God Works Good

March 23, 2014   Romans 8:28 – 32   Good

 

     Chapter 8 of Romans is a great passage of scripture.   I did a series on it starting in 2002 and preached 13 messages on it in this church.  There are many great and precious promises in this chapter and some great doctrine.  I am going to take a couple of moments to briefly mention some of these great promises.  In verse 1 God tells us that there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ.  We have been set free from the law of sin and death for those that walk according to the Spirit of God.  We are sons of God if we have accepted Jesus into our hearts.   We belong to God and we are royalty.  We are heirs of God and co heirs with Jesus if we share in His sufferings.   What a wonder and what a blessing that God has so blessed us.   We will spend some time on more promises in the latter part of this chapter.  

     We come to this verse 28 which says and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purposes.   That is quite an amazing verse.   Many Christians love and have claimed this verse over and over again in their life over the centuries.     This verse is amazing.  Where could you go to find such a promise?   Who in the whole world could make such a promise to another person?   Could you claim to make that verse true for another person?    Could you claim that for your children or your spouse?    There is good in life.   The news is full of a lot of bad things in the world. 

     This verse can be misunderstood.   Many Christians have misunderstood what this verse is saying.    Does this verse say that everything that happens to me is good?    It does not really say that everything that happens to me is good.    Good can come out of bad things.   In bad things there can be good.   There is a force in the world that is working for good and of course we know that force is God.    Many things could be considered bad.   Some have had an accident which we would consider bad but good can come out of it.   Some have experienced a divorce which is generally considered bad but good can come out of it.   Probably all of us have experienced a financial loss or lost money and we would not consider that good.   God works in all things to bring good out of it at least for those that walk with him.    God works when bad things happen and when good things happen God is at work to bring about good.   The verse tells us that in all things God works.   That means that God works in good things also.  There are many illustrations of God working in bad situations in the scriptures. 

      Joseph was sold into slavery but God had a plan for his life and for many others.   He was falsely accused and thrown into prison but God had a plan for him.   God humbled him and then blessed him abundantly.  Job lost all his wealth and his children and it happened suddenly.   Later he virtually lost his health for a period of time and then God restored him and doubled his wealth and blessed him with more children.  Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den but God spared his life.  Some have lost their life for their witness and love for God.  There is good that is beyond this life time.   God works for good even in death.     The apostle Paul suffered a lot but God brought about a lot of good through his life.  

     Perhaps the greatest illustration is from Jesus life.   Jesus came to his own people.   Jesus loved them; Jesus healed many of the Jews.   Jesus taught them and fed them but Jesus did not fit into their mold and many rejected him.  They beat him and had him crucified.   Being crucified is bad very bad.   It is very painful but death could hold Him.   Easter is a month away April 20th.    His death brings life.   His pain brings forth good.    His death gives me and you life.    Jesus is the first fruits.   God brings the greatest good from the greatest loss.   

      God really works in strange ways.   It is strange that good can come out of bad.   It is strange that the most difficult things in my life can produce the greatest blessings and sometimes we can miss how God is working in situations.  Bruce Ball shared the following illustration.   There was a woman at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with a fever.   She left work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication for her daughter.   She returned to her car to find that she had locked the keys inside the car when she went into the pharmacy and was now unable to get into her car to drive home.    She didn’t know what to do and started to panic, so she called home and told the baby sitter what had happened and that she did not know what to do.   The baby sitter told her to find a coat hanger and see if that would open the door.    The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been thrown down on the ground, possibly by someone else who also had locked their keys in their car.  Then she looked at the hanger and said, "I don’t know how to use this."   So she bowed her head and asked God to send her some help. 

     In so doing, she obeyed the command to never stop praying. Do you think God would reward her for that?   Within five minutes a motorcycle roared up and pulled into the parking space next to her car.  A rough, dirty-looking biker got off and saw her situation. He asked if he could help her.  The woman thought, "This is what you sent to help me, God?"   She finally told him yes, as she needed to hurry and get home to her sick daughter.   He walked over to the car, and in less than one minute the car was opened.    She hugged the man and through her tears she said, "Thank you so much! You are such a nice man."   The man replied; "No, I’m not, Lady. I just got out of prison for car theft."   The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out to God, "You even sent me a professional."     God has a sense of humor.   We can miss God’s answers to our prayers but she didn’t. 

    This verse works together and is better understood when we tie it into the next verse which tells us that God’s goal is to conform us into the image of Jesus.    God wants you and me to be like Jesus.   That is a process that is not pain free.   It is a process that takes time.  Is that your goal to be like Jesus?   The cross is part of that process.   God is interested in our comfort but God also has an agenda for you and I and that is holiness.  God’s plan for you and I is to be like Jesus to be in the world but not worldly.   Jesus said if you want to follow me deny yourself.     The pastor of New Life Fellowship in Concord has prayed for years that he would always obey God.  That is a great prayer.  Many folks do not want a close walk with Jesus.   We want him part way in our life.   We will give Jesus a few things and want to look respectable but we want to hang on to few things.   Transformation is a scary thing.   It means change.  

     Tim Hansel in his book "When I Relax I feel Guilty," writes some insights of what most people want from God.  "I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.  Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.    I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant.   I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth.  I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.  I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please."   Ouch.   Many say God do not talk to me about my prayer life, my worship, do not challenge my scripture reading, certainly do not push me to give any money, and I do not want to hear anything some of those things that I like to do but there are really not good for me.   I will take all the good things of God please.   We would say Lord save me and I will bless your name but there is so much more.  Well Jesus did not give $3.00 of himself.  God gave it all.  Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.   God gave everything.   God did not hold back for you.  God gave his greatest treasure his son.  God did not spare His son. 

    I read this illustration about H.G. Wells a British writer of science fiction.   He was not never particularly religious, but after he had studied the history of the human race and had observed human life, he came to an interesting conclusion: "Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a man has found God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, he works to no end. He may have his friendships, his partial loyalties, his scraps of honor.   But all these things fall into place and life falls into place only with God.  Life does not make much sense to me without these verses.  It is neat that God is committed to work good to bring forth good to promote righteousness in all things for His children.  The bad and the ugly can be meaningful and useful. 

     This verse is not meant to be an easy answer for someone who is suffering.  One pastor was told well God is going to grow your church because your daughter has lost her arm.   So he asks how many arms can she loose so the church can grow?   Suffering is not easy and life can be challenging.   Many tiems the best thing to offer is your weeping and your tears.   God will work to bring good out of difficulty, suffering and tragedy.  Life is not that simple but these promises can be a great encouragement.  There can be great anger and pain at the loss of a child, a spouse or some other situation that impacts deeply.  God understands suffering. 

     Some 2000 years ago there was a baby that was born.  That baby was the Son of God.  Angels announced His birth.  He at the young age of 12 ministered and taught at the temple with the best of the best of the Jews and the brightest in the land.   He was about His father’s business.   He grew in wisdom and stature.   He was a man among men.   He was perfect I believe as a human being.   He was sinless.   He walked in pure love.   He healed the sick and raised the dead.  He gave sight to the blind and He healed the lepers.   In some communities he healed every single person that came to him.   By his miraculous powers He fed multitudes with almost nothing.  He walked on water and calmed the storms.   He cast out demons and set the prisoners free.   He blessed people and told them about God. 

      You would think that since He was doing the right things for God that everything would turn out.   But the crowds that shouted hosanna and lay their tunics on the ground before him as He went into Jerusalem were either gone or sang a different tune because in just a few short days the crowds shouted crucify Him.   Kill that guy.  Put him to death.   You would think that everything would turn out for the Son of God.   God had a plan and He worked His plan.  Some were glad that Jesus died.  Perhaps Satan rejoiced and demons were glad at the death of Jesus.   But for others it seemed like all was lost.   The disciples were disillusioned.  But the story was not finished was it?   That opened the door for you and me to know God to have life and to be blessed.   Jesus Christ the Son of God snatches the keys of death and Hell and offers life – everlasting life to those that believe in Jesus.  What a great God.  God has suffered the most.   God will gain the most.  Jesus poured out His soul unto death.  God did not spare his son.  God did not withhold his highest treasure - His only son.   God did not spare him.  God went all the way to hell for you and me.  And what do we offer to God?   All to often we offer our leftovers - scraps that do not cost us anything.   Many give him what is convenient and easy and nothing more. 

     Wouldn’t it be cool to be like Jesus?   Just to minister to the others and to see God use your prayers to work wonders in other people.   It is neat to feel the power of the Holy Spirit flow through your life.   It is neat to feel the spirit use the word of God and your witness to others.   It is neat to know that your life is making a difference in eternity and that your life counts.   Brothers and sisters this passage tells us that if we know Jesus that God has called us and that he has justified us and that we are glorified.   There is glory in forgiveness and there is glory in being a child of God.