never fully lift.

So find hope by repenting from today’s news to the Good News, and perfect your hope by renewing your heavenly vision. Our apostle of hope, teaches this by writing:
By [God’s] great mercy he has given us a new birth in to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…into an inheritance that is imperishable.

In heaven God promises that all will be fully employed and fulfilled. Your garden will produce full ears of corn. As Lucado suggests, you may oversee the orbits of a distant planetary system or design a mural in the holy city. Me? I think I’ll sing great barbershop.
Heaven’s hope is that creation will be renewed. No more ozone hole so you won’t need sunscreen. No fear of bear in the woods because all creation will enjoy each other.
And, heaven’s hope will be complete in the Grand Reunion. My two aunts who always argued with Aunt Tressa doing one of these—will finally hold hands. You’ll meet your loved ones, and all believers will enjoy the incredible, inexpressible presence of God.

Even in tough times God gives hope for now and especially forever. Last Lucado story: In the early 1800s young John Todd’s parents died and he was shipped to an aunt whom he never met. She sent a servant to bring Johnny on horseback. Johnny asked:
Will she be there? Oh yes, she’ll be waiting for you, Caesar replied.
Will I like living with her? My son, you fall into good hands.
Will she love me? Ah, she has a big heart.
Will she go to bed before we get there? Oh no, you’ll see her candle in the window.
Indeed John Todd’s aunt proved to be an excellent step-mother. And so Johnny grew up to be a pastor. One day when he heard that his aunt was dying, he sent her this letter:

As are you, believer, so that you can live in hope now and forever, Amen.