Hope For While You Hope

There’s this old church saying that goes, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.”

I usually don’t like old church sayings but whoever came up with this one had a point. I’ve known quite a few people who were so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good.

Like the lady I knew when I was a kid who invited people over to her house for prayer and dinner. Without the dinner. Her rationale was that dinner got in the way of prayer. “We don’t eat, we pray,” were her exact words if I remember correctly.

And let’s not forget the folks who are kind enough this time of year to use Facebook to remind us of how many people went to hell while we were watching that last touchdown drive.

Man, I wish that this was just a problem with other people. I’ve got no problem with eating while praying and I’ll definitely be watching the Super Bowl but I’ve got my own ways of being so heavenly minded that I’m no earthly good.

The older I get, the more suffering I see. I hate it.

Parents are diagnosed with ALS.

Divorce ravages a seemingly healthy family.

Suicide.

Wars.

Terrorist attacks.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

I find myself saying that a lot lately. And that’s good. Christians should remember that Jesus has given us a hope beyond this life. But we must also remember that he has given us hope in this life. If we forget that, we’re well on our way to becoming another casualty of the Heavenly Minded Brigade.

In Romans 5, Paul reminds us of what God has given his people, not just in the life to come, but in this one as well.

1. Christian, God has given you victory over fear.

Your boss might fire you. The IRS may audit you. Despite your best efforts, peace with your fellow man is not guaranteed. But, because of Jesus, peace with God is guaranteed. Safe in the care of your Father, you have nothing to fear.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 (ESV)

2. Christian, God is with you.

You have access to him. You don’t need to get to him through a pastor, priest or pope. You don’t have to wait for Sunday to come. Because of Jesus, you can stand before your Father now. And, because of Jesus, you can do so confidently.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2 (ESV)

3. Christian, you have legitimate hope.

This isn’t the, “I hope that the Falcons win the Super Bowl” kind of hope that leaves you disappointed every October when you finally realize that it’s just not going to happen.

It’s a hope that points you to the day when Jesus returns and all things are made right.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2 (ESV)

But Paul tells us that it’s even more than that. It’s a hope that is very much present during your trials.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3-4 (ESV)

In the middle of suicides, divorces, wars, attacks and everything else that comes with life in a fallen world, God is working. He is working over all things. That includes you. He is shaping you to be more like his Son. That is the Christian’s hope even during the most intense times of suffering.

4. Christian, God loves you.

I know. It sounds like another one of those old church sayings. But, again, this one is true. Jesus’ death on the cross is a historical event and a theological fact. But it is so much more. It is proof that God loves you. And God’s love is more than a feeling that we sing about in songs. It is very real. It has been poured into your heart.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5 (ESV)

5. Christian, the Holy Spirit is with you.

I’ve been a baptist my whole life. I grew up in a baptist church. I’m now the pastor of a baptist church. I know baptist culture. Part of our culture tends to act as if the Holy Spirit is just for the folks at the weird church down the road where they play with snakes. It’s as if we believe that accepting what the Bible tells us about the Holy Spirit is going to turn us into Benny Hinn or one of the other hucksters on TV.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5 (ESV)

Christian, and I’m looking at you, my fellow baptists, when God saved you, he gave you the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is not some force or good luck charm. He is a person. He is God. And he is working to show you more of Jesus.

I’ll leave you with another old church saying.

“There’s a better home awaiting.”

That one is right too.

But it makes no sense for us to live defeated in our current home while we await our new one. God loves you. He is with you. He is not done with you.

You have hope. Even now.

So act like it.

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