Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hope

The word “hope” implies an expectation or sense of waiting with the desire for something to
happen. For many of people, hope means having a positive attitude while you wait for different
circumstances. Biblical hope, however, is much greater than this; Biblical hope is confidence in the
strength of the Lord and in his faithfulness in upholding his promises. You can find so many different
Psalms, songs, and verses that talk about the eternal hope we have in Jesus (just think about some
contemporary Christian songs like Cornerstone or Living Hope or In Christ Alone). The main difference between our hope and the hope of the world is what our hope is centered on, or rather, who. If we only find hope in the circumstances of this world then we will surely be disappointed because we live in a world overrun by sin. Christ himself guarantees that a Christian life will be full of difficulties in John 16:33 (“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV). But Jesus has overcome the world. The good news of the gospel tells us that even though this world may be full of suffering, our spirit is secure in Christ because he made a way for us, and this truth is where our hope lies. 

First, I want us to look at Romans 5:1-5. Romans is another letter from Paul this time to the
believers in Rome. Paul writes to Rome about peace and hope, and specifically, he says “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 NIV). Here, Paul is saying to the Romans, and to us, that our hope is in and for the glory of God. Because the Son, Christ, has already overcome the world and died for our sins, our hope is anchored in a promise from the Creator of the universe, that he will be glorified. Paul goes on to say, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV). This means that even in our sufferings, even in the circumstances of the world, we may have hope because God can use those circumstances for glory. We may hope in the glory of God because he can use all things for his glory. Because we are saved, we are not focused on the trials of this world, but rather, on the glory of God, and this is worthwhile to focus on, because we are secured by the faithfulness of God. In all of this, it becomes clear that through Christ we have eternal hope, but if you find yourself continuing to struggle with this, don’t be afraid to pray for it. Look to Romans 15:13 for an example of this (“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.” Romans 15:13 NIV).

 Beyond living in the fullness of Christ, we have a responsibility to have hope. Christians are called to be different, set apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9). We are called to be a light to the world and point others to Christ. Our having hope sends a message to others in this difficult time, because if the world, full of fear and anxiety, sees a believer who has hope, they may begin to wonder about Jesus and where our hope comes from. Our actions speak louder than words, and right now in this difficult time, we are called to be bold and act in a way that glorifies God. I will leave you with this: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

*This blog was written by Sarah Barnes, a freshmen at South Alabama majoring in Business.*

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Peace of the Holy Spirit in Turbulent Times


When we hear of the word “peace” we normally have a preconceived idea of what that looks like. To some people peace may look like a picturesque summer day on the beach, a silent library, or a room full of puppies and other stress relievers. Fortunately, all these ideas of what peace is and should be fall tremendously short of the Biblical peace that Jesus speaks of.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

Many of us, including myself, are tempted to think that peace is for the most part an external condition that eventually leads to the internal condition of peace. Christ’s peace stands in direct opposition to this notion. He claims boldly that all peace comes from Him. He takes direct ownership as the origin of this peace. Not only does He take ownership of peacefulness, but He gives it to you as a gift, freely purchased by His blood on the Cross. The gift of this peace, He says, is not “as the world gives.” The world gives peace through a transaction of you do this, you go to this place, or you think this and then you will find peace. Except, there is nothing you can do to attain peace. There is no meadow too calm for a restless soul, there is no mindfulness class that can take away the fear, pain and confusion inflicted by the world. Christ is the only source and sustainer of peace that is like nothing of this world.

The Bible is full to the brim with times and situations that were tumultuous. Many prophets and righteous people were killed and persecuted. For instance, when David hid himself in the cave of Adullam while Saul and his armies were looking to kill him. He was in a place of total desolation, nevertheless, with a trembling voice he sang with all his heart:

          “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.” Psalm 142:3a NIV

As I would love to relive the sufferings of the righteous throughout the Bible, I would like to point your attention to one moment that I believe was one of the most fearful times for one of Jesus’ apostles, Thomas.

Christ’s lifeless body was hanging on the cross while all His Apostles besides John were absent in fear of their lives. Christ’s Eternal Kingdom seemed like a broken disarray of fanatics and hopefuls soon to dissolve like previous religiously zealous sects had done. It seemed like there was no hope and the future for the Apostles looked very similar to their Crucified Lord. There was no peace in this Kingdom established by the Man of Peace.

Amidst this, Thomas fell into severe lack of faith. His heart had been drained of any hope left and everything looked bleak. The Messiah who had called him, the fulfillment of Israel’s hope, now lay dead in a tomb. Those hands that he had seen heal the sick were now pierced and soaked with blood. This was the Jesus of whom Thomas had said “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16) in complete boldness to follow Christ wherever He went, including the grave. Now Thomas was conquered by the fear of death, overcome with regret, emptied of hope, and faced with the greatest doubt of his life. Those words of peace he heard guaranteed by Christ seemed distant and challenged by everything he was experiencing. He let go of that free gift of peace.

Now listen carefully to Christ’s Inauguration of His Resurrection to Thomas and his crumbling world:
“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:26-27 NIV

            Christ reinstituted His peace in Thomas’ life by appearing to him and declaring His peace over him. He then invited Thomas to experience the reality of His existence by allowing him to touch Peace itself. He turned Thomas’ eyes away from the confusing, fearful world and demanded that everything that causes despair, fear, and hopelessness must bow to Christ. That invitation to experience His peace still stands today. We too might respond like Thomas when we choose to look to the eternal reality of Christ’s Peace: “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28


*This blog was written by Tucker McDonald, a junior at South Alabama majoring in Business.*

Hope

The word “hope” implies an expectation or sense of waiting with the desire for something to happen. For many of people, hope means having...