Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Abound in Hope

The Kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). I am going after the kingdom of God; I want to see it and experience it every day of my life. To have the Kingdom so vital and vibrant in my life that it flows out from me like water and saturates the parched ground of the world around me. Jesus walked in Kingdom Reality all of the time and brought its Truth to bear on the facts that confronted Him and that is how He successfully destroyed the works of the devil (1John 3:8). Sickness, disease, torment, addictions, rebellion and all that are the same demonic forces that Jesus battled and subdued by bringing the Kingdom into focus when He walked the hills of Judea and the shores of Galilee. These are the same circumstances, the ‘facts’ that people face now. It is a fact that people all over the world are dying of cancer. That is a fact. But, it is Truth that “by His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5), and that the way has been made and the authority granted to fully represent the Kingdom of God the way that Jesus did and destroy these products of demons and the curse. And yet, this is just the natural by-product of flowing in the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Miraculous healings and dramatic deliverances will happen when the Kingdom of God is super-imposed over the kingdoms of this world, but they are not, in themselves, the Kingdom of God. So, what am I seeking? What are righteousness and peace and joy? How do I get these things? I know that it is by the Holy Spirit alone that the Kingdom becomes reality. That is a subject that needs to be settled in a believer’s heart and experienced before even really bothering to seek the Kingdom here and now. Righteousness comes by what Jesus did in His sacrifice, bringing us up through His death and resurrection to sit with Him “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6), as his ‘right standing’ with the Father became our right standing or righteousness. There is no other way to obtain righteousness, and it is obviously foundational. Without it, nobody is saved; it is the crux of what Jesus accomplished through His obedience. So, peace and joy are left. Why is it that so many Christians, me included, are operating too often without peace and joy? Both are aggressive weapons of spiritual warfare, necessary for a victorious walk and absolutely essential to moving into Kingdom Reality. I have come to realize that peace and joy are attained in the same way that salvation is attained. They are a gift of God. He has made provision for us to abound in all three elements of the Kingdom mentioned in Romans 14:17. He has not left it something for us to strive for in our own strength. The key is hope. Not the kind of hope that the world entertains – the kind that says, “Well, I sure hope that it will happen,” but never for a moment believes that it will. The word has been twisted in our vernacular to mean almost the opposite; most people use the phrase ‘I hope so’ to mean ‘I really don’t think so’. No, the hope that changes reality is based on knowing the will and character of a ludicrously loving God. The Kingdom of God is released and made manifest by faith that is working through love (Gal. 5:6). We know that faith itself is the substance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1). The word for hope is synonymous with ‘sure expectation’ and is used interchangeably with trust. It is a hope that knows, a hope that believes, not one that is tossed like a wave to and fro. God has made a way for us to tap into that very hope that brings forth faith. He has made provision that operates like a perpetual motion machine – a self-perpetuating cycle that continually generates everything needed to operate in the Kingdom of God. Romans 15:13 lays it all out very plainly, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” He is the God of hope. He has promised to fill us with all joy and peace in believing. This is where the perpetual motion machine needs to be primed, so to speak, by us. We need to believe. How? By beginning with hope that stems from knowing Him – knowing the tender heart of the Father and his will to elevate His Church into Glory. Why does He fill us with all joy and peace in believing? So that we can abound in hope, that same faith-generating hope, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Faith starts with hope. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1). Without hope there can be no faith, since there is nothing for faith to give substance to. That is why the testimony of miracles is so powerful. As we witness the power of God and manifestations of the Kingdom, we are filled with tangible joy and peace in believing, which allows the God of hope to cause us to abound in even more hope, which sparks faith, which fuels the fires of revival, which comes with more joy and peace in believing, which causes an abounding of hope, which translates into faith, and on and on and on. And so, hope is the key that starts the engine of the perpetual motion machine. It is His promise that He will keep the cycle of hope and faith going that will bring us into the righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit that is the Kingdom of Heaven. All we have to do is come into alignment, into agreement that God is good – all of the time, that there is no shadow of turning in Him, and just begin to believe.

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