T HIS VERSE is a blessing and a prayer for the Christians in Rome. It is a blessing and prayer for us today.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
This blessing/prayer is filled to the brim with promise.
Much of the church was enduring persecution in the time of Paul’s writing. Even to them, even to people in great distress, even to people who are suffering, hurting, confused, uncertain; even to people separated, alone, or fearful is the assurance of hope, joy, and peace to those who “trust in God.”
Our trust in God brings us joy, peace, and hope.
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GOD IS THE GOD OF HOPE. The God of hope gives us hope. No matter what the circumstances, there is always hope in God and in his ways and his promises. The biblical word “hope” means to trust that God’s future is for us.
When the Bible talks about “hope,” it is not talking about wishful thinking; it is talking about trusting God. People say, “I hope” when they really mean “I wish.” “I hope it doesn’t rain today because I want to go to the beach.”
For the Christian, hope is not some wistful dreaming; it is faith and assurance that the God who is who he says he is will always be faithful and true to his nature. Our hope comes from God who is “the God of hope.”
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LET’S LOOK at what hope means for Christians. Faith means to trust in God in the here and now; but hope means to trust in God’s future. To realize that God will not desert us in the days, weeks, years ahead of us.
Whether our future means illness or death, divorce, separation, moving or joblessness, or whether our future means marriage, new homes and new jobs — no matter what — our future belongs to God.
This does not mean that God brings about our death or joblessness or whatever. It means that God in his power and purpose will not desert us in the days that lie ahead. No matter what those days look like.
And God will work with us where we are to bring about his hope-filled promises.
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HERE’S A TEST.
■ Has God taken care of you in the past? Every one of you has had very difficult experiences in the past. When life has been really crummy? When life has been very difficult? Has God taken care of you in the past?
■ Second part of the test. Is God taking care of you today? Now. This very moment? Some of you are in pain. Some of you are living in tumultuous marriages. Some of you are staring down health crises. Some of you are dying. Is God taking care of you right now?
■ Last test question. If God has so faithfully taken care of you in the past — and if God is so faithfully taking care of you in the present, will God take care of you in the future? “Yes.”
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SO, WE ARE absolutely convinced of the power of hope. We abound with hope. We are filled with hope. We are overflowing with hope that the God who has taken care of us in the past, who is taking care of us today, will indeed take care of us in the future.
Therefore, we are not afraid of the future, no matter what the future may bring. We know that the God of our past is also the God of our future.
Our God is the God of hope — the source of our hope. And as the giver of hope, we also receive joy and peace.
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A PERSON with Holy Spirit-produced joy is not just a person with a bubbly, optimistic personality. A person with Holy Spirit-produced peace is not just someone laid back who never gets ruffled at anything.
The joy that Paul talks about is not a “Pollyanna positive” outlook that denies the reality of sorrow, grief, or genuine concern. Joy does not come from being in favorable circumstances where just about anyone would be joyful.
This Holy Spirit-powered gift is often most noticeable when a person is in a situation where almost everyone would be depressed or anxious, but the Spirit-filled believer is full of joy in God.
Biblical joy comes from knowing that our sovereign God will work all things, including tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, together for our good because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.
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THE SPIRIT-PRODUCED PEACE does not mean glibly shrugging off concern for difficult problems. To talk about peace, we are not talking about a “who cares?” indifference. Biblical peace comes from taking all our anxieties to God in thankful prayer:
“… by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
Biblical peace is the inner contentment and freedom from crippling anxiety and fear. It comes through taking every concern to God in thankful prayer. Being filled with God’s joy and peace is the foundation or platform that results in abounding in hope.
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I ASK YOU a personal question: What does it mean for you when you hear the words, “May the God of hope give you joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, be filled with hope, be overflowing with hope for the future?”
What do these words mean for you in your situation today?