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What is a Christian?

01 Feb

hopeNow may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God… Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  [Romans 15:5-7, 13]

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I have a prayer request, and it has involved a bit of wondrous discovery. As of tomorrow, I’ll begin leading a little local chapel service here in my community. This has been quite a while in the making, certainly involving much of the pondering of “what is Church, really?”, and a lot of the other elements that have appeared here from time to time.

For many weeks I have known that the first message would revolve around the Romans passage that opens this post. BUT!!! Contrary to decades of my own OCD, left-brained, compulsive workaholism… I simply could NOT pull the message together. Normally, I’ve got my third draft polished by last Wednesday, but this one… this one would simply not come into place.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

This is the key phrase, not only of this Sunday’s message, but also of… well, me, my ministry, and certainly of this chapel service. We live in a time, in a world, among people who struggle the most deeply with a sense of hopelessness. Amazingly, among those I serve… there are those who are “unchurched” and feel overwhelmed and defeated by the insurmountable challenges of the world… and there are the “overchurched” who feel overwhelmed and defeated by the insurmountable challenges of God.

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Anyway… (it is now Sunday Morning… as there have been a few funny twists and turns in what is becoming a “dramatic adventure” in launching this project! lol)… Anyway, I just wanted to say that at what seems like the last minute, the Lord just kinda went… “Ta Daaaaah!” And with a great swooping flourish showed this wondrous little gem of a message (that I’m determined to keep down to 10 minutes or less).

I find it glorious and lovely… but please judge for yourselves. But for those who preach and have known that growing angst of… “It’s just not there yet…” I just wanted to share, and assure that He is so faithful to respond. Oh, also, please anyone feel free to take this gem if it seems blessing to you and/or yours.

Here’s this lovely little Rosebud…

“Hope”. The world, and those all around us in it, are literally dying (slowly or quickly) for lack of “hope”. We see people reach out searching for it all the time… in one relationship after another, in more and more money, more and more stuff, bigger, better, greater, further, faster. All without finding what they seek.

“Hope”… it seems like smoke sometimes… and we try to generate it when it is most needed, when we feel the most needy. Generate it, find it, hold on to it when we manage a spark of it in a good job or nice house or significant relationship. And then there’s a layoff or dicey neighbors or we are betrayed. And we feel bereft and worse off than we started.

Because… the important thing about Hope that we don’t realize most of the time is… “Hope”… is ALWAYS based on a “Promise”. Hope is only an investment of trust we make in a Promise Pronounced.

And our trust in a Promise is based in only one factor… Who made/makes the Promise, and how trustworthy are They?

Go from one end of the Bible to the other, and watch this…

  • What sets the “people of God” (whether Israel or early Christianity) apart, is our Hope.
  • Our Hope is totally rooted in our trust to a Promise
  • The One who made/makes the Promise is God Himself
  • We can trust to that utterly. He is utterly faithful and has never ever, in the history of mankind, given us reason to doubt either His truthfulness or capacity to keep His Word.

It is just that simple. It began with the Promise to Abraham (which he believed and it was accounted to him as righteousness)… and it now resides in the promise of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul can be read many ways in his epistles… but there’s no way to miss his oft-repeated theme of HOPE! That we are a people of Hope, just as Israel was a people of Abraham’s Promise. We, the next generation of that promise, now live in an assured hope of eternal life (both here-and-now, and heavenly there-and-then)… based NOT in ourselves or anything we do or don’t do… but based entirely on believing the promise made through Christ and His resurrection.

Our hope is built on nothing less than Christ… not ourselves, not anything surrounding us, not even close or dear trusted people who betray and turn on us.

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Life-giving… Life-preserving HOPE depends only on this…

  • Do we believe that Jesus truly lived?
  • Do we believe that Jesus truly died and was resurrected?
  • Has He ever died since?
  • Then He must be here, alive, right now!
  • Is He willing, capable, and determined to keep His word and promises?

The Apostle Paul builds his entire case, the taproot of his entire witness, on this simple fact… We can believe in and rely on the power of the grace of God in raising Jesus from the dead. And because of that, we can believe what Jesus said and did… to love us, rescue us, and bring us to where He is.

Hope is not elusive, not complicated, not even hard.

Hope is based on Jesus’ Promise, and our confidence in Him who gave His word. It’s not about us… it’s just about Him.

Isn’t that Good News?

Happy Sabbath, Gentle Readers!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

3 responses to “What is a Christian?

  1. Ruth

    February 2, 2015 at 8:56 AM

    “Hope is only an investment of trust we make in a Promise Pronounced.” Love this!

    Like

     
  2. paulfg

    February 4, 2015 at 1:26 AM

    “Hope is only an investment of trust we make in a Promise Pronounced.” Me too!!!

    Like

     
  3. STRAIGHT TO THE TOP!

    February 5, 2015 at 10:02 PM

    Quite a sermon I would say. Isn’t it fantastic when you stand up, doubtful of what you are going to say and suddenly the anointing comes upon you and you find yourself saying words and stringing sentences you didn’t even knew that you knew!
    WOW! That God is really something isn’t HE?

    Liked by 1 person

     

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