Hope Keeps You From Shame

So I’ve determined that there are certain things that on my deathbed I will not be uttering, sorta a renewed commitment to ‘no regrets.’  There are a lot of things in my life I’m sure I won’t accomplish or won’t get to experience or just plain won’t get to, but some I WILL NOT neglect.  One of the most simple ones regarding my pastoral ministry is not uttering on my deathbed that I wish I had done better at teaching the group of people I love and God has entrusted to me how to really walk with God.  The last two weeks from the pulpit I have walked through the most important Biblical truths God has taught me over the last two decades about my heart, my sin, the Word, and the Cross.  It has been refreshing and encouraging to me to see how God has shaped and melded together these crucial truths into my thinking and delighting so I can speak freely on them.

Reflecting on certain elements this morning (a Monday) has led me back to Romans 5:5 and the banner over the finish line of the Christian life that says “HOPE” or more specifically “the hope of glory”.  When we have this fixed in our minds, it motivates today.  Do you see that?  What happens tomorrow (if indeed we are certain of it … that’s called faith by the way), compels us to live a certain way today!  That God indeed keeps all His promises and will keep the Biggie (Eternal life, Glory, Heaven, etc) should make me walk in love by faith today.  AND if I do, No Shame!  How does that fit?  Because my sin is forgiven (all of it – past, present, future) and I know (confidently know) that I am HIS, then I need not wallow in the present, but walk in humility, repentance, AND faith.  If sin, or a certain sin “owns” us, we either aren’t a “redeemed person of faith” or have forgotten the word on the finish line – HOPE.  We think the momentary pleasures of sin and the selfish indulgent satisfactions of the world are better than what God holds out in front of us.

Hope is a hard concept for me, I’m guessing you too … it feels quite abstract.  But the finish line of a race isn’t so abstract.  No one starts a race without a desire to finish.  When I go running I have to set attainable “markers” along the way so I don’t give up because I can’t see the finish distance just yet.  When I hit that “attainable” marker, I aim for the next one, all the way until the end (of my 2 miles) is in sight.  What does this mean for being motivated by Hope?  Fix the hope of glory as the ultimate goal, and set certain attainable markers along the way (each day, each week, each month, each year).  Markers that keep you believing God is better.  I’m getting up early today to read the Word, I’m praying at lunch break, I’m reading with my kids tonight, I’m leaving the TV off, I’m reading a good book, etc.  When the marker gets missed, NO Shame, you just start jogging again toward the next one.  Why?  because missing the marker is what we do, but hitting all the markers is what Christ has done.  You’re not condemned, He was condemned for you.  You’re not a stranger, you’re an adopted child.  “Give up” is not in your vocabulary.  So, brother or sister of faith … walk in love, knowing that the hope of glory awaits you.  And guess what you can do it.  Paul ends the verse (Rom 5:5) with “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  When you run toward those attainable markers, you throw the sail up of your Gospel boat and the Holy Spirit blows into it, moving you toward the finish line.  Let us not grow weary, nor walk in shame … that’s just not how God intended it for you!

Running with Hope,

Pastor Mark

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