I walked home, by this time utility crews and police officers were arriving. A power line for no apparent reason had snapped and hit the ground. The smoke was billowing, the fire powerful and the heat intense. The ground was on fire. 3-4 months later I was walking by, and this is what I found…. (show and tell of the melted dirt…). I am amazed at the transformation… as far as I can tell, this is melted dirt…the fire was so intense… the blazing heat, for a very long time…. It has its own beauty…
You know who the book of Romans is written for? Those who feel rejected, those who feel like they don’t fit in. Those who are their own worst enemy. Anytime anybody walks in these doors on a Sunday for the first time I am amazed …but what really amazes me are the folks who have been rejected and told they aren’t good enough, the folks who have received the subtle message they don’t fit the mold of what it means to be a Christian – those who think so little of themselves they think nobody can possibly love them… yet the desire for God is smoldering, a greater desire to be known by God, seen by God, loved by God.
You who feel rejection this message is for you. The world may put you down, you may condemn yourself, but to God you are more than acceptable.
Romans 8:31-37, poses five questions. Sort through some of the stifling questions in your mind. Then in Romans 8:38-39, a call for confidence. Confidence to enter into the presense of God. Confidence to accept his love that he lavishes on us. Confidence to receive God’s grace! Settle the doubts of your mind, boldly enter into God’s embrace, and you will be changed as dramatically as the dirt!
Question # 1: If God be for us, who can be against us? Roman 8:31
When we feel rejected, let’s be honest, we outwardly blame others, but ultimately we feel rejected by God. There is no truth more fundamental than this truth. God is for us. /// If you were to hear nothing else today, that is enough. The reason God sent us his one and only son is because he is for us. The reason God allowed Jesus to die on the cross for our sins is because he loves us. Even those times when God seems to be acting against us, if we could look behind the veil, we would understand God is for us. Like the crying child that has to get a shot -- it’s for the child’s benefit…(next week’s message focus Rom. 8:28)
Name the enemies of the people of God. Can the devil stand against us? No, because he has been defeated. Can the world stand against us? No, because Jesus has overcome the world. Can the flesh destroy us? No, because in Jesus Christ we overcome the pull of the flesh. Therefore, let the people of God be bold. Who dares to stand against us if God be for us? The world tries to pull you down, Satan seeks to destroy you, but compared to the amazing affirmation of God, we are more than conquerors.
Question # 2: Will God hold back on us? READ Romans 8:32
A question of provision. If you think the way I do, when you are in the middle of garbage with no apparent way out, how easy it is to believe God can do anything, miracle worker, but will he for me. For 5-10 years Sally and I struggled with jobs, not sure where our money would come from in the next six months, long stretches of no apparent movement in our situation. We never quit believing in God and his miracles, but at times we felt as though God forgot about us. That’s wrong-headed thinking!
Will God hold back anything his people need? If God has already given us his son, if he’s done that for us, will he hold back anything else we truly need? NO! He’s given us his son, the best that he has. He’ll hold nothing back that his people need.
It’s like going into a jewelry store and deciding to buy an expensive diamond ring. You put down your money and you’re about to take your diamond ring. You say to the jeweler, “Oh, by the way, do you mind if I take the box, too?” What would you think if the jeweler said, “Oh, no, you can’t have the box.” If you buy the diamond, the box comes with it.
Or suppose you enter a contest and win a Lamborgini—a car that would cost $150,000. You go into the dealership and say, “I want my car,” and they say “Here it is!” You get in the car and find there are no keys. You say, “I’d like the keys to my car.” They say, “Oh, no, you just won the car, you didn’t win the keys.” No, if you win the car, you win everything that’s necessary to drive it off the lot.
Life is a struggle and we don’t feel this truth. I see people every day without quite enough food, wanting solutions, the uncertainty of tomorrow, when you enter the dark night of the soul, the depressing days wondering why God is not providing for you, be assured that he has not forgotten you, you will make it through, you are already victorious. God has given us his son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our timing may not be God’s timing, but this I know: God will not hold back the best.
Question # 3: Who can successfully accuse us before God? Romans 8:33
This is the question of protection. An attitude that holds us back is fear of what others think. I like people to think well of me, I really do, but I do my best for that to be a secondary value. Sometimes my heart forgets that truly pleasing God is far more important than pleasing people. God is my judge! Amen! If somebody wants to accuse me, judge me, I listen and try to see if there is merit in the words, but only God knows my heart.
Can anyone bring a charge against us and make it stick? Satan comes and testifies against us, “Get rid of him! He’s a bum! He’s a sinner! Did you hear what he said? Do you know where she went last night?” How tempting to listen to Satan’s accusing words and believe Satan’s word is final. God has the final word. God who sent us Jesus Christ to die for us. No one can declare, “Oh God, you have chosen this person but they have disgraced you, you ought to get rid of them.” It is God who justifies. The judge of the universe is on our side.
Question # 4: Who can condemn us? READ Romans 8:34
In this world there are many people try to condemn us. Our friends and even our loved ones sometimes whisper and pass rumors about us….When we fail, others rise to condemn us. Sometimes the condemnation comes from people at work, people at school, or people down the street. We live in a world where we are condemned for our failings. This week I made the mistake of listening to Denny’s message last Sunday about the Good Samaritan – so I approached one person literally on the side of the road thinking I’d give an invitation to the Seeds of Hope dinner on Thursday. I rolled down my window and I was flipped off and angrily told not to say any of my blankety blank talk. I was cursed.
The devil rises up to condemn the people of God; we even condemn ourselves! The truth is that we are often our worst critic…
What’s awesome about this verse is Paul gives us a of Easter in just one verse: Jesus died, Jesus rose again, Jesus ascended, Jesus intercedes for us in heaven. Good things come in small packages. Romans 8:1: There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus died, rose again, ascended, and intercedes for us. Intercede. Many times in the past few years I have gone to court with folks over a wide variety of charges, and from time to time I am asked to testify on behalf of my friend. That’s intercession. Jesus is on your side. All you have to do is accept him, ask him.
I read a story of a woman in an office, talking with a friend, the conversation turned to spiritual things. “I just blurted out to my friend, ’I know that I’m going to heaven when I die.’ The friend said, “What makes you think you’re so good that you know you’re going to go to heaven when you die?’” The woman replied, “Oh, it’s not that I’m so good. I’m not really good at all. But I know Jesus and Jesus was good on my behalf and he died on the cross and I’m trusting Him to forgive all my sins and if I go to heaven, and I am, I’m going because of Jesus Christ.” What a great answer!
Who is it that condemns us? No one on earth can condemn us because Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, now making intercession for his people.
Question # 5: Who can ever separate us from the love of God? READ Romans 8:35-37
Who can separate us from the love of God? no one. Those Christ loves, he loves forever. Sometimes Christians worry about whether their faith is strong enough to take them to heaven. They get scared and say, “I’m hanging on to Jesus. But what if I lose my grip? What if my faith is not strong enough?” That can happen. If your salvation depends upon your hanging onto Jesus, you could be in trouble. It’s like a little child who is hanging onto his father’s finger. The child is doing well until he begins to slip. As he falls, the child accidentally lets go of the father’s finger. But when daddy reaches down, he doesn’t grab a finger. He grabs a hand. When the father grabs hold of the child’s hand, it’s not the child hanging onto the father. It’s the father hanging onto the child. You are not going to heaven because you are hanging onto Jesus. You are saved because Jesus is holding onto you. The reason I cannot be separated from the love of God is not because of my strength, it’s because of God!
The Bible says, what about trouble? No. Hardship? No. Persecution? No. What about famine? No. Nakedness? No. Danger? No. Sword? No. All these things could and do happen to the people of God. The Bible is recognizing that bad things do happen on earth, but greater is the love of God. No matter what happens, there is no separation.
When you feel rejected by others and God, for those who are afraid, troubling thoughts consume us: God has abandoned me, I need more, people are condemning me, I feel alone, I am unlovable. The truth is the opposite: God is for you. God provides everything you need. Don’t worry about the charges others (and yourself) make against you. Jesus is on your side pleading your case. Nothing can separate you from God’s love.
Affirm those truths with confidence. Paul declares in Romans 8:38: “For I am convinced…” Paul is bold. Paul is amazed by God’s love. Paul is accepting of who he is in Christ Jesus. READ Romans 8:38-39. Instead of trying to figure out what you need to do to straighten out your life, look to see what Christ has already done and what he is doing. Jesus Christ is alive, he had risen from the dead and he is our man in heaven, pleading on our behalf that he wants everyone of us to live with him forever!
Let the resurrection truth of who God is change your life completely, even now while we reside on this old earth. Let the fire and heat and smoke of life transform you as surely as the dirt is changed to a new creation.
As we sing this last song, #217 Christ the Lord is Risen Today, If you have never given your heart to the Lord, I invite you to come forward as we sing, we’ll have people to pray with you… If you have lived in fear, feeling condemned, feeling unworthy, feeling stuck, and you are ready to find the freedom of Christ, come forward. There is no condemnation, because Jesus Christ loves you forever, he provides for you, you cannot be separated from him. Now is the time….