Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Resting in Rom. 8:28

 A World of Trouble

 

Job 5:7 warns us that mankind throughout the world  is born into a life of trouble.  In Galatians 6:5 Paul instructs every man to bear his own burdens.  Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:27 reminds us that it’s normal and good for a young man to bear his own burdens in his youth.  Psalm 55:22 teaches us that when those burdens are too heavy for us to bear, cast them on the Lord and lean on His sustaining power.  That is, stop worrying and fretting and allow Him to help you bear your burdens.

As we attempt to serve the Lord, In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites  us to yoke up with Him and let Him help us pull our loads and discover rest for our souls.  This is the #1 rule for avoiding burn-out in the ministry.

I’m thankful I learned this as a child and that when my wife and I were married, though we lived below the poverty level for several years, we never once looked to government nor to relatives to help us in those early lean years, nor did we ever hint to our churches that we were struggling financially.  In fact, my wife and I, looking back, have agreed that those early years taught us lessons about  how to make our money stretch and those early lessons have enabled us to save and invest  money for our retirement years. 

In the first years of my ministry I learned to look to God alone as the source of supply for all our needs. God in Philippians 4:6-7 promised He would provide for all our needs,   Though the churches I pastored paid us a salary, I was careful not to look to the church as the supply of my needs.  If I had done that, I might have trimmed my messages so as not to offend my source of supply.

God’s people who are looking to their Heavenly Father to provide for all their needs, never need to beg others for help, Psalm 37:25 teaches that for Christians to beg is an embarrassment and a shame  to the cause of Christ. 

Though we are each responsible for our own burdens; Galatians 6:2 instructs us as Christians to be aware of the burdens of others and help them as we can.

Resting in Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28  is a favorite verse of mine, as well as to countless others who seek the peace, strength, comfort, assurance, direction and courage it gives to us in our times of decision and in times of trouble.  For others, it seems to mock them and they find no comfort whatsoever.   What’s the difference?

Not addressed to everyone

 

The promise of this verse is not addressed to everyone.  It is only for  those who are trusting in Christ and love the Lord and are seeking to live in accordance with His will. By faith I  put myself in that category many years ago as a child by  trusting Jesus as my Saviour and surrendering to Him as my Lord.  I trust you also have turned to Christ.

For those Christians who are living lives surrendered to Him,  everything God allows to come into our lives is according to His sovereign purpose and plan.   For us, there are no accidents from God’s viewpoint. It’s all part of His will and  purpose for us.

To those living in rebellion to God, life is filled with bad decisions, confusion, disaster, misery and sorrow with no hope in sight. The promise of Romans 8:28 does not apply to them.

Let’s look at that verse, Romans8:28, and emphasize each of the key words one at a time.

I. All things work together for GOOD.

 

What is good? Pleasure, good health, money, nice clothes,  a new car, a great business opportunity or job, and the satisfaction that all our felt needs and desires are met; most call that success.  Is that the good the Apostle Paul is speaking of ?  No it is not.

Rather,  Romans 8:29 identifies what is good.   Good is anything God allows in our life to bring us into conformity with the image or person of Christ. 

Therefore, anything that makes me more like Jesus is good for me.  That can include sickness, pain, financial reverse, loss of a loved one, an insult, a misunderstanding, being overlooked,  any humbling experience and any pressing need that turns my attention to God.  That is Good.   According to James 1:1-3 we are to count these negative experiences in our life as spiritual assets.

 

II.  All things are WORKING together for good.

 

You say that you wish God would DO something.   God DOES do something.  He is always working silently and unseen in the shadows. 

His universe stays on schedule.

Your heart continues to beat.  You keep breathing without even thinking about it. All your organs continue to function normally.

World conditions continue to unfold right on God’s sovereign schedule. Political leaders rise and fall according to God’s plan, as announced in Psalm  75:6-7  “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.  But God is the Judge: He puts down one and sets us another.”

Even the wrath of man which sometimes brings persecution to God’s people, is explained in Psalm 76:10  “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.”   Isn’t that comforting?  God only allows enough persecution of His people to bring glory to Himself.  The remainder of persecution is restrained.  God never wastes anything; not even the wrath of His enemies on His children.

Watch God at work in the life of Joseph in the final chapters of Genesis.  See his doting father show favoritism to Joseph, thereby bringing out the jealousy and rage of his brothers. Observe these brothers selling Joseph into slavery inEgypt.

Take note of how Potiphar’s evil wife tries to seduce Joseph.  Watch how Joseph refuses to fall into sin and thus stirs up the fury of his seductress. As a result, Joseph is sent to prison.  There he chances to meet Pharaoh’s butler and baker.  There they have puzzling, disturbing dreams and Joseph          is given God’s wisdom to interpret their dreams correctly. 

As a result, he gets a reputation as a successful interpreter of dreams. Finally Pharaoh has a disturbing dream and  Joseph is called in to interpret it.  As a result of his wisdom, Joseph is freed from prison and is advanced in power and authority to a position of authority right under the Pharaoh of Egypt.

In retrospect, would you agree with me that every detail in the life of Joseph was working for his good and for God’s glory?   Of course!  The answer is obvious.   

Read the exciting book of Daniel and learn of how God worked in the life of Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, to bring great glory to God inBabylonand throughout the rest of world history. 

Read the book of Esther. Not once is the name of God mentioned; and yet in every detail, while Haman was stealthily planning to exterminate the Jews; we see God silently working in the shadows, out-maneuvering Haman, to protect His chosen people,Israel,  from extinction.  Haman was eventually hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai, the Jew whom he hated and had planned to execute.

I can joyfully say with Job in Job 23:8-10  “Behold, I look forward and He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him, On the left hand where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him. He Hideth Himself on the right hand that I cannot see Him; BUT He knoweth the way that I take:  when He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold.” (from the refiner’s furnace)

I can testify to the truth of Romans 8:28.  All things do indeed work together for good to them who love the Lord and are called for His purpose.   Thus, when we worry and fret,  we deny the truth of Romans 8:28 and we are acting as though God has lost control and is a liar.

III. ALL things are working together for good.

 

That means that ALL things, whether seemingly good or bad,

That means that when friends bring you words of encouragement and love or when people are mean and cut you down with cutting, cruel words,  those experiences are working together for your good.

That means when you have a salary raise and your investments are prospering, or when you have a salary reduction and your investments are in the basement, God is in control and working out His good  plan for you.

That means when the political process is falling apart and you feel like fleeing to a desert island, God is still in control and working out what is best for you and me.   As the well known Gospel song goes,  “He’s got the whole world in His hands!”

God has not forgotten you.  He loves you and is interested in every step you take and controlling even the smallest details of your life.  He is overseeing and orchestrating every decision you make.  Yes, YOU make the choices and decisions; but if you are surrendered to God’s will, God’s Spirit is leading you in those decisions.

If you, from the depths of your heart, long for His will for your life;  you can trust Him that the decisions you make are His decisions for you.

IV. All things work TOGETHER for good.

 

 

Just as a musician brings musical notes together to produce beautiful melody and harmony, the essence of beautiful music,  so God is working to produce beautiful  music in your life.

Just as a pharmacist combines elements into a prescription to improve your health, so God combines seemingly bad things to produce spiritual health for us.

Just as a cook combines ingredients, which alone would be repulsive, into a delicious, nutritious loaf of bread; so God combines bitter and sour and tasteless experiences and then allow us to bake in the uncomfortable heat of life’s oven. God combines our bitter and sweet  experiences and then allows us to be placed in sometimes seemingly unbearable, but measured heat to produce good in our lives.

We’re not saying that all the events of life are good; but when we trust God in the difficult experiences of life, He produces good in us and makes us a blessing to others.

Now in old age I have the luxury of looking  back on my seventy-eight years and I can honestly say   that every event of my life, starting with the death of my father when I was four  and being moved into a home and school for missionaries’ children in South Carolina at age 11 while my mother and step-father were ministering in foreign countries,  was good and profitable for me. It has all  been good and beneficial for me as it was working together to make me the man, the husband, the father and  the preacher I am today. Through these difficult experiences God has used me to  bless others and enabled me to  live a  joyful, fulfilled life.  

If Romans8:28is true, what should be my reaction to everything God allows  or brings  into my life?  Surely my response should not be that of:

Epicureans-   “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

Cynics   “I dare God to do His worst to me.”  nor

Stoics   “Set myself and accept what comes  without flinching. Keep a stiff upper lip.”

Rather I must learn to  Praise God in every situation, knowing that He is in full control.  I Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:4,  Psalm 34:1

How can we be sure of this?  Read Romans 8:28-31

Because of what God has already done for us, we can fully trust Him for our futures.  We don’t know what lies ahead for us  but we know WHO holds our future.

To all those who love the Lord and seek to faithfully serve Him, Jesus invites us in Matthew 11:28-30  to come to Him and He will give us rest. He invites us to take His yoke upon us and He, who is stronger than we are, will help us bear the heavy load and direct us in the way we should go.

I have personally learned that when He helps us pull the load,  it isn’t so heavy after all and  He in His wisdom knows the direction we should take. Only to the stubborn and self-willed will the yoke rub the neck raw and make the work miserable.

Will you join me in trusting and serving Jesus?  I promise that to the yielded neck and to the wiling heart, the way will be easy and you will be blessed beyond measure.  The one who trusts in the promise of Romans 8:28 will find perfect rest of body, mind and heart.

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October 27, 2011 - Posted by | Romans

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