Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Impact of Faith, Hope, & Love


Faith. Hope. Love. 


...These are three of the most cliché words used in Christianity (and almost as cliché as "WWJD?").

But such words and phrases become cliché for a REASON... or you might even say, "Everything happens for a reason," if you want to keep it going. The word "cliché" is even cliché.

The reason words and phrases become cliché is because they are overused, well-known, and on every poster/mug/t-shirt/bracelet/bag/etc. you can think of. Even verses like John 3:16 and Philippians 4:13 have become cliché....and it's GOD'S WORD!

But "faith," "hope," and "love" have a significant impact in Christianity. In fact, I would say they are the very key words that define what it means to be a Christian.



Faith:

Without faith, you cannot be a true believer. Without being a true believer, you cannot experience the Holy Spirit and have a transformed heart. Without the Holy Spirit or a transformed heart, you cannot be a true follower of Jesus. Without being a true follower of Jesus, you cannot have eternal salvation.

Obviously, faith is a pretty big deal in our Christian walk.

Of course, Christian counsel and devotionals are great. But it must always be backed up with some good 'ol verses from God's Word itself. So here ya go:

Hebrews 11:1, 11:6: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.... And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."


1 Peter 1:5-9: "Those who are in faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

1 Peter 1:21: "Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."

1 Corinthians 15:14-17: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."

Acts 26:18: "...to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."


Ephesians 2:8: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and not from yourselves, as it is the gift of God."

John 14:12: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."



Hope:

We are all sinners, and there's not a lot that makes us different than the rest of the world... except.... the essence of eternal hope due to genuine faith in Jesus Christ. A believer yearns for the day Jesus returns to make the world new, the day we spend eternity with God in an unimaginable paradise with no sorrow, no tears, no crime, no hunger, no poverty....not even the negative memories of our human lives.

We are taught to put our hope in Jesus and "things above / in Heaven" or "things not of this world." However, because we are sinners and of the flesh, we struggle with this and instead tend to put our hope in temporary, worldly things that will vanish or not matter the moment we die (or when Jesus returns). We need to remind ourselves of that very thought --- "What then?" If we put our hope in the world, we will be lost with it the moment we die or Jesus returns. If we put our hope in the eternal Father who always was, always is, and always will be (and who never changes), then we have "blessed assurance that Jesus is mine."

Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Titus 3:7: "...so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

2 Corinthians 4:16-18:  "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Romans 5:2-5: "Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Romans 8:24-25: "For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."

Romans 15:4: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Psalm 27:4-5: "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.  For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock."

Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."



Love:

Again, all of us are sinners -- even the most devout of Christians (including Mother Teresa). What's amazing about the word "love" is that it is the very thing that allowed us to have a relationship with God, be forgiven of every sin (past, present, and future), and acquire salvation that secures our eternity in Heaven with our Lord.

God's unfailing, unconditional love and grace for us SHOULD call us to show the same love and grace for others. God commands us to do so, but as sinners of the human flesh, we get caught up in our selfish pride and forget that those we judge/hate/dislike/tease/etc are also made in God's image.

James 3:9:  “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse man, who have been made in the image of God."

John 3:16:  For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

Romans 5:8: "..but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."


Matthew 5:43-48"  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Matthew 6:24-25:  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"

John 14:21-24:  "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him,  “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me."

John 15:9-17: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another."

Mark 12:28-30:  "And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'"