Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
Hi gals. Today, we are continuing our study on the checklist outlined in Romans 12:9-31 and committing our ways (everyday) to match our new life in Jesus Christ.
6. Be joyful in hope... Hope in earthly terms is usually considered more of a wish. It is an anticipation that something may happen. For example, when a person goes to college they hope they will complete their degree in four years. However, life could easily throw them a curve ball. They could fall ill and miss a semester as they recuperate. They could learn that their major is not what they thought and reconsider their focus thus causing them to start over. They could run out of funds and have to work a year to pay for more schooling. The hope they have to complete their degree in four years is really nothing short of a wishful expectation.
However, hope in biblical terms is this: it is an assured outcome. A confident and definite conclusion of events that will indeed occur. There is no wishing or wondering with God's promises. They are certain. In fact, our biblical hope is drenched in certainty and unchanging truth. As Christians, it is important to keep this hope at the forefront of our lives in order to joyfully proceed forward with our new lives. This is the hope that Jesus gives us. A hope that should shape our attitudes and outlook because of the promise we are assured to receive in His Name. This form of hope cannot be found in another human being or a new drug treatment for cancer. It cannot be seen in a raise or promotion. This form of hope is not about the possibility of good things that may or may not occur while you live on this earth. This hope is eternal. Forever free of doubt. It is an inevitable certainty of peace to those who have believed that Jesus is God and proclaimed Him as Lord of their life.
When Paul spoke of "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" he was referring to an event that is definitely going to take place. Jesus WILL return to us and rule forever! Amen! Nothing can stop this fact. God has promised it. We can live confidently in that expectation! As such, we must also live lovingly and patiently work though all trials and temporary circumstances here on earth with the certain, eternal perspective and the joy of our promised eternity in His presence.
7. Be patient in affliction... Sometimes God allows difficult situations to occur in our lives so that we can be a witness for Him through our actions and temperaments. Other times, He allows trials for the sanctification of our character. Irrespective of God's reason, it is crucial for us to think beyond our own selfish expectations of how things should be and remember God's promise - that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (See Romans 8:28) Let's face it, when everything is going our way, patience and kindness toward others is easy to produce. But when things rub us wrong... when we are treated unfairly... when we feel taken advantage of, unheard, disregarded, or worse... then it is most difficult to be kind to others and to maintain a patience that mirrors our Savior's love.
Rather, our natural response is usually about justifying our own actions, rights and boundaries. In such circumstances, our instincts default into impatience... causing us to mistrust and become irritable. Then, some of us respond by attacking others merely for the sake of pointing out how right we surely are. Some of us fall into pity parties and question God's protection and plan for our lives by crying out, "Why Me?" Many of us forget that patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that should actively be pursued and prayed for as we seek to live like Jesus. Instead we forget His Holy LOVE altogether and focus on what we feel is FAIR for our SELF. We then fall victim to the snares of the devil and accept our own prison of depression, stress, anger, frustration, and pride... all things that are clearly NOT of our Lord. All things that prevent our new life from moving forward.
So, how can we maintain and display patience that is characteristic of Christ? How do we harness this fruit that the Spirit wishes to give us? Let's look in the Bible at the many examples of those whose patience characterized how close their walk was with God. James points us to the prophets “as an example of patience in the face of suffering” (James 5:10). He also refers to Job, whose perseverance was rewarded by what the “Lord finally brought about” (James 5:11). Also, Abraham waited patiently and “received what was promised” (Hebrews 6:15). But above all... Jesus remains our best role model as He always demonstrated a patient endurance: “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). It is such a relief to know that with Jesus as our King, we don't have to be under the bondage of impatience because we are indeed new creatures in Christ! (See 2 Corinthians 5:17) Instead, we can depend upon the Lord’s strength and choose to follow His example - responding kindly, obediently and with a loving heart.
Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing and sovereignty over our lives. Colossians 1:11 tells us that we are strengthened by Him to “great endurance and patience,” while James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience... Yes, trials! Because of this, we should look at difficult circumstances as blessings and opportunities to further strengthen our patience by resting in God’s perfect will and timing... even in the face of evil men who “succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7). In the end, our patience will be rewarded because the Lord's coming is near (James 5:7-8). “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25).
8. Be faithful in prayer... Paul says in Ephesians, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." So what does a new life of faithful prayer look like? I think it is taking to heart Jesus' own words in John 15:4 when he tells us, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you." I especially love the wording used in the King James translation which says, "Abide in me, and I will abide in you."
Abide in Jesus. Commune with Him. Live with Him in ALL occasions. Worship and pray and communicate... eat, breathe, sleep, exercise, work, play... EVERYTHING in His Name. Let your Spirit rejoice in His presence always. Remain with your Shepherd... ALWAYS! Why? Because apart from being with Christ, we can do nothing.... we are nothing. Our new life is really His life displayed through us. We are his servants always. We are his people. So, we must remain in Him in order to live live live, ladies. The new... the wonderful Savior has come! We are fullest when our hearts are faithful to find Him everyday.
My ongoing prayer for DW's ministry, is that we will each sincerely love and encourage one another to choose God first, and follow-through by committing our ways unto the Lord every single day. Our new life is now. Let's live every moment with the joy He has given. Every second belongs to Him!!!
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