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Hope HelpsA life without hope leads to sadness, despair, depression, or desperation. Show me a person who has lost hope and I will show you a life that is miserable and out of control. Hope is the difference between an empty, futile life and one with purpose and meaning.
God is called the God of hope! In today's sermon we will consider four aspects of hope.
A Salvation of InterestOur salvation should hold great interest for us, it was of great interest to the prophets who lived before us and it continues to hold great interest for the angels-even now.
Our treasure is in heaven, our reward is in heaven, our hope is in heaven... so the trials and tribulations of this life should not cause us to lose hope or become discouraged and give up.
God is in control. God created all things. He rules over all things. He has purposed/planned and accomplished our salvation. We should value the salvation God has given us by His grace, finding great interest in what He has done for us!
Look to GodCan you have an abundant life and lose all you have? Jesus said that in order to follow Him we must be willing to sacrifice everything. Where is the abundant life in that?!
As we come to 1st Peter we discover a letter has been written to those who are struggling. Their faith in Jesus has led to them experiencing physical persecution and affliction. Yet the letter focuses on a genuine and truly abundant life.
Things like joy, peace, and grace- now that sounds like an abundant life! But we will see that a truly abundance is not related to health, wealth, comfort, ease, nor is it related to material prosperity and excess. Lets take a closer look at something we all value- the quality of our life!
Peter the ApostlePeter wrote two epistles in order to encourage those facing persecution and affliction not to fall away. He also encouraged those who had failed in their faith that they have not been defeated, but only suffered a setback, which can serve as valuable lesson.
Knowing Christ is PeaceIn our own nation the definition of what it means to be an American is rapidly changing. Standards and norms held for centuries are rapidly eroding and being replaced. Christians who hold to the Bible are becoming increasingly the target of ridicule. Bible believers are now considered by some to be the definition of all that is hateful and intolerant within our borders. The snowball of intolerance for those considered to be intolerant seems to be gaining great political momentum. Has the stage been set for the simmering culturally war to burst out into an all out oppression of those who actually believe the Bible? Are those who seek to live by God's truth, and who hold it to be the standard of right or wrong, soon to be the target of an open season?
Although these things are difficult and challenging in our Nation right now, our lives should be characterized by a peace and calm. The winds of adversity should cause us to cling closely to the Lord. When we do, we will possess a peace that defies human explanation. 2 Thessalonians is about peace; Each chapter mentions or alludes to having peace; These provide an ever needed reminder that Christians have peace. This is especially timely for us today.
How's That Working?The average American works 40 hours a week from age 20-65. That is a total of 90,000 hours of work in your lifetime. With such an investment in work, do you think maybe it would be a good idea to consider how and why we work?
Attitudes toward work are formed by various forces in our lives. Each culture has a general attitude toward work, and like many things, that attitude fluctuates over time. Our sermon today from 2 Thessalonians 3 has commands about how we should respond to people who are unwilling to work, and commands to us regarding how Christians should work.
God Centered LifeSome lives are stable and some whose lives are unstable. There are those who are cool, calm and collected . . . seldom frazzled even in the most dire of situations. And then there are those who are like tumbleweed in the Utah salt flats. The slightest rustling of the winds of life sends them hurtling first in this direction and then in that direction.
All of us have forces in our lives that push us in a variety of directions. The degree to which we move though is determined by what holds us in place.
Think about a ship in a strong wind – two factors determine whether it is moved by the wind or not. The size of the ship and the relative size of the anchor. If the ship presents a large amount of surface area to the wind strong forces are developed to push it. But if the ship is small, a small force. And, the size and shape of the anchor makes a big difference.
What is your perspective of yourself?
When we see God for who He is, we trust Him for our salvation; That produces stability in our lives that frees us to serve others in love. In this, God, the anchor of our soul gets the glory. When God gets the glory, then we get the blessings of peace and comfort because our trust is in something unmovable and unchanging.
Deception DangersThere is a lot of deception in the world and believing a lie may have grim consequences. God has given us truth in His word that we might live according to the truth. There is a whole world out there that is twisting up the truth, for a variety of reasons. When we embrace the lie rather then the truth, we are deceived. Obviously living according to a lie will not be pleasing to God and it will not be for our good either. So it is very important for us to know the truth of God and walk in faith to be protected from deception.