Romans 5:3

Verse of the Day Devotion Romans 5:3

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.” – Romans 5:3

Chapter five begins with the word ‘therefore’.  This denotes that it is a continuation of an idea that was at the end of the previous chapter.  “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2.  In fact, “Having  been justified by faith” summarizes the entire argument of the first four chapters. Those who have placed their trust in Christ can rest assured that their faith has been credited to them as righteousness. And because we have been justified by faith, we also have peace with God through Jesus Christ.  This speaks of the new relationship that exists between God and those who turn to him in faith. As Paul used the term, it does not primarily depict a state of inner tranquility. It is external and objective. To have “peace with God” means to be in a relationship with God in which all the hostility caused by sin has been removed.

Their confidence is based on the fact that Christ was put to death for their sins and raised again that they might be declared just. “Now not for his sake only was it written that it was reckoned to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:23-25. And because of this we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God. However, what comes next in our focus verse can be very difficult. “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.” Romans 5:3.

From our focus verse, we see that not only do we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, but we also rejoice in our sufferings.  The believers’ joy is not simply something they hope to experience in the future but a present reality even in times of trials and distress. Their joy is not a stoic determination to make the best out of a bad situation. Christian suffering is a source of joy because its purpose is to build character in the believer.  James puts it this way.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4.  We are to regard trials as a thing to rejoice in; a matter which should afford you happiness. We are not to consider it as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity, but as something we can experience joy in.  Thus it is the experience of coming through a time of testing that produces hope. Our confidence in God’s ability and willingness to bring us through difficult times leads to an ever brighter hope for that which lies beyond. Hope is not superficial optimism but the confident assurance of that which will surely come to pass. It distinguishes those who have kept the faith in times of severe testing.

In essence, we should be confident in God regarding everything we may experience, both what ‘we’ deem good or bad.  If we find ourselves in times of tribulation, we should rejoice knowing that God allows it because we can be strengthened,  “knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3b-5. No matter the situation, realize that it will strengthen us to do God’s work.  And because of this, we can be thankful.  “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Romans 15:4

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 15:4 

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4       

When we read the Old Testament, we learn a lot about the history of God’s dealings with mankind. First is, of course, our creation in Genesis 1 -2.  How He created the heavens and the earth, and then formed the earth as a perfect place for His ultimate creation, mankind, to live in perfect peace with Himself.  From there, we see the fall of mankind and ultimately the coming of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  However, from what Paul tells us from our focus verse, there is more to learn in the Old Testament then the history of mankind.  We also have the opportunity to learn God’s ways in dealing with man, and ultimately with us.  As the focus verse says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4. 

The author of Hebrews tells us that God is unchanging, and the way He dealt with the people of the Old Testament is the same as He deals with us.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.  God has not changed one iota regarding how He deals with His people.  If we believe in Him and follow His ways, then God will watch over us just as He watched over Israel in the wilderness.  This should give us incredible hope.  Remember also in Hebrews what hope is.  It is what we look forward to, knowing it will come to pass.  It is knowing it will happen, not desiring it to happen. 

So, when we look in the Old Testament, we see how God guided His people through the wilderness, giving them a beautiful and prosperous land as their inheritance.  No matter what trials they came upon in their journey, God delivered them.  We can take comfort in this as well, knowing that whatever trials we come upon, He already knows about them  and will bring us safely through them.  There were several times when God’s people experienced times of famine, and again, God brought them through.  And He will do the same for us.  When they needed to hear from God, He spoke to them, either through prophets or directly.  Great examples of this were King David, Moses, and Joshua.  And He will speak to us as well when we need to hear His words.  And remember when Elijah was challenged by the prophets of Baal: that God made it known that He was God, and then comforted Him in the wilderness when they wanted to kill Him.  (1 Kings 18:20-40)

I want to encourage everyone reading this to look at the Old Testament not only as a means to learn history, but also as a way to be encouraged that as He took care of His people in the Old Testament, He will take care of us as well.  We need to use these  scriptures to see the blessings Israel had from God, knowing that He will bless us in a similar way.  And through this, it will help us to see the hope we have in God, and how He will never leave or forsake us, and our future is just as wonderful too.    

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Romans 8:25

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 8:25 

“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” – Romans 8:25     

Paul here is building upon the idea expressed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.  This verse lays out the definition of faith we see throughout the New Testament.  Paul now speaks of hope declared in the above verse.  Hope signifies the expectation of some future good.  Not something that has already happened or is occurring right now.  In this context it is something that we are sure will happen, and we are comfortable that we will, at some point, receive it.

So, by definition then, we hope only for those things we do not see.  And when we put it together with Hebrews 11:1 we see how faith and hope work together.  Hope is the expectation of a future good.  Faith goes beyond expectation and is, as the writer of Hebrews states, the substance or reality of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not yet seen.  The fact that God exists and that He has created all there is, and that we have a relationship with Him, is the substance of our expectations.  We hope for things in the future because of what has happened previously. 

Back to Romans 8, we see in the verse just prior to our focus verse the following, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” Romans 8:24.  We are saved in hope because we do not see all that our salvation entails.  Yes, we see our life changed, how our focus becomes Christ and not ourselves.  We understand that our sins are forgiven, and we are united with Christ. We see these present changes in us.  However, there is more yet to be revealed.  There is the second coming of Christ where He comes to bring an end to this world as it is now.  And there is the new heaven and earth which replaces what now exists with a perfect existence where we will live with God forever.  These are things not yet seen, these are some of the things we ‘hope’ for.

Therefore, with all this said, we hope for many things that are not visible now.  And we have faith that these things will happen because of all God has done up to this day.  And if we hope for these things, we will persevere and stand against anything that attempts to convince us otherwise.  We will wait eagerly for it because our future, eternal life will be so much better than what we have now.  We should live our lives now, fulfilling the calling God has placed on us, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20.  But we should also look forward to what we know is coming, as the verse says, waiting eagerly with perseverance. 

It is important to never forget or push aside that which we hope for.  It is part of our amazing eternal life promised us by God, and it is through this perseverance that we remain strong and devoted to our Lord.  What He has promised, He will fulfill.  In this we can have confidence.  On this is our foundation that helps us stand firm.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.