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The Love of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord


Introduction

It was October 21 st 1975, the sixth game of the World Series.

I’ve always enjoyed watching the Fall classic.

Red Sox’ Carlton Fisk jumping up and down, waving his arms,

trying to coax his long fly ball to stay fair. It did.

His home run remains one of the classic TV shots in sports.

Turns out that the camera man for NBC that day at Boston’s Fenway Park

would’ve missed that colorful close-up if he had followed the flight of the ball,

as he was supposed to.

But he was startled by a rat circling around his feet

(yes, a rat; probably a Yankee fan).

His camera was left focused on Fisk.

Ever since it’s remembered as the most important moment in Carlton Fisk’s

Hall of Fame career.


Quite often in life

you and I encounter problems with no idea how they could be resolved.

But occasionally we get to see God work

in ways we would never have thought.

This baseball example pales, of course, in comparison

to the more significant events, conflicts or disappointments or struggles we face.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome,

he knew the challenges they were facing as followers of Jesus.

Here in Romans 8, he lists some from his own experiences:

“trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword.”

And yet with joyful confidence he surrounds this amazing word from God

with verses 28 and 38.


I. In All Things (vs. 28)


Romans 8:28 is one of the best known, oft quoted verses in the Bible.

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose.”

The God who created us, the God who loves us so,

the One who wants to redeem us, offers us five unshakable convictions.

First, we know that God works. God is at work in your life and mine.

Whether we realize it, believe it or not,

the Lord of Life is ceaselessly, energetically, and purposefully active

in each person and each family here. You are here this morning for a reason.

Secondly, God is at work for the good of his people.

In what we call “providence,” God’s goal is our ultimate well-being.

Yes, there are many hurtful, destructive, crushing experiences in our lives

in this fallen, sinful world.

And let me say that this verse should never be simply quoted

to a person going through a tragic loss.

In the midst of a loved one’s death or the harshness of divorce,

Or a desperate financial crisis, please don’t say things like,

“Oh, at least she’s in a better place now,” or

“God must need him there now more than he needs him here”

(No, actually I wish she were still right here, right now).

Or, “You know, in all things, God works for good…”

That’s true. You can think it, you can pray it for them, but don’t say it.

God will work out the details of how others will work through their struggles.


Thirdly, God works for our good in all things.

I’m struck at how often Romans 2:28 is quoted in the terrible experiences in life.

I wish I could think Romans 8:28, I wish you would remember it

in the wonderful, grace-filled experiences in life.

In the church, we ask people to share their joys and concerns

so we can pray with and for one another.

Every week we put together a prayer list for the coming Sunday bulletin.

Most often, concerns outnumber joys 10-1.

So, how ‘bout next time something good happens around you,

you quote Romans 8:28.


A fourth stunning conviction:

God works in all things for the good of those who love him.

In the Sermon on the Mount, remember how Jesus said, 

“Enter through the narrow gate. 

For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,

and many enter through it. 

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”

(that’s in Matthew 7).

God invites you and me to love him.

We don’t have to. In fact, many people don’t love the Lord.

But the main task in this life, the central purpose of life

is to come to know and love God in Jesus Christ.

Fifth and last, it says, those who have been called according to his purpose.

My life isn’t the random mess that it may look like.

By God’s grace, through the unmerited favor of my Savior Jesus Christ,

my life in all its ups and downs, has been called and claimed by God

and his purpose. And so is yours.


II. In Christ Jesus Our Lord (vs. 38-39)

  Then in verse 38 Paul writes,

“I am convinced that nothing will be able to separate us

from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Nothing can get between us and God’s love

because of the way that Jesus our Lord has embraced us.”

I was reading about a young mom

who walked into the kitchen she’d worked hard to clean only a few hours before.

Now it was a total mess. Her young daughter was obviously “cooking.”

Ingredients, dirty bowls and utensils were scattered all across

the counters and floor. Mom wasn’t happy.

She said, “What on earth are you doing?”

Then she saw a tiny note on the counter, smeared with chocolaty fingerprints.

“I’m making sumthin’ 4 you, Mommy” – signed, “Your Angel.”

Despite mom’s irritation, she couldn’t help a certain joy springing into her heart.

Her attention was redirected to the little girl she loved.

With simple goodness in focus,

mom realized pleasure in seeing her little girl’s love at work

in an otherwise disastrous situation.

The same is true of our joy in the Lord.

Many times, life looks rather messy;

sometimes you can’t find much to be happy about.

But if you look hard enough, you can usually see the Lord behind it all,

or at least working through it, “making sumthin’ 4 you!”

I love the rhetorical questions Paul asks here.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? 


If God is for us, who can be against us? 

Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised to life—

is at the right hand of God and interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Conclusion

Instead of “What on earth are you doing,”

Pastor Rick Warren turns the phrase to: “What are you doing on earth?”

God is God of all; Jesus is Lord of all.

You and your family were created for God’s pleasure,

by faith in Jesus Christ to become his family.

It’s what we call the church, anyone, anytime, anyplace who trusts in Jesus

as Lord and Savior.

The Lord transforms us with the truth of his word

and often does it through our troubles.

You are being shaped for loving and serving God,

loving and serving one another; “called according to his purpose”

to share the grace, mercy, and good news of Christ at home or work,

in family or neighborhood, in Utah County or wherever you are in the world.

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