Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Where is the seed of hope planted? In what warm moist soil does it germinate? All lasting hope must come from God. And He plants hope it in our hearts. But when does He plant it in the soil of our lives? A number of scripture passages deal with this question. One of my favorites is Romans 5. It begins with these words.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Has there been a specific time in your life when you repented of your sins and your false righteousness, and turned to Jesus Christ? If there has not been, it does not matter how good or nice you are, it does not matter how religious you are, you have no ultimate hope. But if you have turned to God by faith in Jesus Christ who died to remove the barrier between you and God, hope has been planted deep within you. Verse 2 of Romans 5 continues the thought.
“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
One of the evidences of being a new creation in Christ is rejoicing in His glory.
Our church has just begun going through The New City Catechism. And the introduction reminded me of the first question in the Westminster Catechism. “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
As we grow in Christ we come to rejoice in God's glory rather than our own. Speaking of His own ministry in John 7:18 Jesus said,
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
One of the signs that there is something wrong in your spiritual life is that you resent God getting all the glory. As God cleanses us of that selfish attitude, we come to realize that He shares His glory with us. It is also our Glory that He loves us and we belong to Him.
Much of what glorifies God through us is His transformation of our character. The next verses in Romans 5 read,
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
When we suffer physically, emotionally, or spiritually, God is producing patient endurance in our lives.
James chapter 1 gives us a parallel passage to Romans 5. James tells us that the trying of our faith produces steadfastness. The trial of our faith can be spiritual, emotional, or physical. And the word translated “steadfastness” in James 1 is the same word that is translated “endurance” in Romans 5. The King James version translates the word patience in both places.
There is a humorous story about a woman coming up to D.L. Moody after one of his meetings asking him to pray for her to have patience. Moody agreed. He knelt and begin to pray out loud, “Lord give this woman tribulation.”
She shook him on the shoulder and stopped him and said, “No, no, I said I needed patience not tribulation.” And the great preacher turn to James chapter 1 and showed her where patience comes from in our lives.
However, I fear this woman, and most modern westerners, apply this truth in a very unbiblical way. The goal of our lives seems to be to avoid any pain, any trial, any problem. I have heard quite a number of people say, “Don't ever pray for patience, because it comes from suffering.” But that is exactly the opposite of what James and Paul are telling us. James begins that passage by saying,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Is your primary goal in life to avoid pain? The Bible says we can rejoice in suffering because we know God is doing something special in our lives through difficulties.
Notice how Paul concludes this passage in Romans 5.
“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.”
Sorrow of any kind will be bathed in the love of Jesus Christ for us. And Christ's love spills over onto others that we minister to. Of course our hope will not be disappointed in Heaven when we hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But even now we will rejoice in the change of character God produces in us to minister to people He calls us to love in His name.