“God is Working it Out!”

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Here’s a little bit of encouragement for you to start your day: “God is working it out!”

Reading in the book of Ruth, I couldn’t help but rejoice with happy crying in my heart. When I see her story I can’t help but be encouraged by what God did for her.

Let’s face it. She, according to those in the land, was really a nobody.  She was a woman of sorrow having lost her husband, her support, and now she has walked away from her homeland to follow Naomi.  Living in a strange place as a foreigner to all around she tried to acclimate to her new surroundings and help Naomi the best she could.

What the story doesn’t tell us is all the emotions that must have been going on with Ruth. Did she question her life?  Her decisions?  Did she feel lost sometimes as she sought to do the right thing out of love?  Did she ever pray in her heart for an understanding of all the why’s that was going on in her life at that moment?  Did she look at her adversity and think there was nobody to care; nobody who really pays attention to little old me?

She had a rough go at it but her story is so encouraging to me. As I look through the pages that tell the events of her life I can’t help but see God in the midst of it all.  It may not have been immediately prevalent to her at the moment, but for us who read her story, we can see Him at work orchestrating the events until they come to the fruition of a blessed end.

The whole time – through all her sadness, doubt, discouragements, and feelings of hopelessness, God was there working it out.

This leads me to question our life today. What is it that we are going through?  What is attacking us today with doubt and questioning?  What sadness are we battling with?  It’s so hard to think with a clear mind sometimes when we are in midst of our own struggles, but after reading her story I can’t help but believe that God is standing in heaven, looking down, and working it out for us as well.

We may not see it immediately, but like Ruth, during the time of harvest our Boaz (which stands for our blessing – not necessarily the man himself) will appear and we will reap the promises of God. We just have to hold out for the harvest, and keep being faithful, keep working, and keep gleaning the fields until our time of blessings comes to pass.

God is putting all the pieces together.  He is working it out!

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Sunday School Lesson – “Grafted in by Faith” Romans 11:11-24

Image by Helger11 from Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 11:11-24 (KJV, Public Domain)

The Jews of the Apostle Paul’s day struggled first with accepting God’s plan of salvation by faith.  Rather, in their own righteousness, relied more on the works of the law (Romans 9:31-33).  Romans 10:4 declares, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Another thing they struggled in was the acceptance of the Gentiles into God’s spiritual family.  Rather than depend on the law, as the Jews previously had done, and the works of the law, they, the Gentiles “have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith,” (Romans 9:30).  Although through the centuries the prophets foretold, “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved,” (Romans 9:25; see also verse 26).

Paul continued to teach when it comes to accepting Christ by faith, “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” (Romans 10:12-13; emphasis mine).

Does this mean that God has cast away His chosen people?  (Romans 11:1).  Absolutely not!  But, by God’s grace, there is still a remnant that will worship Him through faith (Romans 11:1-6).  While some remained spiritually blind, God was using this as an opportunity to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

Neither group had a reason for division amongst them.  God loves the Jews and the Gentiles alike and wants all to be saved if they believe.

Lesson Summary

 Romans 11:11 “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

“Have they stumbled that they should fall?”  Referring to the unbelief of those early Jews and their rejection of Christ as the Messiah, as God’s plan of salvation – does this stumbling at this divine truth mean that this is the end for them?  Are they now a people that are done away with because they have no more purpose in God’s plan?  Has their fallen status become who they are to be permanently identified as?

“God forbid.”  Absolutely not!  God still has a divine plan and purpose in effect for His people Israel.  They may have initially rejected the Christ and transgressed against Him through their unbelief, but God was not completely done with them.

“But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”  As noted in last week’s lesson, salvation was never supposed to be exclusive.  God’s chosen people were designed to be carriers of His truth and His revelation to the world – to be a witness to the world of His desired relationship with all mankind.

Due to their current unbelieving status, a doorway would now be opened for the “Gentiles” to have a shot at receiving “salvation.”  Acts 13 tells us what occurred when Paul and Barnabas were blasphemed against and contradicted by the Jews: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles,” (vs. 46).  Thus, the preaching of the gospel was on the move toward the Gentiles.

Does this mean all Gentiles will be saved at the Jews rejection of the Christ?  Again, absolutely not!  Regardless of ethnic background or regional heritage, all must come to Him in and through faith – Jew and Gentile alike.

While the Jews rejection of Christ opened a door of acceptance to the Gentiles, the Gentiles too would become a tool to touch the heart of the Jews, “to provoke them to jealousy.”  Deuteronomy 32:21 foretold, “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger . . . I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,” (see also Romans 10:19).

Romans 11:12 “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?”

If through their “fall” and “diminishing” the “world/Gentiles” become “rich” (spiritually so at the accepting of the rich gospel of Christ through faith), “how much more their fullness?”  Those who were not formerly considered to be blessed are now presented with the opportunity to be spiritually blessed.  Israel’s loss is the world’s gain (as some would note it today).

With the offering of Christ and all the blessings a child of God would receive now available to them – greater would be the spiritual riches when the hearts of the Jews are stirred toward the realm of faith in Christ Jesus, bringing them to their “fullness.”

Just imagine and compare the difference it would make.  How much more would their own faith (speaking of those future Jews), touch and turn others, causing a global domino effect of God’s blessings and the turning of people in faith as it ripples through this world?

It would be simply amazing.

Romans 11:13-14 “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Lest they become haughty in their thinking, Paul directs his next line of thought directly to the Gentiles.  Careful heed should be taken given their now privileged position in Christ.  Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles,” (compare to Acts 9:15), acting with authority to his calling, says, “I magnify my office.”

The Apostle Paul was the founding father of many churches located in Gentile nations.  His reputation of authority preceded him to the Roman church as well.  As their spiritual leader, he had no qualms in letting them know, “If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Paul may have been an apostle to the Gentiles, but he still had a heart for his own kinsmen.  In Romans 9 he carried, “great heaviness and continual sorrow” (vs. 2) in his heart for his fellow flesh that rejected Christ.  To the point where he stated, “I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” (vs. 3).

His love for his own people never waned though his mission took him to others.  So, if there is some way for their hearts to be pricked to receive the gospel; to open themselves up to God’s truth of salvation through all of this – then, so be it.  He would be enamored with the idea.  To really know his feelings toward his people, think of your own family and the unsaved in it.  What if the similar would happen to cause them to accept Christ?  Wouldn’t you be overjoyed to see them come to salvation?  I would!

So, it is Paul’s hope that the Gentiles turning in faith would provoke his Jewish brethren that as many as will may be saved and brought back from the dead spiritually.  For another analogy, picture if you will in your mind an EMT bringing to recovery a loved one battled in a life or death crisis.  There is rejoicing.  There is joy over the recovering of said loved one.  The same with Paul.

As the Gentiles gained from their loss, oh what it would be if the provocation of such would awaken those Jewish sleeping souls to rise up and grab hold of Jesus for themselves, and “save some of them.”

Awesome!

Romans 11:15-21 “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?  For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

If their rejection and unbelief have given place for the door of the gospel to be opened to the rest of the world, how much more “shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?”  A national prodigal son story of restoration, if you will.  A people literally brought back to life, being spiritually resuscitated and restored once again.

Therefore, the one who has this privilege bestowed upon them, the Gentiles, should not “boast.”  It’s not of their own goodness (far from it – but, a work of grace) that caused God’s mercy to extend salvation beyond the spiritual borders of His chosen people.  Their disobedience [God’s chosen] made a way for the measure of reconciliation, through Christ, to be made available to all who believe.

Would it not benefit the Gentiles to remember from where they came; their “parent body” of faith to be saved, if you will?  “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the braches.”

In speaking of the “firstfruit” Paul breaks down for them, the Gentiles, the importance of their faith and what role the Jews played in that.  In Numbers 15:20-21 we learn the importance of the word firstfruit where they would offer up in appreciation “the first of your dough.”  Not until that first portion was offered was it permissible to eat the rest.

Given that the first portion to be offered was considered “holy” (set apart and consecrated), the “lump,” the source of the original would also have to be viewed as holy once it was consecrated.  Thus, making those first-century Christians, who were Jews by birth, vital in the foundation of their faith as well.

“And if the root be holy, so are the branches.”  The root system of any tree supports the branches.  Whatever the root is or has is transferred to the branches that grow from it.

There are varying opinions on which the “root” here is referring.  Some cite the patriarchs, some says God, and some refer this verse to the first Jewish Christians.  I won’t argue either point here.  Regardless of whom it is actually speaking of the main point for the Gentiles believers (whom Paul is currently speaking to) is to realize they and their newfound faith are grounded in the “holy” which came before them.  Again, there was no need to be boastful and haughty in their current status in Christ.  Those that were before them are foundational in their faith now.

Therefore, they are instructed not to lift themselves up with a prideful spirit, as if they are now superior to those Jews who refused to believe.  For God can, at any moment, cut them off as well.  “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

Some of those natural branches were disobedient in their unbelief to believe in the fulfilled promise of Christ.  Thus, they were “broken off.”  A great spiritual pruning had taken place and “some,” not all, of those branches that lack to produce spiritual fruit, were done away with while others were “graffed” in.

This does not mean that God has done away with the Jews as a whole (referring back to the introduction and beginning of the lesson).  Only some were broken off showing God still has a remnant of those that believe.  But the unbelieving Jews were taken out and believing Gentiles, “wild olive tree,” was put in to grow “among them” and “with them partakest of the root and the fatness of the olive tree.”  Tied into the natural tree, as the farmer of an orchard would add branches through the process of grafting, they too would produce spiritual fruit.

The Gentiles believers were always to remember “thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.”  The ones that were broken off were done so because of “unbelief.”  Those who are now grafted in are done so by faith.  Ethnicity didn’t cause the loss of the promise – unbelief did.  Ethnicity didn’t compel the gain of the promise – faith did.  Everything hinges on whether one believes or not.

Living a life of faith through Jesus Christ will gain one a future with God.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us beyond a shadow of a doubt that you cannot please God without faith.  The feet of faith walk forward believing God is, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in its highest form removes all worldly shackles.  Ethnicity, background, and prestige all fall away in the eyes of our Savior whose only view is that of an opened heart filled with belief.

Obtaining the promise of being grafted in is directly related to one’s “faith.”  A mind of humility and godly “fear” is to be had as opposed to boastfulness when one realizes the goodness of God.

Romans 11:22-24 “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”

God’s “goodness” has now allowed access to those who formerly had none, and in His “severity” He has cut off some of those who were formerly allowed access from the promise.

Again, everything hinges on belief and unbelief.  Those who believe will experience the goodness of God and those who refuse Him, His severity.

The Bible says, “Good and upright is the LORD,” (Psalm 25:8).  It tells us, “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations,” (Psalm 100:5).  Over and over again we read of His goodness.  God wants to bless people.  He wants to see them thrive in the spirit, drawing nearer and nearer to Him.  Only the feet of faith will walk one there.

Unbelief is delusional and a robber of the goodness of God.  It separates one from where He wants them to be and through their lack of faith, they experience His severity (cut off).

How much are people missing out due to their lack of faith?  Apparently, a lot.  An eternal promise lies in the balance and faith is the key to enter.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4; emphasis mine).

“If thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”  Initial faith is not enough.  One must continue in the faith to continue experiencing the goodness of God or else they too would be subject to losing out on the promise; being “cut off.”

The warning for the Gentile Christians is to take heed the path they walk lest they end up in the same destination as those Jewish people whose rejection of Christ led them away from the promise.  “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away . . .” (John 15:2) – Jew or Gentile.

“God is able to graff them in again.”  If the Jewish heart that was once unbelieving has now turned to Him in faith, God is able to restore that branch back to the tree.  Their relationship with God can be healed.  God has not totally washed His hands of His chosen people, as some believe.  Any heart that turns to Him, Jews included, God, can bring back into His promise.  God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him “again.”

“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”  By nature’s law one of one’s “own” is more easily and readily grafted in than a wild one, or one who doesn’t originally belong.

Some packs of animals carry a specific scent for their particular pack.  One who does not bear the same scent would have a harder time being accepted into the pack.  We see a similar example in the human body with organ transplants.  It is so wonderful that God has allowed science to take on such a procedure, but parts that are trying to be incorporated in could suffer rejection because they were not naturally a part of that particular body.

If Gentiles, who were not of the natural olive tree (who weren’t originally God’s chosen people; who didn’t have God’s ordinances and such) can be grafted in – how much easier for the Jews who hearts have been turned to a life of faith (those who bore the markings of the natural)?

Conclusion

God welcomes all to partake of His promises – Jew and Gentile alike.  He can graft any believing heart into the family of God when they operate with a heart of faith.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes):  Sunday School Lesson – Grafted in by Faith

Suggested Activities:

“How to Graft a Fruit Tree Video”

Adult Journal Page:  Adult Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Word Search: Grafted in by Faith Word Seach Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Search Answers

Crossword: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Grafted in by Faith Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Grafted in by Faith Memory Verse

How Many Words: Grafted in by Faith How Many Words

From previous lessons, but can be applied here as being grafted in as a child of God or in the family of God:

“I Am a Child of Faith” Necklace Craft: I Am a Child of Faith Necklace Craft (Use this PDF for accurate printing) Simply have the student draw their portrait on the necklace, bead any way they want and there you go.  Enjoy!

Coloring Sheet: Not the Same but Loved by God Coloring Sheet

“The Family of God Activities” from Sermons4kids.com(Including group activities such as “Available Grace to All” and “Child of God Headband.”)  Enjoy!

“Adopted into God’s family” from Ministry-To-Children

 

“Jesus Loves You To The End!”

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end,” John 13:1

Eventually, the love of friends fades.  As years go by we grow up and move on with our lives.  Even some familial relationships can wane with the passing of time.  But, there is one love that never quits on you.  His promise was to never leave you nor forsake you, Heb. 13:5.  He showed His devotion to His disciple right up to the end.  And daily, He shows His devotion to each and every one of us by continually being there for us, loving us, interceding for us and hearing us when we call.

I am personally amazed at His undying devotion to us.  Through all of our faults, shortcomings, and mess, He still stays committed to us even “to the end.”  This is a source of comfort and reassurance for them that are His.  Despite the tragedies of life or how much we feel like we are not measuring up, we have a Savior, nay a friend that sticks closer than a brother, Pro. 18:24.

The times and tides of life may ebb and flow, come and go, but Jesus is a solid source never to be moved.  Somebody said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”  And, since we are here today alive and with breath in our bodies, guess what, it’s not the end.  Bolster your faith today in this great truth that no matter what it may look like right now, Jesus loves you to the end!  God bless you!

“Singing in the Rain!”

Image by Fer Galindo from Pixabay

Today, like most days here lately, it’s rainy, dreary and of the dismal sort.  It’s the kind of cold, wet rain that settles down in your bones which you can’t seem to warm up from.  It makes you want to crawl back under the covers and wait for a better day.

But real life is here with a call each and every day that must be answered, compelling us to rise and get going no matter what the weather is outside.  Answering that call on a  morning such as this, I remember one day when I drove across the highway to take my daughter to her college campus.  On the way home I saw something that put a smile on my face.  A man was walking in the rain with a bright orange raincoat.  He was literally bouncing along with happiness in his steps.  His mouth was moving and he appeared to be singing.  It was as if he was dictating his day; as if he was telling the rain he was not going to let the dreariness get him down.

Oh, how true does that ring out in life?  How many dreary situations have kept us from enjoying the day; from enjoying each and every moment God has given us above ground?  Unfortunately, as life goes on we find that every day is not peaches and cream.  Times of trouble and hardship can arouse the rainy day blues in anybody.

Psalm 137:4 asks, “How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?”  How many times have we felt it hard to work up the happiness inside when going through difficult times?  But Psalm 43:5 declares, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

In other words, Sing in the Rain!  

I feel like getting on board with the attitude of the guy in the orange raincoat.  There you can catch me Singing in the Rain today, too.  After all, we still have a reason to praise God no matter what.  My hope for this day and every day is in Him.  

God Bless!

A Word for Today: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Photo by Gabriel Silvério on Unsplash

Dealing with defeat is more than just being discouraged.  Defeat has a way of getting deep down within the spirit of man and making them feel crushed beyond measure.  It’s more than a heavy load.  It’s carrying the weight of disappointment, hopelessness, and pain without seeing any real way of being able to experience the least bit of victory in the end.  Therefore, the shoulders slump forward without the strength to be lifted up.

How does one go one when they think they have no more power for the press of this life?  There is nothing you and I can do to overcome on our own.  A humanistic way of thinking will formulate plans over and over again but they come to nought.  Or, any measure of peace we think to feel becomes fleeting and never lasting.

In Jesus Christ, we have our ultimate source of victory.  He said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  HE IS THE DEFEATER OF DEFEAT.  He is the power that stands aright with no competition to put Him down.  He is our way when there seems to be no way.  Our comfort when the love of people is few and far between.

There is NOBODY like my JESUS!  Ain’t that the truth!  He’s my comfort when I am comfortless.  He’s my fortress when I am surrounded by enemies.  He’s my strength when everything within me feels weak.  He has overcome anything and everything this world has thrown at Him and He stands ready to overcome for you, too.

We are far from defeated.  We are more than conquerors.  Everything that tries to convince us otherwise is a bald-faced lie from the enemy.  We are secured in Christ.  Christ has already won all the competitions of this life.  He has already overwhelmed the enemy.  He has taken this world by storm and we rest in the realm of His power, strength, and love.

To say that Christ has won is an understatement.  He has literally crushed, obliterated, and stands on the head of every adversary we may face today.  The world may think they have won but Jesus will flip the script on them every time and show who He really is.  He has “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross,” (Col. 2:15; NIV).  His enemies are being made a footstool at His feet (Hebrews 10:13; NIV).  He is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords and will conquer everything and everybody that tries to war against Him (Revelation 17:14).

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, WE ARE ON THE WINNING SIDE!  There is no defeat for a child of God.  We have too much victory available to us through the name and the blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Victor.

He has already overcome and we will overcome with Him!  Be of good cheer.

“You Are Loved by the King!”


Text Free Image by chiplanay from Pixabay

You, my friends, are so very much and incredibly loved by the King of all the universe.  There is so much that we face on a daily basis that tries to speak contrary to the blessedness we have in Him.  But, my God loves you with an undying love.  His heart is tied to His people.  His people need only to rest in the promises of His mercy, grace, power, and authority that makes their hearts soar on the wings of the hope we have in Him.

Today doesn’t have to be ordinary.  Today doesn’t have to control you.  Today doesn’t have the final say about your destiny in life.  When it all boils down to it, you have a reason to rejoice because your heavenly Father’s eye is on you.  He has marked you for greatness in Him.  You are covered and shielded by His love.  Therefore, let your heart be glad in the majesty of your Savior.  Let your soul celebrate because no matter what it looks like, you are a cherished vessel and you are loved by the King of all!

“We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

 

“Honor God!”

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

“For those who honor Me I will honor,” 1 Samuel 2:30

One day, some years ago, I remember when my son accompanied me to the grocery store to do some shopping. He was wearing his military uniform at that time and when people saw him they kept stopping him to shake his hand, to talk to him, or to tell him to keep up the good work. They were proud of him. They honored him for his service.

You know, as a mom, how I felt. I really thought it was something special for people to recognize him and his service to our country in that way. As much as I love the many fields in which one can be honored (military, teachers, firefighters, police officers, and many, many others), no one deserves our respect and adoration more than God. It is customary to stand to our feet when a judge enters a courtroom and there is a hush in the crowd when they bang that gavel. What about God?

Too many go through their day without ever considering the fact that hey, He is God, and He should be before all others. With that realization in hand, I want my life to reflect that great truth. I want every word, every action and every thought to magnify the greatness of who He is and all of His glory. When I go about my day I want people to see Him in me. Do I make mistakes? Oh, yeah! But, I have a goal. I aspire to do better and to be better every day. God has been so good and wonderful to me, and I feel that as His child the least I can do is showing Him the honor due Him.

“Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” (Ps. 29:1-2). These two verses have been among favorites of mine for many years now. When you think of “giving to the Lord” one realizes just how futile our efforts can be because of His vast greatness. But, something that each of us can give is honor. Not only can we gift it to Him, but it is a gift that He in turns honors.

“For those who honor Me I will honor.” Our God is an appreciative God and He believes in rewarding them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). If you don’t like the returns you have been getting in life examine what you have given. And let me make myself really clear at this point. I DO NOT want you to see the above statement as to how you can get something from God. These things will happen because it’s what the Bible promises.  It’s a residual effect of obedience.  Instead, I want you to just focus on God because He is God and not what you can get from Him.  Just honor God because He is WORTHY!

The Process of a Champion

Text Free Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

You could’ve taken off like a rocket ship with tanks of fuel lighting your tail, sending you fast to reach the stars. Yet, God chose a different journey; one with a paced climb, step by step, your path ascending a little higher each day.

Sometimes it seems slow. Painfully so.  But, have you ever considered it just means the potential on the inside is powerful.  Therefore, great care has to be taken in developing, caring, and raising your growth inch by inch.

Shooting high and shooting fast – the world has enough of that. Superstars with no substance are all they are.  But, God made you to be a champion.

So what’s the big deal?

Champions create change. Champions endure – they tough it out.  They fight the cause with the very last breath, staking their all to see victory come to its best.  They are a peculiar creature not willing to forgo the promise or give up too quickly on the process.  There’s a hope and a knowing that if they just stay on the wheel a little while longer the Master will develop a treasure from this little lump of clay.

Your value is too precious to be rushed. Let those who will zoom if they please.  But you, my friend, take joy in knowing there is great care being taken in making you who He wants you to be.  So, let Him have His way and perfect the precious in you.

Spotlight creepers. Thrill seekers.  This course is not for you.  Only champions, whose heart will bend to His molding; who will ride the wheel to impact lives will understand this can’t be rushed. They are created for more and with that, embrace the process of being shaped, knowing dear champion, that’s who God wants you to be.

“. . . Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand . . .” Jeremiah 18:6

Sunday School Lesson – “Made Righteous in Christ” Romans 3:21-31

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 3:21-31 (KJV, Public Domain)

Since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23; discussed further in this lesson), then how can one ever be truly justified by a holy and righteous God?

The answer is a simple one although it is not always simply accepted: Jesus Christ.  Through His sacrificial atoning of our sins, He changed our former status into one who now becomes righteous in the eyes of our righteous God, Paul explains in this lesson.

The Righteousness of God

Romans 3:21-22 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”

Although the Apostle Paul did not plant the Church in Rome as he had in other cities, he still took a fatherly-leadership role in helping this church to thrive to be all that God calls them to be.

He prayed for them and desired to visit them (1:1-15), but in the meantime, he wrote this letter to encourage and instruct them on the matter of salvation, God’s righteousness, and how we as sinners, can be made righteous in the eyes of God.

After establishing his fearless zeal in wanting to preach the gospel to them, for in it, he knows, “the righteousness of God” is revealed (1:15-17), which is really the main focus of this letter, Paul continues on discussing what all this means.

God’s righteousness can be described as everything just and right and holy.  God is right, there is no other way to put it.  What He does is right.  Always.  His ways are higher than ours and they are above reproach (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Opposite that is the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18).

Since the Fall in the garden, mankind has been corrupted by sin.  Since that day, when the age of innocence has passed off the scene, mankind has been subjected to the “wrath of God” (1:18), “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God” (1:21).  They, mankind, are accused of changing the glory of God (1:23) and the truth of God (1:25) to follow after sinful ways.  Although creation itself testifies to the power of God (1:20), Paul sums up the ungodly truth of sinful man by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32).

God’s judgment is against ALL SIN and He will render to “every man according to his deeds,” (2:6).  It doesn’t matter who they are, Jew or Gentile.  It doesn’t matter if they have been raised in the Law or not (2:11-15).  Anything that one can boast in outside of faith in Jesus Christ will profit nothing in that coming day (more on this later).

The law cannot justify one before God.  The law, and it’s following the adherence thereof, cannot earn one true salvation.  The law’s purpose was to bring about “the knowledge of sin,” (3:20), but it could never erase sin for good and make people righteous before God.

Then Paul introduces a “but now” moment that begins to explain how the “righteousness of God” is “manifested.”  This “but now” introduces the wonderful realization that mankind is not left to drift in the world of sin without help; without an anchor to steady and save them.  There is a way for them to receive “the righteousness of God” and it is “by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”

In Christ, lies that hope to be justified before the Father, accomplishing something the law never could do.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:3-4).

In the work of the cross of Christ, salvation is available for them that believe.  Jesus Christ is the only answer to heal mankind from their dreaded sinfulness and to make them right before a holy and just God, “upon all them that believe.”

It doesn’t matter who they are, where they’re from, or what they’ve done: “there is not difference.”  Any and all who turn to Jesus Christ by faith can be saved.  The answer to all our sins’ woes is fulfilled in what Christ accomplished on the cross (compare Romans 10:12).

All Have Sinned and Need to be Justified

Romans 3:23-26 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Just as there is no difference in who can receive the righteousness of God by faith in Christ, there is no difference in who can be categorized as a sinner in need of this grace, in need of redemption, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  Everyone who ever was and ever will be needs to be saved by the redemptive blood of Christ.  No one measures up to God’s standard on their own.  We all need Jesus!

It is through Him, where one can be “justified freely by his grace.”  The word “justifies” signals the “being made right before God” part, while “grace” speaks of the undeserving mercy we receive in that.  Our guilt had us bound, but Jesus set us free through “redemption,” by redeeming us.  He paid the cost.  He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:6).  So that our eternity could be secured before the Father, He “freely” satisfied the demand against mankind’s sin.

Jesus became our eternal sacrifice that atoned for our sins once and for all: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”  The Bible declares and attests to this truth in other areas, saying, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:10).  The word “propitiation” in both of these verses speak of Christ’s complete, atoning sacrifice.  “His blood” was shed that we might be made free (compare Hebrews 10:4).  Christ died for our sins.  Our justification is not a human invention.  God “set forth” Christ and the plan of salvation through Christ.

“To declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.”  Not only today are our past sins taken care of, but the yesterday and the yesteryear sins of sinners are taken care of for all who believe, both before the cross and after the cross (compare Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:15)!  Hallelujah!  The “past,” and those in the past, have been covered by the cross, also!  The cross, and what Jesus did on the cross, is enough to satisfy and uphold the demands of God’s “righteousness” against the sin and sinners of today, yesterday, and forevermore.  Nothing else is needed.  It has already been proven that nothing else will do (read Hebrews 9:12-14).

“Through the forbearance of God.”  God’s own “righteousness” (above), which is the very “habitation of His throne” (Psalm 97:2), is shown in His willingness and longsuffering to withhold final actions upon mankind’s sin as a whole before the time of the cross.  At the time of His death, all sin, past, present, and future, were placed upon our Savior as He hung on that cross.  It’s what one does with the revelation of the cross for their own life that makes the difference.  This is what one will be judged by.

God has always been fair in His actions toward humanity, sinful though they may be.  He gives everyone time and space to repent: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  But, as we know, all will not come to repentance.  The time of ignorance is over and there is an appointed day for the judgment for all, past, present, and future (Acts 17:30-31).

But, for the one that “believeth in Jesus,” God justifies.  Because of what Christ did, and because of our belief and acceptance of what Christ did as our Savior, God credits that to our account as righteousness.  God declares them/us right and justified!  Mankind, any person in human history outside of Jesus Christ, is far from perfect and right in the eyes of God.  But, when one believes in Jesus, for all He accomplished on the cross and accepts that sacrifice for their life; when God looks at that person, He no longer sees them and their wrongs.  He sees Jesus and His right, and He is the one that declares them now to be righteous.

By Faith, Jesus is Enough

Romans 3:27-31 “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Because everything is based solely on what Christ has done, and because it is only God who is able to aptly justify one, what right does anyone have for “boasting”?  They don’t!  That’s the plain and simple truth. No one can make themselves righteous.  No “law” could declare one righteous.  Nor, could any “works” (compare Ephesians 2:9).  Salvation is not something that can be earned.  It is something we are blessed with through “faith.”

Instead of being a source of contention, this should be a relief, for salvation does not depend on what a person can do perfectly, it only depends on what Christ has already done perfectly.  Only the self-righteous would find some kind of joy in trying to pat themselves on the back for a job well-done in trying to get to heaven for all eternity on their own accord or by their own works.  But self-righteousness won’t get you or me there.  Only those who are found Christ-righteous will enter in.

Therefore, “boasting” is kicked to the curb.  “Boasting” is a symbol of pride.  “Boasting” glorifies self and what self can accomplish on its own.  But salvation, I repeat, is NOT something that people can accomplish on their own.  Everyone needs forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ!  “No flesh shall glory in his presence,” (1 Corinthians 1:29).  National heritage, religious pride, or any other reason one may exalt themselves believing them worthy of this great gift by what they have done or do – all of that is made null and void before the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  For it is ONLY “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8).

True salvation requires true “faith” in the right source, and we are not it, nor were the receivers of this letter in the Roman church.  What self can do is not it.  The gospel tells the story and the way of that right source who is Christ our Lord.  He is it!  Any other way outside of Christ is “excluded.” 

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Paul said.  The reality of this truth permeates Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians.  Prior to reaching the text of study in this lesson, in verse 20 of this same chapter, Paul writes, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…”  Later in Romans, he will write, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1).  Here, he is declaring exactly what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross accomplished for the sin-sick soul.  He justified us and made us right with the Father (Romans 5:1).  None of this was based on our own efforts or human goodness.  Our new position in Christ was and is solely based on the sacrificial love of Christ that propelled Him through any hurt and pain He was personally feeling to think outside of Himself and see a world of humanity drowning in an ocean of wayward disobedience and rebellion leading them to a lost path of which there is no return unless their souls be saved!

Because of what He did, we now have “access by faith into this grace” and we have a reason to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:2).  With His blood, He bought the key that would give us an open door to our heavenly Father.  And, with everything we face, our end reward is hope (Romans 5:3-5).

He, Jesus, did it all for us and our job is to whole-heartedly accept it, accept His work, accept His sacrifice “by faith.”  Those words, “by faith”, “through faith”, “the law of faith”, and other references to faith appears no less than thirty-seven times in the book of Romans alone.  The “law”, and the works of the law couldn’t do it (compare Acts 13:38-39).  “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it written, The just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17).  It’s a faith thing!

And, this is God’s plan for all.  It’s not just for the “Jews” or for the “Gentiles.”  There is only “one God” with one plan of salvation for all to accept: faith in what Jesus Christ has already done.

Does this make the law “void”?  Absolutely not!  Through Christ, God fulfilled the law.  The law was “established”.  Before His death, Jesus plainly stated, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil,” (Matthew 5:17).  In Him, the requirements of the law were fully and completely satisfied.  Therefore, God is just when He makes one righteous through Christ because, in Christ, all the law is fulfilled.  By faith, Jesus is enough!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Made Righteous in Christ

Suggested Activities:

Object Lessons from Better Bible Teachers

“Balloon and Rock: The Weight of Sin Object Lesson” from Ministry-To-Children

Games about Salvation from Classroom

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Redeemed

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Saves

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Made Righteous in Christ Draw the Scene

Word Search: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers

Crossword: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers

“Memory Verse Activities for Any Lesson” from Calvary Curriculum

“Memory Activities for Sunday School” from SundaySchoolSources.com

“Sketching Bible Memory Verse” from Ministry-To-Children

“Jesus Can Set Us Right Activity Page” from Ministry-To-Children

“Bible Verse Game for Romans 3:32” from Scripture Lady

Explaining Justification from Jelly Telly Parents

Romans 3:32 Coloring Page from HomeschoolRoundup.com

 

“Do More Than Pray. Believe!”

 “Why could we not cast him out?  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief,” Matthew 17:19b-20a, KJV

 This is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road,” or where the heart meets with true faith.  Jesus’ disciples tried to cast a demon out of the man’s son but to no avail.  The Bible says, “They could not cure him,” (Mt. 17:16, KJV).  They didn’t get the results of their prayer on that day.  Perplexed they asked Jesus about what happened.  Jesus’ response was very simple.  He told them it was “because of your unbelief.”

Sometimes in life, I think we tend to downplay the importance of our faith and what we believe.  We hear about it so much that I think as Christians we have become desensitized to its power in both our spiritual and our natural lives.  This is not what it should be since we are told in four verses of the Bible, “The just shall live by his faith,” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38, KJV).

Our faith, our belief should be the marker for everything in our lives.  Not just for salvation, but for every action and prayer.  We know all the right words to say and all the proper “Christian” motions to make, but is our faith alive and put into full force action?

If you feel a little waning in this area and if you feel like Jesus is talking to you, here are some steps to build up your faith and belief:

1. Pray:  Yup, that’s right!  Keep praying.  Jesus did not have an issue with their prayer; He had a problem with their lack of belief in their prayer.  In Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them,” (KJV, see also Mt. 21:22; Ja. 1:16).  Continue to pray, yet make sure you believe in your prayer being heard and you believe in the One who hears your prayer and is able to be your help (more on this a little later).  Many ask a lot of things of the Lord, but those that catch His attention the most are those who have faith when they ask.  On several occasions, Jesus said it’s because of “your faith” that healing has taken place (Mt. 9:22; Mk. 10:52).  Too many people focus on the right words to say during prayer when the real focus should be on Whom we believe.  Do our heart’s match up with the words that are coming out of our mouths or are they just that, words, instead of a powerful instrument implemented by what we believe?  Your faith matters more than your words.

2. Nourish:  Every believer has to nourish their faith with a daily diet of the Word of God.  “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart…,” (Jer. 15:16, KJV).  We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and no truer is it than here.  Our natural bodies depend on us to eat properly for it to maintain its daily functions.  Our spirit depends on us to fill it with the necessary spiritual nutrients to help our faith and belief thrive to be all that God has designed for you and me to be.  A rich diet in God’s Word will supply the believer with encouragement, wisdom and truth to hold on to their faith and to build the spiritual muscle to believe more.  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” (Mt. 4:4, KJV).

3. Rest:  Not only rest in our salvation but also in the fact that He heard (told you there was more 🙂 ).  “For we which have believed do enter into rest…,” (Heb. 4:3, KJV).  “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me…,” (Ps. 118:5, NKJV; see also my article “Know That God Hears!”).  We have to trust in Him to handle our prayers.  That’s what resting is all about.  We prayed it, we committed it to Him, and we rest.  Is this hard to do sometimes?  Yes, but oh so needful.  It’s disciplining ourselves like Jesus did when He spoke at Lazarus’ tomb saying, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me,” (John 11:41, KJV).  He didn’t try to persuade God, He rested in the fact that He knew already that God heard Him.  We have to discipline ourselves to rest in Him.  Those that are in a continual state of worry are not resting.  Rather, they are anxious over the conditions in their life.  Paul said, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:6-7, KJV).  Peace will cover the one who prays it and gives it to God allowing him/her to rest.

Is this a sure-fire way to have God answer your prayers the way you want?  NOPE!!!  Nonetheless, we still are to be people who believe when we pray.  Unbelief will cause you and I to miss out on the amazing things that God wants to do in and through us.  Don’t take that chance today.  Don’t ever stop praying but do more than just pray – BELIEVE!