North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose by Matt Dobson

I once had a conversation with a friend of mine who happen to be a very good person. However, he didn’t see the need for church-going, service, or commitment to the Lord. Anybody who knows the true meaning of commitment understands it requires an allegiance and loyalty no matter how difficult life can become. Just like a commitment in marriage requires work, a commitment to God requires a faithful effort. I explained the importance of faith by telling him the greatest gift you can receive is eternal life. The Bible says, “…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). My friend’s response was like many others. He said, “Free? Nothing in life is free!” I explained there’s nothing you can do to inherit eternal life and heaven. Goodness and kindness will not get you there. You must surrender your heart and life to His will. Jesus must become your Savior. To which he replied, “Aha, that’s it! I knew there was something it would cost me. I want control of my life.”
This conversation reminds me of a story in the Bible: A man came to Jesus and asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to have life that last forever (eternal)?” Jesus told him he must obey the laws and he mentioned several in regards to the subjects of stealing, honesty, sex, loving your fellowman, and respecting parents. The young man said to Jesus, “I have obeyed all these laws. What more should I do?” Jesus then told him, “…go and sell everything you have and give the money to poor people. Then you will have riches waiting for you in heaven.” Jesus instructed him, “…come and follow me.” When the young man heard these words, the Bible says he went away sad for he had many riches (Matt. 19:16-22). Jesus was asking this man to surrender his heart to God. He wasn’t telling him to go broke, but to help others by sharing what he had. This was an illustration of placing God number one in his life, not his earthly possessions. But the young man clung to his stuff. I’ve often wondered if this man ever changed his mind.
Like this young man in the Bible, little did my friend know what benefits he gave up when he decided to be in control of his life. It’s important that everyone knows what happens when the commitment to follow Christ is made. It’s equally important that everyone knows when they say no to God’s gift, what benefits they forfeit. This is best explained in Romans 5:1-5: “Now that we have been made right with God by putting our trust in Him, we have PEACE with Him. It’s because of what Jesus did for us…He has given us his loving-favor and received us. We are happy for the HOPE we have of sharing in the shining-greatness of God. We are glad for our troubles; they help us not to give up…standing the test, it gives us hope. Hope never makes us ashamed because the LOVE of God has come into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The first benefit is peace. As a result of trusting God and having faith we have “peace with God” (v.1). This is the tranquility which God gives to the Christian, even when there’s trouble and disappointment in our lives. Peace is just the beginning when we start a new life with Christ. There’s hardly anything greater than being able to lay your head down at night and bask in the peace of knowing that even if you don’t always get your way, God is in control and will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).
Many other blessings follow from this flow of peace in your life. One of those blessings is the benefit of a “jubilant hope”. Many people build their hope on temporal pursuits—accumulating real estate, bank accounts, and all kinds of things. These will soon vanish away. These things will never go with us when our lives on earth are done. There is a worldly hope that’s quite different from God’s hope. In today’s society, many possess a self-centered hope. It fails to care about God and others. This kind of hope doesn’t last. It runs out when the party ends, the fun stops, or when the person you thought loved you for the right reasons leaves for something that seems to be better. You must have hope that involves the less fortunate, the elderly, the helpless, the homeless, and the people that look up to you. This kind of hope is built on Jesus Christ and will endure eternally. “There is a hope we have as anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” (Heb. 6:19). The promised blessing of enjoying eternity in the presence and glory of God is a reward and benefit to the Christian. The paradise lost by man’s sin in the Garden of Eden is now a certainty for the one who has been justified by faith in God.
Hope gives us confidence that from the beginning to the end we are not alone in this world. What a positive and encouraging thought that is! Everyday people are trying to survive on hype, not on hope. They go from one thrill to the next; always looking for another high. Hype promises much, but it delivers little. Hype sustains for the moment, but it gives way and fails with time. Hope is solidly built on nothing less than God Himself. That which we hope for in God is even better than we could ever imagine or ask for (1 Cor. 2:9). Christian hope is for the believer and not the skeptic. Many people want God to prosper them, but God sometimes allows adversity, which potentially, produces hope. “Hope thou in God and He will help you” (Psalm 42:5). The Bible tells us we’re not always going to understand God. But, in focusing on Him during unexpected events in our lives, we begin to understand ourselves.
Don’t listen to the world and the devil —hope is not wishful thinking. Its assurance based upon God (1 Tim. 4:10). Remember, we are saved, not on the basis of the good deeds we have done in our kindness, but according to His mercy. We are justified by His grace so that we might inherit the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5-7). Find a church to gather in and worship, attend faithfully, and follow God in all your ways.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Mar 23 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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