Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org


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May 26th:

Really?  Really!
Call:    Proverbs 8: 4, 32
Text:    Romans 5: 1-5
Read: W&S #80

Some have suggested that the first eight chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans
   Make up the finest treatise on Christianity ever written.

I offer no opinion on that.

In fact, even as I present that suggestion to you
   I have to admit that there are parts of Romans that
      Are either dense or proof that I am dense.

However, almost exactly in the middle of those first eight chapters
Are the first five verses of chapter five
Five useful, meaningful, and informative verses
That fascinate, inspire, and reassure me.

Those verse begin immediately after Paul has just made it clear
that we are saved or justified by faith
rather than by a strict adherence to the law.

Paul writes in the first two of our verses:,
   "Therefore, since we are justified by faith,
      we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ
      through whom we have obtained access
to this grace in which we stand
      and we boast in our hope
         of sharing the glory of God.
In other words
   Since we understand that our relationship with God
      Comes through our faith in Jesus Christ
and not through narrow legalistic obedience
   we have  peace;
   and we have the      Christ given   access to the grace
      that enables us to boast
      in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

This sounds great!

It is comforting.
In is inspiring.

You and I - with all our faults and failures -
   Can - remarkably enough -
have the hope of sharing God's glory
      Not because we deserve it
      But because of our faith in Christ
      And our willingness to trust in His grace.

Doesn't it make you feel like
you can sit back in an expensive leather arm chair
well positioned in a room
decorated with signs of success
   while wearing a silk smoking jacket
      and lighting a Cuban cigar.
      And thinking, "I am somebody!"

Of course, this
   And by this I mean sharing the glory of God
   Not the arm chair, room, smoking jacket, and Cuban cigar
Is available to everyone
   Everyone who has faith in Christ and trusts in His grace.

This is when we want to ask, "Really?"
And those two verses answer back, "Really."

Then Paul followed those two verses by beginning the next three with,
   "And not only that, ..."

This is starting to sound like a television commercial for something we would be encouraged to order.
   "And not only that
But the first 115 people to call 1-800-ROM-ANS8
will also get two extra pairs
of micro fiber dishtowels and dishcloths"

"Wow! All that in addition to sharing God's glory!"

Our reaction changes, however, as we hear how Paul proceeds with that next sentence,
   "And not only that,  but we also boast in our sufferings."

And we respond,
   "Wait a second!  I didn't sign up for any suffering.
   And if I get any, I am sure as anything
      That I am not going to boast about them!"

   "I want the micro fiber items instead."

Since none of us are masochists, we want to challenge Paul.
"Paul, did you say we are to boast in our sufferings?"

And Paul answers, "Really!"
explaining to us as he explained to the Romans,
   That we can do so because we know
      "That suffering produces endurance
      That endurance produces character
   And   that character produces hope."

"And further, that hope does not disappoint us
   Because God's love has been poured into our hearts
   Through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

Part of our problem with the idea of boasting in our sufferings comes from the word "boast" itself.
   It is an English word.  Paul, however, wrote in Greek.

We get a better idea of what Paul is saying if we replace "boast in"
   With "maintain confidence in."

Paul is telling us that
We can maintain confidence that we will share God's glory
   Even as we suffer

And we do so by recognizing that our faith will enable us
   To endure our sufferings
And that that endurance will strengthen and develop our character

And finally that through that character we will experience hope

That hope is not going to disappoint us or betray us
   For God's love has been poured into us
   Through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We can maintain our confidence that we will share God's glory
   Even as we experience our human suffering ?

We ask "Really?"  and Paul answers, "Really!"

In fact he tells us that our faith will be strengthened as we endure those sufferings.
And he is right.     I know that.

This is one of two passages to which I frequently turn
   Whenever I am discouraged or downcast
   Especially    when that condition results from my own failures

What I need on those occasions   is hope

And this passage reminds me that because of my faith
I should remain confident
   That enduring the suffering
   Will strengthen my character
And that in doing so
   I will retain the hope that I need.

There is an additional reason that this passage helps so much
is that these five modest sized verses
not only give instruction and advice
but also present the image of God as a team.

For in this passage we experience   all three parts of the Trinity

for we have
peace with God               [the father, parent, or creator]
   through our Lord Jesus Christ   [the son, savior, and sacrifice]
   God's love has been poured into our hearts through the HS
      [the empowerer, or advocate]

The father, the son, and the Holy Spirit
are all parts of the one true God.
   And thus this scripture sends an a powerful message:
that all bases are covered
And that we am in good hands

My hope is built on nothing less.      Really.