Romans 5: 1 - 4, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. NKJV
Possessing HOPE is essential if we, as believers, are to endure and to overcome the tests and the trappings of this world. If you and I have no hope, we will more easily succumb to worldly attacks and temptations. In today's devotion, let's look at the process of attaining the hope that we so desperately need. First of all, do you have faith in Christ as your personal Savior? If you answered yes to this question, then let me ask you one more question that is important to your life in Christ. Do you find it easy, or do you find it difficult to accept being wronged, persecuted, or rejected by people who oppose your faith? If you find it laborious to accept hardships that come because you're a Christian, then it only means you're human. Nevertheless, now that you're a born again (human) child of God, He wants you to grow up and become a mature son or daughter.
As children of God, Jesus expects us to enjoy the good in life. He also requires us to have the boldness and confidence to endure night seasons or hardships as a good soldier. Why does Jesus necessitate this for those who have committed their lives to His Lordship? God asks it of us because He knows we must possess fortitude in order to be built up in Christ to the fullness that is needed to be His ambassadors in the earth. We are to grow in Christ becoming true witnesses and reflections of Christ's humility and love toward others.
Jesus gives us some very "difficult to fill" commandments in Matthew 5 because He wants us to become ALL, that God has designed for us to be, in Christ. Therefore, we will have times and seasons when God allows us to be tested so that He can stretch, develop, and mature us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that if we desire to enter the Kingdom of heaven, then our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. He continues His lesson to us in the Sermon on the Mount by telling us that if we only love those who love us, subsequently, we will not truly reflect the nature and character of our heavenly Father. Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us, in order that we might be the children of our Father in heaven.
You see; we will only begin to develop godly character when we're in Christ, and we place faith in Him to bring us victoriously through the trials of this life. As Godly character begins to strengthen our spiritual hearts, we will then possess true hope. Hope will give us the perseverance that is needed to endure the sufferings, and it will empower us to do "the right thing"... which will bring Him glory and honor before all people. Without the process of loving like Christ and being obedient to the Father, we will remain weak. You will know you're spiritually feeble when it's easier for you to say, "Yes" to the world's pleasures when you find yourself under an attack or faced with a temptation.
You are saved by the Word of God that enters your ears and your heart. If the Seed of God's Word enters your ears, but gets choked out when persecution hits your life, then there can be no spiritual growth. Therefore, your walk will lack the strength needed to be a true reflection of Christ to your world. Endure hardship as a good soldier. Keep the faith! As a result, you will find favor with God, and He will openly reward you in due season.
It's Only a Test,
Pastor Asa Dockery