1 Peter 1:8-9; John 20:24-29; Romans 15:13
“As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive God of endless mercy, God of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter, bring us back the wayward son.
And by Your Spirit, breathe upon them, show the world that You alone can save
As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive!” (lyrics by Lauren Daigle)
How do dry bones relate to a living hope? What is more hopeful than our living hope – salvation in Jesus? It’s easy to get discouraged with our world and COVID, but God…but God has a plan for such a time as this.
The first step in experiencing living hope is believing the Gospel. Thomas would not believe unless he had seen the scars of Jesus’ crucifixion on His resurrected body. We may not physically see, but we can believe with faith and hope. For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Pet 1:9).
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13). “’The God of hope. ’What is hope in the abstract? Nothing! It may mean anything. But the Christian hope is a definite thing; it is the hope!... “There is no other place where joy and peace and fellowship and unity can be had” (Alva J. McClain and Herman Hoyt, Romans - the Gospel of God’s Grace, pp. 242-43).
Step 2 is fellowship together. The church is a powerful place. “People need the church more than ever before. If you’ve gotten in the groove of bacon, eggs, and PJs on Sunday morning you’re not in a groove, you’re in a rut. Come home to church” (Kevin Green, “Airborne Church” Sunday, 8/29/21).
Why should I physically attend church? “I don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with Jesus,” you may say. When you are saved, and you resist attending church, you are left as prey from the enemy without the benefits of the church body. Freedom from gathering together is not freedom! It rather leads you to rebellion. Jesus is building His church today. He said, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matt 16:18). Is that not a living hope?
Life Application Questions
1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4,12-18
How do you respond to receiving a gift? We give and receive gifts for a variety of occasions. Some people spend time in creating the gift; others have the ability to wrap the gifts creatively and some of us are really good at finding the right gift card. In James 1:17, we read “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” What kinds of gifts should we anticipate from the Father of heavenly lights?
Gifts we receive from our Abba Daddy may come wrapped in many ways. We should expect gifts of trials and expect temptation struggles on our faith journey through life. Read James 1 and 1 Peter 1: What various (picture the word, variegated-many colors) trials and temptations do James and Peter write about? “…though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:1) Trials are varied. God has grace sufficient to meet the need. God matches the trials to our strengths and needs. These “gifts” are good and used as preparation for our future ministry in eternity. One of the enemy’s tricks is to convince us that our Father is holding out on us, that He does not really love and care for us; That these “gifts” are not good after all. Have you ever felt like God was unresponsive to you during a time of trial? What trials can you identify in your life? How did you respond to these “gifts”? These gifts from God may not appear wrapped in pretty paper and tied up with a bow. They may arrive in the guise of an unmarried child’s pregnancy. It may masquerade as cancer or be wrapped in the plain brown paper of betrayal. These “gifts” can be filled with tears and pain and yet the Father of lights gives good gifts and does not change like shifting shadows.
There is purpose in the pain and there is a way through the trials and temptations. “These (trials) have come so that the proven genuiness of your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7) God keeps us in the furnace of suffering so we can reflect the glory and beauty of Jesus. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Read Daniel 3. After the Hebrew boys walked through the fire, the king declared: “They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (Daniel 3:28) What fire have you walked through that Jesus revealed himself to you or others? “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2) God says we will pass through. Life as a Christ follower means that obedience will gift you with, and take you through some difficult places. BUT “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) How do you view the “Father of lights” good gifts? “Faith enables a man both to live and to die without fear.” (Charles Spurgeon)
1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:9-14
The thing about inheritance is that someone has to die for the heirs to receive it. You may not even know that you're going to get anything until an attorney writes or phones to tell you the good news that you have been included in someone’s will.
Think of it this way. Your Father (Yahweh) has included you in his "will." But in order for you to receive the promised inheritance, his Son, Jesus had to die. The Apostle Paul explained it this way: And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit. . . . The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us [you] the inheritance he promised . . . (Ephesians 1:13b-14a). Did you notice that the entire Godhead is involved in your inheritance (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit)? And the best news is, the only thing you have to do to receive this wonderful legacy is to be "born again" into the family of God.
Do you have the assurance that you have been born into God’s family? How did your new birth come about?
As you anticipate receiving your inheritance, do you wonder how you will be cared for until you actually receive it? Does it come with a guarantee? Is there some kind of provision that you can draw on while you’re waiting? Yes, verse 14 above assures us that the very Holy Spirit of God is the guarantee. He is in you, a constant companion, counselor, comforter, and guide.
Are you drawing on the amazing provision God has made for you in the Holy Spirit? If so, how? If not, how are you going to begin?
When you know that you’ve been included in someone’s will, aren’t you curious about what's in the inheritance? Again, Paul tells us: God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth (Ephesians 1:9-10). God graciously planned to include Gentiles in the family by offering salvation to the nations, not just to his chosen people, Israel.
What’s more, the plan includes bringing everything together under the authority of Christ at the right time. Does this include wars, hurricanes, the death of Christians, and pandemics? Yes, it does! Or does it mean that you won't be persecuted for your faith? No, it doesn't! There is no way of knowing what God may allow in your life or the cause of your death. But, like the persecuted church around the world today, the Holy Spirit will be with you every step of the way. Peter assured the exiles he wrote to that ... through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation . . . (1 Peter 1:5a)
Your inheritance is ready. In the meantime, how are you living in the expectation of your inheritance? And how can you share this great hope with those who are not aware of this amazing legacy? gmd & jbd
1 Peter 1:1-2; Ephesians 2:19-22
Pillar of cloud by day, pillar of fire by night, ark of the covenant
Tabernacle, temple, holiest of holies
Glory beyond description, holiness beyond explanation, presence beyond expectation.
. . . Amazing!
God making himself known to the Israelites in many ways
Escape out of Egypt, water out of a rock, manna from above
“I carried you on eagles’ wings” (Ex 19:4).
. . . Beautiful!
The temple, God’s presence on earth—the embodiment of deity—ramped up to the highest level
The glory of the Lord filled the temple (1 Kings 8:11); “I have put my name there forever, my eyes and my heart will always be there” (1 Kings 9:3).
. . . Powerful!
Yet in somber tone God declared, “Now if my people turn away from me and do not observe my commands and decrees and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will reject this temple and it will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will scoff and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this temple?’People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord their God’” (1 Kings 9:6-9).
. . . Frightening!
Sadly, it happened (2 Kings 25:8-17)
The glory of the Lord departed from the temple (Ezek 10:18)
“My house remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house” (Hag 1:9).
. . . Disheartening!
The sadness continued; in somber tone Jesus declared,
“You have made my house a den of thieves” (Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46 KJV)
“Look, your house is left to you desolate” (Matt 23:38; Luke 13:35).
. . . The temple missing in action!
The rest of the story? Was there no hope? Jesus predicted . . .
“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” But the Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” However, the temple he had spoken of was his body! (John 2:19-21).
. . . Promising!
Paul asked, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple?” (1 Cor 3:16)
He also noted, In Christ the whole building is joined together to become a holy temple (Eph 2:21).
. . . Challenging!
Life Application Questions
Doubling down hope dreams of a different life. The first part of the double involves faith’s named patriarch. “…for he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Then, in today’s passage, the double’s second half reminds all disciples: “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 11:10 and13:14). Disciples wisely and selectively examine the future.
However, and meanwhile, disciples living outside the City of God must not become so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly good. Much of following Christ means we are vitally connected with this world’s turmoil and confusion. We do not approach this world’s life as unimportant. Herein is the challenge. Disciples live in this tumultuous life while remembering “…our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
Christ calls his disciples to the challenge with these examples: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
Looking forward to the full benefits of the City of God? Yes, disciples look forward. Engaged with the challenges of people’s daily needs? Yes, disciples are also engaged in doing all that we can, for as long as we can, providing for as many as we can. Profound decisions these choices in living toward the City of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
When picturing a city whose builder and maker is God what images come to mind?
Can you describe ways in which WL seeks to live toward our current cities and the City which is yet to come?
Are there specific actions that you believe would help disciples live faithfully in both realities as redeemed human beings and citizens of the City?