The Sum of Endurance – {The Close of Day}

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There is something that appears, on first glance, ill-fitting about seeing ‘rejoice’ and ‘suffering’ in the same sentence.  They do not really seem to be words that ease well into each other, complement each other or even seem to deserve shared sentence space.  It’s all in all, on the face of it, an entirely uneasy concept.

Paul finished off at the end of Romans talking about how we are justified through our faith in Jesus.  This chapter begins with what could be seen as the aftermath of that faith in this world.

Suffering.

Yet we who lead first-world lives in affluent countries, with modern conveniences, good healthcare, education, freedom of speech and access to many of life’s luxuries do not sit comfortably with the notion of suffering because our societies, communities, governments, media outlets are all telling us that our lives should be anything but marked with suffering.  Our culture encourages to find our help in any number of modern conveniences, establishments, institutions, and so reduce any kind of suffering we might endure.

If we suffer financially, there are endless banks and loan companies willing to provide short-term, expensive solutions to our problem.

If we suffer with our health, there are multiple free and paid for institutions to meet our medical needs.

We can change the way we look, the way we feel, the place we live, the office we work in – we have abundant opportunities at our fingertips.

But what can be our blessing can also be our disaster.  As we fight the waves of an entitlement culture chanting to us that we should, could, can, will, must have anything we want, need, desire in order to avoid suffering, if we’re not careful when we can’t change our circumstances we look pitifully inward and fail to see God’s richest blessing within it.

In these verses, Paul encourages us to remember that suffering is not the end.  In fact, it is just the beginning. [Continue reading…]

When we have all the good news – {The Close of Day}

How are you getting on with our read through Romans? Today we’re going to have a look at some of Chapter 4, so take a look before we start.

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I love the account of Abraham’s life. It’s always been personal to me ever since God really spoke to me through it when I was finding life particularly hard.

Here, Paul uses the account of Abraham to remind us of God’s promises, his trustworthiness and his power.

Chapter 4 closes with the reminder that Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

And all that reminds me of these three things:

  • Life is hard and uncertain
  • God is trustworthy and powerful
  • Jesus saved us

Let’s take a closer look at these this evening.

 

Life is hard and uncertain

 

Sometimes, life is neither of those things.  It’s not hard.  Things fall into place.  Everything works out.  Smiling, laughing – all easy.  And it’s not uncertain.  The path is clear, we know what we are doing, where we are going and who we are doing all of it with. We’ve come to call them, albeit in a rather clichéd way – our mountaintop experience.

But often it’s at least one of those.  Our life is pitched to the valley quicker than we can think and the mountaintop is a long, slow, uphill struggle away.  We deal with sickness, grief, anxiety, worry, death, loss, pain…life is hard.  Then there are life’s dimly lit paths. Just when you thought you knew where you were going…suddenly we can’t see anything anymore.  We’re not sure what will happen with our job, our family, our futures…and uncertainty reigns.

I would imagine very few people sail through life without trials and uncertainty; John 16:33 tells us this life will be marked with trouble.

But…

 

God is trustworthy and powerful

 

The reminders we get about Abraham in this passage are really worth stewing over, and I urge you to go back over them.  Verse 18 reminds us that Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him.

What do you do when you feel ‘against all hope’? When circumstances seem impossible and you can’t see a way out?

Do you look at what you know to be true about who you are because of what God has done?

Do you look at what you know to be true about your life in this world because of who God is?

Do you look at what you know to be true about your future, your destiny, your eternity because of what God has promised?

It’s sometimes easy not to, isn’t it?

When life is hard and uncertain, it’s too easy to be self-focused, and self-absorbed and inward looking.

 

hope

 

But even when we feel against all hope, as though we dare not even hope, we can be sure of what God has done, who he is and what he has promised.

He is always trustworthy and he is always powerful.

 

Jesus saved us

 

Look at today’s verse again.  Look at what Jesus did for you, and for me.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification

Despite all my shortcomings, and because of them, Jesus died so that I don’t have to.  That’s true for me and it’s true for you.

We will not be delivered over to death, because our eternity is secure.

And despite all my shortcomings, Jesus was raised to life so that I am justified.  That’s true for me and it’s true for you.

Do we not have the best news of all?

All our hardships, trials, troubles and uncertainties cannot un-defeat death, they cannot un-justify us.

Thoughts for Reflection

 

  • Are you in a hard or uncertain place just now? How can you remind yourself of truths about God, who he is, what he has done and what he has promised?
  • If you’re not in a hard or uncertain place at the moment, how can you make sure you are able to stand firm when trials come?
  • How does the good news of what Jesus has done change how we see life’s hard times and uncertainties?

Grace and Love

Helen x

 

 

The Close of Day – Week 2 Reading Plan

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Well, I only went and forgot to post the next reading plan here! So, here it is!  

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The Price and Reward of Persistence {The Close of Day}

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  I suppose if we thought about it, then we could all think of things that are easy to persevere with.  There are those enjoyable things; nice hobbies, enriching experiences or fun activities.  We look forward to the end goal, the big win or the fluff and bubble of the achievement. But there are other […]

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{not ashamed} – The Power of the Gospel

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Welcome to the first of our evening reflections! You can expect them on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and there will be a new reading and reflecting list on Sundays! So, this week we are going to read the first three chapters of Romans…if you haven’t yet done that, go ahead and read Chapter 1 now! […]

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The Close of Day {Evening Reflections} – Week 1

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Well, I am excited to go through Romans with you over these next weeks! Are you ready? Here is this week’s reading plan and verse for reflection.     So, over the course of the week, read Romans Chapters 1-3, and we’ll do three evening pauses with the verses above along the way! Looking forward […]

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The Close of Day {Evening Reflections from Romans}

Education is the most powerful weaponwhich you can use to change the world.

Well, it’s been pretty quiet around here at Home-Spun Hearts these past weeks, but that’s about to change! Starting on Sunday April 24th, I’ll be running a different kind of Bible Study to the ones I have done previously.  This study will be specifically tailored for the evenings, when all the rush and the busy of […]

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Not in Vain {how to value your isolation}

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    There are times when being alone is the sweetest thing in the world. It can mean reading time, an early night, a relaxing bath, a chat on the phone with a friend… or it can mean being productive, getting that one thing done, focussing on a task or challenge.  There are times when […]

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Our Hope in Jesus – Part 3 {Advent Devotional}

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By Bill McIntyre   So far we have looked at: Hope Established Hope Maintained and today we come to…   Hope Fulfilled   1 Peter 1:10-12 tells us:  (10)  Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  (11)  Searching what, or what manner […]

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Our Hope in Jesus – Part 2 {Advent Devotional}

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By Bill McIntyre TODAY LET US LOOK AT: HOPE MAINTAINED   1 Peter 1:4-5 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time For those who are […]

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