“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)
With this verse, Paul is winding down a letter to the Romans that included his travel plans and instructions for the gritty process of doing life with other believers — alongside some of the heaviest theological writing in Scripture. It seems right that he should eventually remind his readers that God is the source and object of all our hope for living now, and for living eternally. When we get this wrong and go looking for hope elsewhere, we put undue pressure on everyone and everything else in our lives.
There’s a good reason we need to stick close to the Truth of God’s Word: It’s the very thing the Spirit of God uses to fill us up with joy and peace. Without this, hope gives way to despair based in wrong thinking.
This Sunday, let’s examine our hearts: on whom or what are we basing our hope?
Hoping in Christ the Anchor,
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August overwhelms the senses with brilliant hues of color and light; the vibrant aroma of growing things alongside their fresh taste and crunch; bird song in early morning; the persistent peepers in the evening; and the haunting cry of a loon after dark.
Maybe it’s because of all this–or because we fill our summer daylight with busy-ness from dawn to dusk–that this prayer from Psalm 119:18 belongs on the front page of our summer song books:
Open my eyes that I may see
Wondrous things from your law.
There is no beauty to rival Truth, wondrous in all seasons.
Anticipating a fresh dose of truth on this Sunday morning,
“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17)
In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminded his readers that “without the burden and labor of the day, prayer is not prayer, and without prayer, work is not work.”
Our times of prayer remind us that life is not simply about work, while our work reminds us that life is not simply about prayer.
To our great surprise, we see that God, who waits on high to have compassion on us, longs to be gracious to us.
When I walk the dog and give thanks for the vast blue sky and the bracing wind in my face, God is there.
When I am ironing the collar of a shirt and folding my son’s jeans still warm from the dryer, God is there.
By turning our attention purposefully toward God in the midst of our ordinary days, we demolish the wall between sacred and secular.
Our work becomes an offering to God as we meet him in the ordinary moments of life.
May the beauty of the Lord our God be upon you today,
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NKJV)
Fervent love is a choice, and it comes with effort. The word fervent means “to be stretched,” and has also been used to describe a runner, straining toward a finish line.
Some versions render the thought as a command to love earnestly. Earnest love endures with patience and forgives the unforgivable. It is an echo of the love we receive from God. In the Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd Jones calls it God’s “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”
Practicing this kind of love for one another is really the only way for us to be “the church.” This Sunday, as we prepare to gather for worship, let’s ask God to give us fervent love for one another. Anchored in the bedrock of our awareness of how much we have been forgiven, let’s strain to pass on that over-the-top love to others.
Grateful for God’s love and forgiveness,
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
The work of salvation is ongoing, and this is good news for those of us who daily feel the rub of our own shortcomings against the standard of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Growth is ongoing as the Trinity cooperates to apply the fertilizer of Truth to the garden of our hearts. We come to the written Word in Christ and, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we hear the voice of the Father.
This Sunday, let’s rejoice that just as the Word of God is living and active, our relationship with God is more than just what God has done. He finishes and perfects us as we cooperate with him.
Blessings to you,
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The epigraph for Psalm 142 reads: “A contemplation of David. A prayer when he was in the cave.”
How wonderful that David knew God could hear him from his gloomy hiding place.
He knew very well that God was with him there in the cave.
I cry out to the Lord with my voice . . . I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble, (verse 1).
What is your “complaint” today? God is a safe landing place for your words of sadness or disappointment–even if your disappointment is with God himself:
“Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name . . . for You shall deal bountifully with me.” (Psalm 142:7)
There are times when the future tense seems way too late, and we wait in our cave for a daylight that may take its time in coming. While you wait there in the quiet darkness, remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Confess to Him that you are willing to have what he wills and to relinquish what he withholds.
O, LORD, you are the Light that shines in dark places, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.
This Sunday, let’s rejoice in God’s faithful and unfailing presence, even when life sends us into a cave of waiting.
Thankful for light in darkness,
“My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.” (Proverbs 3:1, 2)
Obedience from the heart is the first evidence of belonging. We don’t remember God’s laws and keep his commandments in order to become God’s children. Our perfect and holy Parent longs for obedience that flows from and provides evidence for a relationship of love and trust.
Certainly, we want our children to get along with others, obey house rules, and be kind to their siblings, but unless their good behavior flows from a desire to please God and to live in right relationship with him, we’re just producing a generation of rule-followers.
This Sunday, let’s commit ourselves to obedience that flows from a desire to please our Father and to live in right relationship with him.
Ever trusting for grace,