Abounding in Hope: Romans 15:13 (Sermon)

Abounding in Hope
Romans 15:13


I realize that we don’t have childcare today. Thank you for those of you volunteering. We will resume on January 8t. Because of that, I have made this a shorter sermon.


I want to invite the children up front for a children’s message. You can help me open a gift. Did you get any presents this year? [Hershey’s Kisses]. Do you like Hershey’s kisses? Some of them are just chocolate; others are sugar cookie flavored. You all can have some. Please don’t eat them yet, wait till you get back to your parents. This morning we will talk about God’s gifts to us, which are way better than chocolate, although God made chocolate. What has God given to us? [Jesus.] Why was he so great? He came as a baby, lived a perfect life, and died to pay for the times we thought, said, and did naughty things. Through the gift of Jesus, we can experience God’s love, joy, peace, and hope. 


Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for Christmas. Thank you for a new day. Thank you for sending the gift of your Son, Jesus. He is the best gift ever. Through him, we know love, joy, peace, and hope. Help us now as we hear from your Word. Please fill us with all joy, peace, and hope; in Jesus’s name, amen. You can have your seat with your parents.


I want to ask, “What is the most meaningful gift you have gotten at Christmas?” Hold that gift in your mind as we watch this video. 



God gives us more than we can imagine. Christmas is a great time to remind ourselves of this. 


If you have your Bible, open to the book of Romans chapter 15. We are only going to read one verse, verse 13. We will be reading from the English Standard Version of the Bible. What does it say? 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). 


This is a prayer of the Apostle Paul. He wrote to the church residing in Rome. He was planning on visiting them. He likely was in the Greek city of Corinth at the time. His letter is his longest, with sixteen chapters sharing the good news. The verse we read is perfect for the holiday season. Paul’s prayer was for the church to abound in hope. That is the overarching message he was communicating to the Roman church. We can break down this prayer into five parts. 

  1. The Description of God

  2. The Supplication to God 

  3. The Qualification 

  4. The Instrumentation 

  5. The Aspiration 


The verse begins, 

“May the God of hope” (Romans 15:13). 

Paul described God as a God of hope. How would you describe God? Do you see him as a God of hope? Or is he a God of justice and rules? Some see God as distant and out of touch. Some don’t see God at all. How would your family, co-workers, neighbors, or friends describe him? Would they say he is a God of hope? Paul did. Why was that? What was it about God that Paul thought this? Why call God a God of hope? Paul experienced injustice, persecution, slander, and backstabbing. How could he see God as hopeful? If you read the letter of Romans, it answers that. We serve a gracious, loving, and kind God when we don’t deserve it. We deserve punishment, death, and wrath. God knows. He made laws, and we broke them. Yet, God showed mercy on humanity. And he was and is patient with us. He is not petty, rude, or mean in the execution of his rule and reign. And at the right time, he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to access God. The verse goes on to Paul’s request.


    1. The Description of God

    2. The Supplication to God 

    We have talked about Paul’s God. Now, let’s look at his request. 

“May the God of hope fill you” (Romans 15:13). 

    Paul was praying that the church would experience an infilling. God doesn’t merely give life. Nor does he only save from the just penalty of selfish pride. He also hears the prayers of his people. He can answer them. He cares about his people. Thus, Paul prayed to God to bless his people by filling them. God is not a leech, lax, or limited. People can be. They can be takers, lazy, forgetful, or lack resources to help. God is not like that. He has never been. He is a giver of great gifts. He gives and doesn’t lose. He is beyond charitable and able to answer Paul’s request. 


What did Paul want God to fill the church with? Two things. First: 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy” (Romans 15:13). 

Paul was praying that God would fill the church with all joy. God gives joy. Paul was not praying that everything would go hunky-dory. That would not fit his understanding of life, experience, or Scripture. The joy he asked God for was qualitatively different from shallow happiness and a change of scenery. This joy is lasting. The joy Paul referred to was one a person could possess in affliction and trial. How? God can fill a person with a bigger picture amid the pain. He can grant hope in the middle of heartache and joy while suffering injustice. Paul wanted the church filled with that type of joy. But that is not all. 


Secondly, he asked God to give the church peace. Again, look back at verse 13. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace” (Romans 15:13). 

Christmas can highlight the relational conflicts that surround us. People fight about money, time, politics, and policies. Internationally, there are conflicts all over the globe. Paul taught that God had made a way of peace by sending Jesus. Jesus is the way of reconciliation between God and each other. God gives peace and can give it more and more. Paul asked that the church would be filled with peace. What would it look like for God to answer Paul’s prayer in our church and your life today? God is good. He gives good gifts and answers the prayers of his people like Paul’s. He may not fix your situation or change other people. However, he can provide you peace in the storm, a peace that passes understanding, knowing the big picture and the big who holds the whole world in his hands. 


What is the qualification for these gifts? Keep reading. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing(Romans 15:13). 

We have talked about: 

  1. The Description of God

  2. The Supplication to God 

  3. The Qualification 

Throughout his writing, Paul recognized that we could have these gifts by faith. What faith? This faith is in God, not ourselves, but in the God of hope. Paul meant something more than a higher power or an optimistic future. He was referring to a belief in the greatest gift God has ever given: himself. He sent his one and only Son, Jesus, two thousand years ago to save us from our sins. Christ is the most meaningful and first Christmas gift. In believing in this baby, who was born to die, we renounce our dark deeds and traitorous thoughts, and wicked words and cling to God’s forgiveness purchased by his life. And in that good news, through Jesus, we can have more gifts from God. 


Paul wrote about this in Romans chapter 5. Turn there. What does it say? 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1–11)

Do you believe that? Paul believed it. He prayed, believing in that truth. He wanted the church to be filled from floor to ceiling, from beginning to end, young and old, with all joy and peace. How? It was in faith.  


Paul prayed: 

  1. The Description of God

  2. The Supplication to God 

  3. The Qualification 

  4. The Instrumentation 

In faith and by the power of the Spirit, we can have the hope Paul prayed for. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). 

The driving force of hope is the Holy Spirit. Let me say that again. The driving force of hope is the Holy Spirit. The God of hope, the Father, the Creator of the world, the giver of life, the maker of all, sent his one and only Son, Jesus, in whose work we believe. By the power of the Spirit, we have the hope of eternal life. The Spirit is the engine making our hope abound. 


Not only that, it can be because of the Spirit if you are experiencing a sense of love, joy, and peace. We just read that God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That feeling of love from God and love for others is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Galatians chapter 5 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is joy and peace to boot. An attitude of love, joy, and peace are gifts from God to us. Too often, we forget the power of God at work in the mundane. Life is far more magical than we credit it. God gives us generous gifts through the power of the Holy Spirit. 


My friend at church has a sweet kit car in his garage. He is rebuilding a beautiful 1950’s red MG. However, if he never put the engine in, it wouldn’t. It needs the engine. In the same way, without the power of God at work in us, we would not believe, obey, or have heavenly hope, joy, peace, or love. Friends, God gives us more gifts than we can imagine. And it all started for us with the baby Jesus. Take a moment to reflect on the blessings you have had this year. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above (James 1:17). Those are like samples of God’s affection and an invitation to more in relationship with him. We have a God who has the power to do what we can’t. He offers us a firm foundation of hope to move forward.  


That brings us to Paul’s point. First, we have discussed Paul’s description of God, then his supplication to God. Next, we looked at the qualification of that supplication and now the instrumentation of his request. Now, his request. 

  1. The Description of God

  2. The Supplication to God 

  3. The Qualification  

  4. The Instrumentation 

  5. The Aspiration 

What did Paul want? He wanted the church to abound in the quality that God possesses: hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). 

Paul wanted the church to be overflowing with hope. 


Does our church abound in hope? Do you abound in hope? That can be hard when the church falls apart. It can be hard when we suffer loss and hurt. However, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, we can be honest with reality and hold a bigger picture than what we see with our eyes. We can continue to sing to our God. We can keep on praying to our God. We can keep on believing and obeying our God. This all starts for us with the gift of baby Jesus. 


How is Christmas for you? Friend, I am so glad you showed up this morning. Turn to the Lord of hope. He is kind and compassionate in the morning and evening in life and death. He loves you and sent his Son for you. That is what Christmas is all about. Perhaps, for you, Christmas is fantastic, and you are tuning in this morning because of tradition, habit, or pressure. God has more than you can ever imagine for those who believe in himself. Only settle for a Christmas with Christ. 


Let us turn to God and echo Paul’s prayer. We are coming next week to the 21 Days of prayer. We will be studying prayer as we come to the start of a new year. Let’s use the prayers of the Bible to inform our prayers. Let us pray for joy, peace, and hope in our church and hearts. Imagine with me what might happen. 


Secondly, let us also be encouraged by the nature of God and his gifts. God is good, and you have more you can open up this holiday season. Seek God while he may be found. Remind yourself of who he is and what he has done and can do. Jesus is the greatest gift ever. 


Let’s pray. 

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