Three Words of Promise

Romans 8:26-39

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Love in Christ Jesus

31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long;

    we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.

Promise #1 – God Loves You

A few years ago, 132 people came together to play in the Bad Golfers Association tournament in Kansas City. The aim of their game was to reward the absolute worst golf player among them. In this organization, everyone is a loser, and that’s okay. (“The Big Five-Oh!: Facing, Fearing, And Fighting Fifty” by Bill Geist, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1997, pp. 152-154)
It is okay just to play golf for the sheer joy of playing. Some people beat themselves up if they can’t play like Tiger Woods.
Some people bring that same competitive spirit to religion. They feel they must win God’s love. Listen, you ARE loved. You are already a winner with God. Be a super-Christian if you are so inclined, but it won’t change the way God feels about you.
Which brings me to Promise # 2.

Promise #2 – You Belong to God

We read Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” God has always had us in mind. 
The term used by Paul is that we are predestined to be God’s children. 
So what about predestination? Martin Luther himself struggled with this one. When he was a monk studying God’s word, he was mentally and physically tormented by the question, “Am I one of God’s elect? Am I one predestined to be saved?”
His superior, Johannes Staupitz, grew weary of Luther’s questions and concern. He told Luther, “Martin, you are trying to peer into the divine majesty, as if you were God and could know the mind of God. You are not God and cannot resolve everything about the nature of God. You are starting at the wrong end of the sequence of questions. You are beginning with the unknown. Instead, start with the known, which means the wounds of the suffering Christ, the knowledge of God’s act of love. Let the rest flow from there.” (“Lutheran Questions Lutheran Answers: Exploring Christian Faith” by Martin Marty)
Later in his life, Martin Luther came to this conclusion: “Since God has taken my salvation out of my hands into his, make it depend on HIS choice and NOT mine, and has promised to save me, not by my own work or exertion but by his grace and mercy, I am assured and certain both that God is faithful and God will NOT lie to me, and also that God is too great and powerful for any demons or adversities to be able to break him or to snatch me from him!” (LW 33:289)
John 3:16 states that God so loved the world, and John 3:17 states that God’s desire is not to condemn, but to save.
Promise #3 – Nothing Can Take That Away
Did you see an asterisk at the end of St. Paul’s words above? Neither did I!
There is NOTHING that can take away the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing!
Several years back while visiting my parents at their Assisted Living facility, I saw a woman who was staring at her car with a worried look on her face. I asked if she needed some help. I hoped that it was not too difficult because I am definitely NOT a mechanic! The woman told me she had locked her keys in the trunk of her car.
She said she was trying to take things out of the back seat of her car to see if she could move the seat and get to the trunk. 
I asked, “Is there a trunk release lever in the car?”
She thought for a moment and said, “Why yes, yes there is.” 
She went to the front seat, lifted the lever, and the trunk popped open. Voila!
So often we make it harder than it needs to be! We make it harder than it is.
Hear again the good news – There is NOTHING that can take away God’s love for you and me. NOTHING.
This is of GREAT VALUE. For God sees in YOU great value. 
This is what we believe. This is what we proclaim. This is what we are called to share – the great gift of God – Christ has died, Christ is Risen. Christ will come again. The tomb is empty, and death is defeated, once for all! 



Let us Pray: 

Thank you, God, for these promises. Help us to stop making it harder than it is. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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