Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Romans 8

There are times when the Lord really uses His word to bear upon our lives. This week, Romans 8 kept coming up in conversations. One friend recommended I read Romans 8:28, we read the beginning of Romans 8 as our family Bible reading last night, and in so many countless other ways it came up this week. So, it was only a matter of time before I had to dive into the passage myself. I am terrible - half the time, someone will refer to scripture, even well known passages and I will find myself thinking, 'So what does that passage/verse say again...?' Scripture memorisation is certianly an area I need to work on!!! I felt sure this week that the Lord wanted me to be reading this portion of scripture as it came up so often, and now I am so glad that I did! It is AMAZING! Upon reading it, I realised that I had actually read it countless times before, but in light of recent trials the Lord used it to convict me very powerfully of how I respond to trials in my life. I thought I would share it with you today, and my thoughts on it. 

Romans 8:16-39
... 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Verse 16 of this section really stuck out to me this morning - the phrase "provided we suffer with Him" really convicted me. The Lord's aim in this life is not that we will have a pleasure filled time of ease and comfort - though in many ways He does bless us, but rather He wants us to be made more like Him and to grow to love, trust and serve Him more. Isn't that amazing? He doesn't say "if you suffer..." the presumption is that you WILL suffer in some shape or form if you are a Christian.

The writer of Romans (Paul) then goes on to show us that in light of what we await in the future with the new heavens and earth, our trials here are really not all that significant. In actuality, the trials we endure now can be see as creation's childbirth groans. This made me think, is it not at all possible that the Lord gives us trials as a stark reminder that this life is really not as grand as we would like it to be and to make us yearn all the more for when we will be with Him, in order that we may be more zealous in serving Him with what little time we do have here?

And Paul also goes on to provide a reason for why we maybe don't have all the answers for our problems, why the Lord doesn't simply whisk us off to heaven when the going gets tough. In verses 24 and 25 he shows us that we have hope: and this gives us patience to endure tribulations, knowing that God's promises will hold firm.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 
Don't you just love verse 28? It is well quoted: and with good reason! It is so encouraging to know that whatever is going on in our lives, be it good or bad, the Lord will and is using it for our good. Pretty incredible when you think about it! Sure, right now we may not see the answers to all the whys - why is this happening? why me? why now? - but one thing we can be sure of: He is in control and He is using it for our good.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Wow, what amazing and glorious promises! Paul urges us to look to Christ and His suffering - surely, if God didn't spare His own Son trials in this life but lovingly gave Him up to save us, He will help us through the trials and will never be seperated from us. WOW!!! Thank you so much Lord!!!

I know many of you will have read this as so often I have read this passage - with a careless, "I already know this, I've read it all before!" So often, I come to God's word with this half-hearted attitude, and my prayer this evening is that the Lord's word would really convict me and you through this passage. May He help us to remember that He is in control!

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