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From where does our hope come?

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope." - Romans 15:4

Many of us read the Bible fairly frequently. We do so for many reasons: to gain guidance; to maintain our focus upon God; to keep ourselves and our actions in alignment with God's will for our lives. Today, though, Paul gives us another reason to read and be formed by scripture: it is a source of hope, a stream that nurtures the seeds of faith and love.

Whatever God has revealed through the Word was given to us for our instruction. Just as the Law was given to Moses and the Israelites to guide them into a blessed way of living, so all of scripture is given to lead us into a pleasant path. As the psalmist says, those who receive nourishment from the law of the Lord are "like trees planted by streams of living water, which yield their fruit in its season" (Ps. 1:3). The image here is that we ingest - we take in - God's word and that it bears fruit in our lives. That is precisely how it works when we meditate upon God's Word.

One of the fruits that results from our feasting upon the Word is hope. We come to know that God is guiding history and the course of our lives, that things are not just left to fate. We come to know that God's ultimate plan displays his graciousness, righteousness and goodness. The end God is moving all of history towards is an end of promise, reconciliation and redemption.

So often the messages we ingest into our minds and hearts are messages of uncertainty and fear. It is easy to do so. While God's Word is like a stream, we often feel deluged with other news: news of calamity, strife and sickness. We hear these reports steadily through daily headlines and local gossip. And while it is true that tragedy and sickness are part of the story we live in, it is also true that they are not the only headlines, which is exactly why it becomes even more important to keep immersing ourselves in God's Word - to let ourselves be nourished by the promises of God like trees are nourished by streams of water.

I encourage you to remain steadfast in reading and feasting upon the Bible. Why not take a moment today to read a psalm or a chapter from 1 John?

~Wes

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