Sunday, March 22, 2020
A Lord’s Day devotion: based on Romans 12:12-13
The chapter includes this pertinent section of what are, “the true marks of a Christian, “in verses 9-21, today we are focusing on verses 12-13.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Rejoicing in hope is a call throughout the scriptures, a call to place our hope outside of ourselves and in the One who is over all. When hope is placed in the unmovable, unstoppable and unchanging person of Christ, our hope is sure. To realize that hope, you must focus on that hope and not on the circumstances occurring about us. Sometimes keeping focus is a challenge…everything is vying for our attention, calling out, grabbing at us, but it is a learned Christian discipline (practice) to place hope, which translates into trust, in Jesus alone. Not Jesus plus something else, like Jesus and all things working the way that makes me comfortable or Jesus plus no troubles in this life. Difficult times give us practice in this discipline, allowing us to become more accustomed and learning to trust in our time of need.
In the words of scripture, in John 14:1, Jesus told his disciples,
“Let not your hearts be troubled, trust in God, trust also in me.”
This was a favorite scripture of Charles Dennis, and he quoted it in times of trouble.
The hymn, “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” has the refrain,
“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!”
This refrain includes the proof of times past and the need for his grace in the future. Our hope is always to be exercised, may his grace enable us to do so!
Patience is also a part of character that takes exercise to get it into shape. Easily flabby and not strong, it does not get perfected on its own, but through trial and practical application. The American culture is about comfort and ability to obtain whatever an individual wants, this is so at all economic levels, depending on what makes someone happy. Patience is allowing God to intervene and looking to His will, not our will.
We are taught in the Lord’s Prayer,
“ Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
This is literally Jesus teaching us to let go and let God have first place, in all things. The impatience we have with others and situations are due to our lack of control or inability to control our personal situation to our liking. If God is in control, then we need to approach life in that manner.
He has this situation and may this be our prayer…
“Lord help me to submit to your plan, may my plans all be part of your plan, and may my response show forth that I am trusting you…..”
Tribulation is never easy; we live in the wealthiest nation in the world. We are called the “First World” as to living conditions. We do not live with the problems of Third World nations: hunger, poverty, and sickness without help. In light of our current tribulation, may we show trust in God and exercise patience with others, especially with those who are in close quarters.
Being constant in prayer is a call to be a person of prayer. This is not abnormal for Christians, but rather the standard. It shouts to all involved that Jesus is in charge and that we are dependent upon him.
We are also reminded of this in I Thessalonians 5:17-18,
“ Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
When we pray, we are saying to God, “I am submitting to you, help me in my time of need.”
In Psalms 14, we are told, “the fool has said in his heart, there is no god,” when we fail to trust God in prayer, we are agreeing with the fool. Prayer is best in simple form, with direct requests and with thanksgiving while praying, Thy will be done.
Last but not least today, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Seek out each other in our church through phone, email, Facebook, Skype/Facetime or for a few, over the fence. Encourage one another and seek to help those who are in need.
May the blessings of Jesus overflow among us.