When I booted up my computer and went online this morning, a new movie ad popped up that had this teaser: When evil takes hold. And I found myself becoming almost despondent as I consider the evil that has seemed to come out of hiding. It’s everywhere. It has always lurked in the shadows, but now it seems to be in plain view on our television and computer screens, in magazines and newspapers, in the behavior of rich and poor, in the words of young and old. What’s wrong is portrayed as right. What’s right is ridiculed as wrong. What’s a lie is spun as truth. And what’s truth is exchanged for a lie. While the world seems to be on a rampage of unbridled wickedness, my efforts to give people Jesus seem like spitting into the wind.
So … what can any of us do when “the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing”? (Psalm 2:1, KJV). Especially when we are facing our own health issues, financial problems, family crises, persecution, reproaches and inadequacies. ‹What can we do?
Read Romans 5:1-11
Rejoice in Hope
- Describe our spiritual condition before we placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Give phrases from Romans 1:18, 2:5-6, 12; 3:10-12, 23; and Ephesians 2:1-3, 12.
- What difference does faith in Jesus make to our spiritual condition? Give phrases from John 3:16-18; Romans 3:22; Ephesians 2:4-11, 18-22; and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
- What is one of the major differences that being reconciled to God – being right with Him – makes on the inside of us? Read Romans 5:1, 15:13; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; and Hebrews 13:20.
- Into what are saved sinners given access? Read Romans 5:2; Ephesians 1:3-8, 2:18; and Hebrews 10:19-23.
- What is the key mentioned twice in Romans 5:1-2 that unlocks access into God’s presence and His blessings? When did you personally grasp the key and use it yourself?
- Keeping in mind that biblical hope is not a wish or desire or a “hope so,” but a confidence that we possess what God promised, summarize how the above verses give you cause to rejoice.
Rejoice in Hardships
- What hardships are you currently enduring? Make a list.
- What could be God’s purpose for allowing these hardships in your life? Read Romans 5:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7 and James 1:2-4.
- Explain how the story of Lazarus in John 11:1-44 illustrates God’s purpose in allowing His children to endure hardships.
- Are hardships in your life evidence that God does not really love you, or at least that He doesn’t love you as much as those who don’t have hardships? See Romans 5:5-8; John 11:3; and Hebrews 12:5-11.
- What command did God give to us through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4?
- What hardship was Paul enduring when he wrote those words? Read Philippians 1:12-14.
- How did Paul himself set the example for us of rejoicing in hardships? Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
- How did Jesus set the example for us? Read Hebrews 12:1-3.
- While enduring hardships, what example are you setting for others?
Rejoice in Him
- If our spirits are heavy, what are we encouraged to do? See Isaiah 61:3.
- Describe the way praise was used, and the difference it made when God’s children were facing problems, pressure and the enemy in 2 Chronicles 20:1-29.
- How can you use praise in the same way? Try it.
- What, or who, is the subject of our joy in Romans 5:11?
- What are the specific reasons given in Romans 5:9-10 that we are to rejoice in Him?
- Why would we rejoice in the blood of Jesus when it speaks of His death? Give reasons from Hebrews 9:22, Romans 5:9-11, John 6:53-54, Ephesians 2:13, 1 John 1:7 and Revelation 1:5-6.
- What does justified mean? Give a dictionary definition, and apply it to the position before God that you are given by the blood of Jesus.
- How does this set you free to rejoice? See Romans 8:1-4, 32.
- Describe how this joy reverberates in Heaven. Read Revelation 5:9-14 and 12:10-12.
- Write out several prayers of praise that express sheer joy—in who Jesus is; in what He has done for you through His death; in what He has done for you through His resurrection; and in what He will do for you at His return.
What an amazing revelation! Rejoicing in hope, in hardships and in Him dispels my despondency over the increasing pressures in my personal life and in the encroaching evil and wickedness that I perceive all around me. It changes my perspective from one of doom to delight. From gloom to glory. So join me as together we put on the “garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). ©2014 ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ
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