Joy, Peace, and Hope Overflowing
Romans 15:13 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 .
Joy, peace, and hope. Three things that everyone pursues and covets in this world; whether a believer or not. Joy is defined as, "a state of happiness." Not a fleeting time or a passing moment but a state of being. The joy the world sells is usually temporary and the cost exorbitant. The world will tell you to seek your joy in material possessions and selfish ambition but those are momentary. Just watch the tabloid news long enough and you will see celebrity after celebrity living miserable existences devoid of joy. Peace is defined as, "freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, or obsession." Everyone is seeking peace. All anxiety, distraction, annoying or obsessive thinking comes from the enemy. It is designed to have us take our focus off of Jesus Christ and onto our feelings or our situations. Peace is the ability to take any of the distractions and thoughts and make them obedient to Christ:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2Corinthians 10:5
Hope is defined as, "a person or thing in which expectations
are centered." What does the world offer for us to place our hope in? Money?
You may only need a dollar and a dream but keep dreaming. Science? Evolution says we evolved from monkeys
and have a bright future as dirt. Not a lot of hope there. Other people? The
current divorce rate in
"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39: 4-7
Our hope must be in Him but how do we get there? Romans 15:13 shows us the interconnectedness of these pursuits. One does not just randomly overflow with hope. There are factors involved in achieving that in our lives. First of which is that joy and peace must come from God. The key verse teaches that it is God that fills us with all joy and peace. Not some of our joy and peace, but all of it. Too often we can come to Christ and only turn over part of our life to Him. We hold onto the things we do not want to let go of. Our secret sin, our pride, our greed. Whatever it is. Remember, there is a battle raging for your attention. The world wants your attention just as much as God does. The enemy of your soul is constantly trying to distract you to sell you the joy and peace of the world. In the parable of the rich fool we see a man who has been abundantly blessed by God, to the point that he did not know what to do with the overflow:
"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' Luke 12: 18-19
The world convinced him that he would find joy and peace by taking life easy but all it did was distract him from giving thanks to God who provided the abundant harvest. Similarly, God provides all of our abundant harvests as well. The new job, the raise, the steady relationship, the unexpected windfall. The enemy will whisper in your ear as he did to the rich fool. He will tell you that you deserved and earned the harvest. He will distract you into thinking that it was all about you, when it was really all about God. The rich fool's life was required of him that same night. The promises the world sells you are just as short-lived. The joy dies quickly and the peace disappears. Books and videos on self help and pop-psychology abound in the world and have even infiltrated Christian circles.