Daily Devotional 5/11/20

Pastor Steve begins a new devotional series today entitled, God is FOR you, as he share a story about a conversation he and Alayna (his wife) had a few weeks after they first started dating way back in 1993.  

When Alayna and I began dating, I was twenty-two and she was nineteen. My goodness we were young. One evening we were hanging out and having a deep conversation about some of our past hurts. I can’t remember who said it first but we both agreed that we felt that God put us through hard stuff just because he knew we could handle it.  It was as if God was saying that there were a certain number of bad things that people had to go through, and since Steve and Alayna are so strong, I will just let them go through more than their fair share.  Crazy, right? I think we both had believed a serious misreading of I Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes, “God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear,” that got us to this place. I remember being surprised that someone else felt that same way and I think Alayna was surprised as well. We were both followers of Jesus at the time. I knew I was called to be a pastor and Alayna knew she wanted to marry someone going into ministry, and yet we were holding onto this false story about both God and ourselves that was negatively affecting every area of our lives. 


When we try to make sense of our challenging circumstances, persistent disappointments, difficult people, and even bad health by directly or indirectly blaming God for them, that will lead us to hold a false story about God. This false story is that the one who made us, the one who says he loves us with an everlasting love, would actually arrange the world where we suffer and remain constantly frustrated by the hard things of life simply because we are strong.  


Let’s just be real clear, negative circumstances have the power to deeply derail our lives. It is not our own strength that enables us to stand in the face of our circumstances, but it is rather holding tight to the good and beautiful truth that God is FOR you!  More than a half of a lifetime ago, Alayna and I were struggling to believe this all important truth.  What about you right now?  Do you believe that God is FOR you?  Or do you believe that God is against you? 


Romans 8 is one of those power packed chapters that would do us all well to memorize.  In this chapter, Paul is reflecting on “our present sufferings” (v. 18) and he asks this powerful and audacious question in v. 31b, “If God is FOR us, who can be against us?”  Well, how can we be sure that God is for us? Paul continues in v. 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?” 


When we evaluate our hard times, both now and in the future, we should evaluate them through the lens of the cross. God does not leave us to our suffering, but spares nothing, not even his own Son, to rescue us from it and graciously give us all things!  This is the truth that we must allow to sustain us through negative circumstances. I love how Paul closes out this section of Romans beginning in verse 35, 37-39 as he concludes his reflection on suffering. He writes, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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. 


Nothing out there can separate us from God, but something in our hearts and minds can. Alayna and I were being hindered in our life with God and others by the false story that we held. Our lives have been transformed as we have traded in that story for the true story that God is always FOR us. 


Over the next two weeks, our staff here at the church is going to be helping us explore this grand biblical theme from different stories in the Bible. You won’t want to miss any of them as we seek to deeply take hold of this deep truth.   


I want to leave you this evening with a song that Alayna and I learned in college.  May it strengthen us all as we trust the greatest truth that God is FOR us! 


Who shall separate us from the love of God? 

Who shall separate us from the love of God? 

Shall tribulation or distress 

Shall persecution or famine or nakedness 

Or peril or sword from the love of our LORD 

Who shall separate us from the love of God? 

Who shall separate us from the love of God? 

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