Jun 15, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
We will remember 2020. Many said that about 1963, the year President Kennedy was shot. And 1967, the year we Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. And 1990, when the world faced off against Iraq after they invaded Kuwait. And 2001, when the Twin Towers fell in New York City. But this year, wow! Coronavirus has infected two million Americans and seven million globally. More than 110,000 have died in this country, and we are approaching a half million around the world.
Then the murder hornets invaded the west coast. Shortly after, protests against racial injustice swept across the country, turning violent in too many places, causing millions of dollars in damages and the deaths of innocent people of all colors. The economists already declared a recession. Stocks almost recovered to pre-COVID heights, but only because of speculative trading if you read the tea leaves correctly. Companies that have already filed Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy stocks are exploding because uninformed traders think they will bounce back. They probably won't, which means those stocks look artificially and dangerously high. Those traders are about to lose their investments when the stock market stabilizes in the next few weeks and months.
Unemployment stands almost as high as during the depression. And this phenomenon isn't limited to the US. It reaches around the globe because of the pandemic that, except for a handful, affects every country. Suffering is everywhere. You see hopelessness in the eyes of millions. But there is an answer to the desperation that seems so pervasive in the situations that predominate this year. Despite the terrible events that keep piling one on the other, I can assure you; there is hope.
That hope isn't found in another stimulus check, though. There isn't enough money in the world to buy hope. You won't find hope in legislation that brings equality to every race, we've tried that. It failed before and will fail again. Defunding police departments won't stop police brutality, but it will unleash an unbridled criminal element on a defenseless citizenry. Vaccines won't stop pandemics. Another disease will sweep through the world in a few years just as virulent as this one with devastating effect.
We can do nothing to provide hope to the world because we created the chaos that plagues us. But we can find hope. The Apostle Paul tells us how in his letter to the early followers of Jesus in the church in Rome in the first century. He writes:
Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness,[a] we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God's glory. 3 But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 5 This hope doesn't put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 It isn't often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:1-8 CEB)
I don't care much for the formula Paul gives us, but through the centuries, Christians prove it true. Trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. We stand firm on that hope; it doesn't put us to shame, we know it to be true, we boast in the hope of God's glory because the Holy Spirit poured God's love into our hearts.
Let’s backtrack through Paul’s formula in these verses. Despite that fact that we were God’s enemies, sinners, disobedient toward him, he showed his love for us by dying for us. He took my sins and your sins to the cross so heaven and earth could join together at that spot. He died for ungodly people, sinners, us.
Why? So by accepting his forgiveness, his spirit could live in us and his love could energize our actions and our love toward others. He enables us to love those we could not love without him. The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts. We see others differently. We love with his love. His spirit enables us to live a life of love and hope for his glory.
The hope in the Christian throughout the centuries sparked incredible action. Not cathedrals and churches and edifices with stained glass windows, but hospitals, schools, orphanages, shelters for abused women and children, food and clothing pantries, and thousands of other ways men and women help the hurting. Christians run toward the hurting, not away from them.
Please remember, not everyone who says they are Christian have Jesus in their heart. That is the problem with much of Christendom today. Many know the words to say, but have never experienced his life-changing power. Despite their declaration, they are no more Christian than I am a neurosurgeon, even if I said I am. You certainly don’t want me to open your scalp any time soon.
God’s love drives Christians to act because God first loved us, forgave us, and pour his love into our hearts giving us hope for tomorrow. People recognize those loving actions as character. It’s not the money given or the legislator trying to get elected or the pharmaceutical company passing pills. It’s the man or woman standing in the breech helping the needy, getting their hands dirty, disregarding what others might think of them for doing so that defines character.
And helping those in need means getting involved in life and life is messy. It always means endurance. Life is not a sprint, but a marathon. In the church we often remark methods change, but the message never changes. It’s the same with life. Involving ourselves with others is always messy, always emotional, always painful at times, but it is the work God calls us to do if we love as he loves. Imagine if God had given up on you the first time you did something wrong. Where would you be? Can we do any less for those he puts in our path? Endure.
What do we endure? Problems. Trouble. Suffering. Life. We face all the issue of life good and a lot of bad because we, humanity, brought sin into the world and every one of us contributes to that pile. None of us are free from it. Each of us brings our little piece of selfishness to the table and until we give ourselves completely to Christ, we continue to contribute to the mess call life. Even then, our imperfections in this world will cause pain and suffering to those around us. We can’t help it. We will be misunderstood, misinterpreted, abused, maligned. But we also don’t need to complain about it. Jesus went to the cross misunderstood, misinterpreted, abused, maligned. He died for us.
We have access into God’s grace, his unmerited favor, by faith through Jesus. Because we have access to God’s grace, we have peace with God through Jesus. And because of his faithfulness we are made righteous before God. That is not a small thing.
Remember what Isaiah said when he saw God behind the cherubim seated on his throne? “Woe, I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips.” God put his hand over Moses so he would not see his face and die. He did the same with Elijah. We cannot stand in the presence of a holy God. But because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross, we are made righteous before him and invited into his presence. How awesome a privilege that we should never take for granted.
2020 is an unforgettable year. Make it so not because of the problems highlighted in the news, but because of a renewed relationship with the King of kings. Meditate on Romans 5:1-8 and remember that “while we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 It isn't often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked CEB are taken from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE (CEB): Scriptures taken from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE copyright© 2011, 2012. Used by permission.