Hope of Holiness

Peace, hope, love, and endurance are the keywords that jump out to me in the first five verses of Romans 5. In verse 5, the Apostle Paul says “hope does not put us to shame….” So, why are we prone to let shame grab hold of us? Why would we pay any attention to shame-based messages from others? It could be that we confuse conviction with shame. 

Feeling appropriately guilty about words and actions that are harmful to ourselves is useful when we allow the Holy Spirit to change us. Shame, on the other hand, turns us inward and away from God. 

Peace, hope, love, and endurance take hard work. We all make mistakes and fail to achieve the holiness and purity we seek. Yet, peace can be ours when we remember the grace God has bestowed and continues to show us. Hope drives us forward toward change. Love sustains our desire to please God and endurance builds our characters as we persevere.  

God does not want your shame. Reconciliation with God brings peace to our souls, hope for positive change within, love for God and others, and endurance to continue on this great journey we call, Christianity.

May God bless you and bring you closer to holiness and purity each day. 

Pastor Don

Scripture ref: Romans 5:1-5

Good News

Jesus Christ speaks to our hopes and dreams. Do we hope for good things to happen? Or, do we always expect the worst? Some hope to have enough to take care of our needs. Others dream of freedom from addictive behaviors, abusive relationships, or toxic employers. We all seek clarity and vision to achieve our relationship, employment, spiritual, physical, and emotional goals. 

In Luke’s Gospel, we read that Jesus boldly proclaimed that he had fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 61. This prophecy is full of powerful promises that brought hope to generations of God’s people. The hope is awakened in a new and powerful way as Jesus says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

There are those who are poor and then there are those who are trapped in a mindset of poverty. The poverty mindset crushes hopes and maintains the promise that nothing will bring satisfaction, peace, or prosperity. It traps one into believing that evil will prevail and darkness will overcome the light. Jesus proclaimed victory over this mindset.

You, who have no hope, look to He who has been anointed by God “to bring good news…release…(freedom)…and favor.”

Good news is proclaimed to those who lack joy, peace, and comfort. The good news is that Jesus Christ embodies all of these qualities. Release is proclaimed to those who are bound. For freedom is found in full submission to the love and grace of God through Jesus Christ. Clarity and vision are promised to those who follow the Light and know Him by name. Favor follows those who know they are redeemed and who live in the faith of that promise. 

May you hear, believe, and receive that promise today.

Pastor Don

Hope

When we were children, we hoped for our long-awaited presents on Christmas morning. Every year, we hoped for short school days and long summers full of friends and fun. We hoped for fun family vacations, our favorite foods at meal time, excitement, happiness, and security. We had hope. 

Sometimes, at times our hopes were crushed. Our classes seemed to last forever, summer went too fast, vacations were cancelled, mom decided to cook liver and broccoli, friends moved away, families broke up.

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. As many of you know, there are five candles in an Advent wreath that symbolize hope, love, joy, and peace. Just think about the power of these words. Hope, love, joy, peace. The center candle is, of course, the Christ Candle. Jesus Christ in our world makes all of these things possible. 

Hope is a powerful thing. Hope can make hard times bearable. As adults, we hope to finish school, for better jobs, big families, a winning lottery ticket, growth in our churches and growth in our finances.

Unfortunately, hope sometimes seems hard to find. We have to drop out of school, we lose jobs, our marriages crumble, our churches decline and our finances are depleted.

Mark 13:24-27 says, “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

What do we do when our hopes are unfulfilled? We continue to hope. We do not hope to run away or escape. We hope to see the fulfillment of hope. We hope to see the Son of Man. We hope to see Jesus Christ. We hope to become. We to become the hands and feet of Christ in a dark and evil world. We hope to become the love of God to those who feel unloved. We hope to become the source of joy to others through our service and by our presence. We can become instruments of God’s hope, love, joy, and peace in our homes, workplaces, churches, and communities.

In this Advent Season, we sing, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel because we long to be people of God. We long to become people of hope.