Romans 8. Part 2. There is Hope Because There is Love.

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans 8:18-39

We all love a good story of suffering, don’t we? Aren’t we quick to tell others about the time it rained every single day of the vacation? Or about the widow down the street who is going through one misfortune after another following the death of her husband? Why is that? I can think of at least two reasons. The first is that we all go through pain and affliction in our lifetime. It comes with being human. We can all relate. Secondly, I believe that we all have a deep-seated hope for happy endings, for the triumph that follows defeat.

Paul opens this passage with the confirmation that there is glory and victory ahead, not just for us, but for all of creation.  “That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.” (Romans 8:18-19, MSG). Doesn’t that paint a picture of what we all have experienced this year? We can’t wait for the end of all this bad news. The Word assures us of eventual freedom ahead.

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God’s love will triumph over death and life’s troubles.

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And what a joyous freedom it will be! We are told the Holy Spirit of God, the very presence of the Father in the absence of the physical body of Jesus, is with us in our weakness. He even prays for us. (Now that’s a deep theological thought which we might ponder all day.) And through it all, God is in control, even when things seem to be total chaos.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV). This is where I hang my hat. This is why I trust God completely. No matter the calamity, no matter the strife, no matter the horrendous situation you might face, God is at work. He’s not sleeping. He hasn’t turned His back. He is orchestrating what is best for each one of us. “All things” means all things! Even during a worldwide pandemic.

This chapter offers one beautiful gift, one beautiful promise, after the other.  I am thankful for God’s goodness, His grace, and that we are His children. He works for our good. He calls us by name. He stays with us to the very end, gloriously completing what He has begun.

Why? Why does God do this? Why does He care? Because He loves us so incredibly much.

Jesus is crazy in love with you! He’s in God’s throne room right this very minute asking the Father to take care of you, to meet your heart’s needs. He’s continually praying for our triumph! Our victory! Not just our survival or our just getting by. But for us to TRIUMPH! Wow!

“With God on our side like this, how can we lose?” (Romans 8:31, MSG).

How much does He love us? He gives us what we need to be not just conquerors, but Paul says we are “more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37, NIV).

We can trust God because His of His love.

So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! (Romans 8:38-39, TPT).

How do we respond? Paul encourages us just a few chapters later: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, NIV). We are victors today! Even in the midst of our present suffering.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 54. God Is Always Kind and Merciful.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 54.

The glory of Zion is at hand. Get ready for a blessing from God.

“Make your tents larger! Spread out the tent pegs; fasten them firmly.” (v2, CEV).

Can I tell you how much God loves you? First, there was the promise to Noah. Now, there is a promise for the people of Israel — a promise for you and me as well.  “For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, my love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.” The God who has compassion on you says so.”” (v10, MSG). “I will always be kind and merciful to you.” (v10, CEV). 

Even when all seems hopeless… “for those who are childless (v1), for those who are widowed (v4).” Even in the worst of times, God will take care of you, of us.

I’m reminded of the encouraging words of Jesus, spoken on a hillside along the Sea of Galilee. “Do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25, NIV). The Master continues, “But more than anything else put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33, CEV).

Don’t worry about what you’ll wear or what you’ll eat. Or about those who attack you or say mean things about you. When we fully submit to God, He watches over us. His opinion of us is the only one that matters. He has sent His Holy Spirit to comfort us and to be with us.

Isaiah concludes with this reassuring word: “Weapons made to attack you won’t be successful; words spoken against you won’t hurt at all. My servants, Jerusalem is yours! I, the Lord, promise to bless you with victory.” (v17, CEV).

The Message says it this way: “I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.” (v17).

Here’s how Paul articulates this in his letter to the church in Rome: “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).

I’m thankful my future is not completely in my own ability or skills or even “luck.” No, our confidence, our trust, and our future is in God’s hands! He’s got this! He’s got you! He will always be kind and merciful to those who love Him.

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Advent, Day 18, the Gift of Victory over the Enemy

December 18, 2011

The Gift of Victory over the Enemy

This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians. 

 

Desert Storm.  The Iraqi Desert, just north of Kuwait.  1991.  You may remember this first of the most recent wars being fought with American troops in the oil-field rich Middle East.  Saddam Hussein had pushed into neighboring Kuwait.  And the United States and its Ally nations were not going to let Iraq set a precedent of bullying smaller nations.  As the US Forces surged north across the desert sands, one defensive strategy used by the dictator was to set on fire all of the oil pumping units.  A large, oil rich, toxic smoke began to form.  Our troops were puzzled and worried.  Gas masks were issued to all soldiers, none of them really sure they would work.  The weather forecasters studied the skies as the black cloud moved its way toward the ground troops.  

Heavy casualties were predicted.  However, 15 minutes before the beginning of the largest ground assault of the attack, just before 4 a.m. on February 24, 1991, the winds changed and began to push that toxic, black, oil rich smoke north, instead of south.  Many troops say that God had performed a miracle on their behalf. [1]  One of countless miracles He performed during that war.  And as anyone who has been on the front lines of any battle can tell you, God regularly shows up in battle situations. 

He shows up in our daily battles too… when we ask for His divine intervention… and when we take the initiative to gear up and fight!

Today’s Advent gift from God is the gift of Victory over the Enemy. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10)

Paul is starting the conclusion of his letter to the church at Ephesus.  He has encouraged them, instructed them, taught them, prayed for them.  Now his last words are to charge them.  “Be strong!”   Reach into that inner core… rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen you.  Because, really, this is not pretty.

He describes a battle here.  A vicious, ugly, full of blood, sweat and tears battle.

This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.   Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.  (6:12-13 The Message)

Paul says that our life is not merely a short-term event.  Not a 15 round boxing bout or a 60 minute football game.  Our lifelong struggle is “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness.”  This is real.  This is for keeps.  Satan hates you and everything you are doing for God’s glory.  And he wants to take you down.  He wants to take your marriage down.  He wants to take your family down.  And he’ll use whatever is going on in your current situation to beat you up. 

Perhaps, you’ve had a misunderstanding with your spouse, so you start daydreaming about what it’d be like to not be married.  You bounced a checked, so you start fearing any and every decision that has to do with money.  Your mom yelled at you and you start thinking how great it’d be if you never talked with her again.  You have two choices… take the lazy way out and acquiesce and give in and say “so what?” and just ride the tide… or you can fight. I’d like to encourage you to fight. Fight for what is right. It’s worth it. You are worth it. The people in your life are worth it.

The rest of this week we’re going to look further at the tools and gifts God gives us to fight the enemy, so stay tuned.

Father God, thank you for the Gift of being able to defeat the enemy.  Give me what I need to stand fast and firm and strong. Holy Spirit, help me make right decisions that honor God so that the enemy will not be able to defeat me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

© 2011. Rich Ronald


[1] Personal meetings and email messages from Ken Mahnke, USAF retired, a member of the Desert Storm ground troops.