THE LOVE OF GOD HAS BEEN POURED OUT WITHIN OUR HEARTS

Romans 5:4 – The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Imagine, the God of all creation has poured out His love in the heart of every believer. The Lord does this through the Holy Spirit when He is given to the believer. We have been devoting ourselves to the subject of faith and hope. We now will consider love and how it is the foundation to faith and hope.

“In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). A major issue which Paul had to address was the question concerning the need to be circumcised in order to legitimately be a Christian. Paul is clear on the subject. Only faith working by love matters.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians and listed many things that confirmed his calling and apostolic ministry. Within the list he cites, “. . . in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7). Every believer has been called to freedom in Christ. This freedom empowers us to serve others. The heart of the gospel of the kingdom is in “serving others.” This involves reaching out to another who is hurting, broken, and trying to find their way to God. We are to use our freedom for their benefit. We are to never take advantage of a brother or sister to benefit ourselves. Paul says, “Through love serve one another.”

The love of God is difficult to grasp. It is foreign to the various types of human love. The love of God requires one to give up their life for the sake of another. It is impossible to operate in God’s love without the Holy Spirit’s participation. He has to impart the Love of God and then we must receive His love. Finally, we choose to administer His love to another.

In John 21:15-19, the Lord sought to help Peter come to know the love of God by asking him, “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus did this three times. Each time, as Peter answered in the affirmative, Jesus directed him to take care of His lambs. In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit to go to the Gentiles, proclaiming the love of God. They experienced beatings and stoning in their ministry. In spite of the despicable way they were treated, they pressed forward in faith and hope motivated by the love of God revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, I ask You to fill me day by day with Your love, drawing me ever deeper into intimacy with You. I pray to know more and more of the love of God found in Christ Jesus, my Lord. I ask You to help me to grow up into a fuller manifestation of Christ’s love for others, and to come closer to loving as You love.

HOPE AGAINST HOPE

Romans 4:18 – In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So Shall Your Descendants Be.”

This is an interesting scripture. Abraham “hoped” because he believed. All the evidence was against such a position. The Scriptures indicate that Abraham gave consideration to his body and his age, but he did not become weak in his faith. Abraham trusted the “promise” of God. At age 100, He did not waver in unbelief, even though all evidence suggested he should just accept his physical condition. Physically speaking, he could not produce children. “Abraham grew strong in faith giving God the glory” (Romans 4:20). Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able to perform. Is it any wonder he is called the “father of the faithful”?

As believers in Christ, it is important to realize that we received our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand. Our greatest expectation is hope of the glory of God. At the same time, we glory in tribulation. The reason we are to glory in tribulation is because it produces a number of attributes. “Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Abraham knew tribulation, but faith grew because he believed God’s promise over rational reasoning. This kind of language and suggestion is an offense to the natural man. It is why the Scriptures speak of the cross as an offense. How can belief in the death of Christ bring about eternal life for individuals? It just does not make sense to the rational man. On the other hand, the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually understood. It takes the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ. It takes the Holy Spirit to give us faith and hope. Through the Holy Spirit, love is poured out within our hearts.

Faith, hope, and love are three cords that cannot be easily broken. The greatest of the three is love. It is love that undergirds everything else. As a believer, it is important to nurture these three attributes. They find their greatest development in a believer’s life through challenges which create an atmosphere for their development. What challenges are you facing today? Inquire of the Lord about developing faith for those challenges. Let faith become the substance of hope toward your challenge. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you walk in faith by love.

Father, grant me grace to live a life of faith, producing hope, and working by love. As Abraham of old had hope against hope, I pray that I too, might live in a high level of hope when facing impossible circumstances in my life.

FAITH, THE SUBSTANCE OF HOPE

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 lays the foundation for faith. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has been called “the honor role of faith.” Note how the writer begins verse 1, “now faith is.” What a powerful expression of absolute trust. The writer does not say faith might be, but is! Is what? It is the assurance of the things hoped for. I like the way the King James expresses this passage. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” KJV. I appreciate the word “substance” because it speaks of the spiritual material from which hope is formed. Material objects have “molecules”, whereas biblical faith is the spiritual molecules of “hope.” This expectation of hope means “an absolute confidence.” It is so real it is made of the “evidence of things not seen”.

The rational mind has great difficulty with this kind of thinking. The spiritual person knows this kind of thinking is what causes miracles to take place through a believer. As a believer in Christ, our hope is in His resurrection power. “We had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. He will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-11). This is New Testament Christianity! Listen how Paul expresses hope to the Roman believers. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Jesus, when quoting Isaiah 42:2 declares “He will lead justice to victory” (Matthew 12:20). The Pharisees had gone out to conspire against the Lord how they may destroy Him. Jesus, aware of their plans, withdrew Himself and then healed the sick and gave the people warnings. He quoted Isaiah 42:2-3 so the people would know He was the one fulfilling Isaiah’s prophetic declaration. Our hope is rooted in Jesus because He fulfilled the prophetic words given by the Prophets of old. God’s word has proven true. Christ’s resurrection established God’s covenant forever. As we trust in Christ, we are brought into a place of “assurance and conviction” that makes up our faith. Faith is the substance of our hope. We can experience peace and joy presently, while waiting for His return. “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).

Our faith flows out of our hope in the resurrection. We are to work His works in faith as we wait for His return and the glory that will be revealed. Pray to grow in the substance of faith that your hope may be firm and increase unto His coming. Let hope be settled about who you are in Christ. Grow in faith that will move mountains of resistance. By faith see the victory over sin, sickness, demonic strongholds, and anything else that would dare to resist God’s purpose in your life.

Father, by Your Spirit, I ask You to help me be one who moves in faith. Cause hope to increase in me as the substance of faith enlarges and my confidence grows. Give me courage to resist doubt and unbelief. Use me to bring others to faith and hope through the power of Your Holy Spirit residing in me.

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE – THE KEY TO VICTORY

1 Corinthians 13:13 – Now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Normally you do not think of spiritual warfare when reciting 1 Corinthians 13:13. These three pillars of the Christian walk are essential to our battle against the enemy. These three weapons have power to destroy the enemy’s entrenchment in the mind of believers and will pull down strongholds of arguments against Christ.

We begin with faith, not only because it is mentioned first, but because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus would often declare that one’s faith had made the individual whole. The biblical definition of faith is that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith operates out of assurance. Assurance comes by the promises of God’s word. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The context of Romans 10 begins with Christ as the end of the law for righteousness. Righteousness has its root in Christ alone.

Romans 10:6 quotes Deuteronomy 30:14, stating that the righteousness based on faith speaks of the word of God being near us, that is in our mouth and in our heart. Faith operates by the word of God taking root in our heart and then being formed in our mouth. Both our mouth and our heart are connected with righteousness. We think in righteous terms and we speak with righteous words.

When we were in the flesh, our heart and mouth produced works of the flesh. Jesus said, “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders” (Matthew 15:18-19). In Christ, our heart and mouth are to be used as instruments of righteousness producing life.

In his letter, James connects “faith and works.” James asks the question, “If someone says he has faith but he has no works, can that faith save him? Faith is spoken, but the kind of faith that brings about results is the faith of Christ which always produces works of righteousness. Christ-like faith will reach out into the community and set the captives free from sin, sickness, demonic oppression, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the first pillar of three. Today, why not believe God for an infilling of His Holy Spirit in the realm of faith? Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and cleanse any areas needing to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. Trust the Holy Spirit to put “the word of faith” into your mouth. Saints, be established in a lifestyle of faith!

Father, search my heart and see if there be any wicked thing in me. I ask to be made wholly consecrated Lord, to Thee. I pray to be established in faith and be used of the Holy Spirit to set others free from every stronghold of the enemy binding up their life.

REMAINING FAITHFUL

1 John 2:24 – If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father (KJV).

Abiding is an important topic of the New Testament. In the last hours of His earthly life, Jesus taught His disciples what it meant to abide in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

For some, John 15 can be a difficult chapter because of the illustration of removing branches and casting them away. It is important to understand that Jesus is speaking to His apostles. They are the ones He is sending into the world to lay the foundation of His Church by preaching the “goodness of His kingdom.” Judas, who was named among the apostles, was really an agent of the devil. The Jewish people saw themselves as the “special people of God.” Jesus is now defining who the people of God really are. Apart from Jesus, nothing can be done that has eternal significance.

The sum total of what Jesus came to accomplish is found in the Father and the Son taking up a place of residence in the believer through their indwelling Holy Spirit. In John’s gospel account, he calls this “abiding.” In John’s letter to the church, he again calls this work of God “abiding.” God’s will is to abide in every part of the believer’s life. The Father and the Son’s desire is for the believer to manifest their nature in every area of one’s life.

The word abiding speaks of fellowship. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (1 John 1:3-4). Abiding in Christ is what produces fellowship with the Father and the Son. It also is the foundation of relationship among believers. There is a wonderful joy when one learns about an individual they know who has entered into a fellowship with the Father and the Son. The other day, a friend was sharing with me his recent experience with God. I was filled with joy and it allowed me to share with him deeper things in Christ than I had previously shared.

Father, I want to grow in my relationship with You. Lead me to abide in You so that Your will might be established fully in my life. I have determined to press into You. I ask You to supply the needed grace in my life to be Your faithful servant.