Rejoice in hope

Finally came to the theme verse for this blog.  It’s a pretty big deal as the whole point for this year was to see if there was anyway that hope could pull it off.  Is there someting in hope I have been missing most of my life?  Big on faith, big on love, not sure I had time for hope. I have been finding that hope is what has been keeping me going.  I am a big on hope.

The twelfth chapter of Romans is a great description of the Christian life.  It includes the rejoicing in hope, the paticence in tribulation and the constant need for prayer.  Romans is not shy in describing that this joy is in Jesus, this hope is for Jesus, this patience is from Jesus, this tribulation is with Jesus and this constan prayer is through Jesus to God the Father. An early Christmas present to those who cannot wait to celebrate with community the coming of Jesus so that He could die and set us free.

The Christian life now works like this – affliction is normal, Christ has come and carried our sin and sorrows to the cross and into the grave, and left them there, and He rose so that now we have unshakable hope in (not instead of) suffering, and this hope gives rise to joy.   This joy sustains patient endurance,  endurance sustains us in the sacrifices of love, since the cross was the most loving act that was ever done. 

  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. – Romans 12:12

Rejoice, Rejoice – Graham Kendrick

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Our hope

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. – Romans 12:12

In our anticipation of the second coming of Jesus we need His own advice to pray always and to hope.  This is our attitude and our posture while we wait.  Paul echos Jesus comments and reminds us that with the approaching second coming there will be persecution.  Jesus was concerned knowing the enormous challenges that His disciples would face in the days leading to His trial and crucifixion, but it was His message to them as well that if they persecuted Him, they would do the same to them.  They would be opposed and marginalized – tempted to lose hope.

Jesus even wondered at the end of His parable of the judge whether He would find anyone with faith – in other words, anyone who had not given up hope and who continue to be persistent in prayer.

But our citizenship[a] is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. – Philippians 3:20

Considering that our citizenship is in heaven and that is where we will finally fit in – we know this world is not our home.  We are strangers longing for home. Our hope is not in social programs, or politics – our hope is in the second coming of Jesus.  To come and make all things new, to put an end to sin and death, for a glorified body rid of sickness and decay – our hope is to see Jesus.

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.  In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’  For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?  I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” – Luke 18:1-8

OUR HOPE (O GOD, OUR HELP) – Nicole Elsey/Robert Sterling

Our Hope

 

Hope-filled future

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:25

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. – Romans 12:12

Patient endurance – the phrase has eluded me all these years as to the key to holding, growing and maturing in our relationship with God – and just saying it, sets me free.  It’s product is hope.
Together with faith and love, hope propels us towards a very sure future.  The horizon is still set with those things opposed, those illusory temptations of the world, and yet we are given daily doses of new momentum and strength.  Our decision each day is to refuse to be robbed of hope, or even to allow our hope to be dimmed by answers and solutions that will block us from moving forward.
For Pope Francis, time is greater than space because the pathway to authentic human progress is “process,” which is itself a function of time. Because time is fluid and in motion, it represents the key to avoiding getting “stuck” in space, so to speak. If we try to fill space with short-term solutions and stark and static answers to problems with no thought of how we can really move forward from that point, we short-circuit time itself and cut off ourselves from a more hope-filled future. – Jim Russell
Jesus Himself demonstrated the impact of patient endurance throughout His ministry but also in His death.  The product of His patience being obedience to His Father and His offering of mercy and forgiveness to those He walked with on earth.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth. – Isaiah 53:7
Let’s face it – Jesus attitude toward suffering was unique.  It was like He encountered it and death with eyes wide open, almost as if He embraced them as if He had a conscious preparation for them. Let’s be sure to note that not once did He mention this route as one to be desired. But He does speak of suffering as a reality that we should not ignore, avoid or cover up.  His example is how we learn to give up our right to success, recognition, wealth, health and maybe even happiness, so what we are and what we hope to be and have, is determined by and found in God.  A crazy thought, but it is spoken of throughout the New Testament, we are extended an opportunity – to participate in the sufferings of God at the hands of a godless world.

“A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.  Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture.  Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.  Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”  Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant.  He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that “looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’  “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.  As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.  But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. – Luke 8:5-15

Compton choir sings of a hope-filled future

“A Hope-filled Future”