Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.” I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!” But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress. With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss “Leveling Up” in five areas:
We have covered the first three thus far. Today we are looking at the fourth: Leveling up internally. In this section, I will cover the following:
1. Being anxious for nothing
2. Receiving unshakable peace
3. Joy and peace in believing
4. Relaxing your mind and getting physical/psychological rest
5. The highest form of faith is rest
Today’s message deals with the third, joy and peace in believing.
Setting the stage:
In January 2008, I was at a church conference in Montgomery, Alabama, where I heard Pastor George Matthews preach a word that resonated in my spirit. He said Romans 15:13 revolutionized the way he looked at challenges. I had read this scripture before, but that day it seems to jump off the pages of my Bible and settle within the recesses of my heart. I have been meditating on this verse, off and on, since that day, and it has truly blessed me.
Romans 15:13 is part of a prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the church at Rome. He prayed that the God of hope would fill the believers at Rome with “joy and peace in believing.” In other words, he wanted our God, the God of hope (as He calls Him), to fill the believers in Rome with overflowing joy and supernatural peace while they were in the believing phase of a breakthrough. This is important because “the believing phase” is the phase you must endure while you are waiting on God to do what He said He would do. It is the space between the promise and the performance, the space between your confession and the completion. It is in the space that many believers give up, get frustrated, and throw in the towel. Not only did Paul not want them to throw in their spiritual towel, but He wanted them to experience God’s joy and peace while they waited on the manifestation of God’s promise. Last year I taught you a great deal about faith and patience. I call those “The Wonder Twins.’ Joy and peace are another set of twins. As we study this set, I pray it helps you set the stage to level up in 2021.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
(Rom 15:13 NASB)
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am just laying the foundation today. So here are a few foundational thoughts about this verse.
1. While God can manifest a promise immediately, most of the time He does not. This causes a space between the promise and the performance. This space, the space between God saying it and you receiving it, between your confession and the completion, between “amen” and “there it is” it is very critical space. What you do while you wait can determine how long you wait and more importantly, whether or not your prayer will ever come to pass. In 2021, let’s seek to level up HOW we wait on God.
2. I encounter believers all the time who are concerned with whether or not God heard their prayer. Their concern often turns to worry, their worry gives birth to doubt, their worry and doubt manifest into fear, and eventually, their fear suffocates their faith. They allowed satan to cause a faith-failure in their lives. Please do not allow your faith to fail. Maintaining joy and peace while you wait on God will help you wait for the long haul!
3. Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated while you wait on God. The definition of frustration is: “A feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.” This definition says it all. In the Body of Christ, I frequently run across people, good people, well-intentioned people, that fit this description to a tee. They are dissatisfied with the church, with God, with themselves, and with their walk. This dissatisfaction leads to worry and sometimes even depression. What has happened to them? Some way, somehow, they lost their hope. Paul warned us not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes, because if we are he will get an advantage over us (2nd Cor 2:11). One of the greatest schemes the devil uses to stop you from believing God is to tell you that “it” won’t happen. If he can get YOU to stop believing then YOU literally stop yourself from receiving. Frustration is the enemy of hope.
4. The definition for hope is: “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust; to feel that something desired may happen.” Hope is powerful. Hope is necessary. Hope is required for the believer. Now, you may be thinking, “But Rick, I thought faith is what is required or the believer, not hope.” Yes, but the reality is that if you lose your hope you will never get to faith. Faith adds substance to what you hope for (Heb 11:1). Faith puts the meat on the bones of hope. If you lose your hope you have forfeited your opportunity to exercise faith. I love the fact that Paul called God “the God of hope.” He is that indeed. God wants you to believe! He wants you to expect that He will do what He said He would do; He wants you to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence. He wants you to dream big dreams and to watch Him help you to bring them to pass!
5. God is a God of hope. As we talk about this, I pray God resurrects dead dreams, aborted ideas, and prematurely-terminated plans. My prayer is that God rekindles the flame of your hope, that your hope would be strong, that you bubble over with overwhelming joy, and that you would be stable with His settling peace.
6. You will never get to the faith stage if you are not able to get past the belief stage. When you consider a situation to be hopeless, your perception becomes your reality. You never stir up the juices of possibility long enough to pray, believe, declare, of have faith for it. You simply tuck it – whatever “it” is – into your draw of hopelessness, never to withdraw it again.
7. One Word from God can take you from hopeless to hope, from impossible to possible, from dead to alive! When Paul penned this verse he was not talking about human hope, limited hope, and fragile hope. He was talking about supernatural hope!
Paul prayed that the believers in Rome would literally abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit; supernatural power. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, that caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, the mute to speak, and the crippled to leap! The same power that you tapped into for salvation that delivered you from the grasps of an eternal hell. This power, the power of God, the power made available to us by the Holy Spirit, is the power that Paul said that enables us to abound in hope!
8. God’s hope can cause you to hope against hope! In this same letter, Paul talked about Abraham and his ability to abound in hope, even when his circumstances were screaming for him to give up. “In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your seed be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:18-21). Not only was Abraham’s body seemingly dead, but so was Sarah’s womb. His equipment and what he was working with were both seemingly dead, his situation seemed hopeless, but he still believed. Guess what? He received!
The Holy Spirit can enable you to abound in hope, even when the world would say that your situation is dead. Many have told me that my situation is dead and that I should just concede to the fact that it is over. But I, like Abraham, believe in a God that can give life to dead situations, hoping against hope! Can you?
That’s enough for today.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I declare that by Your power, I am able to hope against hope. It does not matter how dead my situation may seem to others; I believe in a God that can give lives to dead stuff! I can hope against hope, and I abound in hope today and every day. I have great expectations. I have joy and peace in believing. I abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And once You speak, I believe and receive what You say. Faith adds substance to my hope, and I will stand on your Word until I receive, in my hands, what You have declared, in my heart! I LEVEL UP my life in 2021! GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith, in Jesus’s name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!