December 7, 2013
Top Ten Searched Bible Verses - Number Three - Romans 8: 28 - God's Power to Overcome All
By Anthony Wade
My favorite Bible verse has unlimited power for our lives today...
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8: 28 (NIV)
As someone who loves Scripture I have many "favorite" Bible verses. I have several that jump off the page to me as the Holy Spirit illuminates it for me. That list is ever growing as I continue to read and re-read His Word. If you forced me however to come up with one verse. Just one verse to sum up God, this walk we call life, and the secret to the power of the Lord inside of us all - it would be Romans 8:28. I even named my ministries and website after this verse (828ministries.com). Not surprisingly then it comes in third in the list of most searched Bible verses. I believe there are certain "Linchpin" Bible verses that if we could ever get our heads around we could see the power of God explode in our lives. So many Christians suffer and struggle needlessly. They are saved in Christ but walk around shackled to the things of this world or their past. The power of Christ may as well be a veggie-tale to them. A nice Christianism we sing about on Sundays but is never manifest in our lives. It should not be so. The Bible said that Christ came that we might have the abundant life now, not some distant time after we have left this mortal coil. When I speak of abundance I do not do so as the charlatans of this world selling trinkets that rust with time. I am talking living a life in the abundance of God! The abundance of the eternal blessings of Christ, not some baubles this world values for a little while and then becomes dust.
So where does this writing find you today? What valley are you lost in? What desert are you wandering through? What is it that you need the supernatural power of God for? His peace? His joy? His contentment? Let us break down this verse and see what God is saying to us today. The first thing we see is that there is a promise and there are conditions. The promise is that God works for the good in all things. Do we really understand that today? Not in some things. In all things. Not in the easy things. In all things. Even what appears to be bad. What appears to be heartbreaking. God uses everything for His glory and our good. We like it when God shows us the promise. It is the journey to the promise that we end up despising.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. "Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?" - Zechariah 4: 9-10 (NIV)
Who dares despise the day of small things? We do! All the time! We want the satisfaction of the success and not the sacrifice of the work. Let us take a look at the life of Joseph. God gave Joseph a dream that he would be a great leader one day. We all like the dreams. We like it when God shows us the promise. But Joseph had no idea what the journey ahead of him was going to look like. Sold into slavery by his brothers. Sexually harassed by Potiphar's wife. Wrongly imprisoned for being falsely accused; after taking the righteous stand! Forgotten by the cupbearer after doing the right thing. 15 years between the dream and the realization. We get upset if God doesn't answer us within the hour! This is why God often does not reveal His decretive will for our lives. If we ever saw the end, we would be too scared to go through the days of small things. I took my first Bible course in 2004 when God called me. I finished my work and received my ministerial credentials in 2009. If God had shown me the end result in 2004, I never would have left my house! The Word is a lamp unto our feet because faith only needs to see the next step God has for us!
We live in a results oriented world but God is more concerned about how we got somewhere than the fact that we are there. Think about Joseph sitting in his prison cell night after night for over a decade. He is not some plaster saint beloved. He was a real teenage boy rotting away in an ancient prison. Yes, the Bible says that God prospered Joesph and he found favor with the warden but in prison he remained. Night after night. Month after month. Year after year. Why? Was the plan of God not ready? Of course not beloved. Joseph wasn't ready! Maybe he still had lingering resentment or hatred for his brothers. Who among us would blame him! Maybe he still hated Potiphar's wife for her treachery. Maybe he even was still blaming God! After all, he did the right thing and still ended up in prison.
So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph's care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. - Genesis 39: 6-10 (NIV)
And for this righteous stand, Joseph sat in prison for over ten years. Let's be honest. We can get mad at God for not bailing us out when we took the unrighteous stand. Here sat Joseph ruminating for years. He must have had cause to question God. He must have wondered if doing the right thing was worth it. What Joseph could not see is God working for his good in all things behind the scenes. God was preparing the cupbearer and the baker, God was preparing the warden. God was preparing his brothers and his father Jacob. God was preparing Pharoah himself. God knew there was going to be a famine in the land. God knew His plan was to have Joseph save everyone, including His chosen people from this terrible famine. God's plan was that Israel would prosper in Egypt before becoming enslaved for 400 years. God's plan was that He would use Moses to deliver his people from slavery and pave the way towards the Promised Land the same way He knew His Son would deliver everyone from the slavery of their sins one day. Remember, God sees all time beloved. His grand plan is laid out before Him even while Joseph sat in prison night after night. God was working all things out for the good even though Joseph could not see it. His family could not see it as his father continued to grieve and his brothers were haunted by the remorse of what they had done. Pharoah could not see it as he continued to rule his land. God knew however. God was working on all things behind the scenes for the good. For His perfect plan in His perfect timing. The result is that when the dreams started haunting Pharoah suddenly all the preparation came to fruition. The cupbearer remembered Joseph. Pharaoh sent for him. Joseph was not bitter about anything. He never sought revenge on Potiphar's wife, nor his brothers. He gave the right counsel to Pharoah and he was rewarded by going from the prison to the palace in one day! At the end, while Joseph's brothers were still racked with the guilt of their sins, Joseph shows that he understood the grand plan of God and that the whole time God was working in all things for the good.
When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: "This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said.
But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. - Genesis 50: 15-21 (NIV)
You intended to harm me but God intended it for good! This is the promise of Romans 8:28! In the middle of your bad medical report God is working all things out for the good. In the middle of the crisis with your kids God is working all things out for the good. In the middle of that desert you are wandering around in, God is working all things out for the good. Now realize, that does not always mean we get the answer that we want. Do you think Joseph wanted to stay in prison for 13 years? Did he want to be betrayed by his own brothers? Of course not. But overall, God has a plan for the salvation of many and He is always working toward that good end. When you can't see God's hand you can always trust His heart.
There ares however conditions attached in this verse that is often overlooked. In these days there is an entitlement Christianity being preached that is no real Gospel at all. That blessings are what we demand from God instead of what He has already done on the cross. The truth is that God is working in all things for the good of those who meet two very specific conditions. First, they must love God. I know what you are thinking. Of course I love God! Not with your mouths beloved.
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ""These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'" - Matthew 15: 7-9 (NIV)
They worship me in vain! We talk a good game about love but in the end do our lives back up our words? What are the typical worldly signs you are in love? You always are thinking about the other person. You always want to spend time with the other person. You are willing to change for the other person. You become sacrificial in that you become more concerned about them than yourselves. Terrific. Now let's apply that same standard to God and see how we measure up. Are we always thinking about God and the things of God? Are we dying to spend time with Him - in worship and in His Word? Have we been willing to change who we are for God? Are we more concerned about His plans than ours? These are the things we have to work on. This is what Joesph no doubt was working on for the 13 years God was working all things for his good. Far too often we say we love God but we treat Him like we are casually dating Him. We might have a date night once per week on Sundays. Maybe we can squeeze some extra time in for Him if our church has a prayer night. God does not want to date us beloved. He expects a commitment. There is a reason He uses the imagery of the church being His bride and sin being adultery!
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. - James 4: 4 (NIV)
This is often the struggle. We claim to love God but we still love so much in the world. We wonder sometimes why it takes so long for some of our situations to be resolved and maybe God is waiting for us to stop cheating on Him! The lure of the world and our flesh will always be there and perfection is not achievable but if we were honest, sometimes we are not trying very hard to be separate for Him. To truly love Him.
The other condition is that we are to be called according to His purpose. If we truly are a regenerated born again child of God then we are indeed called according to His purpose. We are called according to that grand plan we spoke about. God has a divine purpose for us. He has people we need to influence. He has people waiting to see us in Christ. Joseph was not released from prison at the seven year mark because he was not ready yet to be used according to the purpose he was called to. Same thing at the ten year mark. If he was not ready at the 13 year mark we would be reading in the Bible about how he stayed in prison longer but instead, he was finally ready.
Where are we in our readiness? Are we just sitting in a pew playing church? Are we singing and dancing and then going home and forgetting God until the next scheduled church event? Sometimes we lament the time in prison but we are not doing the work needed to be ready to be used by God. Beloved, this verse today contains all of the power of God for our lives if we would just get a hold of it. It does not matter what our circumstances are. God is bigger than them, was not surprised by them, and is working in them for our good. Instead of looking at Him however for why there may seem to be a delay in deliverance we need to look at ourselves first. Are we dating God or are we committed in the love we so easily profess and so rarely live? Are we wasting time in our Christianity, resting in our salvation, while God is trying to prepare us for the works He laid out for us at the foundations of the world?
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. - Ephesians 2: 10 (NIV)
Romans 8:28 has the power to overcome anything this world and the enemy wants to throw at us. It has the power to overcome sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and uncertainty. That is because we must believe in faith that regardless of our current counterinstances - Romans 8:28 applies to our lives. Seek a deeper more meaningful love of God today. Seek to find yourself ready for His use in His plan. Trust that in all things, in everything, in anything, God is working for your good today and forever. Amen.
Reverend Anthony Wade - December 7, 2013
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.