In my early days as a Christian, I was fortunate to have been among young people who wanted to grow in their relationship with God. I wanted to grow too and there were many opportunities for me. We were blessed to have access to wonderful Bible teachers. We knew that we didn't know everything about God and so we would sit for hours on end with our Bibles and notebooks, taking notes and talking with each other about Jesus. We divided into small groups and spent lots of time together, growing in our relationships with each other and with Jesus. Today's brief passage gives us some practical instruction on living as Jesus' disciples. Let’s listen to it:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
Paul, writing to the congregation in Rome, gives three specific ways that you and I can intentionally grow in our relationship with God. First, he encourages us to be "joyful in hope." We joyfully embrace the hope we have in the finished work of Jesus. He has forgiven our sins and promised us eternal life with Him. Second, Paul reminds us to be "patient in affliction." In our life here on earth—whether or not we are followers of Jesus—we will face affliction. It might be physical; it might be mental; it might be relational; it might be financial. Whatever it is, you and I will face trouble in this life. Being a Christian doesn't offer us an escape. We must be intentionally patient and learn to endure. Trouble comes, but it also goes. Finally, Paul reminds us to be "faithful in prayer." Do you pray regularly? Do you speak with God as you go through your day? If you and I want to grow in our relationship with Him, we must talk to Him and listen to Him. Today, I encourage you to begin applying these three principles. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
As you and I become ever more intentional about doing these things, we will find that our relationship with Jesus will grow deeper and wider…and that's very Good News!