"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" The Key To A Joyful, Productive Life (12:12) INTRODUCTION 1. I suppose that we all have known Christians who go through life... a. Looking like they were "weaned on a pickle" b. Useless for any good work when things were going rough for them 2. But we have also known Christians who are the opposite... a. Joyful, steadfast in doing good b. Even though they are experiencing the same kind of hardships 3. Why the difference? a. I believe that the joyful, steadfast Christian has found the secret expressed in the Scriptures b. One place this "secret" is found is in Ro 12:12... "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer;" [As we consider this verse, there are several observations we can make. First...] I. THE JOYFUL LIFE IS BASED ON HOPE A. MANY HAVE THE WRONG CONCEPT CONCERNING "JOY"... 1. That joy is a matter of personal temperament (heredity) 2. That joy is a matter of circumstances (environment) 3. But how can that be when being joyful is enjoined upon us all? a. It is a command, a duty - 1Th 5:16; Php 4:4 b. Commanded even when things are rough - 1Pe 4:13 B. TRUE JOY IS ABLE TO RISE ABOVE THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE... 1. Seen in the example of the Hebrews - He 10:34a 2. Also in the example of Christians in Asia Minor - 1Pe 1:6 C. THIS IS BECAUSE THE KEY TO JOY IS "HOPE"... 1. Notice our text: "rejoicing in hope" 2. It should be easy to see how hope is the source of joy in our lives... a. A student, in hope of enjoying summer vacation, is happy as he thinks about it b. Likewise, it was the strong hope of the Hebrews that gave them joy despite the seizure of their property - He 10:34 c. Again, the source of the Christians' joy in Asia Minor was their hope of salvation - 1Pe 1:5-6 D. TO BE JOYFUL IN LIFE, WE MUST HAVE HOPE...! 1. If Christians are not joyful, it is because they are not full of hope! a. And that is only because their minds are so preoccupied with things of this life b. I.e., they are just religious enough to be miserable! 2. If they spent more time contemplating the hope we have as Christians, joy would automatically follow! a. Of course, hope is based upon faith - He 11:1 b. And faith comes from the Word of God - Ro 10:17 c. But if people do not read the Word, their faith is weak, their hope is shallow, and their joy is minimal [But if we let God's Word produce the faith necessary for a strong hope, then we too can have that joy which will help us no matter what the circumstances. This leads us back to our text, where we wish to make another observation...] II. A LIFE OF JOYFUL HOPE WILL BE PATIENT IN TRIBULATIONS A. FIRST, LET'S DEFINE OUR TERMS... 1. "patient" a. Means more than simply enduring, forbearing b. It also takes in the thought of activity despite the hardship 1) It is continuing to do good, regardless of the trials 2) Not just sitting there, refraining from doing something bad 2. "tribulations" a. These could be trials suffered for the cause of Christ b. Or those common to all (sickness, death, etc.) 3. Paul is therefore talking about pressing on in doing good despite hardships B. THE KEY TO SUCH PATIENCE IS "JOYFUL HOPE"... 1. This can be illustrated in several ways... a. The athlete 1) Why does he or she endure the hardships of training? 2) The joyful hope of attaining victory! b. The Pilgrims 1) Why did they endure the hardships of sailing across the ocean? 2) The joyful hope of finding freedom from religious oppression! c. The college student 1) Why does he or she endure the hardships of study and examinations? 2) The joyful hope of a successful career! d. The early Christians 1) Why did they endure persecutions, pressing on in their faithfulness to Christ? 2) The joyful hope of their inheritance in heaven! - He 10:34 2. Does this not explain why some Christians do not remain steadfast when things get rough? a. They do not have the "joyful hope" necessary b. And why not? Their minds are so preoccupied with worldly things! [One last observation I would like to make, based on our text...] III. OUR LIVES WILL BE AS HOPEFUL, JOYFUL, AND PATIENT, AS THEY ARE PRAYERFUL A. "CONTINUING STEADFASTLY IN PRAYER" IS ESSENTIAL...! 1. The relationship between prayer and the joyful life is implied elsewhere in the Scriptures a. Notice 1Th 5:16-18 b. If we pray without ceasing, we can rejoice always! 2. For in proper prayer, we are constantly reminded of our hope (the source of joy and patience) a. In prayer, we should be made constantly aware of the reason for our hope (forgiveness of our sins through Jesus' blood) b. In prayer, we should be made constantly aware of the object of our hope (to one day be with God eternally) B. SO "PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!" BUT IS THIS POSSIBLE...? 1. Not if we mean formal words of supplication and petition 2. But prayer does not always have to be with formal words
- cf. 1Ch 5:20 3. Prayer can also be: a. A mental attitude of devotion b. An unspoken reference to God in all that we do CONCLUSION 1. Are our lives as joyful and productive as they should be? 2. If not, then let God's Word sink into our hearts: "Continue steadfastly in prayer" 3. Do this, and we will more likely "rejoice in hope" and be "patient in tribulations"!