Monday, November 3, 2014

We Are Not Without Hope

Have you ever seen anyone happy about going through tough times? We all face them. We all have had our hearts broken, torn apart, stomped all over. We all have faced financial challenges and lost sleep not knowing what we were going to do. We all have faced some sort of bullying and intimidation. We have all been students and had to face the impossibility of it all. We all have had to walk through those dark valleys not knowing where we were going and what it would result in. But have you ever seen anyone glad to be in such times?

We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 4:3-5)

We take pride in our problems? Paul the apostle obviously came from a different planet. Our perhaps he lived in a completely different reality, with a different set of priorities shaped by a vastly different perspective. Most of us will never live what Paul went through and yet we have been invited to live in his same reality; a reality based on the principles of Jesus Christ, governed by a set of spiritual laws provoked in us by the Holy Spirit, made possible by the re-birth we experience through Jesus. Let's consider three statements Paul made before this declaration concerning troubles.

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (v. 1)

Our new reality states that we have all that we need in Jesus. Because we are guaranteed eternal life, the forgiveness of our sins, we have peace. When we understand the value of this great gift and its importance over everything else, nothing can disturb the eternal peace that is ours.

We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him. (v. 2a)

Praise the Lord, nothing he has done for us is dependent on us. We are in his grace. All things are covered. When we mess up all we have to do is confess it to him to keep the relationship honest but the sin is already covered. It may feel awkward at first because all religion says that you have to pay penance, that there must be some cost for that sin but Jesus paid our cost. We stand in his grace. Oh the wonderful peace we possess.

We boast in the hope of God’s glory. (v. 2b)

Amen! Ours is a living hope every day. We get to experience hope in the best and worst of times. If the sun fails to rise today we still possess hope because Jesus Christ has done it all and we possess his promises. And all of this is worked out in us as we mature in the challenges of living in a fallen world.

We are being perfected for eternity by Father. He is using everything we experience to benefit us. We are in a process of growing up, maturing, so we can grow into the fullness of Jesus. This is why we can laugh and sing and rejoice when the storms are upon us, because we know who Jesus is, who we are in him and what we possess. Trouble benefits us because Father transforms it that way. Trouble produces stuff in us. Trouble produces, endurance. Endurance produces character. Character produces hope. It is a vastly superior reality in which we walk with Jesus.

You are not without hope!

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