His Purposes, Our Good

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

            It is one thing to believe you are blessed when things are well, yet quite another when you’re in the midst of a struggle. Christian or not, suffering is one topic we all like avoiding. More than that, we prefer not experience it. But for many that’s not possible. Suffering is a part of life, and for some the burden is great. This quote was shared by a friend of mine, who in the fall of 2012 found himself in the midst of his own struggle with lung cancer. In Scripture, there are certain passages that are sometimes termed “problem passages”. They may be termed this for various reasons. Perhaps there is a seeming contradiction with other parts of Scripture, though there is not. Maybe the structure of the passage itself makes our interpretation of it difficult. And at other times, we deem certain passages of Scripture a “problem” because of our difficulty in fully comprehending the magnitude of what God is saying. Romans 8:28 is such a passage. We often claim it without really understanding it and then when things fail to meet our definition of good, we question it. But this verse, though we may deem it a “problem passage”, is really not a problem at all, but rather a promise to hold on to.      

            “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” The Greek translation for the word “know” means to believe without a doubt. In this verse it relates to the eternal security and blessing that comes from knowing that we are in God’s hand. It is a promise made to “those who love God”. What a great promise to know that God is always working toward our ultimate good. This doesn’t mean that everything that happens is good because it’s not, only that God’s purposes are. The good purpose is that we be conformed to the image of His Son; our being made more like Christ (Romans 8:29). Note the use of “all things” in this passage. It means just that, “all things”, every circumstance and every event in our lives. Though it’s hard to imagine this could include suffering, it does. 

            The reality of suffering is a difficult truth taught in Scripture. How it might serve a useful purpose runs contrary to our natural thought processes. Suffering upsets our plans and causes many to question God’s goodness. But no matter what it may do to our plans, suffering is incapable of upsetting God’s. Those to whom Paul was writing needed to know that because their circumstances told them differently. Yours may as well. Romans 8:28 provides great comfort in knowing that everything God purposes is good.  Is a diagnosis of cancer the way in which we would prefer to learn this? Certainly not! But the way in which God takes these moments and uses them in the lives of people to draw them closer to Him is amazing. It can only be explained by God’s grace. So though we may have a difficult time comprehending the full depth in which God speaks, we can trust Him. He is good and His purposes are perfect. Though he may not always feel this way, I believe my friend knows this to be true. From the first time I spoke with him after his diagnosis, I sensed a peace in him. And now after treatment, his prognosis is good and he has returned to work. Each time I spoke with him during these last few months I also sensed an open heart to whatever God purposes for his future. Not many of us can relate to what this sort of battle is like, but we know the character of God. We know that the promise of Romans 8:28, like all of His promises, God will keep. And when we know that, this passage; well, it really isn’t a problem at all. Oh, that we would be more like Christ!                

Prayer

Father, thank you for being a sovereign God. We trust in that sovereignty, knowing that as your children your purposes are always good. When struggles come our way, often times that is a difficult truth to grasp.  But you’ve promised to help us. So we pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit we will trust in your promise. We pray for comfort and peace at all times, but especially during difficult times. We trust in you Lord and thank you that you hear our prayer. Amen! 

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Love That Is Always Enough

“I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3) 

            In many ways, I’m a creature of habit. One such way is that when I’m in my car I have certain radio stations and CD’s that I like listening to. I don’t vary too much in this regard.  However, when I travel long distances, I’m forced to do a bit of channel surfing in order to find a radio station of my liking. In doing so recently, I came across a station playing songs from the eighties and nineties, songs that of course brought back a lot of memories. There was some great music in both of those decades. One of the songs that came on the radio was   Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough by Patti Smyth and Don Henley. I used to love that song, but had not heard it in quite some time. As I drove listening to the song and thinking about the title and lyrics, I realized there may in fact be a reason as to why sometimes love isn’t enough.   

            “I have loved you with an everlasting love” The Hebrew people were God’s chosen people, set apart for His purposes. Of all the people on earth, it was them with whom He chose to establish a covenant. A covenant is the binding of two parties. Grounded in love and faithfulness to promises made to the patriarchs, the LORD’s love never ceased, even when many rejected that love. God’s love was always based on grace; He simply loved them because He chose to love them. As Christians, we’re in a covenant relationship with God as well. This new and better covenant is mediated by Jesus Christ. Marriage is also a covenant, the most important human covenant there is. It is also a picture that reflects the relationship that Christ has with the church; believers are the bride of Christ. 

            Now, I don’t know whether the context of Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough is a marriage relationship or not, but the point remains the same. The plain truth is that love, be it in marriage or any other relationship is never enough when we attempt it in our own strength.  Marriage is particularly difficult and constantly under Satan’s attack because of what it represents. Be faithful in your marriage. Be faithful to the covenant you swore before God. Put Christ at its center. Quit trying to love in your own strength and love in God’s because ultimately, your marriage is about His glory. Value your relationship with Christ more than any other. When you do, it can change all others. Certainly your marriage will never be perfect, because you’re not perfect, but as you seek to honor Christ in it, the LORD’s sustaining power will be with you. God is faithful. His power and strength is perfect. And His love, well, it is always enough.    

Prayer

Father, we know it’s impossible to love as you love. Your love is perfect. But we know that your power is perfect within us. So by the power of the Holy Spirit help us to love in your strength and not our own. Help us to prioritize our relationship to you above all others so we can be in our marriage what your glory deserves. Amen!

Abortion: Simply A Matter Of The Heart

On January 22nd, it will be 40 years since Roe v. Wade became law. This is no cause for celebration, only shame. Since that time, over 50 million abortions have taken place. In an article published in the January 14th edition of TIME magazine, writer Kate Pickert seems to indicate that every since abortion became law, pro-choice activists have been losing the battle over abortion rights. When considering 50 million murders in 40 years, I’d say she better think again. In his response to the TIME article, Dr. Mohler provides great insight on the abortion issue. He provides encouragement where there is cause to be encouraged, but he also presents the stark reality of the challenge that looms. He points out rightly, that what needs changing are the hearts and minds of the American people. Of all the different ways in which the abortion battle goes on, unless God settles it first, it will never be settled until it’s settled in our hearts. An article worth reading for sure!

http://www.albertmohler.com/2013/01/07/losing-ever-since-roe-time-sounds-the-siren-for-abortion-rights/?utm_source=Albert+Mohler&utm_campaign=4e42ed886d-Albert_Mohler_Email_August_6_20128_6_2012&utm_medium=email