The Word — Full of hope

Published 8:30 am Sunday, February 6, 2022

A young girl attended a Christian elementary school and had what she would call a very stern teacher. One day she was enjoying recess with a friend and they were playing ball. When they got picked on behind the school they moved around to the front of the school to play.

She tossed the ball and was horrified to see it go right through one of the beautiful church windows. She considered her options and finally decided to tell her teacher. Her teacher asked, “Are you sorry?” She said, “Oh yes!” Then her teacher asked her, “Will you be more careful the next time?” The young girl said, “Yes, ma’am.” And then her teacher said, “I forgive you” and that was the last she ever heard about the window. The next time she looked at the window the hole was gone and nobody ever said anything to her about it after that.

That’s what Jesus came to do for us right now. Wash away our sins with his precious blood so that we will never hear about them again. It’s spectacular and it’s just one gifts that is ours through faith. Sometimes the Bible calls those gifts the fruit of the Spirit because they are ours through the faith the Spirit gives and maintains in us.

Elsewhere those gifts are called “the firstfruits of the Spirit.” What a hope-filled word! The firstfruits are the first of much more fruit to come. In Romans 8:23 the apostle Paul says that “we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Of course we groan! We have experienced God’s forgiveness and His peace and joy and yet we still struggle with temptation in our sinful flesh. We still struggle with aches and pains and sickness and disease.

But God has promised us that a day is coming when our battle with sin, death and the devil will be over and we will receive new, glorified bodies and we will live in the glory of His presence where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) So yes we groan as we live through the brokenness of our bodies and this world because we have tasted the firstfruits and we can’t wait to experience all of the fruit in the glory of heaven. Tasting the firstfruits fills us with hope as we wait for the rest of the fruit.

So if you could use more hope then celebrate the firstfuits you already have. Confess your sins and celebrate the forgiveness that is yours in Jesus Christ. Then join the apostle Paul in saying “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) Let God fill you with hope!

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@ stjohnsfarmville.org.