"And hope does not disappoint us." (Romans 5:5)
Before we start this series Sunday, what would you say is the most important word in the Bible? What captures best the reality of God's character and the significance of faith? That's packing a lot into one word isn't it? So you may be surprised by the words chosen for this series because of how simple they are.
This Sunday we will look at the word used the most in the Bible. According to one study this word appears over 28,000 times in the Bible and it beat out the article "the" by 95. The word functions as a conjunction, which of course serves the purpose in grammar of joining two clauses or sentences. This particular conjunction means the reality or truth of a thought is not complete. There is a further reality which means you can't put a period on the sentence just yet. I've already used this word twice in this devotion. So what is our word this Sunday?
Let me illustrate...
I'm writing while watching Michael Phelps win his fourth Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics bringing his career record to 22! He was already the most decorated Olympian in history. Now it seems he's just pushing the record so far out, you wonder if anyone will surpass him.
Of course, this year seems different. Phelps is driven in a new way. It's not just to stack up accomplishments. It's not just to beat opponents. It's like he was given a second chance. And he was. (Discovered our word yet?)
If you've watched some of the interviews and background stories on Michael Phelps you realize he's has overcome a great deal since the London Olympics. As successful as he was he admitted that just a few years ago he didn't want to get in the pool again. In fact, he wasn't sure he wanted to go on at all. Life had lost joy and hope. He entered a behavioral rehab facility with a book suggested to him by a former NFL athlete who experienced a radical turnaround in life. The book is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. A significant experience of Christian faith gave Phelps new hope for his life. While it seems crazy that anyone who had not yet turned 30 would feel that life has nothing left, especially for the winning-est Olympic athlete ever, Phelps had gotten to that point. For him life did not hold the promise of joy. He was ready to put a period on the sentence, but God broke through in a way to say, "Now let me have your life. There is more to say. I have more in store for you, AND, Phelps is experiencing that reality.
You don't have to be Michael Phelps to understand that feeling. The death of a loved one, failure, lost confidence can leave any of us feeling like life has just become something we once experienced. At some time or another we all need to hear one of the most important words in the Bible and faith. We need God to say, ".....
I'll finish that sentence Sunday morning.
See you then,