Monday, September 25, 2017

Romans, Day 41: Romans 15:8-13 - How Can We Abound in Hope?

This Week on Walking with Jesus in Acts and Romans

Our Final Week . . .

Mon., Sept. 25: Rom. 15:8-13
Tue., Sept. 26: Rom. 15:14-21
Wed., Sept. 27: Rom. 15:22-33
Thurs., Sept. 28: Rom. 16:1-16
Fri., Sept. 29: Rom. 16:17-27

Today's Reading: Romans 15:8-13

How Can We Abound in Hope?

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. - Romans 15:4 & 13, ESV

I have become much more familiar with the usefulness of antibiotics since I have had children. In a family, it is easy to see the spread of bacterial infections and the wonderful power of antibiotics to bring healing. I remember a time when I was preaching in South Carolina, and everyone in my family was getting strep throat. Once we knew it was strep and not just a cold virus, the antibiotics could be prescribed and start doing their work. After a day or two, we were all feeling much better. Sometimes antibiotics take longer to work, and sometimes stronger ones are needed, but it's always wonderful once they start working well.

Sin brings death and despair into our world and our lives more powerfully and thoroughly than the worst bacteria can bring sickness. Sin has many effects, just as a bacterial infection can have many effects: It brings guilt, pollution, shame, condemnation, death and despair. It doesn't affect everyone in exactly the same ways, of course, just as a bacterial infection will affect different people differently.

Jesus' saving for work us conquers sin and its curse. His obedience fulfills all righteousness and thus secures for us a perfect human righteousness given to us. His atoning death pays for and covers our sin and shame. His resurrection gives us eternal life and justifies us before God because our perfect righteousness is alive forever before the throne of God. His continual intercession for us ensures our perseverance in the faith. His coming again secures our resurrection and glorification. The work of salvation is complete and perfect in Him alone!

So, why do we still doubt and why do we sometimes despair? How can we draw hope, and even abound in hope? Paul tells us we can gain hope from the encouragement of the Scriptures in Romans 15:4. He then prays that God would fill us with all joy and peace in believing so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. From these verses, it seems that hope comes when we study the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith so that we can have joy and peace in believing what the Scriptures reveal about God.

The Scriptures provide the material for our faith, the information about Jesus, who He is and what He has done for us. They reveal the character of God and the story of redemption. Yet the Scriptures remain closed and dead for us apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in making them clear, understandable and alive with the power of God. As we believe the Scriptures through the power of the Spirit, then we begin to have joy and peace as we believe God.

This takes time. In fact, it takes a lifetime, doesn't it? We continue to go back to the Scripture and prayer, and God continues to teach us, grow us, encourage us and give us real joy, peace and hope. Sometimes it comes quickly and unexpectedly. At other times, we're pounding on the door for a long time before God gives a breakthrough of faith, joy, peace and hope. Yet He is wise and loving, and He never ultimately fails to keep His promises. In Him, we have true and living hope!

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