BIBLE STUDY TEXT: ROMANS 15:4-13
There are probably some who are reading this BLOG ON HOPE that is not feeling a lot of Hope in your life right now. Maybe on different occasions, you have had your Hope built up in things and they let you down. Trust me, I’ve experienced this almost rehabilitating feeling in my own life in the past.
Maybe you have had your HOPE IN THE WRONG THINGS.
Maybe you have had your HOPE IN GOD, but what you expected God to do, didn’t happen.
Maybe you have lost HOPE or afraid to put your HOPE in anything for the fear of being disappointed.
Hopefully, this Bible Study in Paul’s Letter to the church in Rome will give you or someone you know to live in HOPE, because HOPE is absolutely essential for LIFE and FOR LIVING!
ILLUSTRATION: Wharf Rats Drowning.
I was reading this week about this experiment by some behavioral scientists did once with some rats. They put some WHARF RATS in a tank of water, observed them, seeing how long they would survive before drowning. The average time was 17 minutes. Then, they repeated the experiment, but this time they “RESCUED” the rats just before the point of drowning, dried them off and returned them to their cages, fed them and let them play for a few days, then repeated the drowning experiment.
This time, the average survival time for these same rats increased from 17 minutes to 36 hours! The scientists explained by pointing out the second time around the rats had hope. They believed that they could survive this because they had done so before. [See Footnote [i] ]
HOPE ETERNAL – 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV):
 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.
NOW THAT IS AWESOME! Awesome that we have that LIVING HOPE when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, believing in Him.
And how can we forget Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We have this ETERNAL LIFE, not based on what we do, but solely based upon our BELIEF in and receiving of Jesus Christ.
LIVING IN THIS “HOPE” THROUGH HIS WORD!
Romans 15:4 (NLT):
 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
Through reading God’s Word on a daily basis, we can see and are taught how God has been faithful to His people, even in the middle of difficult circumstances.
God IS Faithful!
In 1985, my family was going through some “difficult circumstances”, in that I had lost my management job due to a company buyout. Although we had food and shelter, other necessities were going to have to wait until I could get back on my feet with new employment.
The church we were attending at the time had mail slots for each member that hung on a back wall in the foyer. Special bulletins, upcoming meeting notices, and anything else that needed to be circulated in accordance with church activities.
One Sunday morning, proceeding to check for mail, in the designated slot there was a white legal-sized envelope with our last name on the face. I curiously opened the envelope and found an unsigned note paper clipped to a hundred-dollar bill that read, “Buy some clothes for the kids, or yourselves…something personal to enjoy and not on bills!”
It is through reading His Word that our circumstances don’t necessarily change, but that He gives us strength and encouragement to stand in the HOPE that we have.
Earlier in Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:2-5). through His Word, we’re reminded of His PROMISE.
Through His Word, we are told of God’s FAITHFULNESS to past generations.
Through His Word, we can be encouraged to live in HOPE, while rejoicing in our trials and sufferings.
GOD HELPS US TO LIVE DAILY IN HOPE…
Not only does He help us in our HOPE through His Word, but also, God helps us live in HOPE through His church (15:5-11 NIV):
 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,  so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and  and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”
 Again it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”
Paul talks about having a spirit of UNITY and the ACCEPTANCE of people as the Lord accepted us.
Sometimes we can confuse being “accepting” with condoning sin. The Jewish Christians were struggling with the Gentile Christians with what they had to do to be part of the church.
- Did they have to get circumcised?
- Did they adhere to the dietary laws?
- If they didn’t, could they really be part of the community of FAITH?
All these differences could destroy the church in the building up of the believers in HOPE.
But Paul tells the Jewish Christians that God has ALWAYS declared that He would bring the Gentiles to FAITH.
And notice how the apostle quotes from the Historical Books–the LAW, the WRITINGS, and the PROPHETS to make his point to the Jewish Christians that God’s plan was always to include the Gentiles so they should accept them too!
So God helps us through His Word and through His church, reminding us of the HOPE we have, but at the same time, we must remember OUR HOPE is only found in His Son.
HOPE IS ONLY FOUND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (Romans 15:12):
“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him, the Gentiles will hope.”
Standing In That HOPE
I love Natalie Grant’s song lyrics that came to mind while studying the verses:
IN CHRIST ALONE-
In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ, I stand.
GOD gives us OVERFLOWING HOPE through His Spirit (v. 15:13):
 May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that those who TRUST in Jesus have, that our HOPE cannot just help us endure, but that it can OVERFLOW from our lives and we can thrive with that overflowing HOPE!
But you might be thinking, “Isn’t the ‘overflowing’ of anything a big waste? When I overflow my car’s gasoline tank at the gas station, it always leaves a big mess!”
Not in this case.
As the Holy Spirit FILLS you with HOPE as you grow in FAITH through the Word, through the fellowship of other believers, through having your eyes fixed on Jesus and the SALVATION He has given you now, along with the INHERITANCE that never perishes, never spoils or fades, kept in HEAVEN for you…THAT HOPE you have, OVERFLOWS, spilling on to others around you!
As you interact with others in this world and live in the HOPE that you have, and speak to them of the HOPE that you have, it OVERFLOWS so that they want what you have in their life.
While you endure and persevere in difficult circumstances, the HOPE OF GLORY that the people see will want what you have even if that means their circumstances are not great. That’s because HOPE is essential to life and to living.
If you have great circumstances in life but no HOPE, you really won’t be living!
All we have to do is look at so many famous people walking down the Red Carpet, who seem to have all kinds of great circumstances, but struggle with LIFE & LIVING.
Do you have HOPE today? Is your HOPE, an overflowing hope?
Have you trusted Christ as Savior?
If not, then that’s the step into HOPE you need to take!
But if you have TRUSTED Him, and not experiencing the HOPE He gives, then maybe you are not taking advantage of the things He has given us to help us to LIVE in that Hope.
Get in His Word!
Connect with a body of believers, in REAL RELATIONSHIPS, through Bible studies and serving in the community.
And as God POURS OUT that HOPE in you, SHARE that and experience the OVERFLOW HOPE of the Holy Spirit as He uses you and me to SERVE His kingdom.
FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:
Bible Translations: The New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.
Photos: Google Image Search.
Footnote [i]: The Remarkable Power of Hope by Joseph T. Hallinan, Psychology Today.