Not Home Yet: Call Him Father

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:16-17)

There are still places—maybe your town is one of them—where belonging to the right family has its benefits. To have that name brings with it status, privileges, and often a whole lot of money. To be from the wrong family, the wrong part of town, means you’re not getting in certain doors. You’ll have to make your own way the hard way.

nothome_350Romans is written into a world that understood the value of belonging to the right family. Far more so than now, you were likely to carry your family’s status with you for your entire life.

What family could have more status—then and now—than the family of the God of the universe? What name could open more doors than His? What family fortune could ever be larger than God’s family fortune? And as His children we have a share in it—right along with Jesus! We are the children of God.

(Tune in tomorrow to hear about the suffering.)

Think: Do you sense in your spirit that God’s Spirit is testifying to you that you are God’s child? Are you comfortable with the idea of belong in His family? Do you feel any security in knowing that you are a co-heir with Christ to God’s unmeasurable, eternal fortune?

Pray: Thank God that as a Christian you have been included in His family and promised a share in your family’s eternal glory.

Do: Try to bring up in conversation (at church, at home, wherever) two or three times this week that you are in God’s family.

Not Home Yet: Suffering v. Glory – No Contest

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

Everybody suffers. Or hurts. Or struggles. You can use whatever word you want, but the experience of pain—physical and emotional—is universal.

nothome_350Jesus suffered for our sins on the cross, but he also suffered through all the painful parts of living a regular human life – just as we do.

Does the fact that everybody suffers in life make it okay? Does the fact that death and mourning and sorrow and pain are normal make that okay? We’re going to see this week that it does not.

Here’s the deal, though: As great as the pain of this life is, it won’t even be worth talking about once you step over the threshold of heaven and take your place there as a child of the king. The glory of that eternal moment, we’re promised, will make the enormous pain of this short life meaningless by comparison.

Think: Do you tend to think of hard times in this life as normal?  What do you imagine the glory of living for eternity as a child of God will be like?

Pray: Thank God that your current sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed in you as God’s child.

Do: Read Colossians 3:1-4 and try to practice it today.

Not Home Yet: Creation Frustrated

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22-23)

Huge idea here: Christians aren’t complete. Sometimes we mislead people, I think, when we talk about the God-shaped hole inside of each of us. We imply that when someone becomes a Christian, that hole gets filled up and we never feel empty again.

nothome_350I don’t think that’s true. Paul here clearly says that we Christians “groan inwardly” – just like the frustrated creation all around us that is experiencing intense pain similar to a woman giving birth. That doesn’t sound to me like people who are always perfectly satisfied in this life.

It is true that God has saved us, that our God-shaped hole has been filled with His Spirit as a deposit, as a source of comfort, joy, hope, love, and peace. It’s true that we have access to a whole new level of happiness as we live in God’s will. But it is also true that we will never be fully complete and satisfied until we are with God in person, face to face.

That’s what Paul means when he mentions the “redemption of our bodies.” We were created to be with God, and we will be fully complete when he wipes every tear from our eyes and declares that his dwelling is now with us forever.

Think: Have you ever thought there was something wrong with you as a Christian because you still feel something like an inner “groaning,” like something is missing? Does this passage help you to understand that groaning won’t be all the way gone until we are all the way home with our Father?

Pray: Thank God that one day you will be with him in person forever and the groaning will stop.

Do: Read about that moment in Revelation 21:1-5.

Not Home Yet: Hoping for What We Don’t Have

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Romans 8:24)

Somebody said, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” Hope isn’t optional. Human beings cannot exist without it.

nothome_350So the question is, what are we putting our hope in? Paul this week has revealed that his hope – a Christian’s hope – is for one thing and one thing only: the day of the Lord, the day when the “sons of God will be revealed,” the day everything will be put back the way it was meant to be from the beginning.

Until that day, we live on hope. Careful: We don’t live on wishes. We don’t live on maybes. Hope is all about being confident that something will happen. We know our Father will come and get us.

Until then, we’ll live with joy and groaning, peace and pain, and keep hoping in the day we will see our “Abba” face to face.

Think: How would you define this kind of hope in your own words? Why can’t we just exist without something to hope in? What happens when we try?

Pray: Thank God for giving you the hope of an eternity with him as your Father. Ask him to help you to live for that hope.

Do: Read how hope fits into the definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1.

Not Home Yet: Waiting for the Day

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)

Now comes the hard part. Let’s say that you have bought into Paul’s argument: Our only hope of ever experiencing true satisfaction, ultimate completeness, is to be with God in person. We have the promise of that. We have been made God’s children. But we’re still waiting for the end of the story, “the redemption of our bodies.”

nothome_350Until then, we will live with the pain and groaning of life on a fallen planet – even with the peace, joy, and comfort provided by God’s Spirit – while we wait for that Day to finally get here.

Paul says we “wait for it patiently.” Sometimes, though, we lose patience, don’t we? We flirt with other things to hope in, good and bad things that might promise satisfaction sooner, easier, cheaper (like sexual immorality, personal achievement, laughter, money, etc.). But they all let us down eventually.

Then we’re back to this: “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13)

Think: Are you waiting patiently with your hope set fully on that Day? What false hopes are most likely to attract and distract you from the one true hope?

Pray: Ask God to help you to set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Do: Make a quick list of false hopes that have disappointed you by leaving you empty because you expected too much of them.

Not Home Yet: The Spirit Groans

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26)

We ended last’s weeks devo’s on a kind of down – but honest – note: We will experience frustration and pain until the Day that we finally stand in God’s presence in eternity. For now, we wait and hope.

nothome_350But we do not wait alone. And we do not struggle on in our own puny weakness. Nothing is the same as it was before we knew Jesus. We’ll keep reading Romans 8 this week and notice how God has turned our lives inside out, how he provides everything we need as we look forward to the Day.

For starters, the Spirit talks to the Father for us. All of creation groans. We groan. And the Spirit groans for us, making the case for us, making up for the fact that we don’t know the words or how to say them. It’s as if God has installed himself in our hearts to send himself messages from us about exactly what we need. (Kind of.)

Think: Have you ever felt frustrated because you didn’t know how to pray, what to say to God about your circumstances? Does knowing that the Spirit intercedes for us in those moments help?

Pray: Thank God that the Spirit intercedes for you with groans that words can’t express, even when you don’t how to pray.

Do: Pay attention to your prayers this week and believe that when you run out of the right words the Spirit is communicating exactly the right things to God.

Not Home Yet: In All Things

“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)

It’s too easy to use this verse as a force field we put up to keep ourselves from feeling other people’s pain. “I’m sorry that happened to you, but it’s good to know that God has a purpose for it. It will all make sense in the end. Call me!”

nothome_350But Paul didn’t write it in a Hallmark sympathy card. He wrote it immediately after admitting that even Christians still groan on this planet in frustration and pain. He wrote it after acknowledging that we don’t yet have what we’re hoping for. He wrote it after showing that God’s Spirit groans with us, making our case to God because we just don’t have the words.

Then he explains his reasons for confidence in the God who lets him hurt for now: The God who loves us is up to something bigger than this temporary agony. He is working – even in the hard things – for the good of people who love him, people he has called to participate in his plan for the universe.

In a sense, our painful circumstances matter because God is working in them; our suffering fits somewhere. It is not pointless. It is not anonymous. It is not overlooked. It’s part of the story he is telling.

Think: Do you ever get tired of people quoting this verse when terrible things happen? Do you believe it, that God really is working through your hard circumstances to do good for those who love him and are called to serve his purpose?

Pray: Thank God that in all things he does, in fact, work for the good of those who love him and are called for his purpose.

Do: Make a quick list of some of the hard things in your life. Think about how they fit into this promise.