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?

Jesus’ Final Teachings

John 14-17

The contents of John 14 to 17 are Jesus’ final words to his disciples (except Judas) and his prayer to his Father moments before he is handed over. The one dominating overarching theme in these four chapters is the absolute unchallenged supremacy, beauty, and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus states the following:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” 

– John 14.6

“If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” – John 14.14

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” – John 14.27

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love” – John 15.9

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take heart I have overcome the world” – John 16.33

“…these things I speak in the world so that they may have my joy made full in themselves” – John 17.13

What Jesus prays for in chapter 17 is what he taught and instructed in chapter 14 to 16. Jesus prayed for each believer to have unity with him, to be filled with his joy, to be sanctified in the truth. The life we have in Jesus is so beautiful and precious. Jesus Christ is the living water. Let us drink from him deeply and without reservation. Let us be always dependent and in communion with Jesus. Abiding and communing with Christ is the key to realizing the fullness of joy, peace, and love. In addition, we see the work of the Father, the work of the son, and the work of the spirit active in lives of those whom God has saved. The Father has chosen us, the son has died for us and bought our salvation, and the spirit makes us alive.

To God be the glory in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit!

-Jacob Rohrer

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – John 14-17

Make sure you come back tomorrow when we will read Matthew 27 & Mark 15. We are getting to the end of the gospels.

The Long Journey to Rome

JPEG image-56512E7E40C1-1

Acts 27

Today it only takes a few hours to travel from the Holy Land to Rome. A non-stop plane ticket costs just a few hundred bucks. For a couple of hundred more, you can get upgraded to first class. That sounds rather nice–flying over the beautiful Mediterranean sea, being waited on hand and foot, heading to the former center of the Roman empire to take in the sights and sounds of this majestic ancient city.
For Paul, though, the journey was not so short…or luxurious. And it certainly wasn’t non-stop. The trek to Rome included a slew of problems for this man from Tarsus and his companions, such as a snakebite, a shipwreck, and a plan to slaughter prisoners. What happened during this voyage would have tested the most experienced seafarer. But throughout the storms and chaos, Paul remained calm and determined. When others had lost hope and were filled with fear, the Apostle took charge and restored order.
Paul was able to remain composed and didn’t cave to fear because of where he placed his trust. He had been informed by the Lord that he would make it to Rome to testify there and he believed this wholeheartedly. God had been faithful thus far and Paul knew this would continue. After all, he did write the words of Romans 8:28.
“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (CEV)
God has a plan. From the Bible, we can gain a general understanding of it. We can see how He has worked in history and what He intends to do in the future. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult for us to see where we fit in the grand scheme of things or how God can work in us. God used Paul as an instrument for His glorious plan. It wasn’t because he was special that God chose to employ Paul as His messenger to the Gentiles; he was special only because he was chosen. We don’t have to be special for God to use us either (which is a good thing…because we’re not).
Paul found himself on that arduous adventure because he was doing work for God. If we are going to be active followers of Christ and productive promoters of his Good News, sometimes we’re going to find ourselves in difficult situations as well. But we, like Paul, can have courage knowing the plan God has for the future and confidence because we are doing His will.
-Joel Fletcher
%d bloggers like this: