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Monday, April 14, 2008

Bandon Beach Sunset, Oregon (Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Bandon Beach Sunset, Oregon
(Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)

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"Hope Does Not Disappoint" 

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us" (Romans 5:2b-5).

I am in close contact with a friend who has been undergoing a very fiery trial over the last several weeks. It has been a wracking experience for him as he has endured severe blows.   Yet he is demonstrating a remarkable faith, persevering spirit, and godly character in the midst of his suffering.  This was evident in a fervent prayer of intercession I heard him share among believers recently.

Randy PauschI am sure many of you have heard of a lecture titled, "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch, which is very popular on the internet now. Randy is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh PA and is a very engaging and colorful speaker. What has made the lecture so popular is that Pausch gave it while dealing with a very severe form of pancreatic cancer and he has been told he has only months to live.  Although he does not express faith in Christ his outlook is very upbeat. How much more should we, as believers, have a hope-filled outlook that originates from the genuine eternal hope given to us by God!

In the lecture Pausch essentially shares his childhood dreams and the many ways in which his life has been fulfilling.  I find great spiritual application in his following observation:  "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." 

That sure got me to thinking. Throughout life we accumulate a great deal of experience since we all share the common testimony of not always getting what we want or even perhaps what we feel God surely wanted for us!  At times this means we undergo trials and, as our life progresses, we will have a growing collection of trials. 

We've all been disappointed by situations that just didn't work out as we had planned. Most likely each of us has had several profound disappointments in life and many lesser ones.  But the “experience” we endure along the way is invaluable and part of God’s plan to shape our spirit and produce Christ-like character.

Crying womanA phrase from a song written in the seventies continues to feed my spirit. It happens to be one of the songs  that Brooksyne sang in our early marriage (contemporary at the time.) "When grief has left you low, it causes tears to flow, when things have not turned out the way that you had planned. But God won't forget you, His promises are true. Tears are a language God understands."
I don't always understand the Biblical truth expressed in the daily verse. Specifically I have trouble rejoicing in suffering. What about you? But the equation is a progression of godly traits and is interrelated: "Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." The last two characteristics result from the first two. I want godly character and I want eternal hope but, according to this Scripture, they are the end result of suffering and perseverance.
I doubt that it is in the nature of any believer to sincerely rejoice because of suffering, but rather we rejoice because we are confident that our loving God is in control.  The eventual outcome in our lives will be for our good, as we yield our will to the will of the Father. A maturing spiritual outlook realizes that this time of suffering is a part of God's plan in forming the character of Christ within us. 

In faith, cling to a phrase from the last portion of our encouragement Scripture.   Read it slowly, memorize it, repeat it often, and appropriate it to your need today: "Hope does not disappoint us." The ultimate hope we have in Christ will not disappoint! One thousand years into eternity no one is going to regret having placed their hope in Christ. May God give each of us the awareness today that our times of suffering do indeed work for our good, providing us with deep assurance that "hope does not disappoint."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Heavenly Father, we live in Your grace that enables us to seek You more diligently as You produce in us a persevering spirit in the midst of adversity.  Instead of driving us to hopeless despair, our suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces proven character whereas proven character brings about a mature hope that turns our disappointments into rejoicing. You have poured out your love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit and brought assurance to our spirit. The image of Christ is seen in our lives through the character traits You grow in us as we die to ourselves and live for You.  Keep us faithful and hopeful during the painful process.  In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Randy Pausch is still living and regulalry updates his health condition here.  He is a very likable fellow and now has a book expanded from his famous lecture.

"Trials and Pain" Several brief perspectives on trials and pain by A.W. Tozer (scroll down to the selections beginning "Trials and pain")

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Tears Are A Language"  Video with words    Alternate

"He Understands My Tears"  Video

"Grace Flows Down"
 Audio  I especially dedicate this song to my friend going through the hard trial and all our readers who may need a fresh awareness of God's all-sufficient grace flowing down into your life.

"Blessed be Your Name"  Audio  We sang this song yesterday and I am always blessed by it, especially the solid Scriptural basis in the lyrics. It just fits all seasons and my most memorable time I heard it was a beautiful outdoor wedding several years ago as the bride and groom departed from the ceremony.

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"  Audio instrumental An old favorite of mine and this instrumental version really touches my heart.

Yesterday in our church we ended the service with a great old hymn that is among my many favorites, although I was unable to find an audio version on the internet. I did find this brief video version but I think our church sounded even better yesterday!

Wonderful grace of Jesus, Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost;
Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power making him God's dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven for all eternity;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All sufficient grace for even me,
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, Praise His name!

Today's top photo is by Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here.  Howard desires to use his photography skill to honor God.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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