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Monday, November 16, 2015

If God is...

If God is on our side...words which really say it all.  What does it mean to truly stand with God on our side?  In the most literal sense, it means that nothing is bigger, stronger, more powerful, or with any greater authority than the one who stands with us through any and all storms, troubles, diseases, or threats.  It also means that no warring faction within us can ever win the war!  This is indeed good news for those of us who haven't quite learned to walk away from temptation when it comes our way, huh?  Although we may not have "drawn the line" far enough away from compromise the last time to actually avoid "opening the door" to sin, we have the one resident within us who helps us redraw the line a little further away the next time!  Most of us think we chose God, but in truth, he chose us.  It is like he stood on the field and specifically picked us out of the line up to become part of his team.  We weren't the ones choosing that day we said "yes" to Jesus.  God had already chosen us, but not because of our extreme talent like a talent scout might do in looking for a new ball player, but because of our extreme need.  You see, God's methods are much different than ours - he isn't concerned with surrounding himself with self-righteous people who need no help, but with sinners who just cannot make it without his grace!

If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear?  If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared. Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing.   As the psalm says, "On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly; we are like sheep awaiting slaughter." But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 VOICE)

Nothing can come between us and the love of God.  NO THING!  We have this to count on: the one who went before us through all manner of temptation as we are tempted with, we can stand against all manner of temptation - in his power.  My pastor shared four areas where we are tempted - using the acronym "HALT".  Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Trust. When I really thought that one through, he was right.  All aspects of temptation which come into our lives are based in one of these four "root-causes".  It may not be a physical hunger, but some hunger drives us closer to compromise.  In anger we make a whole lot of choices we later regret - especially when it comes to the choice of words we may utter!  When lonely and feeling a little less than loved, we give into all manner of unwanted compromise - settling for things and people in our lives we'd never think of settling for if we weren't plagued with loneliness.  Trust is at the core of so many of the compromises we engage in because we are really trying to figure out who it is we trust - ourselves or God.  Yep, he hit the nail on the head, didn't he?  

When scripture says nothing can come between us and the love of God, it means that even those compromising moments don't separate us from his love.  How is that possible?  We need only look as far as the rest of this passage - it is through the blood of Jesus that we experience the presence of God and it is by the blood of Jesus we are upheld in the constancy of that love.  Grace is only necessary for those who need undeserved favor.  Why do we need undeserved favor?  We compromise - that's why!  We don't get it right 100% of the time and we need grace to get us back on track and love to keep us there!  We might not resist hunger, anger, loneliness, and issues with trust all of the time, but we can be certain that his grace reaches down to pick us up each time we need it.  

No matter what comes - and the stuff of life certainly "comes" our way, doesn't it?  No passage of scripture is to be taken on its own, though.  We have to remember what Paul has been saying all along in this letter to the Roman church.  The basis of our faith is Jesus Christ and his "payment" for the penalty of sin on our behalf.  His life given freely is what gives us the ability to stand.  The one who places their faith in that truth is going to stand strong - plain and simple.  Death didn't hold him captive in the grave - he overcame even the most "permanent" of situations by the power of his Father's love.  Think on that one a little, my friends.  Even the most "permanent" of circumstances - death - didn't hold him back from completing his purpose in our lives.  His love would not allow his actions on our behalf to stop at the cross - it took him to the grave and back to the right hand of the Father in heaven - all on our account.  

If "NO-thing" kept him from revealing his love for us, then "NO-thing" can keep us from experiencing that love fully!  Our own desires and "less than well-planned compromises" might try to separate us, but grace reaches beyond every "slip up" or "ill-devised plan" to avoid compromise.  In our own strength, we don't stand a chance of completely avoiding compromise.  It wasn't "resistance" which helped Jesus to overcome everything which came against him - it was LOVE.  The love of the Father kept him and held him close.  This is something we can learn from, my friends.  God's love is what keeps us - calls us closer and helps us "draw the line" a little further from compromise the next time.  Isn't it about time we leaned into that love a little harder?  Just askin!