Elevate 28 - A 28 Day Challenge to Intentionally Engage with God's Word
What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
"God is For Us!"
By James MacDonald, Our Journey
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
How great is that? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” But notice the first phrase, “What then shall we say to these things?” Which begs the question, what things? Well, Paul’s been talking about “these things” for eight chapters in the book of Romans.
Paul begins Romans by showing in chapters 1-3 that all Gentiles, all Jews, everyone, everywhere is a sinner. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The idea is this: God has a perfect standard and guess what? Not one of us is measuring up to it. Romans chapters 1-3 boils down to, “You’ve got a problem you can’t solve.”
Romans 4 says God did something about the problem. Contrary to popular opinion, the way to come into a right relationship with God is not by pleasing or appeasing God through our efforts. The way to come into a right relationship with God is the same way it’s always been, by faith.
Romans 4:3 says even Abraham was declared righteous by God. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Romans 5 tells us the real evidence of God’s love is, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v.8). Chapters 6-8 tell us God doesn’t just want to forgive our sins, He wants to transform us.
When we get to Romans 8:31 we learn that this Christian life is lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says, “What then shall we say to these things?” All these things God has done for us in Christ. He’s like, “Okay, figure it out. If God is for us, who can be against us? What trial can possibly overwhelm us if God is for us?”
“I heard you’re going through some tough times.” “Well yeah, but God is for me!”
“I heard circumstances aren’t going well where you work.” “Yeah, it may look like that, but it’s not over yet. And God is for me!”
“What about the problems in your family, and the child who’s breaking your heart.”“Yes, but God is for me!
What trial can’t you conquer if you embrace the understanding that God is ever and always for you? For you!
Heavenly Father, forgive me for letting the immediate circumstances
distract me from Your steadfast love for me! Forgive me for the unbelief
of thinking that my challenge is too big for You to handle instead of trusting
You with it and resting in Your faithfulness. Lead me into deeper reliance
on Your Spirit in me as I live each day.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
James MacDonald is a Canadian-born evangelical Christian pastor, Bible teacher, and author. He was the co-founder and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and was the Bible teacher for the former broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word.
REFLECT & RESPOND
1. Read the devotional above by James MacDonald entitled: “God is For Us”.
2. Journal or draw/sketch about times that you recall God worked things out for you and/or gave you strength, answers, confidence, etc... during a trying/challenging time.
3. Listen to the song by Chris Thomlin entitled: “Our God”. Listen for Romans 8:31 in the song. Here is a link to vimeo with the song and lyrics: https://vimeo.com/43594965
4. Save this song and others like to your Spotify, Apple Music or other playlist and enjoy listening through the month of Elevate28.
This activity was provided by the Teacher Love Project - a Why Not Charleston community education initiative. The Teacher Love Project aims to provide love and encouragement to teachers that will elevate their wellness and care and therefore, enhance student achievement. We must care for those who care for our children - we must love each other because God loved us first.
"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
"A Prayer for Strength"
by Wendy van Eyck
give me the strength to stick it out over the long haul—
not the grim strength of gritting my teeth but the glory-strength God gives.
It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy,
thanking the Father who makes me strong enough
to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for me.
Jesus, give me strength in my weakness.
Wendy van Eyck is married to Xylon, who talks non-stop about cycling, and makes her laugh. She writes for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, ever believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a backpack. You can follow Wendy’s story and subscribe to receive her free ebook, “Life, life and more life” at ilovedevotionals.com. She would also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.
THRU THE LENS - FINDING YOURSELF IN GOD'S WORD
A blog by regular men and women about finding themselves in God's world
" Faith Shining Through"
By Melanie Jager
I am a baseball mom. My beautiful boys have been ball players over the years - since the wee age of three. So the baseball diamond is a place where my husband and I have spent many a day, and night, and weekend.
Our boys have had to work very hard and be commited to always improve their game - not always an easy pursuit. One of the hardest things to watch is your child endure a loss of confidence. Especially, when they have to publicly battle fear to overcome perceived short-comings.
I remember a season a few years back when my youngest son was in a slump. He struggled at bat for almost the entire season. I would become unnerved when he'd come to the plate - feeling the pain and stress right along with him. Every parent knows this feeling.
Anyway, that season, we had to help him build his confidence – we had to help him find a source of strength to keep going to bat – we had to help him focus on something bigger than his fear.
So we would pray before the games and we’d ask God to help our son when he was at bat – not hit the ball – but we asked God to fulfill His will through the effort of the at bat. We assured our boy that all God expected him to do was go out there and try. This seemed to take some pressure off as I remember he could then focus on hitting the ball not focus on missing the ball and striking out.
Just after we started praying before games our boy would come to the plate and point up. What was he doing? We weren't sure at first. Then we realized he was giving a shout out to his Heavenly Father. We did not tell him to do that or even model it. We were so surprised and moved by his public demonstration of faith.
Most of the time he kept enduring strikes that season. What was more noticeable though, to everyone who watched, was his steadfastness to battle through. His faith was shining through which seemed to give him the courage to press on and not give up.
I remember, sometime after that season asking him how he felt about “the slump”. He said, “Mom, I knew I’d get through it because if God is for me, who could be against me? Remember the song mom?” He was referencing Chris Thomlin's song – “Our God” - a song he learned years before and one, that I guess, stuck with him.
Today, even though the slump is in the past, when he goes up to bat Gabriel still points up. On occasion, I’ll hear a parent or grandparent say, “what is Gabriel doing?” The response by those who know us is, “oh that’s something Sean and Melanie taught him”, when in fact, it was something God put in Gabriel for everyone to see - steadfastness, strength, and hope in the face of adversity. It was his faith in HIM shining through.
Melanie Jager lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, Sean. The couple have two teenaged sons, Michael and Gabriel. Melanie has been a career educator for nearly 25 years. She has also worked on numerous community development projects since 2010 - from education to business to non-profit. She has served as a project/concept developer and systems implementer for Why Not Charleston since 2015 and currently oversees and manages operations for the organization. Melanie enjoys blogging about her family life and the Gospel-Rich experience that she and Sean are seeking to create in their home for themselves and their boys.