Summary: The Word of God has given us the ingredients for a blessed life.
There is an artistic picture that the artist gave a simple title to, “Hope”. It’s a simple drawing but the image is powerful. It is the picture of an old burned out mountain shack (cabin). It’s not a picture of a beautiful house in the suburbs, or a massive farm house in the country surrounded by a picket fence, not a spacious mansion on the boulevard. But a run down small mountain shack. All that remained of the shack was half of a wall and the chimney, the charred debris of what had been that family’s sole possession. In front of this destroyed home stood what appeared to be an old grandfather-looking man dressed in his coveralls and a night shirt. There beside him was a little boy who appeared to be crying as they are looking at the remains of the shack. The old man has his arms around the boy as if he is consoling him, and he has the other hand with a finger pointed toward the heavens. Beneath the picture were the words which the author felt the old man was speaking to the boy. They were simple word, but they presented a profound theology and philosophy of life. Those words were:
“HUSH, CHILD, GOD IS NOT DEAD”!
Here we are in a New Year, and the lay of the land looks much like the lay of the land last year, the calendar says it’s a New Year, but it appears that the struggles and the stretching of last year decided to see what the New Year looks like as well. The imps of hell and the demons are still at work, the negatives and the naysayers, the agitators and the aggravators somehow found a way to join you in the New Year. And so the tests and the prayer is to learn to flow in the blessings and the favor of God in the face of your inflamed situations, in the face of your charred out dwelling! You need to hear what the old man was saying: HUSH, CHILD, GOD IS NOT DEAD!
I think that in the text, Paul is trying to bring some synergy between both Jews and Gentiles! He wants the Jews to know that they are covered by the promise that God made to Abraham if they continue to walk in the faith of Christ (vs. 8), and that Gentiles are covered if they walk in the faith of the Cross (vs. 9). And He gives ingredients that keeps the faithful encouraged and lifted up; it keeps the faithful uplifted and pressing forward. This is the oil of our lamps!
I. The God of Hope (Ingredient one)
Now the God of hope. In a new year when its looks unsettling politically, and unnerving financially, and upheavals are on the agenda, I want to insure that I have the God of Hope in my ingredients of this year.
With the God of Hope:
There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them. And you may have to detach your self from people who have grown hopeless.
Hope is the counter language for defeat, it’s the counter language for disaster. There is a Tibetan saying that says, trials, tragedy, and tough times should be utilized as a source of strength ---- no matter what sort of difficulty, how painful the experience, if we loose our hope ---- that is our greatest disaster.
And as long as I have him, I am in possession of a hope that is greater than me. It does not mean that I will not fret; it does not mean that I will not fear, and it does not mean that I will not worry. It does mean that I am going to trust that the God of hope is at the helm.
When something happens that goes against me, when something happens that places me in the vulnerable place, when I am stranded between insanity and uncertainty, between desperation and doubt, between my what next Lord. How to get through this Lord? The God of HOPE!
II. To be fill with Joy (Ingredient 2)
Joy is not happiness, because happiness is conditional. Often our happiness revolves around things and people. So when you do not have the things or when you loose the things, you become unhappy. When your happiness is predicated on people, then your happiness fluctuates, it’s moody.
Joy is not the presence of perfection in life, nor is joy the absence of trials and troubles.
Joy is having the insurance that I am covered against any calamities, against all collision. It’s the assurance that there is something deep down that when I am crushed, it rises, when I am depressed, it breaks through, when I am lonely, it comforts me, when I am sad it cheers me. Joy is knowing that I am never alone.