All Things Work Together

All Things Work Together   Focus Scripture 
Normally we use the NKJV of the Bible for our weekly devotions, but this week we are going to use both the NKJV and the NIV.

The reasons behind this are stated later in this devotion.  

 Romans 8:28 (NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  

 Romans 8:28 (NIV)  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.  

 History Behind This Verse  
The book of Romans was written by Paul to the church of Rome.  Paul was an apostle who spent the second half of his life traveling and spreading the good news of Jesus.  
He also wrote several letters to many of the early churches during this time.  The letters he wrote are called epistles.  There are 13 of Paul’s epistles found in the New Testament.  
Paul’s letters were written for multiple reasons.  Some were written for encouragement.  At this time Christians were often tortured and killed for their faith.  Paul understood the fear and difficulties that came to many believers during these early years.  And some of these epistles were written for redirection.  
Today, many religious denominations have “boards” of people or “governing manuscripts” available to direct and guide their churches.  In the early days these “boards” did not exist.

The early churches did not have manuals to follow or church heads to guide them in their daily decision making, so God called certain apostles to act as church governors. Paul was one of these appointed apostles.  
When this verse was written, the church of Rome was just being established.  Members of this early church were being tortured and killed for their faith. Paul wanted to reassure these believers of God’s LOVE for them! Verse 28 is part of this reassurance.  This verse is still very much relevant to us today.   
It is easy to question and doubt God’s love when trouble befalls us, but we must remain strong in our faith.  Just as God only caused GOOD in the lives of these Christians of Rome, He ONLY causes GOOD in our “current day” lives as well.  We know that in all things that God works are for the good of those who love him.   
Let’s look closely at this verse using the two different translations:  
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  
Romans 8:28 (NIV)  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.    

The NIV translation is a little easier to understand.  In the NIV translation we can see that Romans 8:28 is saying basically this:  in all things, God works for the good of those who love him.  

Meaning that everything that happens to a person is not good, but God can cause all things that happen (even the bad things) to work for good.  In other words, God is not the cause behind all of the events that happen to us, but He can cause the end result from all things to be good.    
We live in a fallen world.  Bad things happen on a daily basis, but God does not cause these things to happen. God is not a dictator.  He rules out of love not out of ego-seeking power.  God LOVES us. When God does step in to help, He only causes GOOD!  
Our Heavenly Father has given each of us free will.  Sometimes our own poor choices cause bad things to happen to us and sometimes other people’s poor choices cause us to suffer, but these are caused by us (humans), not by God.   
Our God is not going to cause evil to come upon anyone.  He will sometimes allow it, but He will not cause it.  
Our LOVING Lord will often step in to help us if we ask, but we are not His puppets.       Our Heavenly Father is ready and willing to surround and fill us with His extreme LOVE, but He is not power hungry.  He is not sitting on His Heavenly throne and controlling every event here on earth.  
Sometimes even when we ask, it seems that God chooses to not step in at all. Sometimes a tragedy may lie ahead in our future.  We ask our Heavenly Father to use His power and wisdom to stop the tragedy, but He does not.  This is extremely difficult for our limited minds to understand, but one day we will understand all.   For now, we must simply keep turning to HIM!

On a happy note:  
Even when terrible things take place, God CAN make something GOOD come out of those tragedies.  
Monday  Key Words: God Works    

Romans 8:28 (NIV)  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.    

Definition of God: noun the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.  
Definition of works: verb be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a purpose or result.  
Connection to Us
If we involve God in our daily lives, He is willing to be ENGAGED with us:  both mentally, by sharing His wisdom and physically by sharing His power.  With our Heavenly Father guiding us, we WILL achieve a specific result: that result will ALWAYS be GOOD.  The SUPREME BEING, CREATOR, and RULER of the universe wants to help us.   He is waiting for us to invite Him into our decisions.  He LOVES us.  He wants only GOOD for us!  We must both trust and turn to Him always!  
Tuesday  Key Words: Those Who Love Him    
Romans 8:28 (NIV)  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.    

Definition of those:  pronoun used to indicate a specific group of people or things    

Definition of love: noun
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)  4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  
Definition of Him (God): noun  The Creator of the Universe, The Supreme Being, Our Loving Heavenly Father  

Connection to Us    

Notice that the good which God causes to happen is directed to those individuals who LOVE Him.  
God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  
What does it mean to love God?  How do we know if we love God?  These are questions that many of us wonder, but we sometimes feel silly to ask.  Let’s work on answering these questions right now!  
First of all, God created us to LOVE.  We came into this world READY TO LOVE.  The problem comes when we confuse what real love is.  Love is MORE than a feeling. Love is selfless action.

True Love is a commitment. It involves GIVING our TIME and intentionally remaining connected.  
• Think about that amazing moment when you first fell in love with your spouse:  • All of a sudden, your needs took second place to theirs.  • You wanted to speak and behave in a way that would bring them happiness.  • Your thoughts drifted towards them all throughout the day and night.  • You longed to spend as much time as possible with them.    When you LOVE God you will experience seasons like this.    • Next, think about a time when you were angry or upset with your spouse.  • Maybe they did not behave the way you wanted them to.  • It could have been that you thought that they were neglecting some of your needs.  • This may have caused you to not FEEL loving towards them.  • You knew that LOVE is a decision based on promises that were made in your wedding  • vows, so you stayed committed to the relationship.  • You did not abandon your spouse or turn from them.  • Instead, you stayed steadfast and worked to rebuild the feelings of LOVE.  • Over time those feelings did return- sometimes EVEN stronger than before!  
When you LOVE God you may also have seasons like this  
The COMMON thread found in both examples involves our intention.  Real love, whether explored during a good season or bad season, always involves commitment.  Time spent with the person you love should not be dependent on your feelings at the moment.  We must always focus our thoughts and energy on growing the relationship stronger.  The other person’s needs should ALWAYS come before ours!  
Our LOVE for God should be the same    Our prayer for today:  
Dear Heavenly Father, please help me learn to love you in a deeper, more steadfast way.  Your love for me is so perfect and mature, whereas my love for you is so selfish and childlike.  Please help me GROW! Sometimes I base my relationship with you on the wrong things.  Many times I only spend time with you when I FEEL like it.  Please forgive me for this! Please help me learn how to become more unfailing and faithful in our relationship.  Thank you for loving me even during my selfishness!  

Wednesday   Key Words: Who Have Been Called    
Romans 8:28 (NIV)  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.    Definition of who:  pronoun used to give further information about a specific person or people previously mentioned.    Definition of have: verb to cause to, as by command or invitation
Definition of been:  verb past tense of the word be   Definition of called:  verb having been asked or invited to join  

Connection to Us    

What does it mean to be called by God?  We can find the answer to that question in the book of John.  
John 6:44 (NKJV)  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.   
The original word in this verse that we translate as “draw” is actually the Greek word ἑλκύω.  ἑλκύω- translated as helkuo.  Helkuo literally means to drag or draw by an inward power.    If you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior you did so because God Himself led you to do so.  Isn’t God’s LOVE amazing.   
His LOVE for you is so strong that He is willing to actually DRAG you out of the death grips of sin to rescue you.  As I am typing this I am visualizing being trapped in a burning car.  My seat belt will not unlock and the car doors are jammed shut.  I see God Himself enter the flames, pull open the driver’s door, unlatch my seat belt and carry me to safety!  
My salvation CALLING was symbolically just like this burning car scenario!  My Heavenly Father literally saw me living in a burning, near fatal state and He chose to step in! He came to the scene of the accident (my life of sin) and dragged (carried) me to safety!!!  
The crazy thing about all of this is that some people choose to stay in their burning cars!   Some people actually ask God to close the door and leave them in their current deadly state!   
Our Heavenly Father will not force Himself on anyone.  If an individual denies the Lord’s help, God will immediately stop the rescue attempt.  Our Heavenly Father will continue to keep His loving eyes on that person.  He may even return a few more times and try again to open the door, but in the end God will not SAVE anyone who chooses not to be SAVED.  
Our God is SO VERY GOOD!  
Thursday  Key Words: According to HIS Purpose    Romans 8:28 (NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  

Definition of according:  adjective agreeing  
Definition of to:  preposition used for expressing motion or direction toward a point, person, place or thing  
Definition of His:  noun God, The Supreme Being, The Creator of the Universe, Our Loving Heavenly Father  
Definition of purpose:  noun an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal  

 Connection to Us
In order to clearly understand this verse, we need to have a clear understanding as to what “God’s Purpose” clearly means.  God’s purpose for us as His sons and daughters is for each of us to be conformed to the image of Jesus.  This is often very difficult for us to do, because it means that we’re going to have to literally “die to self”.  God desires for each of us to become “Christ-like”.  To do this, each one of us will need to stop thinking and asking for things according to our way. We will need to begin accepting God’s way as the rule in our lives.  
For most of us, this is easier said than done – right!?  As humans, we all have a tendency to be self-centered.  Putting our needs and wants in front of others comes much too easily for us. The moment that we decide to answer God’s call and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are expected to turn from our old lives.  At that point we truly are making Jesus our LORD.  
For many of us it is easy to accept Jesus as our Savior because most agree that they need to be saved from both our sin and this corrupt world.  It is much harder to accept Jesus as our LORD.  Many individuals attempt to only answer the first half of the call.  This will not work.

 The invitation is an “all or nothing” one. When we answer the call we are saying that we indeed will allow Jesus to be BOTH our LORD and our SAVIOR!  

I challenge you over the next few days to pray, read, and reflect upon what it truly means to be like Christ.  Since THIS is our purpose, it is our job to always be working towards this goal.  

Here is a short list of some key qualities of Jesus:  
1) Gentle  2) Servant  3) Loving  4) Forgiving  5) Stead-fast  6) Prayerful  7) Caring  8) Patient  9) Humble  
Let’s all strive to build each one of these qualities stronger on a personal level.    

Week Three SOAP Activity Friday     

Romans 8:28 (NIV)  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.    This week we learned that in order to truly live according God’s purpose, a person must SEEK to have a Heart Like Christ.  
Today, let’s dive even deeper into this verse by using the SOAP strategy.      
Week Three Discussion Questions
  1. What do you think it means to love God? 
2. How can you know if you truly love God? 
3. Are there ways to build your love for God? Explain? 
4. How does this week’s focus verse demonstrate God’s LOVE for you? 
5. What is God wanting you to know or wanting you to learn about HIM through this lesson?