Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for July 2017 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Who shall seperate us?

Romans 8:31- 37 reads:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

In this passage, there is one central question, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" At the heart of this question is Paul's statements on the security of the believer. We are secure in the love of Christ and Paul presents five statements that prove that there could be no separation between the believer and the Lord:

  1. God is for us (vs. 31). When I think of this point, I think of the power as a child of knowing your parents believed in you. I can remember the tough situations I dealt with as a child and the knowledge that my parents were behind me brought a great deal of confidence to my struggles. If I can receive hope from my parents being in my corner, how much more would I receive from my heavenly Father?
  2. Christ died for us (v. 32). If God loved us enough to give His own Son, do we not know that He will give us more. Again, I look at this statement from the eyes of a parent. Just because my child wants something, it might not be the best for them. What I do for my children grows out of my love for them.
  3. God has justified us (v. 33). God has declared us righteous in Christ. As the world changes around us, we can stand in the hope that God's work in Christ is complete and that work is taking place in His people as well.
  4. Christ intercedes for us (vs. 34). On Sunday I mentioned the divine conversation between the Spirit and the Father (vs. 26). This conversation includes Jesus as well. Not only is the Spirit helping us pray in our weakness, Christ is praying for us as well.
  5. Christ loves us (vv. 35-39). This passage is a reminder for us when we go through trials. God assures us that the difficulties in life are working for us and not against us. The trials we face in life can feel isolating, but Paul reminds us that God does not leave us. In fact, there is nothing that can separate us from Christ's love.

Each of these statements are statements of hope and life. I hope you will take a great deal of peace in these words of Paul.

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (vv. 38-39). Amen!

Beauty and the Church

I saw something beautiful this week.

Wednesday afternoon my family and I went to see our students at primary camp.  It was great to see them at camp and the excitement of them showing me what they had learned during the week.  

This is the first year we have joined with the Mid-South District for our Children's Camps.  The incident I watched transpire did not involve any of the children from our church, but I was reminded of the importance of these types of experiences.  

I went down to the creek to see Aiden Day and Will Rickman jump off a rock into the creek.  This is one of the favorite activities of the campers.  This was at the beginning of afternoon free-time for the campers and the creek soon filled up with kids.  Many of them were jumping off the rock, but most were participating in one of my favorite childhood activities– catching crawdads.  

After about thirty minutes of the kids playing in the creek, one of the girls called out for her counselor.  She had jumped into the creek and her bathing suit had come apart.  She squatted down in the water while the leaders developed a plan.  

What I saw happen next was beautiful.  

A small group of girls began forming at the edge of the creek as they realized what had happened.  As their little minds began processing their friend's predicament, they had a decision before them.  

This little girl, who's modesty was in the hands her friends, looked on patiently.  Then the girls sprung into action– looking for something for her to wear, deciding who's towel was going to be sacrificed in the water to help cover their friend.  

It was a simple moment and I don't think those girls ever considered making fun of their friend's situation.  But, I stood there incredibly proud of a bunch of little girls, most of whom I don't know.  

I watched them walk into the water and help get a towel around their friend and walk out of the water together.

The only word I could use was beautiful.  However, as I have reflected on the incident, I could also call it the church.  

The people of God are called to be people of love and support.  To resist the temptation to respond as the world would respond.  To put ourselves in the place of our hurting neighbor and treat them as we would want to be treated.  

That's what I saw from a group of second and third-grade girls and it affirmed in me the importance of the church.  These girls have learned how to respond in love.

I have a feeling we all are faced with opportunities to choose love and friendship.  The world needs to see the love of our Father and even the smallest gestures are beautiful.  

Go!  Be beautiful and use opportunities to hurt as opportunities to love!

Pastor John

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