Found People Find People

shutterstock_180724802.jpgRomans 10:14-17

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.


Found people find people.  Have you ever heard this before?  It is perhaps one of the most comforting and challenging phrases we could hear.  Think about it.  You have been found.  Not only did God give you life, but He loves you so much that He made a way for you to have a relationship with Him in life and for eternity.  He found you.  He is also sending you.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to give, serve and share His love with others.

There is a reality to this life that we sometimes forget in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines:  eternity hangs in the balance for every single person.  So, what are we supposed to do about that?  Lives are changed when love is given away.  This means that we have the opportunity to impact lives for eternity by the way we love.

Remember, life is not lived from the outside in; it is lived from the inside out.  Just like we read here in Romans, it all starts with Jesus.  Our faith is rooted in Jesus, and this is what fuels us on the journey we call life.  In the end, all that matters is God and people.  It starts and ends with this.

Have you ever searched for comfort?  Have you ever wondered what your purpose is for life?  This passage provides both.  You have been found, and God has made you a part of His purpose.  Take some time to remind yourself in prayer of this today, and look for opportunities to give love away.

What must I do to be saved?

shutterstock_105539708.jpgRomans 10:5-13

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”


Righteousness doesn’t come from following the rules.  For most people, that truth is a real struggle.  We like to know where we stand.  We want a scoreboard, a standard, or a way to compare ourselves to others to see which of us are favorites to win in the game of receiving God’s love.  So how are we to measure up?  By abandoning our scoreboard completely and trusting in Jesus to win the game for us.

If we try to win the game ourselves how do we ever know if we have done enough? (which, by the way, Paul established earlier in this letter that if you have broken even just one rule, you have lost the game)  We wouldn’t know for certain if “we won” on this side of death.  It wouldn’t be until we died and stood before God that we would know.

Jesus rose from the dead.

Jesus won.

Paul states clearly in verse 9 that when we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God has raised Him from the dead, Jesus’s victory covers us as well (we will be saved).  We win with Him.  Baptism is a way that we confess that Jesus is Lord.  It is a picture of a decision to die to playing by the old scoreboard and to live by faith in Jesus.  If you haven’t been baptized but have made this decision to trust in Jesus, you can register for the next Sun Valley baptism taking place July 30/31 (http://www.sunvalleycc.com/about/baptism/).

So have you abandoned your scoreboard yet or are you still trying to win the game yourself?

One way leads to death, the other way leads to eternal life.  This question is of the utmost importance.

Jesus, thank you for paying the penalty for my wrongdoings and for living a perfect life so that I could have victory with You.

 

 

Stumbling Stone

shutterstock_408034465.jpgRomans 9:30-10:4

30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.


In this world, we are constantly reminded of how we fall short. There is social media that can really bring you down, but there is no greater opportunity to feel bad about yourself than at a family reunion. At first you are so happy to see everyone, until people start coming up to you and then the questions start: Why aren’t you more like your successful cousin? How much do you make? Why aren’t you married yet? When are you going to do something with your life? Why are you crying?

When you read the above passage in Romans, it can be confusing, and make you feel like your walk with the Lord is another area where you fall short. Not enough faith, not enough righteousness, not enough works, not enough knowledge. How much is enough?

Jesus is enough! In this letter Paul is saying that there is enough grace, righteousness, salvation, for everyone who believes. You don’t fall short because you do or do not have kids, or because you do or do not have a degree. You fall short because you are a sinner. And I fall short for the same reason. But Jesus is enough for me, and he is enough for you too.

Today’s devotional is not meant to discourage you from going to you family reunions. Go! Bring that potato salad. Be prepared to hear the questions you dread. But try to be mindful not to be the person asking the questions that make other people feel like they are falling short. Pray that God would fill you with his grace, love, and mercy, that you have no choice but to be overflowing those things into the relationships around you.

 

What Breaks Your Heart?

shutterstock_303500483.jpgRomans 9:1-5

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.


How much do you care about those who don’t yet know Jesus?

Here Paul makes one of the most incredible statements.  He cares so much for his fellow Hebrews that he would be willing to lose everything for the hope that they might know Jesus.  It is for this cause mission that he has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart.

Paul would eventually endure everything imaginable, including death, for the sake of sharing the good news about Jesus with those who didn’t know Him.

Why do you think Paul cared so much for those who didn’t know Jesus?

Have you ever had somebody in your life that you desperately wanted to see follow Jesus?

It is easy to get so distracted with the chaos and busyness of life that we forget about those who need Jesus.  We care about them, but we quickly forget about them and get carried away by other things.

Who is one person that comes to mind right now that you want to see put their faith in Jesus?

Pray today that they would come to know Jesus.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would help them to see their need and that He might use you to help guide them to the truth about Jesus.  Pray for an opportunity to be used, the way that Paul was used for so many, to help them meet Jesus.

What is one step you can take today to help point that person to Jesus?

An Eternal Warranty

shutterstock_334991777.jpgRomans 8:31-39

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.


When I buy a product I check the warranty. The warranty tells me a lot about the product and the company standing behind the product. If the company believes in their product the warranty usually covers everything for a long time. If the company doesn’t believe in their product the warranty is short with a lot of loopholes to get out of covering the product when it breaks.

Paul in Romans 8:31-39 gives us God’s warranty. It’s rock solid. There are no loopholes. Paul is saying you can have confidence in your salvation because it’s based on Christ’s work on the cross. He did everything.

In a sense, it’s like someone who made the perfect gift and offered it to you. All you had to do is receive it. He did the work. You received the benefits.

Yes, there is fine print (verses 37-39). But it’s a different kind of fine print. It not about exceptions, but it’s all about how solid God’s promise of salvation truly is.

No matter what the world throws at you, you cannot be separated from the love of God. Read the passage again. List all the things that TRY to separate you from the love of God. BAM! Nothing gets in the way.

God is that great. He gift of salvation in guaranteed because it is based in a great God, not our weak attempts at trying to work our way to God.

Take a moment in pray to thank God. Thank God for your great salvation that is guaranteed because of Christ. He is worthy to be praised. He is a great God.

God Works For Your Good

shutterstock_300751568.jpgRomans 8:26-30

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.


There are times in life we know exactly what to pray for, it’s pretty clear. It may be when we pray together in a weekend service, or when we come before Him silently in the classroom, in a meeting, or in a public setting.

There are other times when life is too big, and too hard, and we do not know what to ask for. In these times, we don’t know what to pray for or how to present our requests. The Holy Spirit intervenes on our behalf. Romans 8:28 tells us that we can have victory over those difficult circumstances. In those hard times, we recognize that all things are not good. It would be foolish to say that they are. The death of a child is not good. Cancer is not good, drug addiction is not good, war is not good.

And so, as a result, you may wonder if God is good. You may wonder how a frustrating or hurtful event in your life could possibly contribute to anything good? Look at Jesus. If He wasn’t going to use that for your good, it wouldn’t have happened. God has to sign off on every single thing that touches your life. That’s not to say He wanted it—God is not the cause of evil, but He is the solution. Turn over your hurtful circumstance or painful past to God today, and trust that He will use it for good.

God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him; for the good of those who are the called according to His purpose.

Believe it.

Wait for it.

He will show you.

What are some past circumstances in your life that may have been hard, but God really worked for good? 
 
In what situations are you waiting to see how He works right now?

 

Patience and Perseverance

shutterstock_283995188.jpgRomans 8:18-25

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.


 

When we pray, the answer is either “yes”, “no”, or “not right now.” Sometimes I feel like a flat out “no” would be easier to bear than the anguish associated with “wait”. Because waiting involves two hard P’s: Patience and Perseverance. I know that I am not the only person who feels this way about waiting, because the above verse says: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope” (v.21)

We are all frustrated- but apparently because God has made us so.

For those who feel like God is up in heaven on his royal throne, just zapping us with bad luck because of the wrong we’ve done- maybe you’re right!

But wait. The next verse continues mid-sentence: “(in hope) that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (v.22)

So we aren’t just sitting, waiting, and being frustrated by God because we are peons in a game he is playing, he himself is waiting and watching- to see us rise above our circumstances and the things of this world- to join him in heaven as a brand new creation. A creation not bound by decay- but as a beautiful new creation that is totally, completely, and utterly free!

What is something that you are praying about right now that you feel like the answer is “wait”?

Pray that God will give you patience and perseverance as you wait. And take heart that God knows what he is doing. He cares for you, he loves you, he wants not what is good for you, but what is Best for us. The waiting is hard- but what we are waiting for is so very much worth waiting for. And even waiting for it patiently.