Just a little bit o’ Encouragement, take it or leave it

Hey y’all just wanted to share some thoughts, from my.favorite.blogger.
Her Name is Olivia Howard, and here is a link to her AWESOME blog!
Enjoy =)

“I am in awe of the beauty of Romans. Every.Single.Sermon. has spoken to the deepest part of my heart both the first time I hear it, and now when I summarize it, in such timely ways. Especially in this season of incredible busyness and unrelenting physical ugginess, the Lord’s grace shown through Romans 8 has kept me going.
If y’all will remember we considered Creation’s groaning last sermon, and now in Romans 8:22-25, we will discuss how this inspires us: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

Romans 8 is a passage of assurance. It’s purpose is to assure us that God is not distant or stepping back when we encounter trials. When we question why God is allowing this to happen, when we are longing for heaven, Paul encourages us. Remember the groaning of Creation last week? Does the word “groaning” carry a negative connotation for you? I know it did for me. But my pastor explained that this is a special kind of groaning- this word should have no heaviness of spirit for us because of the phrase, “We also have the firstfruits of the Spirit” — We have the down payment, the seal of God upon us that promises that He will bring the rest. The full harvest is yet to come. We know only a small, small portion of the incredible goodness of the Lord. Just as Creation is longing for it’s redemption, so are we. Not with a burdened countenance, but with expectant spirits.

Our peculiar groaning is specifically for our adoption. We are awaiting our coming into adulthood, becoming heirs. I talked a little about this in a past sermon summary, if you would like to review what it means to be adopted: {The Spirit Of God}. We are longing for something in the future, our heirship with Christ. This is a good, good groaning. Verse 23 says “the adoption, the redemption of our body.” What a comfort! God calls us to be His children and redeems us. The Holy Spirit is the firstfruits of our redemption- that is, the Spirit in us now is the first taste, the down payment, for when our bodies will come into full redemption. This groaning is an assurance of the Spirit in us.

Why doesn’t God just give us our inheritance now? This groaning is a feature of our Salvation that pleases God. We were saved with hope and have a confident expectation of future completion. Two-fold answer for why God doesn’t just give it to us now:
1) Because if we see it now, we do not hope for it. Verse 24 says we were saved in this hope. God’s intent is that we do not settle into this life content, but that we have a deep longing for more. Not just a hope of sort of possible things that might come, but a total 100% sure expectation that He will fulfill His promises.

2) So that we will eagerly wait for it with perseverance, endurance. Perseverance is one of the most valued attributes to God. It takes our focus off of ourselves and gives us perspective. This is hope that builds up our perseverance is a triumphant fortitude. Consider James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. But let perseverance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Count it all joy, because it produces perseverance. We can suffer long with joy. When someone pushes your button over and over… and over, remember– you are being perfected, and lack nothing.

Something interesting about perseverance is that it conditions all the other attributes of the Christian life. The Christian who experiences triumphant fortitude is complete. Nothing should be able to shake or move you, because it is something else heavenly you are groaning for. We are to seek things above because that is when we will share the glory of Christ. We have the strength to put to death our desires here on earth when we develop this fortitude. God is in control, so we can love the unlovely, and persist in JOY. Spiritual perseverance rejoices even in the deepest of sorrows.

Oh, how badly I needed this today. I’m sorry if it’s totally rambley and slightly incoherent- it’s my heart spilling because my head hurts badly. “


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