Reaching People & Helping them Walk With God

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Devotions

Endurance, Character, Hope

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Romans 5:1-11

1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Insight

Paul, the author of Romans, understood it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ one will run into problems and trials, but ‘when’ (v. 3). What Paul was concerned about was the heart of his readers and their perspective on the trials they encounter. It’s as if Paul understood our tendency to lose perspective. In the midst of the struggle, we find ourselves at a fork in the road. One turn leads down a trail towards bitterness, anger, cynicism and resentment.

On the other side is a trail that at first appears rocky and difficult to navigate. It requires you to trust that these trials were not random or meant to punish you, but were funneled through the lens of a loving and sovereign God. Everything inside of you fights to believe that God is in control of it all. But, Paul reminds us we can have confidence (v.2) in the fact that the one who sent his Son to restore our relationship (v. 9, 10) loves us deeply (v. 5, 8).  Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God (v.1). In the midst of any chaos we face, we can trust God is not only in control, but has a plan and purpose for our circumstance. 

Reflection

  • What circumstance are you struggling to view through the lens of a loving God who is in control of it all?
  • If someone were to ask you ‘why do bad things happen to good people,’ how would you answer their question? How have you personally wrestled with this question in the theological sense as well as your own real life experiences?
  • How has God used an unfortunate circumstance or struggle to shape your character?

Prayer

God, help me to see my struggles and trials through the lens of Your love. Rather than asking ‘why me?’ may I instead seek Your face to see what You are teaching me. May the peace I rest in be in knowing that through Your Son our relationship has been restored.  Amen.

Comments

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John Campbell Mar 13, 2013 8:09am

How do we resolve the Sand Hook Elementary school massacre "through the lens of a loving God?" What do I say to my non-Christian friends when we think of those little souls sent to eternity in a horrifying moment? Thank you.

Tony Ripa Mar 15, 2013 6:01pm

First off John, I want to thank you for taking the time to not only read the devotionals, but reflecting on ways you can take what you learned to impact others. Your questions a difficult one. One that I think everyone asks at one time or another when life seems completely random and horrible acts take place before our eyes. I’ve caught myself seeing something on the news and ask “what are you doing God. Why is this happen?”

I’ll do my best to provide some level of perspective, but there are some answers to difficult questions that we don’t get answers to. There are some things we won’t fully understand on this side of heaven.
The futility of Sandy Hook has left people questioning how a loving God could allow this to happen. Futility rises when something is pointless. Futility causes us to question God. Where was God in the midst of the suffering?
More than anything else, as humans we crave peace. Our worst nightmare is coming face to face with uncertainty, pain, tension or struggles. It is inevitable we will face struggles or encounter circumstances that don’t seem to make sense. The events of Sandy Hook speak to this fact.

In Romans, Paul speaks to the futility of the world. He says that creation was subject to futility and is slave to corruption (Romans 8:20-21). He takes it a step further and describes creations response to this futility as groaning and suffering
(Romans 8:22).

Why is this happening? How could God allow this to happen? What’s the purpose behind this seemingly senseless act? How did I end up in this situation? What did I do to deserve this? What am I going to do now? These are a few of the heart jarring questions that race through our minds when we run into problems. We want to know what the point is to the futility.

We can very easily let the futility of this world paralyze us by questioning the very existent of a loving God. What we don’t realize is that a batch of quicksand awaits us down this path. The moment we turn in this direction our forward momentum stalls out and we remain here wallowing in our own frustration and confusion. If there is no God, than life is completely and utter randomly and if it is random, than it is utterly hopeless.

As believers, we are charged to look at our circumstances from a different perspective. It requires you to trust that these trials were not random or meant to punish you, but were funneled through the lens of a loving and sovereign God. We must realize that futility breeds hope not despair. We are not designed to be filled with what has been created in this futility, but we are designed to become what all of creation is anxiously awaiting. The anxious longing is for the revealing of you and I as God’s children - holy, accepted, and forever complete. God set it this way so that even the longing in our hearts is for Him (Romans 8:23). Remember, every longing at its core is a longing for life. This means uncertainty should awaken our faith and our faith awakens our hope. Hope always pushes us to believe that God’s future is coming, even though we cannot see it. Faith enables us to see what our eyes cannot.

The truth is that our full redemption is coming. No circumstance can stop it. God is with us and the truth is He is enough. We cannot always see these two things, “but if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Romans 8:25). Our anxious longing is transformed into eager hope.

Knowing all this begs the question: who are we to distrust the one who holds everything together and breathed life into us? A few chapters later Paul goes on to say 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).

I hope this helps in some way. Remember John, the best example you can give a non-believer about the hope of Christ is through your life and the way you live your life, especially the way you react to difficult circumstances happening to you. When they see you trust in Christ in midst of the confusion, your faith speaks volumes to them.

Visit for following link to read Pastor Mike Ashcraft's response back on December 17th, 2012 -> http://www.portcitychurch.org/blog/pain-too-deep/

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