Hope and Shame

HOPE AND SHAME 

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:5

            Hope does not put me to shame. What does that really mean?

            David said, “None who wait for you shall be put to shame.”  Psalm 23:3 At the time David was writing, he was surrounded by enemies.  They had him in a snare.  Though he had an opportunity to kill his most formidable enemy, King Saul, he chose to walk away with sword in hand and wait for God to deliver him.  He also spoke in the same chapter about the sins of his youth being enemies.

            I am surrounded by enemies as well.  There are three.  Continue reading “Hope and Shame”

There Is A ‘Because’

THERE IS A ‘BECAUSE’

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3-4

            One of my frustrations with the church, in the past, has been the misuse of scripture.  It’s as if snippets of the Bible were memorized, categorized internally on a 3×5 card, then spit out again in what was considered an appropriate situation.  I can’t count how many sermons I’ve heard over the course of my lifetime on ‘rejoicing in suffering.’  It was a command by rote, completely void of the scriptural context of intimate relationship with God.  Add to that the fact that the command to rejoice was followed up with an important ‘because’. 

            I don’t rejoice in suffering because I enjoy hurting.  I know this is ludicrous and if I’m told that God expects that of me, that He enjoys hurting me, this creates such a crack in our relationship that only truth can fix it.  Continue reading “There Is A ‘Because’”

How Hope Affects Me

HOW HOPE AFFECTS ME

..and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:2

            The word Paul used when he said we ‘rejoice’ is ‘boast’.  The word ‘hope’ is the same as ‘certainty’.  We boast in the certainty of the glory of God.  John put it this way, “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure I John 1:3

            Hope is not just something relegated to a future time.  It has present significance for how I live today.  Continue reading “How Hope Affects Me”

Finally At Peace

FINALLY AT PEACE

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:1

            When I function, daily, in a world of frantic activity, I dream of peace.  When I work in an atmosphere where there is conflict and negativity, I dream of peace.  When there is tension between me and those close to me, I dream of peace. When I’m plagued by all my foolish choices, I dream of peace.  When I feel others’ judgment, I dream of peace.  When I worry about those I love, I dream of peace.

            When I was younger, I would dream of sitting by a lake to listen to the water lap up on the shore.  But, ironically, when I finally got there and though the atmosphere was peaceful, I found myself rehearsing all the things that made me feel stressful.  There was not really any way to drown out the inner turmoil. 

            Paul nails the greatest need of my heart.  It is to know peace with God.  Since Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf has made me right with God, I can immediately eradicate some of the most important reasons I fail to have peace. 

            My failures have been washed away by the blood of my Savior and He has put them behind His back, never to take them out again and say to me, viciously, “Remember what you did?”  I am forgiven and that brings peace.

            Condemning comments from others, even though spoken long ago, can ring in my ears.  I can be plagued by a sense of being flawed and inadequate.  But, I am accepted by God and feel the warmth of His favor on my shoulders.  That brings peace and silences my accusers.

            Fears that I rehearse, even in peaceful surroundings, can still threaten to undo me.  Perfect love, given to me by God, casts out fear as I rehearse His love letters full of promises.  The power of prayer is mine and that brings peace.

            If you find yourself wound up tight, stop, take a minute and exhale.  Be at rest.  Be at peace.  Breathe this prayer.  Strength will be yours for this day. 

Oh Father, I am loved by You and that love is never threatened!  I am forgiven for everything I’ve ever done and I’m free of Your condemnation!  I can cast away fear because You are in control of my life.  You turn all things for my good and I rest completely in Your sovereignty.  My circumstances can often be tumultuous but deep in my spirit, my heart abides in You.  The current of Your peace carries me through the storm.  How can I ever thank you!  Amen

Thank you!

Good morning,

I wanted to write a note to all of you this morning in lieu of the devotional.  Next week, we begin chapter 5 of Romans.  I can’t believe we’ve come this far.  I was so skittish as I began this book, knowing it was a heavyweight spiritual challenge.  Each morning, throughout the first two chapters, I was a nervous wreck, praying that God would be faithful to help and teach me.  That’s a redundant prayer because He is faithful.  Nonetheless, that’s where I was. Perhaps you’ll be glad to know that I’ve settled in, confident that what God has started, He will complete.  (I can’t wait for chapter 8!)

Satan lied to our first set of parents, Adam and Eve, about the importance of taking God’s words seriously. He encouraged them to question. “Did God really say that?” In doing their own thing, which was really Satan’s thing, they were filled with shame and went to hide. Shame destroys our confidence with God. We no longer have the guts to stand before Him, look Him in the face, and engage in the relationship. Sin clogs the line of openness and what was once free and easy is full of cobwebs.

Today, I examine my heart again and prepare for this next leg of the journey.  I want to thank you for really digging into Romans with me.  Though I haven’t sat down with you, face to face, I hear from many of you each day.  Some of you are printing out the devotionals and compiling your own books.  Others of you are tearful; grateful for the life-giving words that are changing your life.  I am reminded, every day, that none of us live in a vacuum.  As we let the Word and the Spirit change us, and as we tell our stories of grace to others, we impact the whole body of Christ. 

Thank you for listening.  I love you and pray for you each day.  Once a week, I scroll through all the names of the subscribers and lift you up before the Father.  May the rest of Romans give us the ride of a lifetime. 

Yours because of Jesus,

Christine

Pain As A Plotline

PAIN AS A PLOTLINE

It [righteousness] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses, and raised for our justification.  Romans 4:23-25

            Who delivered up Jesus to be crucified?  Was it the Jews?  Was it Pilate?  The shocking answer is that God did!  God delivered up His Son and then raised Him from the dead as a sign that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted by Him as payment for man’s sin.  He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all…  Romans 8:32

            Pain is a powerful plotline in my story.  It was never meant to be meaningless or wasted.  Continue reading “Pain As A Plotline”

Faith and Distrust

FAITH AND DISTRUST

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  Romans 4:20-21

It’s impossible to have faith in God if distrust is part of my heart’s makeup.  Satan knows that and introduces pain and betrayal into my story.  I close off my heart, live in fear and never fully trust people again.  With that in place, the enemy knows what will be next; a distrust of God. Continue reading “Faith and Distrust”