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Have you noticed the trends in a lot of home decorating? One trend that I have picked up on in (Clarification: I am by no means an interior decorator) is the use of words as a form of décor. I really enjoy home decorating magazines and stores—specifically, Hobby Lobby. Hands-down that is one of the easiest stores to A)spend a lot of time and B) Spend a lot of money: everyday is a sale day there, it’s awesome! Ok, sorry—I digressed! A while back I purchased a few wall-hanging décor signs that have scripture verses or simple words that somewhat represent other scripture verses. A gift that I got a friend of mine that consisted of three of individual signs each with one of the three following words: Faith, Hope or Love. These three words appear to have simple and sweet meanings and are fairly common among the Christian faith --usually referring to passages like 1 Corinthians like this passage:
“And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Which is so legit! It’s a great passage, I stumbled however on a few other passages that offer a more “saturated” version of these words giving us a little more background. It’s totally ok if you’re like me when asked “How does one define faith, hope and love?” And you’re like “Dahhhh….good question, hmmm” It’s not ok when we don’t go the next step in understanding these attributes of God. It’s as if you were asked to describe one of your friends and you just gave really blasé answers like “Well, she is about this tall and has kind of blondish hair—“ And your response was “Oh yah! I have totally seen her and I know exactly who you’re talking about” LIAR! :) So consider the following verses as more along the lines of “My friend Danielle has really pretty with a hue of hazy- ocean-like blue; she has pale toned-skin because absolutely hates being out in the sun—she’s afraid of skin cancer…” Got the idea? haha, sorry Dani, love ya! Ok, sorry---read this verse:
“3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you.” Colossians 1:4-6a
I love, love this verse because it is so crazy to think that Paul is off---doing something different, serving some other area and he hears about what’s going on at the church of Colossae and is just so excited that “he always thanks God when he prays” because of not just their faith in Christ, but their love for the saints. Notice the highlighted words: the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up in heaven.” So this love they have for others comes not from works that these saints are doing for them—but stem from the hope found in Jesus Christ (word made flesh John 1:1 ---I am the way, the truth…got it?) Sweet isn’t it? It gets better---we can cross reference to another passage in the first letter to the church of Thessalonica (of 2!)—also a stellar church of their day that must have been doing something right if Paul is thanking God for them too!
“2(D) We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly[a](E) mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering before(F) our God and Father(G) your work of faith and labor of(H) love and(I) steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV www.biblegateway.com
Again, Paul is noticing something about this group of believers and check out the description of faith, hope and love (adverbs and adjectives (?) --if I am correct in my English—which doesn’t happen often—sorry for those of you who have that ability, I envy you—in a non-sinful-loving way haha!) “Your work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope.” So cool isn’t it? Faith takes work, does it not? You can only say “Just believe” so many times before you’re like…”Yah, right!” As Christ-followers, our faith in God has to be paired with action---James 2:20- describes Abraham and Rahab this way:
“20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[e] and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
James 2:20-26 www.biblegateway.com
Ok, what about the statement: labor of love. Ha, girls reading this, don’t even go into the fairy-tale, princess-mode with me and say “what about love at first sight? That doesn’t require work—what about Cinderella and Snow White? Yah, realize that Cinderella talked to birds, mice and road in a pumpkin to a ball and Snow White ate an apple from a creepy old lady.” Hehe, ok, a little extreme—but I do really think that our society has an issue with this concept of love. We base far too many decisions on a fake definition of what love really means. I won’t go into all the Hebrew definitions of the true meaning of “love” but this passage describes it in a rather clear and concise way:
7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
Romans 5: 7-9 (www.biblegateway.com)
Yah. Hmm. Do you think Christ was like---“Oh yah---no problem, I’ll just die for these people even though they are disgusting sinners who try to offer me filthy rags (“filthy is a very nice way of putting it—the literal definition is pretty gross—look it up later).” According to Luke’s Gospel, Christ was in such anguish that “he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” That’s breaking an intense sweat. Love is a lot of work! Does that mean if we work more—God will love us more? No, God will not love us any more than He already does because He loves his son and if we abide in Christ (check out that earlier devo on the word “abide”) we bear the same image of Christ and are co-heirs to the inheritance of eternal life--with GOD! And by the way, eternity starts NOW! This inheritance leads us to the “steadfastness of hope,” portion of scripture—get excited!
Again, hope is something that people throw around as if it’s the latest gadget out on the market “You just gotta have hope!” Ha. Again, LIAR! Life stinks! Do you know how many times a day I put my hope in something and it fails me! A couple months ago, I bought a car---I put my hope in it and you know what, the battery quit like 2 weeks after! I trained all winter long for an outdoor season my sophomore year of college that I never got to run outdoors because I got a stress-fracture in indoor season. I have dated guys …and lol I’m single: enough said! Anyways—you get the idea ha. Point is everything in this life will fail you, outside of the hope we have in Christ. What does the “hope in Christ mean?” Let’s check out some scripture:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
1 Peter 1:3
[ Praise to God for a Living Hope ] 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,
1 Peter 1:13
[ Be Holy ] Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Hehe, do you think Peter knew a thing or two about hope? I really like what that last verse says : “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the HOPE that you have.” You cannot deny the fact that when you first encountered the Truth—and the Holy Spirit pierced that nasty, cold heart of yours—that you did not feel a hope like none other, am I right? You cannot explain that overwhelming (not necessarily a feeling) but just this sense of hope. You cannot deny the hope of thousands of martyrs across the world and those who are in captivity because of their faith—that they have the same hope as that “get the gadget hope” I described earlier. Their hope is steadfast—immovable: they have been stripped of everything and anything else to put their hope in---"and hope does not disappoint us"…(wow, I wish you could witness me writing this devo—I cannot explain the ease I have in recalling these verses into a format that you can understand—Praise God---He is so awesome to us for making His word so clear!)
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Romans 5:1-5. www.biblegateway.com
Only a hope from God would allow you to rejoice in suffering, amen?
One final and somewhat of a weird connection I found throughout studying this scripture. I am not claiming this as earth shattering Biblical-breakthroughs but I do find it neat how God has actually personified these three somewhat vague terms within the Trinity. Think of scripture pertaining to faith—somewhat corresponds to God the Father (Abraham and his Convenant); Now shift to the concept of love---Christ, the Son (God demonstrates his love in that while we were yet sinners CHRIST died for us—get the connection) And the Holy Spirit—again (Romans 5:5—and HOPE does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love (Christ) by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us—Christ the hope of glory!) Again---just an observation—the Trinity is so incredibly complex and each person is not limited to only being “faith” “love” or “hope” God is all of that ---and more. But it’s cool to see the connection is it not—hopefully it serves a reminder of the attributes of God and the verses from the Bible that back it up!
So yah, it maybe trendy and a good way to remind yourself by hanging up these words on your wall—but better yet, I challenge you to be like the church of Colossae, be like the church of Thessalonica and live it out so much that you get a letter from someone in another country that is actually praying and thanking God for how you are living your life out!