Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NKJV
This benediction comes right after Paul quotes for Old Testament prophecies which tell of the Gospel being for Gentiles. Those Gentiles will praise God for including them in His saving grace.
Paul exhorts the Gentile church in Rome to believe and to be at peace in the promise that includes them.
That promise is for us, Jew and Gentile alike. What is your nationality, your ethnic heritage? It matters not to God who sees past all boundaries! From the poorest person in the lowliest nation to the top of the global ladder, ALL have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But – Praise Jesus! – all have obtained His saving grace too!
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3 NKJV
Looking at the 23rd Psalm as an actor, I see two peak phrases. Both come after a short list that quickly becomes inadequate. David quickly shifts gears to a single phrase that encompasses what he was starting out to describe.
The fist peak phrase comes after he tries to describe what it’s like to be Jesus’ lamb; “He restores my soul.” Can you hear the sheer luxury of that phrase?!? It’s like falling back onto soft bed in simple trust, into the virtual decadence of comfort!
Yes, decadence! Jesus’ saving grace is nothing if not decadent and lavish. He does a lot of things along the way; green pastures, still waters, etc. But what it really adds up to is the restoration of my soul!
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; Colossians 3:12 NKJV
Locally there have been a rash of violent crimes. A man with a knife stabbed two people at the grocery we shop at and hijacked a car. In another instance a woman was waiting at a light when it turned green, and the car in front of her didn’t move at all. She tapped her horn. Just tapped. He got out and threatened to kill her getting himself arrested and jailed.
We need to pray for protection as we go out into our day, BUT we perhaps need to pray for guidance to maintain ourselves in the midst of so many assaults in an increasingly coarse and violent society. Being tried and stressed more each day, we need God’s Spirit and power to maintain…
…tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering conduct.
“…let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10,12
This is Peter testifying to the Sanhedrin when called to explain healing a lame man. His audience was the high priest Annas, Caiaphas, and their family. Nepotism was rife within the priesthood! And these were the very men who engineered Jesus’ crucifixion!
It was not long before this that Peter denied Jesus, and he was hunkered down with the rest of the disciples in hiding from these very men! But then the Holy Spirit came to them in the sound of a mighty wind and flames of fire on each of them. Just as in the passage above, they proclaimed the unadulterated Gospel. They stated plainly who Jesus was and is and what He had done for all humanity.
I sometimes struggle with what to tell people, how to start a conversation about salvation. Every person needs a different approach. They have different reasons for not believing in Jesus and accepting Him.
Maybe I should just start with the simple, powerful Gospel. Let them raise their objections, and let the same Holy Spirit guide my words from there.
It worked pretty well for Peter.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8
First, virtue. Do you believe? Excellent! Do good. Our conscience directs us.
Knowledge refines our understanding of what our conscience teaches us in broad strokes.
Self control is needed, for with knowledge, pride can enter. Paul warns in I Corinthians 9 that knowledge has given him understanding, and he knows what he is free to do. However, he refrains from letting his pride drive his actions. Rather, he restrains his actions which knowledge allows out of consideration to others so as to be careful not to offend or lead weaker brothers astray.
Perseverance is necessary, for we can weary of the battle against the flesh as Paul also wrote in Romans 7. He despaired of doing what he wishes he wouldn’t and not doing that he wants to do, thanking God for Jesus forgiveness!
These having been adopted, we can truly be considerate of our brothers and sisters, both those of the faith and those still lost.
We can even…LOVE them!!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV
This is at least partly an answer to the wrong belief that “everything happens for a reason,” meaning a good reason. Bad things happening is Satan at work; that’s the reason. Why does God let bad things happen? He doesn’t. We do. Well, That’s “we” collectively, starting with Adam and Eve.
Satan gained ownership of the world when Adam and Eve chose him over God and gave him creation. We are their physical descendants; we are Adam and Eve. Bad things are Satan at work.
God, however, is our galactic chess master. He can outplay every move Satan makes against us. He can take all bad situations and make them “work together for good to those who love God.”
You and I inherited Adam and Eve’s sin no less than we might inherit blue eyes. We also sin daily and have bad things happen continually. Thanks be to God who can take all of that and make us shine in the shared glory of Christ!!
the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4
God made a promise to Eve roughly 6000 years ago. Her Seed would make her mistake right and defeat the evil that had persuaded her. God remade that promise to Abram and Sarai 2000 years later. Those promises were personified in Jesus another 2000 years after that.
That first promise to Eve is still being fulfilled to all who believe in Jesus and call on His name. More than that, Peter tells us that we also share in Jesus’ divine nature. How else can we possibly believe such fantastic words, such incredible promises? How else can God look at us and see brothers and sisters of Jesus instead of lustful sinners?
They are promises of love beyond measure, timeless and priceless…and ours!
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 1 Peter 3:15
Sanctify means to set apart or declare something holy. We are to declare God to be holy from our very hearts! Doing this is like setting our course in life based on a star; this direction and no other.
Living that life is our loving, pleasing response to God’s love for us. It also makes out life a witness of God. People will see the difference in us and respond.
But the witness function is useless without being able to explain to others what is different about us. I had a friend who became a Christian during an absence of many years. Meeting again she asked if I am a Christian too. When I said “yes” she said she always knew there was something different about me.
“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”
We need to continually study God’s Word to be equipped to give a defense to everyone who asks. That means all of the Bible! You might, like me, find yourself not always understanding everything you read, but absorb it! Eventually, through persistence and prayer, you’ll see different parts of the Bible connect and make sense.
Just keep God sanctified in your heart; act on that decision and become what God intended!
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 2 Timothy 1:9
This is the promotion we didn’t deserve, the position in “the company” we could only wish for. Our resume’ doesn’t merit it. Our training hasn’t equipped us for it.
But God wants us to have it! He wants to save us from the dead-end place we started out in and put us in the corner office. It isn’t a position we earned, but He just can’t resist giving it to us anyway. He loves us too much!
He will give us His guidance through Scripture and fellow promotees, the “cloud of witnesses” Paul wrote of in Hebrews 12:1.
He will forgive our errors, unlike bosses in earthly corporations. He’ll clean up the messes and urge us to keep trying.
All of this is possible, thanks to Jesus taking the consequences of our actions on the cross. And what’s even more amazing is that He knew how everything would play out, and He still created us anyway.
Now that’s love!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We recently had a daily quote from Joshua, telling us we should never fear. “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
He is always with us. But remember that this is Satan’s world right now. Adam and Eve invited him in; that was the choice God hoped they wouldn’t make. That being done, however, God did not abandon us. He still remains with us wherever we go, and…
He is our ultimate source of comfort! We have the evidence of His love in Jesus. No matter what happens here, we know that He comforts us with the promise of eternity with Him.
We are also His conduits of comfort to others. We are to spread not just the Gospel, but practical comfort. We share one another’s burdens. We speak words of comfort, food of comfort, shelters of comfort, hugs of comfort…whatever comfort we can offer.
In that giving, we are also comforted even more.