Devotional Thought: How does "hope" grow?
Romans 5:3-4 - Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character;and character, hope."(NIV)
We often have "hope" when starting new adventures - a new school year, job, relationship, or activity. We hope the new adventure will lead to happiness and fulfillment. While we may begin new adventures with hope, disappointments often lead to a loss of hopeful expectation. Often, to regain a sense of hope, we often seek a change in circumstances rather than persevere and mature in character through them. When disappointed or frustrated, we may look for a new job, school, relationship, church, spouse, etc. This cycle leads to a "hope" dependant upon circumstances. This cycle diminishes "hope" over time rather than grows & matures it.
The Bible teaches that “hope”, like other virtues, develops and matures not by on-going change of circumstances, but through perseverance in hardship. Some people think if they find just the right person, then they'll experience real love. But Jesus taught us to love our enemies. He said anyone can love people who love them. Love matures through hardships. Faith is another virtue that needs to be tested through hardships to mature.
In the Bible, the word "hope" is often connected to circumstances where having hope is difficult. "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed (God's promise), and so became the father of many nations" (Romans 4:18). God doesn't want hope to be grounded in circumstances, but in Him. Thus, much of Scripture encourage us to “hope in the Lord” - especially in the midst of disappointing or hopeless situations.
I used to look at a small church like ours and think "there isn't much hope for that church." My "hope" for a church was often tied to the number of people or programs. Some might visit our church like and think our name "Hope Alive" doesn't fit. It does fit, IF our hope is in the "God of hope" (Romans 15:13). Our hope needs to be in Him.
Do you want to grow in hope? Rather than change your circumstances, ask what is presently determining your sense of hope. Is it your circumstances, or is it God? Rather than change your circumstances, seek to change yourself and put your hope in the Lord – His person, promises, & power.
Read Ezekiel 40:1 through 42:20
Published: Aug 21, 2017
Several years ago, a woman at a West Virginia flea market purchased what she thought was a worthless piece of art for seven dollars. Though she intended to throw it away and repurpose the frame, she decided to show it to an art expert first. To her surprise, it turned out to be a lost work by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir—valued at nearly one hundred thousand dollars.
So he measured the area on all four sides. It had a wall around it, five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to separate the holy from the common (Ezekiel 42:20).
Just as a Renoir belongs on a museum wall instead of in a flea market, the work of God deserves special care. The temple included a wall of separation between the holy and the common. In Scripture, the word holy refers to a thing or person set apart for service to God. Christians must be careful to pursue Christ, not the sinful patterns of a world. Then others can see and recognize the signature brushstrokes of God’s redemptive work.
Prayer Suggestion: Lord, make my life a reflection of Your holiness.
Quicklook: Ezekiel 42:14–20
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