Our Hope in God

Romans 5:1-5 (NASB): Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 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.

We all face disappointments in life. So often, we pray to God and our prayers are not answered in the way that we desire. When that is the case, we must trust God and realize that His ways and His purposes are higher than ours. We have very limited vision, but God sees the entire picture and we must trust Him, even when it hurts. As believers that have been “justified by faith,” we can have a certain “peace” with God that lifts us up as we go through times of unanswered prayer or in the various trials of life.

Paul wants us to understand here in Romans chapter 5, that in all circumstances, our “hope” is found in the glory of God. Through our faith in Christ, God has given us His peace that will help us to navigate anything that life in this world sends our way. It’s easy to rejoice when things are going well, but it’s much more difficult to rejoice when we are faced with trials and suffering. God’s desire is that we acknowledge Him and praise Him in the midst of our difficulties, as well as those times in life when everything is going smoothly.

We would usually prefer to not go through any trials in life, we like for everything to go as planned. And the Apostle Paul, who is very familiar with trials, exhorts us to rejoice in the midst of our trials. Now that is the kind of advice that most of us would prefer to politely decline. Rejoice in our trials? Really? When I am going through times such as these, I would much prefer to sulk and to blame God and to question Him. And after a day or so, after God has allowed me to wallow in my misery, God says, “Trust me, I am going to teach you how to persevere through this trying time.”

You see, when we go through difficult circumstances, we learn how to persevere. And Paul writes that, perseverance improves and strengthens our character, and that will in turn point us to the “hope” of God in our lives. And as we trust God to lead us through the dark passages of life, we begin to sense and experience God’s hope and love. Paul tells us that “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.” So we must persevere and rely on our “hope” in God, who promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6).

May God fill you today with His hope, His love, and His eternal peace!

Daniel Chapter 3: Don’t Compromise Your Faith

Daniel 3: 12-16 (NASB):

There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Do you have the faith that is required of you to stand firm in your faith and not compromise with the gods and idols of this world? Daniel’s three friends were given a choice: Fall down and worship a man-made idol or stand firm in your faith in God and face the consequences. Bear in mind that death in the fiery furnace was the consequence here. For many, this would be a difficult decision, but for these three young men it was a decision that was very easy to make. They were determined to stand firm in their faith in God, even if it led to a horrible death by fire.

King Nebuchadnezzar was filled with pride and arrogance and he “set up” an image of gold for all the people to bow down and worship at the appointed time. “To you the command is given, O people, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn…you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:4-6 NASB).

On the surface, what appears to be a challenging decision for these three young men was not a difficult decision at all. They had made the decision long ago in their minds when they decided to obediently follow God and not man. It’s likely they thought about the command from God when He said, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Exodus 20:4). For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, they clung to their faith in God over any fear of man. Even being unsure if God would actually deliver them, they still thought it better to lay down their lives in obedience to God rather than to bow down and worship a false idol of man. They completely trusted God to deliver them, but even if He did not choose to do so, they were determined to remain faithful to Him, even if it meant death.

God wanted to use these three faithful men to show King Nebuchadnezzar that the God of Israel is sovereign over the entire earth. Their lives were spared and God used their faith and trust in Him to bring a powerful pagan king to acknowledge and fear God. God can and will deliver His people as He so chooses. It is God who rules the world and eventually all earthly powers will bow down to Him.

Will you be completely obedient and faithful to God, or will you allow the world and its values, to influence how you live out your life? Each time we give into the world and follow its urgings, we create a distance between ourselves and God. God loves us and cares for us and in return He expects our loyalty and obedience. As Christians, we must stand firm in our faith and we must oppose those worldly values that are in direct opposition to God’s commands. Do you seek the praise of men or do you follow God’s laws above all else? Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, we have a choice. Who are we going to follow? Man or God?