On New Year’s Eve, my church replaced our evening worship service with our New Year’s Eve celebration. As always, it was an amazing time of fellowship, food, singing, prayer and a brief message. Pastor Fry’s sermon was refreshing. He taught from one of my favorite passages of Scripture: Romans 8:28-39,“28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written,"FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." 37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This passage has been a favorite for the Saints of God down through the history of the church, and for good reason! O how marvelous are these words! O what comfort they bring! I cannot recall how many times the Holy Spirit has used these words to assist me in my time of difficulty. I was so very pleased when my pastor began preaching from this section in Romans.
Beginning with verse 28, Pastor Fry reminded me that everything that happens in life happens at the predestinated purpose of the almighty Lord of heaven and earth. Then there’s the Golden Chain of Redemption, found in verses 29-30 – those choice words that cause every believer to rejoice. But what really struck me were Paul’s words in verse 31: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
Pastor Fry brought out that we have many enemies in this world: the Devil, and an unending number of unregenerate men. But you know what, none of that matters because the all-powerful God of the universe is for us. He is more powerful than our adversaries.
Whenever the Lord brings trials into your life, whether in the form of difficulty, or opposition to the gospel of Christ, be comforted because God is bigger and stronger than all things. More than that, He has good intentions for His children.
Paul was convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love. And that matters above all else. I praise God for this! He is merciful upon those who deserve to face His wrath. As my dear friend, Simon Escobedo, so often prays, “Thank thee, Lord, for making us trophies of your grace.” Amen. Thank you, Lord.
After Pastor Fry’s sermonette (shorter sermon), we spent some time in prayer, singing and sharing words of testimony. As I looked around the room, I realized that I knew every person by name. Many of those I knew very well, and have had many laughs with. I was surrounded by people who have had a great impact on my walk with God. Two men who shared brought me to tears. The first was Rich Pierce, President of Alpha and Omega Ministries. He expressed his thanksgiving to God for providing new facilities for AOMin. Even though the facilities have a long way to go before they are fully refurbished, he is thankful nonetheless. The second was by our Deacon, Jim Broyles. He expressed God’s faithfulness to him and his wife as they had a full-term still-born child this past year. I cannot tell you how I encouraged I have been to see a man who lost a son stand before the people of God and thank God for His faithfulness through it all!
I left with a renewed wonder towards the grace of Christ, and with the resolve to increase in my sanctification in 2007.