What Does It Mean To Be a Hopeful, Joyful Disciple

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(This is my article for our church newsletter for June 2016.)

What a wonderful month we had in May!  Each day, week, and month that goes by, I am more encouraged about what God is doing in the hearts and minds of our people.  The message of “Jesus is enough!” is penetrating hearts and minds in a powerful way, helping many through the joyful and difficult chapters of life alike.  Would that all in Denver and the nations believe this!  Jesus is enough!  This glorifies God the most.

In the meantime, what do we do now? We work by the Spirit to make hopeful, joyful disciples of Jesus who are ready to take the next step.  This is nothing new, for Jesus gave us His Great Commission to “go, therefore, and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).  But where does this idea of hopeful and joyful come in?  Why is this so important for us as ARBCians?

Let’s explore what ‘hopeful’ means. The Bible speaks of hope in the most wonderful of ways because it’s a hope that’s grounded in the sufficiency of Christ (i.e., Jesus is enough).  Our hope for salvation, eternal life, forgiveness, sanctification, and heaven are grounded in the hope of Christ.  Christ holds us in His strong hand.  He is our Good Shepherd who leads us. He is our crucified, risen, and coming again King.  “All of the promises of God are ‘Yes’ in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

Because of this, we do not speak of ‘hope’ in the way most people do.  Most people define hope as this: desire plus uncertainty.  We have a desire of a particular outcome, but aren’t 100% certain it will happen.  The biblical hope is a desire coupled with certainty.  Why certainty?  When Christ makes a promise about something in the future, count it as a certainty.  It will happen. Again, Jesus is enough to make His promises a reality.  What a wonderful King we serve!

What about being ‘joyful’?  You may remember someone telling you that ‘joy’ is actually an anagram for Jesus, Others, then Yourselves. Our joy comes when we put Jesus first, because He is enough. Christ has conquered sin.  More specifically, Christ has conquered our sin as believers. He is sitting on the throne where we can approach him with confidence, finding mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). We find joy in His fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17-18). We find our joy in our hope.  Our hope lies in our security, which brings joy. 

More directly to our situation as believers at ARBC in Denver, we have hope and joy in what Christ has, is, and will do among us at ARBC.  Without hope in Jesus, we could never take the next step to which he calls us.  Without joy in Jesus, we would look at our circumstances and surrounding and say, “I’m not taking that next step. Who knows what the future holds?” But Jesus does, therefore we “draw near to God, and he draws near to us” (James 4:7).

Here’s the kicker: Everything we do, every system we have, everything we teach, every song we sing, every person we greet, every corporate prayer we pray, every offering we take, every missions work we do both here and abroad, every discipling endeavor, every SNAP/Connect Group/building program/VBS, etc., etc., etc., must connect in with this mission of making hopeful, joyful disciples of Jesus.  Hope is contagious. Joy is contagious!  And even if they do not receive the Jesus you love, they will walk away knowing your love for them that could lead them to love for Him!

Over the next few months, I will flesh out even more what all this means. In the meantime, ask yourself:

Where do I find my hope? On what do I build my life that provides identity, meaning, and purpose?  Is this grounded firmly in Christ, or is Christ merely assumed?

Where do I find my joy? What lights the fire in our bellies? Do we find our ultimate joy in Jesus, or is He merely assumed? 

Pastor Matt

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