I wonder if you have ever felt a bit worn out or worried? I am sure this is an experience many of us can relate to and clearly is something Paul is familiar with as well.
In this passage, the apostle Paul is encouraging the early church in Rome that God is a God of ‘hope’ and of joy and of peace. ‘Hope’ is something we talk about a lot at Prison Fellowship. But when we talk about ‘hope’, it is not a ‘crossed-fingers hope’ but an assurance in a God who is certain about the future and what He has in store for us. This ‘God of hope’ promises to help us in our times of worry and exhaustion by helping us recharge and filling us with joy and peace.
How does He do this? The verse shares that He does this in two ways: Firstly, through the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all those who trust in Jesus. And secondly, through our own experience of God in our daily life – we can continually choose to ‘put our trust in Him’ every day.
I love to read this verse alongside Ephesians 3:14-21. We see again both how the Holy Spirit works in us from within to strengthen us and how trusting in Him is about realising how much God loves us: “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (v.18b). I have realised over the past few months that I do not do this enough – simply just enjoying God and His love.
I recently pulled a book off my bookshelf that I had clearly bought at some stage and had never read – one of those great intentions on a church house party. I have been very blessed by the book which is very readable. It is called The Roots of Endurance by John Piper and he looks at the lives of three great evangelicals of the 18th century: John Newton, Charles Simeon and William Wilberforce.
Piper explores the lives of all three evangelicals to draw out the truths of Christian endurance. One of the common themes is spending time with God and ‘enjoying God.’ What results from spending time enjoying God is further trust in God.
Charles Simeon, a minister in Cambridge, put it this way:
So let us today just seek to spend time every so often contemplating and enjoying God’s love and character, and in so doing, open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit working inside us and filling us with God’s joy and peace.
Peter Harlock is PF’s new Chair of the Board of Trustees. He is based in Norfolk and involved with his local prison there.
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