Summary: As Christians we should be standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the Promises
Englewood Baptist Church
Sunday morning, May 18, 2008
I begin today with a confession: there is something wrong with my brain. It does not allow me to multi-task. I can only do one thing at a time. This is often a curse, but let me say that there are moments when this is a blessing. For example, I can read a book on the couch, with children screaming, baby crying, wife pleading, and TV blaring, and still have a rich dialogue with a man that’s been dead for 200 years. I can ignore sights and sounds except that voice that I want to hear. Women call this selective hearing. Men call it “focus.” You can call it whatever you want, but it’s the ability to ignore.
Sometimes I wish I had the ability to be even more selective in the things I ignore. For example: pain. I wish that I could ignore all the pain in the world. I wish I could turn it off like I do an annoying alarm clock. But this I cannot do. Pain is all around me. I look this way and what do I see? An Austrian man that creates a dungeon in his basement and locks his own daughter there. For decades he treats her like a slave and fathers multiple children who are brought into the same dark world. I don’t want to see that. I want to ignore that. So I look this way? And what do I see?
I see 18,000 people buried under rubble in China following an earthquake. Rescue workers are sleep-deprived and haven’t eaten for days as they pull people from the stones that hold them down. I don’t want to see that. Everywhere I look, evil is found. And not all of it is so obvious. Some of the pain is more covert.
I read this week about a 17-year old girl in Houston who was denied entrance to the prom because her dress was so skimpy that the sponsors were embarrassed. So they wouldn’t let her through the door. The police were called to the scene and had to break up a mean-spirited skirmish, and this was supposed to be a night for students to remember, a night that is amusing. Why did this happen? I can tell you why. Because this girl never had a daddy or granddaddy or any other man tell her she’s beautiful. She has never been taught that there is a God who thinks she’s special. Most likely, she has never felt cherished in the sight of any man. And so what is she doing? She’s doing whatever it takes to be loved. And if that means wearing ridiculous clothing, then it’s worth the price. She wants love more than she wants respect. She is dealing with pain and there are a million others like her.
The world that we live in is a dark and frightening place. As children, we worry about what lurks beneath the mattress of our bed. As adults, we worry about what lurks around the corner of tomorrow.
But then we come to God’s word. In Romans 8, the apostle Paul says that your future is safe in the arms of a loving God—that he has planned good for you. The verse I am about to read is perhaps the most comforting verse in the entire Bible, even more consoling that the 23rd Psalm. Evangelist R.A. Torrey once called Romans 8:28, “The soft pillow for a heavy heart.” And I am convinced that God has given us these verses so that we might rest. Even when the world tosses and turns around us, there is a soft pillow for our heavy hearts.
It is Romans 8:28 and following.
Read Romans 8:28-39.
To set the context for this passage, let me draw your attention to the groaning verses above it. Paul has been talking about the groaning of creation, the groaning of believers, the groaning of the Holy Spirit—all things groan for the arrival of heaven, when all pain will be gone.
Have you ever notice, when you ask a young boy how old he is, he responds with fractions. “Six and a half,” he will say. Why does he do that? Because he can’t wait to be 7. The same is true on earth. Though we certainly count our blessings, we can’t wait to be free from pain, suffering, and evil. We long for what is next.
But what are we to do in the meantime? How do we deal with this evil that is all around us? Paul makes it clear that we should claim the promises of God in the face of evil. We should claim the promises of God and in these verses, he mentions at least 4 precious promises that are there for the taking.