Not Home Yet: God Wrote You In

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)

I’ve got a request: If these verses makes you feel inclined to jump into a debate about predestination and election and free will, don’t. Set the point/counterpoint aside this time and try to think about the implications of what Paul is saying in the context of this passage. He wants us to feel comforted, reassured, shocked by God’s involvement in our lives since before we were born.

nothome_350As Christians, we are the children of God. We have a share in the riches of eternity. Our life now includes pain, suffering, groaning, but we are also buoyed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. God is with us, listening to us, and he is at work in all things – even the hard things – for our good. Our future with him is secure.

How do we know? Because, mysteriously, long before we showed up God had already planned for us to follow the path of Jesus all the way to its conclusion in eternity. We will be like Christ. God is doing it, has done it, and he will not stop. Our hope is in exactly the right place when our hope is in being with God forever.

Think: Are you comforted by realizing that God is at work in you right now and that he will absolutely finish what he has started? What is the value of being called by God to follow the path of Jesus?

Pray: Thank God that, as a Christian, his plan for you started before you could mess it up and doesn’t end until you are like Jesus.

Do: Look forward to being glorified with Jesus for eternity.

Not Home Yet: God is For You

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

How can God love me after all the gross stuff I’ve done? And he’s got to know how much I want to do even grosser stuff, right? Can he really look past all of that? And if he does love me so much, why did that terrible thing just happen? Couldn’t he have stopped it? Is He punishing me? Is he mad at me? And if he has a plan for my life, why don’t I have a clue what to do next?

nothome_350Those are all important questions, but Paul wants us to set them aside long enough to understand one bottom-line answer:

God is for you. And he proved it when he traded Jesus’ life for yours.

God is for you, and he will give you everything you need – and much, much more. You can trust him.

Think: Are you completely convinced that God is for you? Are you convinced that he will give you everything you need and many things you really really want?

Pray: Thank God that he is for you and will graciously give you all things. Ask him to help you to be more and more convinced of that.

Do: Write down three of your hardest questions about your relationship with God, then write down this statement under each of them: “God is for me.”

Not Home Yet: God is Strong Enough

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:33-34)

I’ve got a good friend right now waiting for a judge to make a decision that could change his whole life. The judge has to decide if my friend is telling the truth or if the other person is. He is listening to the accusations and defenses from both sides. What’s at stake could impact my friend’s life for years and years to come.

nothome_350Paul is using the metaphor of a court of law here at the end of Romans 8. We were the ones on trial for our sin, and we know we’ve done things that someone could use to get us condemned. We have sinned. We were guilty.

But Paul wants us to hear loud and clear that the judge has already declared us NOT guilty. He already condemned Jesus to serve our sentence, to pay the price. Jesus has already died for us. The trial, conviction, and sentencing phases have all ended. The case is complete.

Even if the enemy comes back to accuse us of more sin, God has already ruled. And Jesus stands nearby, continually making the case for us: “I paid for that sin. And that one. You already ruled, Father. The case is over. The defendant is forgiven.”

Think: Do you ever feel like you are the one accusing yourself to God, convinced that your sins are too big to be forgiven? Why is that attitude prideful? How does it make less of the price Jesus paid for our sin?

Pray: Thank God for justifying you. Thank him that Jesus is at his right hand interceding for you.

Do: Next time you see a court case on TV, remember that God has already declared you forgiven.

Not Home Yet: Who Will Separate Us?

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’ ” (Romans 8:35-37)

Greeting cards and love songs have sucked all of the meaning out of words like “love” and “forever.” We toss them around too easily and forget what they really mean. No matter how romantically it is delivered, very few of us really believe the phrase, “I will never stop loving you.”

nothome_350Paul wasn’t being romantic. He wasn’t writing a pop hit or a Valentine’s Day card from Jesus. He was stating cold, hard fact: Jesus will not ever – no never – stop loving anyone who is in Christ, a Jesus-follower, a Christian.

The promise wasn’t that nothing bad would ever happen. Just the opposite: Terrible things will happen in this life. Death. Torture. Disease. Hunger. No, the promise was that there is power – eternal, life-giving power to keep trusting God – that comes with the endless, unconditional, superglue love of Christ.

No matter how bad it gets, his love will give you the power to keep hoping, to keep believing and waiting and living for the Day.

Think: What’s the value of being loved by the Son of God forever? Why does it matter?

Pray: Thank God that nothing will ever separate you from the love of Christ. Thank him that you will be “more than a conquerer” through the One who loves you.

Do: Look up the word “conquer” in a dictionary and write down one of the definitions. Think about what it means to be more than a conqueror in terrible times.

Not Home Yet: His Love is Stronger

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Are you a list-maker? Do you love to itemize and bullet-point your way through homework assignments, top tens, and potential dates? The apostle Paul was a serious list-maker; you can see it all the way through his writing in the New Testament. And today’s two verses might be my favorite of all his lists. (It would, at least, make the top three.)

nothome_350Even better: His list is the Word of God. It is absolutely and unalterably true. These are, in fact, the things which canNOT separate us from the love of God that we experience through Jesus. The list could almost be summed up as “everything in all the universes combined.”

Bottom line: There is nothing left for us to be afraid of. There is nothing left to worry about stealing us away from God’s forever love for us. Nothing spiritual. Nothing physical. Nothing inside of us. Nothing outside of us. Nothing bigger. Nothing smaller. Nothing now. Nothing then.

God’s love for us is stronger than all of it. As people in Christ, we will not ever be unloved, rejected, unwelcome, or turned away. He is now and will always be our Father.

Think: If you’ve ever worried that your salvation was not secure, that God’s love for you could be lost, what did you think might somehow steal it away? Is that thing covered by Paul’s list?

Pray: Thank God that nothing will ever separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

Do: Write today’s verse as a list wherever you normally write lists and find a way to look it over a few times during the next week.