The Chosen, The Groaning, The Story, & The Cross

Romans 8

May 24

There are a month’s worth of daily devotions that fill the pages of the eighth chapter of Romans.  It is my go-to chapter when I need a reminder of my definition in Christ.  I have read this chapter in thanksgiving and through blurry-vision tears.  I have turned here in the midst of demoralizing sin and great spiritual triumph.  God has reminded me time and time again that my definition, purpose, compassions, and mercies lie here.  Ultimately, the Spirit is governing me, being my guide, becoming my life and my peace (v.6)  This is all breathed into every square inch of Romans 8.  So I present to you four enduring truths that time and time again speak to me from these 39 verses.

1. You are chosen and adopted by God.

God created Adam and Eve. What I believe to be equally true is that he created each and every one of us since.  He stitched us together in the womb of our mothers (Psalm 139:14).  He counted the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7).  We are indeed each God’s creation.  Although this makes God our Creator, we are not yet called his children.  We are sons and daughters of a genealogy filled with sin and in turn, this creates a separation.  It is when we cry out to Him “Abba, Father! Daddy!” (v.15), admit our guilt, and respond to His will that we receive the outpouring of his blessing and the inheritance that truly belongs to us.  We trade the shackles of sin for the anticipation of adoption (v.23). We are spoken for by our Heavenly Father.  Our account is paid.  And in those moments when we stray, we are loved deeper by a Father desperately awaiting our return and calling for us to come back home (Luke 15:20).

2. The world is groaning for Jesus.

Is it not more apparent with each passing day?  Wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6).  Men calling what is evil “good” (Isaiah 5:20). The rapid increase of widespread disease, famine, and earthquakes (Matthew 24:7). The hastening of the spread of the Gospel through the information age (Matthew 24:14).  The physical world, the spiritual world, and our individual hearts are groaning for Christ’s return.  The beat of our pulse is quickening.  The contractions have begun (v.22). The Spirit of God is cuing us to the long awaited return of Christ. Hiding behind our pews and pulpits will do nothing to advance the Gospel and satisfy the aching within.  It is time to share his message with the most desperate and broken who may seemingly be the furthest away (not so..see #4).  The abandoned, the sickly, the tax collector, the prostitute, and everyone else on the outskirts and in between.  Bring their attention to the aching they have within. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).

3. God controls the narrative.

When asked, “How are you doing?”  You might simply reply, “Good,”  as a catch-all synonymous with happy, pleased, content, or a lack of present conflict.  But if we are “good” and follow the will of God, we can expect our contentment to be frequently interrupted. We can expect conflict to be a recurring feature of our life. We can expect happy to be a word reserved for experiencing persecution on the behalf of Christ (1 Peter 4:13).  This is why it is tough to hear, especially in the deepest, darkest moments of our life, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (v.30)” He isn’t using your circumstance to make you happy. He is using your circumstance to further testify of his Good News. He is using the joy in your struggle, your steadfastness in conflict, and your love for those who have wronged you as a testimony for good.  If you are following Christ, you no longer write the story.  Sometimes you end up at the bottom of a well, falsely accused, thrown in prison, and sharing your faith with the most unsuspecting ears. (Genesis 37-40)  But how sweet it is.  How great is our hope.  How wonderful our reward. Our story, when it becomes His story, is very, very good.

4. No matter…The cross.

What can separate us from the Love of God is Christ Jesus? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  As long as we suck air. As long as we can consciously reflect and repent, there is God.  You can fail in a moment or run for decades, yet there before you He stands. No matter what.  Abusing or abuse.  Addiction or depression.  Idolatry or simply burying your head in the sand.  Murder or loss. Demons or baggage. Denial of his presence and cursing His name will never stop His knocking and will never rescind his love.  He is ready to bring you into a life of adoption, that will help you understand the groaning within, and will change your narrative for good. Those who love Him understand. Those who don’t yet most certainly can.  No matter where you are today, you are just one step away from the cross.

-Aaron Winner

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Have you accepted God as your Creator and your Father? What does that mean to you?
  2. Ask God to show you who is stuck in the groanings of this world without the hope of the return of Jesus Christ. Together with God, make a rescue plan. What is His role, what is yours? Pray and proceed.
  3. How is your story different because of God’s love for you in Christ? Throughout Romans 8 what do you find about who God created you to be and who you are in Christ? How is the cross a part of your story?

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