Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s epistle to the Romans is a letter that has brought both reformation and revival to the church throughout the centuries. In this portion of chapter 15, he closes by speaking a blessing over the Romans. First, he refers to the Lord as “the God of hope,” and then, he expresses his desire that the God of hope would fill the Romans with joy and peace in their believing. Next, he reminds the church of the presence of the Holy Spirit within them. The clear implication of these three thoughts is that since God is a God of hope, and the Holy Spirit is God, and the Holy Spirit is in us, then we too should be people of joy, peace, and hope.
Here is the dilemma: how do we have joy, peace, and hope when strife, contention, and suffering surround us? First of all, we know that God is unchanging, so if He is a God of hope, then He is a God of hope no matter what. Second, if we remember that He is in us, the possibility of actually experiencing joy, peace, and hope in our lives is not remote, but rather our right. So how do we get it?
As I write this devotional, I am thinking ahead to tomorrow night when I will speak to a group of high school students. One of the things I am going to talk to them about is handling peer pressure. One of the things I want to leave with them is an obvious but much needed truth today: whatever we feed our spirits will show up in our flesh.
If we continually feed our physical bodies chocolate, pizza, and burgers (I love all three), then the results of that kind of diet will show up in our bodies. So too is it true with our spirits; if we feed our spirits with things that steal, kill, and destroy joy, peace, and hope, then we create outer persons who lack joy, peace, and hope.
So what’s on your spiritual diet today? Ask yourself, Do I have any joy-killers in my life? Are peace-robbers or hope-destroyers taking up residence within me? Those things can be moral disobedience. Spirit-filled Christians cannot have the joy, peace, and hope that is rightfully theirs as believers if they knowingly live outside of the will of God and disregard the nudgings of the Holy Spirit.
The old saying is appropriate: “Garbage in, garbage out.” So if you seem to be lacking joy, peace, and hope that is unmoved by circumstances, ask yourself this question: did you remember to take out the garbage?
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