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Heaven & Hard Times
#2 in a series of studies on 1 Peter

(This study has valuable lessons for both mature Christians and new believers!)

What does Peter speak of that Christians can look forward to?

1 Peter 1:4

Have you ever made reservations for a vacation resort?  Well, Peter assures us that every Christian has a special place "reserved in heaven", the greatest paradise of all time! 

Here on earth, we're used to things breaking down, rusting away, and "giving out" on us.  Everyday, thousands of people return to the store with brand new items that are defective.  Even the newest and most expensive cars and computers aren't always as dependable as they were designed to be.  But Peter promises that this isn't the case with heaven.  This is a place that God Himself has constructed (John 14:1-3, Hebrews 11:10), as opposed to the faulty inventions of mankind.  Everything in heaven is "incorruptible", "undefiled", and none of it will ever fade away!  In Matthew 6:20, Jesus advises us to "Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."

How does the Bible describe the great place called heaven?

Isaiah 65:17 & 21-25       Revelation 21:1-4 & 22:1-5       Isaiah 35:5-10

What did God do in order to make heaven accessible to us?

1 Peter 1:3 & 18-21

Though our world has rebelled against the Lord (Isaiah 53:6) and our first parents chose sin over their relationship with God (Genesis 3), and though this sinful nature has passed it's way down to everyone of us (Romans 5:12) and though our hearts are desperately bent on doing evil (Jeremiah 17:9), none of this changes the way that God feels about us!  This was demonstrated in the fact that Jesus died, not for righteous people (for on one is righteous without God; 1 John 1:10), Christ died for sinners!  (Isaiah 53:5, Romans 5:6-11)

Peter explains that the "abundant mercy" of God was evident in the gift of His Son.  He has "begotten" and "redeemed" us through the precious "blood of Christ" and His "resurrection", so "that your faith and hope might be in God".  The world has never witnessed a clearer presentation of God's true character of love since the day when that precious blood was spilled upon the soil of Mount Calvary (1 John 4:9-20). But not only did Jesus die, He rose up from that rocky tomb, leaving death and the grave as a conquered enemy.

Christ blazed the trail that leads to everlasting life, and now we have the wonderful privilege of being able to come to God each day so that we can receive a fresh supply of the water of life (Revelation 22:17; Isaiah 55:1; John 4:14). Not only so, but the joys of heaven surely await us!

When we realize just how much God has already accomplished for us (both on the cross and in our own past), what kind of an attitude should we have?

1 Peter 1:5

Peter says that we can "rejoice with joy unspeakable" as we consider the Lord's "abundant mercy" and the fact that "we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation".  This is the power sustains us and keeps us committed to Jesus even when we are faced with "heaviness through manifold temptations".  The truth of the matter is that these hard times and trials often serve to strengthen our relationship with God and teach us to be more dependent upon Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:7-11 & 17)  Even if we find ourselves in a difficult and stressful situation, we can have joy and peace knowing that we are never alone (Matthew 28:20) John 16:33  Jesus is there with us and He is able to turn that temptation or trial into a character building experience. (James 1:2-4)

How does Peter describe these trials and what words of
encouragement does he provide?

1 Peter 1:7-9

The apostle declares that "the trial of your faith" is "more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire".  A close encounter with fire isn't usually pleasant, but the Lord sometimes allows these fiery trials to refine our relationship with Him and prepare us for His kingdom, in order that we "might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ".   Paul also said that we can view our hardships in a positive light, knowing that this is one of the ways in which true Christian character is formed (Romans 5:3-5).  And the best part of all: even though we've never seen Jesus face to face, we can rejoice and have faith in the fact that one day in heaven, we will "see His face" (Revelation 22:4), and from there, we'll realize that all the troubles and perplexities that we experienced in this life were so small compared to an eternity with Jesus! (Romans 8:18; 1 John 3:2)

Whatever your trial is today, whether it be a financial struggle, shattered health, a broken spirit, or anything else; don't try to bear it yourself!  Give your burdens to Christ, for the Bible says that He has already "borne our griefs and carried our sorrows".  (Isaiah 53:4; Psalm 37:39)  Jesus has  the solution to any problem you may be facing.  Won't you talk to Him about it today?

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