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March 16, 2010

Joy Peace and Hope Overflowing

By Anthony Wade

Joy Peace and Hope Overflowing


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 America is 50%. Too often we put our hope in someone else only to be let down. But when you come to Christ and your expectations are centered in Him, there is hope which never ends. As our key verse teaches, God is the God of hope. David understood the difference between hope in the world and hope in God:

"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.

The truth is there is no self-help only God help. If we could truly help ourselves, we wouldn't need God. When God fills us with joy and peace all the junk we carry around in our life must be forced out. Picture yourself as a bottle and as God is filling you with His joy and peace, all the mess in your life is forced out by the filling process. All the bitterness that prohibits joy; all the feelings of anxiety which prohibit peace. The mere presence of God alone is enough:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1John 4:18

God is perfect love and He will cast out your fear as He fills you with peace. Even Jesus differentiated between the peace of the world and His peace:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

When you receive the peace of God, your hearts will not be troubled and fear will flee. So how do we receive this filling process? Is it something we ask for, pray for, or wait for? The answer is in the key verse. We must trust in God. In fact it is stated as a causal relationship. As we trust in Him, so He will fill us with all joy and peace. It is our continued trust in God that causes Him to further fill us with His joy and peace. Sounds simple enough right? Sign me up!

Not so fast. It is not in our nature to be that trusting. The world taught us well to distrust. In fact, the world also reinforces the show-me mentality. There has to be proof, not faith. Because by definition:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

The world demands validation and scoffs at faith. It is easy to say we trust in God but harder when that trust is needed in our dire situations. When the medical report is unfavorable we need to trust in our healer God. When we lose our job we need to trust in our provider God. When we lose a loved one we need to trust in the giver of eternal life God. It is at those moments that our faith is tested. It is at those moments that we must deepen our trust in God. As we do He will continue to fill us with His joy and His peace. That is how this formula works. When you are facing unemployment you can trust the world that says the economy is in shambles or you can trust God who says:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

If you trust the world, you will be filled with uncertainty and doubt. You will be filled with cynicism and anxiety. But as you trust in God you will be filled with joy from knowing who your provider is and peace from having your expectations centered on the God who spoke the universe into existence! This is how the formula works. When you are facing the report of man that says your medical condition is beyond hope whose report will you believe? Believing in the report of the experts of man will lead you into despair and hopelessness. But as you trust in God He will fill you with His joy from knowing who your healer is and peace from having your expectations centered on Almighty God who knows you a bit more personally than your doctor:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. Psalm 139: 13

No matter how dire the situation trust God! The more you trust Him the more His joy and peace fill your life; eliminating the anxieties and miseries of the world. Continuing in the key verse we see the result of being filled with joy and peace is so we can overflow with hope! Remember, hope was defined as someone (or thing) we center our expectations in. When the world defines what our hope is in, we are never at peace; never fully in joy. We cannot be because the things of this world are transitory by nature they are passing on. They are temporal and temporary.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2Corinthians 4: 17-18

Look how the Bible defines the very things which we worry so much over "light and momentary." These problems are actually achieving for us an eternal glory. How? By the formula found in the key verse! The more we trust Him in the midst of our trials, the more he fills us with His joy and peace, which results in an overflowing hope. As our hope is in Him the eternal pushes out the temporal.

The key verse ends with the secret to the formula the power of the Holy Spirit. Let's be real. It is not easy to ignore the world. It is not easy to avoid the distractions of the enemy. It is difficult to defer to faith instead of what we can see. The Bible may say that we walk by faith not by sight but when what we believe in the pages of the Bible demand a physical witness in our lives, we can waver. We can believe the report of the doctor. We can despair in the unemployment. The victorious Christian life is not about denying feelings but about making them obedient to Christ.

Let's look at Peter. After being specifically told by Jesus that he would deny Him three times that very night, one would think that Peter would be wary on the lookout vigilant. Instead, the chaos of the arrest of Jesus dispersed the Apostles and Peter found himself trying to find out what was happening to Jesus:

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. "You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus," she said. But he denied it. "I don't know or understand what you're talking about," he said, and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, "This fellow is one of them." Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean." He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, "I don't know this man you're talking about." Mark 14: 66-71

When the world came against Peter he quickly gave up what he believed for what he felt. He gave into his fears instead of standing on his faith. Yet after the ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost, we see a different Peter. Now filled with the Holy Spirit, he overflows with what he believes. His fears are taken into obedience in Christ. Even when standing before the powerful Sanhedrin. Once frightened by a servant girl, now Peter is able to speak from his place of eternal overflow:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Acts 4: 8-10

Filled with the Holy Spirit! Now the once frightened Apostle is standing up to people who could have had him imprisoned or killed. His faith is now firm in the eternal, not what he sees or feels. His joy is unspeakable and his peace is secure. The same is available to us as believers too. We just have to realize that it is not by our might but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6) that we can do anything, believe anything, and have our hope truly overflow. Trust in Him and let Him fill you today to that glorious overflow.

Reverend Anthony Wade March 16, 2010

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.