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One of the worst things the Christian can do is take the hope of heaven for granted. Most people in the world do not have that hope-- and life is bleak indeed when a person has to live in dread of dying. But the Christian has hope because he has been born again. If we have been born into the spiritual family of God, we can look beyond the grave to a home in heaven. That hope is a treasure we ought to be thankful for.
Concerning the hope of those born again, Peter said, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you" (1 Pt. 1:3,4). Owning no greater treasure than his hope in Christ, the Christian ought to cherish that hope and make sure that nothing robs him of its fulfillment.
Since he has been born twice (once physically and once spiritually), the Christian has but one death to anticipate -- in other words, because he has been reborn spiritually, he need not fear the "second death" that would otherwise follow his physical death. Christ wrote to the church in Smyrna: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death" (Rev. 2:11).
Knowing that we are alive in God and that we don't have to fear eternal death is a source of great confidence and strength. It imparts a marvelous stability to our daily living. As the Hebrew writer put it: "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain" (Hb. 6:19).
Let's make this week a week to think about our new life in Christ and the daily difference that life makes. Let's consider what being "born again" really means. Let's count the blessings that come to us because God has made it possible for us to have the hope of heaven. And let's live like people who have this great hope.
Monday: John 3:1-15
Key Idea: When we obey the gospel, we are born again.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Jesus say a person could not do without being "born again"? What did He mean by being born again? At what point in the Christian's life does this new birth take place? How can we tell if someone has had that experience?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 20:25.
Tuesday: Hebrews 2:10-18
Key Idea: As Christians, we are released from the fear of death.
Questions for Family Growth: In v.14, what does it mean that Jesus partook of flesh and blood? Why did Jesus have to do that? According v.14, who has the power of death? By dying, what did Jesus accomplish for us?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 20:26.
Wednesday: Colossians 3:5-17
Key Idea: As Christians, we "put on the new self."
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean to "put off the old self" and "put on the new self"? In vv.12-14, what are some things a person will do who has become new in Christ? What did Paul say in Rom. 6:4?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 20:27.
Thursday: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Key Idea: As Christians, we have a living hope.
Questions for Family Growth: What is "hope"? Who has made it possible for us to have hope? What does Peter say about the kind of inheritance that is waiting for us? In v.6, what difference does it make for us to have hope in Christ?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 20:28.
Friday: Luke 16:19-31
Key Idea: Without the hope of heaven, none of the pleasant things in this life matter.
Questions for Family Growth: Are those who go to heaven to be with God always the ones who have had the best of everything in this life? Why do some who have had the good things in this life not go to heaven? What should be our attitude about happiness in the here and now?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 20:29.