“A Secure Hope” – 1 Peter 5:8-11 – Pastor Brian
We are finishing our series “Hope When It Hurts” from 1 Peter. In God’s timing we close our study with this truth “Hope is found in the midst of fear through God and His Word.”
Let me begin with this fairly common saying, "Past performance is no guarantee of future results." This statement is used as a warning to not assume an investment strategy will do well in the future simply because it's done well in the past. "Past performance is no guarantee of future results,” may be true with finances but not with God. God’s past performance guarantees future results. With more experiences with God in the past, the more confidence we have in His guaranteed results. What is the future He guarantees to those living by faith in Him? He guarantees a great ending. He guarantees a place where there is no more pain, or tears. He guarantees a place without death or suffering.
In today’s climate where the whole world is suffering, recall God’s past performance. Did He come through for you? Has He ever deserted you? Has He ever failed you? Recall how He worked it out for you in the past and hang onto hope because He is God and His future results are guaranteed.
Right now, you may be finding it difficult to hang onto hope because of what’s happening. Since being sheltered in place on Monday, you can sense the uneasiness. The fear of the unknown has caused panic demonstrated by the empty shelves in stores, the financial crisis, loss of businesses, loss of jobs, school closures, loss of connection with friends and family, loss of health and even loss of life. Add to that marriages and families strained with kids home, worry about the elderly, anxiety produced by the news, etc. It’s easy to see why we are overwhelmed by our fears and lose hope. But I pray you will remember the take home truth: Hope is found in the midst of fear through God and His Word. Maybe this truth makes sense but you still wonder, “Where is the hope when each day of isolation produces more doubt and fear?” How do we keep from being influenced by fear rather than by God, the ultimate influencer? Where can I find hope in the midst of fear?
Peter is addressing all followers of Jesus who were dispersed and isolated from their center of worship, Jerusalem. Sound familiar? Shelter in place is like being dispersed from our central place of worship at church. We are isolated, dispersed. It’s only been a week but being separated has been difficult. As time passes, we might even become discouraged and disheartened to be separated from worshipping together and lose hope.
Peter warns Christians then and now that the devil is a cunning and powerful enemy. My prayer is that we realize the enemy is not the person who may look at you funny because you are Asian and have the “Chinese virus.” The enemy is not the leaders of our government, who are doing their best to lead this country. The enemy is not the world leaders who have not been transparent enough to trust. The enemy is the devil, who is doing everything to cause us to doubt God’s sovereign love and lose hope.
Oddly, today’s passage informs us that it is with the devil that we begin our journey towards finding hope. What do I mean by this and how does that relate to our question, Where can I find hope in the midst of fear? Before delving into answering our main question we need to first find out, how is hope stolen?
I. The devil steals hope through FEAR. (v.8) For those who have received and believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior, the warning is clear. It says to be sober-minded and watchful for ways you can be distracted away from God. This instruction is consistent throughout 1 Peter. For this reason, we should be spiritually alert, not spiritually drowsy or lackadaisical about the devil. We need to be fully aware that God’s enemy, prowls like a roaring lion to keep us from standing firm in the grace of God.
Our greatest enemy roams around for prey like a hungry roaring lion, a hangry lion, desperately looking for prey to tear apart. How does the devil tear us apart? He tears us apart by stealing hope through fear. For example, hope is stolen through fearing the loss of security. The devil DECEIVES us about security. He lies about security. His lies tell us that wealth, prestige, or power is security. The lie is security is being married, having children, grandchildren, owning a home and retiring early. Prosperity can lull us into a false security that strains our relationship with God. We become more secure in what we own or have done rather than resting in the secure hope of God. The devil plays upon fears to steal hope. So, let’s move on and answer the question: Where can I find hope in the midst of fear?
II. God is our secure hope through FAITH in Christ. (vv.9-11) Our secure hope during this pandemic is that the lies of the devil are overcome by FAITH in Christ Jesus. In Jesus, God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us. For followers of Christ, we must hold onto this FAITH and know that God is bigger than any fear in this life. By FAITH we know that God is bigger than the COVID-19 outbreak and He will not desert His people.
There is no denying these are worrisome and anxious times. Besides the virus, verse 8 makes it even scarier for the follower of Christ because our enemy the devil is ready to steal our hope when faith is weakened by various trials. But even in these anxious times we are commanded to resist the fears of the devil through realizing that this present suffering is not new. Verse 9 reminds us that God has helped others through the same kinds of sufferings.
The advantage of being at an age where time on earth is shorter than the time we already lived is that we have lived through many things. A few of you were born and raised during the great depression. Most have lived through epidemics, race riots, internment camps, recessions, tsunami’s, hurricanes, 9/11 etc. One way to resist the devil is to remember how God has helped you and others confront fears like today.
Another way to resist as previously mentioned, is to remember, God’s past performance guarantees future results. It may take longer than expected but He always comes through. The good news of Jesus is that though our faith may be weak or frail, God is not only with us but He gives us new life. He will restore, He will complete us through trials. He will strengthen and confirm us to be more capable to withstand hardship, and He will establish us. He establishes character by making us steady and un-moveable in the face of fear. This is the promise, the secure hope, He will complete us through FAITH in Jesus.
Though the devil seeks to devour God’s people through lies and discouragement, God perfects His people by establishing within them a strong, firm and steadfast faith, “So that the tested genuineness of your faith…may be found to result in the praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1:7) Every believer is called to live a life of FAITH to lead others to Jesus in the face of fear.
We ought to be doing everything we can to fight this pandemic including preparing our hearts and souls spiritually by leaning on God and His Word and realize that “Hope is found in the midst of fear through God and His Word.”
Lion and the Lamb, Let My Words Be Few, Psalm 46, Blessed Assurance, Doxology