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Hopeful

I love to read the Bible because it is active. I can be reading along and then suddenly a thought leaps off the page and calls for my attention. It keeps me reading with anticipation of what God will use next to keep my life on track and inspire my mind to think more like Him. As you can imagine, that happened this morning and two thoughts will be now be my companions throughout this day.
Thought 1: Christ became a servant so He so could fulfill two very important missions. “For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (v. 8-9) The first mission was the promises of God. Throughout the Old Testament, God had given assurances to the nation of Israel. These included a ruler who would lead the nation forever, the land of Israel which was promised to them as an inheritance, forgiveness for their sins and peace on all their borders. Each and every one of these guarantees needed to be fulfilled or God would become a liar and that was simply unacceptable. Since every man in history had fallen short, it was up to the Son of God. Either He volunteered to humble Himself, become a man, and do for us what we could not for ourselves or the history of mankind and the honor of God would be forever ruined.
The second mission was to bring mercy to the Gentiles. The primary focus of the Old Testament was the relationship between God and the nation of Israel but God is the creator of all people and He has equal amounts of love for both Jewish and non-Jewish people. Out of compassion, He longed to give eternal life to all who would receive it but a payment for sin had to be made by someone. Jesus realized only He could give a sacrifice of unlimited value that would cover all sin for all people for all time. His humble act of service on the cross opened the flood gates of mercy for people who had been otherwise locked out of the promises.
Thought 2: Where peace and joy are present, hope abounds. “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.” (v. 13) Hope is that conviction that things will turn out okay. It is the assurance that God sees all and is actively working to guide and protect my life. It is the ingredient of life that prevents me from feeling defeated when circumstances are difficult. Hope does not operate in a vacuum, however. When God fills my life with joy and peace, hope overflows. It appears the human heart is wired in such a way that peace plus joy equals hope. Today that seems like good news because it kind of shook me up. I tend to build hope on clarity. If I can look to the near future and see that things will work out, I find it easy to have hope. The problem is that I can’t see very far ahead in life so it can be elusive. Rather than subject me to the expectation of knowing what is going to happen later today or early next week, God puts heavy doses of peace (the truth that I am secure in my relationship with Him) and joy (the celebration of the heart that comes with that secure relationship) which provide hope that is independent of circumstances.
Jesus, give me grace to follow your example as a servant to others so they can have this same hope.

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