“Romans 8: 28” says: – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Let me begin today by saying what a great honour it is to be ministering God’s Word. I love to preach God’s Word but more than that I delight in the honour given by the Lord to bring His Word to any who are willing to listen and to be placed in that “exact” “moment” in time when the destinies of men and woman are coming together – And please don’t get me wrong TODAY is a “Day of Destiny” for all of us here.
TODAY is a “Day of Change” for you and me, it is a day when the “Person I Was When I Walked In Is Not The Same Person That Is Walking Out” I’m not being pretentious when I say this I am only stating that When we come face to face with the living God nothing can ever be the same again – Are you up for change today?
Why are you here today? I don’t mean in a “Philosophic” manner like asking “What is the Meaning of Life”, No! Why are you here in this place today?
There could be many reasons: –
- It’s your habit to go to Church on a Sunday.
- It’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends and family.
- It’s because you are part of the Church Leadership and it’s your job and duty to be here.
- It’s because you have been invited by a friend to come today.
Whatever the reason it’s really great that you are here today, and I want to say to you “right here and now” that it’s “No Accident, Act of Fate, Coincidence or even Plain Luck” for I truly believe that you are here today within the “express purposes of God” and that you have been “predestined” to be here on this “precise day” and at this “precise time” it is God’s desire to meet with you “right at the very centre of your point of need.”
God’s desire today is to make you a recipient of His favour and power. His purpose today is to show you that He is not some “distant entity” like a Master Clock Maker that has wound up the Universe like a Clock and then walked away. Or some “Great Magician in the Sky” as a friend I used to work with calls Him.
No! He is here today to show you that He is a Father God who is intimately concerned and involved in every intimate aspect of your life.
Some of you I know, others I have never met before but whether I know you or not is really irrelevant, what is absolutely vital is “God Knows You” YES!!!! That’s really what I said “God Knows You” and today I believe you will leave this place not only a different person but also recognising that God knows you.
We live in calamitous days, days of stress and times of bewilderment and none of us here from the youngest to the oldest are able to avoid the “fingers of circumstances” or the “grip of fear” or the “grasp of un-certainty” but one thing I can assure you of today is that the God I serve, is not surprised, perplexed or phased by any of these things.
He knows right now “What you are experiencing” and like a loving Father wants to be involved in it with you.
The Text I chose to hang my ministry on today was “Romans 8:28” it stated “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” KJ
It is a very well-known verse of the Bible, and has been quoted time and time again, when however “Bad things happen to Good people” “Can we believe what it says?” let me ask you the question: –
- When a young girl is knocked down in the street by a truck and killed – Can We Believe It?
- When the Mother of two boys and the Wife of a Church Leader whilst at work in Disney Land in Orlando goes out in the morning fine and well and then whilst at work collapses and dies of a brain haemorrhage – Can We Believe It?
- When a man or women who tries to serve God faithfully is falsely accused of Fraud and Corruption by the FBI, ends up in Jail and faces 10yrs from false accusations – Can We Believe It?
- When a Policeman stops a Car being driven by a drunken driver with other drunken men in the Car and ends up getting beaten up and in Hospital – Can We Believe It?
DO ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD???????
If we are truly honest with ourselves today we might perhaps admit that we might have trouble at times believing what “Romans 8: 28” says to us. It would in reality be our preference I’m sure to say “Some things work together for good” rather than “All things”. Am I right or wrong?
You see we like to “Segment” our lives, we like to “Categorise” things into places and we like to “Put things into compartments” thus not connecting everything but life is not like that everything in our lives is connected in one way or another.
Let me give you an example if you find this difficult to believe: – Over recent years we have all begun to speak colloquially about the “World Wide Web” (not to mention the movie The Matrix) which is all about Interconnection. These things remind us that we are interconnected by at least our computers and just this connection has become the sole method by which socially some stay connected making social-network websites like Facebook so successful.
We are connected also and have a direct effect on our friends and family; our actions can make them happy or sad, healthy or sick, even rich or poor, and these things we think, feel, do, or say can spread far beyond the people we know.
Likewise, our friends and family are pipelines for all of us to be influenced by hundreds or even thousands of other people. It’s like feeling the pulse of the social world around us and responding to its persistent beating heart.
In the social network of our individual lives, we transcend ourselves, for good or ill, and become a part of something much larger. “We are connected like it or not.”
“Romans 8:28” is a greatly loved portion of Scripture and If I were to ask you today many would be able and gladly so to testify that through it you learned its truth – During a time of sickness it was like medicine to you – or when the Winds of ill-fortune blue across your pathway it gave you hope.
Too many however if you were to speak it to them it would sound like someone is mocking them or it’s like some cruel joke:-
What Do You Mean Good they say: –
- How is my Sickness Good?
- How is my Divorce Good?
- How is the Suicide of my Son Good?
- How is the Drug Habit of my Daughter Good?
- How is my Redundancy Good?
These are all very legitimate responses and questions. Unfortunately, I want to say to you today, and I have had it said to me (albeit in the most well-meaning way) but platitudes of this nature do not help the one in distress and it’s because the words are taken out of the context of what they are trying to say.
Again however, I say whether we like it or not nevertheless the truth of the Scripture is here to stay BUT – We must understand what it says properly or it will always be like a “Mocking Bird”.
I really like to read the King James Version of the Bible however in this particular instance the emphasis is in the wrong place and other versions bring out the truth in a clearer manner.
1. We have the wrong starting place in our understanding
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” NIV
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good.” NASV
Did you notice the difference between the original version and these two, if not I’ll tell you in the King James Version GOD comes at the end – There are so many people who live and look at life like this (and I’m not just talking about those who don’t know Jesus as Saviour) they put God at the End, they live their lives like it is a “roll of the dice” sometimes wining and sometimes losing but imagining that everything will work out okay in the end but life is not like that.
This is not the Biblical View – God is in reality “Right There at the Beginning – He is Right There at the End – He is There at Every Point In Between.”
And thus to answer the questions: –
- Where was God in my Sickness?
- Where was God in my Divorce?
- Where was God in the Suicide of my Son?
- Where was God in the Drug Habit of my Daughter?
- When was God when my young daughter girl was knocked down in the street by a truck and killed?
- Where was God in my Redundancy?
- Where was God when my Wife the Mother of my two boys collapsed and died of a brain haemorrhage?
- Where was God when one is falsely accused of Fraud and Corruption by the FBI, ends up in Jail and faces 10yrs from false accusations and loses all of his personal wealth?
- Where was God when as a Policeman the end is getting beaten up and in Hospital?
The answer to these very difficult questions is that “He was there before it even happened, He is there when it happens and He is there when it is all over and finished” the Bible tells us that He “Never will never Leave or Forsake us” – “Dueteronmy 31:8” – The Message Version puts it this way: – “He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.”
BAD things DO Happen to Good People, they also happen to Bad people “Matthew 5:45” tells us “This is what God does. He gives his best, the sun to warm and the rain to nourish, to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.” The Message
So “DO ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD???????” the answer remains YES! but we must not “fantasise”, or have a “happy ever after philosophy” life is not a “fairy tale”. The Bible will never ask or expect us to “pretend” when life is wrecked it is wrecked.
If you have an accident and make a complete wreck of your car, you take it into the Garage for repair and the mechanic says to you “Friend, you haven’t had an accident. Your car has just been rearranged.” When looking at the cracked grille, the crumpled bumper, the twisted wings, and the shattered windshield. You would rightly say “You’re crazy. This car isn’t rearranged. It’s wrecked.”
The point I’m trying to make here is that in order for the truth of all things work together for good to make any sense is to recognise the active involvement of God in all areas of our lives. What happens to you and me isn’t just the turning of the clock¸ and neither is it karma or luck – Let me say again God is actively at work in our lives.
What then is the writer of “Romans 8:28” telling us? What is he saying? Well! One way in which we can understand it is to think of it like the Apostle Paul is saying that a “Sign is being erected” over the unexplainable mysteries of life, and the sign says, “Quiet God is at work.”
We’re not always sure how or to what end? Good or evil. Some things are mysteries – that’s what we are being told.
How many of you here have little children, well isn’t it true that at nigh time they will become afraid. Why is this, it’s because they can’t see in the darkness. They will then cry out until their Mother or Father comes. Dad or Mum then sit on the bed and takes them in their arms and holds them and says, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here with you.” The fear goes away when Mum or Dad comes.
Even so, when the darkness of life frightens us we discover that our Heavenly Father is there. The darkness is still dark, but he is there, and that makes all the difference.
Can we believe what “Romans 8:28” says? Yes, but we need to start with God.
2. We have to have a perspective that is long term
It is a fact that we all have core values that determine the ways we see life. These values are the interpreters of the events of our worlds. When something happens around us, our core values dictate what we think about it. Our core values determine which events we attribute to God, or to the devil or perhaps even just nature itself around us.
The fact is as human beings we like things to be “Instant” we have “Instant Coffee, Instant Tea, Instant Porridge” we live in a busy world and “fast food” is the norm.
The problem with that “Life Perspective” is that there are many things that we encounter in life that are unexplainable and inextricable. So it is with the outworking’s of God’s involvement within our lives.
- Can I explain why “A Cancer comes back when the Doctor has given the all clear?” No!
- Can I explain why “One person is successful in life when another is not?” No!
- Can I explain why “We have plenty of food on our tables when vast areas of the world suffer from starvation?” No!
If we tried to answer these questions and all the other ones we could think of we would go mad in the effort and at the end of the madness come back to the answer that “WE MUST NOT JUDGE THE ENDING BY THE BEGINNING.” – We so often end up in the midst of our turmoil judging the end of our turmoil by the beginning and that is and will always be a mistake.
Just because we cannot see a purpose in what we are going through does not indicate for one moment that there is no purpose in it. In fact the reality is quite the opposite “WE SHOULD JUDGE THE BEGINNING BY THE END” in this way we might understand what God was doing.
When Paul in “Romans 8: 28” says “Work Together” it in reality is actually only one word and it is the word (SUNERGON) which is a Greek work and from it we get our English word – (SYNERGY – (synergie f ⇒ the synergies gained from the merger les synergies dégagées par la fusion).
It is what happens when two elements are placed together to form something new and that could not happen separately.
So when we look at what Paul means when he states that God causes all things to “work together.” He is saying to us, and remember it is in fact God the Father via the Holy Spirit saying to us that – “Many of the things that make no sense when viewed in isolation are in fact working together to produce something good in my life.”
There is a divine synergy even in the darkest moments, a divine synergy that produces something positive, the “good” ultimately produced could not happen any other way.
If you took time to look at the underside of a tapestry it would look just a jumble of threads without any resemblance to order turn it over though and the beauty of the designer is made manifest – So it is with the threads of our lives – there is (although not immediately seen) a divine beauty in what God is doing in our lives.
What by itself seems to have no purpose is in the end indespensible.
The Scripture is telling us that life’s experiences are like that. The materials God starts work with may at times seem to include some parts that seem to serve no good purpose (those parts are the bits we don’t consider to be good”. However, over time with the “pressure and heat” of lives lived they are bent and shaped and joined together to make something “glorious and beautiful.”
It’s not an accidental event, but a divine design. And nothing is wasted in the process. Again “WE SHOULD JUDGE THE BEGINNING BY THE END.”
Can we believe what “Romans 8:28?” Yes, we can. But we need a perspective that is long term.
3. We have to understand the word (good)
If I were to request answers from us here today as to what is meant by Good there would be a lot of differing answers and most of them would centre around Good being the opposite of Bad – The Good being something that should exist and is to be desired.
When a thing is good, it is fitting that we should feel pleasure in its existence; when it is bad, it is fitting that we should feel pain in its existence is the considered wisdom.
A view is that good means the same as desired; so that when we say a thing is good we mean that it is desired. Thus anything is good which we either hope to acquire or fear to lose.
How does that viewpoint fit into “Romans 8:28” when the Scripture says “all things work together for Good” – Well we may be both disappointed and surprised.
We and I count myself in this would for the most part consider “good” to equal things like: –
- Solid relationships
- A long life
- Financial Stability
- Food on the table
- Work that has meaning
- A comfortable place to live.
Of course I’m right in this assumption – in general, we think the “good” life means a “better set of circumstances.”
However as was the case before this is not the Biblical perspective of it – Don’t get me wrong God desires that we enjoy all of these things but the reality is that they come into our lives as we become more like Jesus.
“Romans 8:29” brings to us God’s perspective and His meaning of Good it says: – “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son”
The Living Bible translates it like this: – “For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him, and all along he knew who would, should become like his Son” Living Bible
So very often we make the mistake of not reading Scripture contextually and the result is we come up with wrong conclusions as to what it is saying and this is frequently done with “Romans 8: 28” missing out Verse 29.
God is at work in your life and mine; God has already entered into our futures and has personally worked out the circumstances for us. We are greatly loved, I say this again, we are greatly loved He is not one who forgets. We are to Him part of the inheritance He has, and it is an inheritance that He cherishes and is more valuable to Him than any other.
The God who chose us before the foundation of the world is the same God who in the world, and in the circumstances of our particular world with all its difficulties, challenges and as yet unrevealed potential sits upon His throne and declares over them all I Am God.
But He predominantly desires us to be “conformed to the image of His risen Son Jesus” and thus anything that “makes your life more like Jesus is GOOD” and the other side of that same thought is anything that “makes your life less like Jesus is BAD.”
The Scripture is not telling us that the tragedies, heartaches and circumstances of life will always produce a “better set of circumstances” No!!!!!! – There are times when they will and likewise when they won’t.
- Does that include the worst that happens to us? Yes.
- Does that include the things that hurt us deeply? Yes.
- Does that include the times when we are heartbroken? Yes.
- Does that include the times when we sin? Yes.
- Does that include the times when we doubt God? Yes.
- Does that include the times when we curse him to his face? Yes.
God is always at work and He is never deterred by us. Wonderfully, nothing happens to us outside his control though, He is not surprised by anything and He makes mistakes.
Let me tell you something that is not easy to hear – GOD IS NOT COMMITTED TO MAKING YOU HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL – He is committed to making you and I like the Lord Jesus Christ.
I would love to be able to say to you today that God the Father was like a “Rich Uncle” who is besotted with his Grand Children and wants to lavish upon them all good things that makes them feel great but I can’t.
He is a “Good God who knows how to give good gifts to His children” that is true and so often many wonderful gifts find their way into our lives and those things can include – Healing, Provision, Wisdom, Knowledge, Marriage, Children, Wealth and Success” but, and I say again but this is not the prime underlying factor of good at work.
I can tell you of a truth that I struggled with the preparation of this meditation one because it was such a challenge to myself but also because it is expected that a speaker will bring something that is wonderfully uplifting and challenging.
My desire however, and I felt over many months that I should not just preach but minister God’s Word to you and I hope that it has done that.
The beginning of the verse declares “And We Know” – We Know God is Trustworthy, We Know God can be Trusted, We Know God is Loving – There are many things in life which we don’t know (We don’t know why a “Baby suddenly dies”, we don’t know why “Planes Crash from the Skies”, we don’t know why “Floods and Earthquakes and Disasters Strike” – but what we do know is that God has not forgotten us.
When I say we I am of course referring to those who know of Christ as Saviour, because the Scripture is limited in that specific way – How terrifying it would be to be outside of Gods Loving Care to be at the whims of life or worse.
We cannot explain the unexplainable His purposes for the Child of God are being outworked as much in our darkness as they are in our light.
Your life is not a rehearsal; you will not get another shot at it, as the advert on the UK television networks is very clear in its statement “when it’s gone its gone”. Sure! It can be “re-visited, reversed and renewed” but it is the only one I will ever have.
God wants you and me to enjoy it to the full, but also to experience the outworking of the potential and energy of His life, the resurrection life of His glorious Son Jesus, and Yes! It is resurrection life that flows through us day by day.
My own personal sadness is that it has taken over 46 years of new birth life to find myself in a position where I am beginning to understand it more clearly. Thank God it does not surprise Him, He is still going to fulfil His plans and purposes, but I trust that in sharing what the Holy Spirit is peculating in my soul that it might enable us to grasp the significance of the reality what is our “present possession in Christ”.
The story is told of a grieving Father whose Son had been killed in a terrible car accident he who came to his Pastor and said: – “Where was God when my son died?” The pastor thought for a moment and replied, “The same place He was when His Son died.”
He knows what we are going through for He, too, has been there. He watched His own Son die.
Today I know that – “The Spirit of the Lord (is) upon Me, because He has anointed Me (the Anointed One, the Messiah) to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity”.
- Do you feel today “Poor in spirit?” are you “struggling to comprehend what’s going on in your life and reaching out in the darkness as if you are blind? Are you feeling “oppressed and downtrodden? Are you feeling “bruised, crushed and like you are in a calamity? Well! Today, right now, rejoice because the Christ of God, He who was sent to deliver is here for you.
Gods desire is for you to be “Royalty” and royalty does not dwell behind bars, they are not captive, and as the people of God, and don’t get me wrong I speak to myself as much as you, it is time for us to shake our shackles off, and to recognise the truth and acknowledge the reality that we are royalty in the sight of God and He enables us by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to walk as royals do.
It’s true that the power of sin, in all its shapes and sizes has the power to destroy, but in Christ it has lost its effectiveness in us because of His forgiveness and new birthing, Christ has for us re-written and continuing to re-write our histories and at the same time laid out before us a brand new future.
Starting With God
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