October 31, 2017

Romans 15:4

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

Finding Encouragement, Patience and Hope.

The knowledge of the Scriptures affects our attitude toward the
present and the future. The more we know about what God has done in
years past, the greater the confidence we have about what he will do
in the days ahead. We should read our Bibles diligently to increase
our trust that God’s will is best for us. [Life Application SB]

Men whom God favored, and to whom He entrusted great
responsibilities, were sometimes overcome by temptation and committed sin, even as
we at the present day strive, waver, and frequently fall into
error. Their lives, with all their faults and follies, are open before
us, both for our encouragement and warning. If they had been
represented as without fault, we, with our sinful nature, might despair at
our own mistakes and failures. But seeing where others struggled
through discouragements like our own, where they fell under temptations
as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the
grace of God, we are encouraged in our striving after righteousness.
As they, though sometimes beaten back, recovered their ground, and
were blessed of God, so we too may be overcomers in the strength of
Jesus. On the other hand, the record of their lives may serve as a
warning to us. It shows that God will by no means clear the guilty. He
sees sin in His most favored ones, and He deals with it in them even
more strictly than in those who have less light and responsibility.
{PP 238}

Hope For All To Read
Historically, John Wycliffe has been recognized as the first
clear voice to profess that “the gospel alone is sufficient to rule
the lives of Christians.” As one might imagine, that didn’t mesh
very well with the man-made laws of the fourteenth-century church.
Responding to the mandate of Romans 15:4, Wycliffe, with his
friend John Purvey, spent the last six years of his life translating
the Latin Bible into English for all to read.
The church bitterly opposed the translation, saying, “The
scriptures have become vulgar, and they are more available today, and even
to women who can read, than they were to learned scholars, who have
a high intelligence. So the pearl of the gospel is scattered and
trodden underfoot by swine
Wycliffe’s legacy was so consequential that in 1415, more
than thirty years after his death, he was found guilty of heresy. The
church council ordered his body dug up and burned and the ashes
scattered in the river. But that did not stop the people’s hunger for
truth. Two centuries later, in the wake of the Reformation, King James
finally authorized an English version of the Bible.
John Wycliffe, a fourteenth-century rector and translator, is
known as the “Morning Star of the Reformation.” [The One Year Bible
Live Verse Devotional]

Choosing Hope
Lewis Smedes chose a provocative subtitle for his book
Standing on the Promises: “Keeping Hope Alive for a Tomorrow We Cannot
Control.”
The seeds for the book were sown after the 1992 riots in Los
Angeles, when Smedes was led “from charred ruin to charred ruin, from
burned-out hope to burnedout hope, each sad scene seducing closer to the
gully of despair.” A few weeks later, while driving, Smedes was jolted
by seeing above him a brilliant billboard above Airport Boulevard
with three words in arresting red: “KEEP HOPE ALIVE.”
To the L.A. residents with burned-out homes and businesses,
despair often trumped hope. Anyone who has endured the tragic
consequences of a degenerating culture and incessant world crises knows that
hopelessness is a tempting option. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Smedes asks, “Why do some people always abound in hope and
others always slouch to despair? How can we become more hopeful
persons? How can we keep on hoping when our fondest hopes crash on the
rugged edges of tragedy?”
The apostle Paul, who himself experienced plenty of tragedy,
was one who always abounded in hope. We see how he confronted
disaster with irrepressible hope when he wrote to the Romans, “We can
rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they
help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of
character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation”
(Romans 5:3-4 NLT). He went on to say, “Rejoice in our confident hope.
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (Romans 12:12 NLT).
Though in deep trouble, Paul emphasized hope.
Smedes says, “Choosing to keep on struggling against despair and
to keep on choosing for hope – this is to take responsibility to
write our life story empowered by hope.”
Lord, you know it’s often hard for me to feel hopeful. More
and more I realize I can’t create my own hope! It comes only from
you. Help me get my eyes off my troubles and onto your grace and
compassion for others. [The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra
re Romans 15: 4, 13 NLT]

The Lion In The Marble
Henri Nouwen used a familiar tale about Michelangelo to make
a spiritual point:
A little boy watched as the famous sculptor hammered and
chiseled at a block of marble. Pieces fell and flew away; but the child
had no idea what was happening. Weeks later, the boy returned and
was surprised by a large, powerful lion sitting in the place where
the marble block had stood. Excited, he ran to Michelangelo and
asked, “Sir, tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?”

Just as Michelangelo was able to “see” the lion in the
marble, so, too, God, the Master Sculptor, sees what we can become. He
gradually chips away at the parts that don’t belong until we finally
become all that he intends for us to be.
Nouwen writes, “Spiritual direction is the interaction
between the little child, the master sculptor, and the emerging,
beautiful marble lion.”
All that hammering and chipping, however, can be sweaty and
difficult. “Living a spiritual life is far from easy,” Nouwen admits.
“Marble doesn’t give way easily, and neither does the human spirit
quickly conform to God’s design. Being formed in God’s likeness involves
the struggle to move from absurd living to obedient living.”
Nouwen defines absurd living as deafness in which we don’t
hear the voice of the Creator who calls us to new life. Such living
is painful because it cuts us off from the essential source of our
being.
In contrast, Nouwen says, the meaning of obedience includes
the word audire, which means “listening.”
We seem much more wired to make requests and to talk than to
listen. Yet hearing what God communicates to us through his Word and his
Holy Spirit – and then responding – creates the dynamic of spiritual
growth.
Henri Nouwen challenges us to listen very carefully. “Our God
is a God who cares, heals, guides, directs, challenges, confronts,
corrects, and forms us.”
Lord, I don’t know what “lion” you might see in me, but I
want to be formed in your likeness. Help me to hear what you say and
to obey as you give me the willpower. I’ll then praise you for your
grace. [The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra re Romans
15:4, NLT]

Categories: Freedom From Fear

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