Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hope, Joy and Peace

Hope, joy and peace...who doesn't long for more of these? As lovers of Jesus, these are our birthrights! This is part of the GOOD NEWS...yes, Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven eternally, but temporally, He has given these treasures as well, more than the anxiety, concern, fatigue and uncertainty I get trapped in! In light of this, I love the verse Romans 15:13
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
I am encouraged that the God of hope is the one doing the filling, like the teapot in the picture...He is the rich source, not me having to grasp at something. He is such a kind father and giver of good gifts! And who doesn't want to be filled with joy and peace...sometimes that almost seems too good to be true! The part that I get stuck at is "trust"...sure in my mind I know I can trust Him, but my heart is weak and honestly I think I try to get my life in order, or problems solved first, then when I'm not anxious or stirred up about something, there will be plenty of room for trust. This never happens! Swing and a miss! Trust cannot be circumstance dependent!

I looked up the key words in this beloved verse in the Websters dictionary and rewrote it using the definitions and inserting personal pronouns...this verse took on even deeper meanings, more encouragement and really speaks to my heart...here's what I found:
"May the God of (trust in whom is my confidence) (put in me as much as I can hold, satisfy, feed) me with all (emotions of well being, delight) and (freedom from disquieting/oppressive thoughts, security) as I (place my confidence, depend, hope, am without fear, rely on truth) in Him, so that I may (flow over the brim) with (trust, confidence in Him) by the (authority, physical might, means of supplying energy, influence) of the Holy Spirit."
I am challenged by asking myself how much room is there in my heart for the Holy Spirit to supply delight and security so that trust in God would flow over my brim.

able to jump to the wrong conclusion in a single bound!
For me, the phrase "freedom from disquieting/oppressive thoughts" holds a key the type of vessel I allow myself to be. This takes on a whole new meaning to "taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). This is my role in preparing my heart to receive the peace and joy the Holy Spirit would love to supply. As an act of worship and obedience I can keep my thought life in check, resisting figuring out solutions to troubles on my own or letting empathetic feelings rule when I hear of a tragedy...these are burdens I easily pick up and carry and I grow weak and anything but joyful and peaceful. In a way, it is saying I don't trust God to carry these, I must do it. As I gaze at the broken world we live in, what do I see...brokeness and if I dwell on that it declares hopelessness. BUT God is the God of HOPE, He is a redeemer...one who makes things new and better than the original...He must be my gaze above what I see on earth.

For two days, when I've been tempted to dwell on tragedies, brokeness or things I simply wish were different for myself or others I love...I have simply said, "no, I will not elevate these...Jesus thank You that You see these and You have the answer. Show me my part if there is one, otherwise I choose to trust You to work all things together for good with Your wisdom and many resources and I ask You to work in that situation, etc." In a way, I am setting Jesus Christ apart to worship Him and not circumstances. And you know what...there is delight and security filling in my heart...hmmm...aren't these "code" words for joy and peace?! The source - the Holy Spirit, the vessel - my heart that chose to empty itself of oppressive thoughts to place my confidence in Him. And the overflow or the flowing over the brim - hopefully my mouth. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him." Matt. 12:34-35

What's coming out of your mouth? What topics do you find yourself thinking/stewing/talking about? Are these emphasizing the fallen world or trust in the God of hope? Are you carrying burdens as if there is no God bigger than yourself like I was? Take notice of your thoughts and words, these could be the joy robbers of your soul and the stealer of confidence in God. We need to emply our hearts of self, the world and lies so they may be filled...like trying to fill a watering can with water that is 3/4 filled with sand, the overflow will be murky water, but an empty vessel fills with pure water and pours forth clear, refreshing streams. Similarly, a stuffed up heart will not have much room for the joy and peace the Holy Spirit longs to supply to overflowing. Here's to the hope, joy and peace that Jesus longs to give and we so desperately need!

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