07/30 - Our Hope and Strength

August 5th, 2017

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Our Hope and Strength

Romans 8:22-23, 26-30

Yes, an obvious allusion to a recent birth this week, but...

  • Let's get real, here.

    • Deep questions:

      • Have you, as a Christian, ever felt like you could not bring yourself to _______? Have you felt your strength was failing because you were empty of _______ for the future?  Have you ever thought to yourself, "life has to be more than this!"  Have you asked yourself, "Where has my joy gone?"
    • Maybe there is an easy answer.
      • Loss of loved ones? Financial instability? Health problems?
      • Maybe you are described by the bumper sticker, "If you are far from God, guess who moved?" Maybe distraction, pride, overwork, etc. have taken your time from God.  Maybe you've not gotten serious with Him in a while, or ever.
    • Or maybe it is something more....
      • v23a "And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering."
    • There is something wrong in the West
      • In the 1800's a war broke out between the two foundations of our civilization: Jerusalem and Athens, a.k.a. Faith and Reason

        • 1st front, the "Higher Criticism" of the Bible assumed God's absence in the formation of Scripture; 2nd front, Darwin's theory of evolution assumed God's absence in the formation of the natural world
        • At the same historical moment, around one hundred years after the formation of the Methodist movement and the American Revolution, God was removed (in elite opinion) from the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature
      • "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3 (NIV)
        • And now we are as a culture divided between those searching desperately for any firm foundation for life, and those who feel their foundations are under constant threat of erosion
        • And by "foundations" I mean the BIG ones, like "does life have meaning?" and "does anything I do make a difference?"
        • For the Christian, the meaning is found in God, and His assurance that in Christ we can make an eternal difference in our lives and the lives of others
        • The "best" post-Christian answer our thinkers could come up with was to say that we should defy the meaninglessness of life by choosing and implementing our own purpose. Does that sound sufficient?
        • Even if you've never heard that idea expressed, you are being evangelized by it. Or by the idea that life is about pleasures, or power, or that "whoever dies with the most toys wins."  Does any of that sound sufficient?
        • Eventually some come around to the idea that this life is about helping others. Well guess where that came from?
      • Here's the Good News
        • There is more than this life:

          • v23a: Yes, we and all of creation are groaning, waiting to be released from the struggle against sin (the struggle to determine and do the right thing) & the every day reality of suffering!
          • v23b: But we are also said to "wait with eager hope!"
            • The happiest Christians have always seemed (to me) to be those living this life with heaven in view!
          • (b/c there's more than this life,)There is more to this life:
            • v26-30: And the Holy Spirit within us takes our frustrations and pain and delivers them to the Father.  And through the Son we have this promise that everything we do and endure is "pregnant" with meaning and purpose, even (especially!) when it seems random or vindictive.
          • Our Calling in this time and place:
            • We have a responsibility to get serious with God, and change course when hindered by:

              • distraction, pride, overwork, etc.
            • We are asked to join together, to support each other in times of :
              • loss, distress, financial instability, health issues
            • We are ambassadors to a broken and hurting generation, with a message of a meaningful life now, and a glorious life to come
              • We are called by God to be the Good Samaritan, to see the wounded, and offer them healing, and in so doing find an eternal purpose to our actions as we become God's hands and feet. (And often find our own healing through focusing on others.)
              • We are called by God to be His hands in this world, with our feet are planted firmly in the next, to let His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, reminding ourselves and each other that our Hope and Strength is found in Him.
                • Psalms 46:1-4a (Geneva Bible, 1560)
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