My Only Hope

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Do you know and live the gospel of Christ? It would be interesting to know how you answer that. Is it your morality, church attendance, personal character to which you look for some assurance? Truthfully, our hope, our salvation rest on Jesus and the promise of the Father, end of story. We are saved by faith, through grace, period. But …  no but’s, friend.  Do we need to grow in that grace? The answer is an obvious yes. Will that gift of being set right with God need to work into our life, changing us from the inside out? Yes, again.  The moment, however, that we look back to ‘’the Law,” to our good works, our own commitment, that Law enslaves us anew and begins to erode the confidence that we have before God, the Father, through Christ Jesus.

Duplicity stalks us all, doesn’t it?  Every Christian who is completely honest knows that there are areas in his life are not yet as Christ desires them to be. To deny that we are capable of disobeying God’s moral law, to tell ourselves that we are somehow better than others and therefore above temptation, too good to fail, is a trap. The Bible gives this two-fold direction to us: “If another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” (Galatians 6:1, NLT)

Every Christian deals with temptations, some grossly offensive, others more subtle, sins of pride, ego, or self-centeredness.  In Romans 7, which is a long chapter about the impossibility of making ourselves right with God through our own efforts, Paul writes, “I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” (Romans 7:22-24, The Message)

Overcoming temptation and living a life of integrity is not for wimps!  It requires unwavering honesty with ourselves before the Lord.  If we choose to excuse ourselves when the Spirit convicts, when we suppress the call to genuine holiness by smearing on layers of superficial morality, or when we become hyper-religious, we hinder the flow of the Spirit that brings life and victory to us. Healing begins when we look at our longings, our unmet needs, our desires and expectations through the eyes of Christ.  Purity requires openness, before God, before others, too.  Nothing breaks the power of temptation like dragging it into the light.  Purity comes when we respond to the invitation of the Spirit to come near to the Heart of God, regularly. And, that intimacy is ONLY possible if we lean on grace, by faith.

Ah, Christian, there is such beauty in grace, for all us. God’s grace will make us loving, gentle, and accepting. It will create a kind of beauty in us that lifts up Jesus, not our church, not our stellar morality. And, as He promised, “when He is lifted up, He draws all to Himself!”  Grace allows you and me to look at our struggles, inadequacies, disappointments honestly. Grace lets us understand that we are not unique in those experiences. Finding security in Christ Jesus, we then are empowered to extend acceptance to all those other imperfect people that share this world with us. It sounds so easy when I write it, but it is a quite human to turn from grace to Law, judging ourselves and others.

Are you troubled in heart, knowing the failures and sins of your own life?
Are you resolving to change only to fail anew?

Stop trying so hard to find change using all those tricks of behavior modification. Refuse the temporary sense of ‘being right’ that you can find in doing all those good things. Instead, lean on Jesus, completely.

Our word from the Word calls us to the foundation of our salvation – Christ Jesus.  As you read this, truly worship, honestly praise, and receive the gift of grace.   “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 7:25-8:2, NLT)

___________

Be Thou My Vision (Slane)

(worship with this great hymn)

Be Thou my vision
O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me
Save that Thou art
Thou my best thought
By day or by night
Waking or sleeping
Thy presence my light

Be Thou my wisdom
And Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee
And Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father
I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling
And I with Thee one

Riches I heed not
Nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance
Now and always
Thou and Thou only
First in my heart
High King of heaven
My treasure Thou art

High King of heaven
When vict’ry is won
May I reach heaven’s joys
O bright Heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart
Whatever befall
Still be my vision
O Ruler of all

Eleanor Henrietta Hull | Mary Elizabeth Byrne © Words: Public Domain

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