Our lives are full of plot twists, circumstances or people that totally catch us off guard – sometimes in the best ways, and sometimes in ways we really dislike. The Bible’s got a major plot twist too: the fact that God’s people, Israel, rejected Jesus as their Savior is truly unexpected and disturbing. But the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the church in Rome thousands of years ago is just as powerful for the plot twists of our lives today. Join us Sunday for the start of our new series, and encounter the God whose promises to us outlast even life’s craziest plot twists.
1. Get a burden.
- Our churches need to be driven by our burdens, which come from the burdens of God’s heart…reaching the lost, in other words. Only the enemy wants us to remain without burdens. We need to be burdened for those who don’t know Jesus.
- The variables and concerns of life – our jobs, families, friendships – are not the same as burdens in the way Paul describes them in Romans 9. The wrong burdens get us aggravated instead of broken-hearted for the things Jesus grieves over.
- The burden Paul feels for the Jewish people is directly tied to God’s own grief over the people of Israel. That’s what defines our burdens too – the things that burden God’s heart.
- As Christians, each of us should have a holy burden that leads us to get involved in our world.
What is God’s burden He’s put on your heart?
2. Who are really the children of God?
- God’s children are not defined by ethnicity or any other qualifying factor. We can’t do anything to become God’s children. He chooses us to be his children.
- Adoption into God’s family is available to everyone, and once we put our faith and trust in Jesus we become children of God – a whole new place to source our identity.
What does it mean to you that you are a child of God?
3. God chooses as we do.
- We get to make lots of choices, but God also gets to make a lot of choices. And God often makes choices we don’t understand. When God’s timing feels delayed to us and we take matters into our own hands, our lives bear fruit in ways that aren’t God’s best for our lives.
- God’s choice is not in opposition to our freedom to choose, but it does happen first. God chooses first, and then we choose next.
- In life, God has knobs on his side of the wall that he chooses about our lives, and we have knobs on our side of the wall that we get to choose about our lives.
- In every choice, we have to make sure we’re lining ourselves up with God’s will for our lives. And we also have to surrender ourselves to the choices that are God’s alone, the things outside our control.
How are you managing the knobs on your side of the wall, and are you surrendering to what God is doing with the knobs on his side of the wall?
4. God gives mercy…or doesn’t.
- There’s a lot we understand in life, and there’s some things we never will. And that’s okay, because we want to recognize the beauty in the mysterious nature of how God acts in our lives. In our human quest for absolute certainty, we end up with really bad theology.
- The truth is, although it seems like God gives mercy to some people and not others, that’s not the full picture. When someone rejects God long enough, he gives them over to their rebellion.
- But God’s mercy and grace are fully available to everyone because Jesus died and rose again for all of humanity. That’s the proof of God’s righteous mercy.
- God is inviting all of us to be a part of his kingdom. And his kingdom touches down wherever Jesus is Lord of someone’s heart. So the question for us is, will we receive his mercy for salvation and each day going forward? We still need God’s mercy and grace for our present circumstances even if we know him already for salvation.
What would it look like for you to receive God’s mercy and grace in your present circumstances?