Sometimes we “church people” think we are the only ones shaped and molded by the Creator to make salvation happen for others like it happened to us. When we get so wrapped up in our busyness of life stuff, church programs, and trying to please family and friends; we get into trouble, forgetting that we are ALL called to play a part in God’s work. The trouble is multiplied when we then boast of our deeds and forget to give the one who gave us life. We forget where all the glory is due—God is the One and Only who receives glory, praise and honor.
We also walk farther and farther away from knowing God and hearing His voice call to us. We come out from under his wings of protection as the busyness of the world seeps into our being. The Holy Spirit sounds the alarm. Blessed are those who hear the alarm and come running back to the One who loves us most.
We learned from Romans 8:28 that God will never stops loving us. Because He loves us beyond our thinking, as the gentleman and lover of our souls, He waits for us to come to Him, abide in Him and focus on all His goodness. God is a jealous God who wants all our attention and focus on Him, not because of the power He can have over us, but because of the Love He has for us. God is a Giver and wants to pour out His blessing over us with His best. This is HIS work that He planned for each of us before creation.
Read as Paul skillfully takes us on a thinking journey what life on God’s terms means for each of our lives.
ROMANS—OUR CARE AND CALLING
Romans 9, The Message
“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:28, The Message
God Is Calling His People
9 1-5 At the same time, you need to know that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. It’s an enormous pain deep within me, and I’m never free of it. I’m not exaggerating—Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It’s the Israelites . . . If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family. I grew up with them. They had everything going for them—family, glory, covenants, revelation, worship, promises, to say nothing of being the race that produced the Messiah, the Christ, who is God over everything, always. Oh, yes!
6-9 Don’t suppose for a moment, though, that God’s Word has malfunctioned in some way or other. The problem goes back a long way. From the outset, not all Israelites of the flesh were Israelites of the spirit. It wasn’t Abraham’s sperm that gave identity here, but God’s promise. Remember how it was put: “Your family will be defined by Isaac”? That means that Israelite identity was never racially determined by sexual transmission, but it was God-determined by promise. Remember that promise, “When I come back next year at this time, Sarah will have a son”?
10-13 And that’s not the only time. To Rebecca, also, a promise was made that took priority over genetics. When she became pregnant by our one-of-a-kind ancestor, Isaac, and her babies were still innocent in the womb—incapable of good or bad—she received a special assurance from God. What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative. God told Rebecca, “The firstborn of your twins will take second place.” Later that was turned into a stark epigram: “I loved Jacob; I hated Esau.”
14-18 Is that grounds for complaining that God is unfair? Not so fast, please. God told Moses, “I’m in charge of mercy. I’m in charge of compassion.” Compassion doesn’t originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God’s mercy. The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, “I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power.” All we’re saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for better or worse.
19 Are you going to object, “So how can God blame us for anything since he’s in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it?”
20-33 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:
I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
they’re calling you “God’s living children.”
Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
and the sum labeled “chosen of God,”
They’d be numbers still, not names;
salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name.
Arithmetic is not his focus.
Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:
If our powerful God
had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
like Sodom and Gomorrah.
How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:
Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
a stone you can’t get around.
But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,
you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
God never fails us. God is for us. God is the molder and shaper of His created. God is unchanging love, compassionate mercy and unending grace. “Compassion doesn’t originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God’s mercy.”
Those who seek God will find Him.
God doesn’t count us, He calls by name. We can be blessedly assured of His love for us…I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” they’re calling you “God’s living children.”
As God’s children, believers in Jesus for our salvation, our work is “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) As we do this, God continually molds and shapes us to be more and more like Him, (Imago Dei), with His character traits maturing in us. Sometimes it will be painful as His hands press into our clay-formed souls, molding in what is best for us and pinching away what is not. But to be made fully in His image, it takes work that only God can do. And it is good. All good comes from God.
The Question we must ask and pray over…
“Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right?”
Do want you must do to make me all you created me to be. But be gentle. I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. Continue to transform my thinking and behaviors to match what you want, not want the world wants from me. Help me to love like you love me. Help me to know your ways and then walk in those ways with You. May I reflect only You. I know you are not finished with me yet.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen