Monday, November 16, 2009

Joy, Peace, Hope

When Curt and I started dating, he was mortified that my Bible was a gift from an old boyfriend, complete with a mushy love note written in the front cover. Given the fact that "Forever" ended up being a little over a year, I whited out all the mushy stuff and kept using my well-worn Bible where I could find favorite verses in no time flat. Eventually Curt got sick of seeing my old Bible and bought me a beautiful new one with my married name imprinted on the front cover. Can't white that out! My new Bible has become my prized possession and is the first study Bible I have ever had. It must be at least 4 inches thick, with large font, notes on every confusing verse, history tidbits, maps, charts, concordances and dictionaries. It's so big that I've resorted to using a quiet time bag for easier transport.

Last week I was digging through my nightstand and I stumbled upon my old Bible with the whited out love letter. It's a thin-line, which means the pages are about the thickness of tissue paper and the font is so small that you need a magnifier to read it, but it has the entire Bible condensed into a tiny little size that fits in my purse and doesn't require a trip to the chiropractor after toting it around. I shoved it in my purse and have really enjoyed reading it while I'm on the incumbent bike at the gym. Reading the Word refreshes my spirit and makes a monotonous chore fly by.

Today I plowed through the last half of Romans, a book that is well-written but difficult to understand if you don't have your game face on. I asked God to open my mind to understand these last few chapters and multiple times I had to back up and whisper the text out loud to make sense of it all. I'm sure I was quite a sight sweating on the bike, holding my beat-up Bible directly in front of my face to read the tiny font and talking to myself.

I love how Paul prays. He often just bursts into prayer in the middle of his letters. He did this twice in Romans 15 and each prayer spoke to my heart. Romans 15:5 says, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus." Being an runner, I couldn't help but think of a race. What do I need to run a race well? Endurance. Encouragement. And a spirit of unity among the runners ups the fun factor immensely. Life with Christ is like running a marathon. To do it well we need endurance, encouragement and unity among the body of Christ. I was challenged to evaluate my life in light of these things. Am I utilizing God's endurance or quitting because it got too hard? Am I allowing God to encourage me? And am I being an encouragement to others? Am I an agent of unity in my circle of influence or am I divisive?

Verse 13 says, "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." On Sunday our pastor defined hope as "confident expectation." Being hopeful is not wishful thinking. It's confidently waiting on and expecting God to move. Who doesn't want to overflow with hope?!? The promise to fill me with joy and peace as I trust in Him was salve to my soul. As women, we tend to choose depression, anxiety, fear and worry. But God wants us to be filled with joy, peace and hope. Let's in unity come together and intentionally choose joy, peace and hope as we trust in our awesome God.

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