June 28, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Romans 8)

Submitted by Mark L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 8 Reflection on Key Verses

Romans 8:15-18

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

What is striking in these set of verses is the theme of the future.  It is full of hope as it doesn’t dwell on the past but focuses on the very fact that I have received “the Spirit of sonship.”  It is through such an inheritance that I am able to enter in a reality where it is justified for me to address God as my heavenly Father.  This is amazing considering that the reality should have been Romans 7:24 where it describes the wretched state of my life.  I should have been left alone to deal with the consequences of my sins.  This would have been justice.  This would have been the proper reality.  God’s perspective on the other hand is not only future-oriented, but full of hope.  As I read through these set of verses, I’m filled with a sense of hope and renewed in strength to continue the fight against recurring sins, automatic negative thoughts, and other habits that fuels my pride.  There are times when discouragement sets in as I look at the brokenness within my heart.  The thought that plays itself over and over again is that I am just growing to be a shadow of my former self and that my best days are behind me.  But these verses indicate otherwise as there is the gift of the Spirit of sonship and to be God’s children.  If there is any lingering doubt, “the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit” that I am God’s child.  This puts the current struggles with sin in a radically different light.  No longer do I need to be enslaved by the past personal sins, haunted by and giving disproportionate weight to guilt and shame.  If anything, the current struggles with sin is the process by which I am becoming a shadow of my future self, where my identity as God’s child is complete and secure.  It is through such a process that my pride and the self would die a slow death, losing more and more hope in my strength and abilities and placing more and more trust and belief.  It is a process that would help me to grow more and more childlike.

Personal Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, thank you so much that you look past my wretched state when you had every right to do so.  Father, I’m so grateful that you offer the gift of sonship and the right to call you Abba Father.  Help me to submit to the process of you molding my heart so that the pride that characterizes adults would be shaped and humbled to readily receive the gift of sonship.

Submitted by Nancy C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 8 Reflection on Key Verses

Romans 8:1-2  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

I find myself living as if I am still under condemnation. I feel barraged by my sins and failures. I am constantly falling short in many ways–forgetting to do things that I said I would do, getting angry about petty things, being immature, acting selfishly, failing to love the people closest to me, etc. A dominant feeling that I have is guilt toward God and others. I feel bad, sorry, ashamed. I also get so defensive, and walk around with a chip on my shoulder. I’m just trying as hard as I can to avoid getting and feeling condemned. All in all, it is just a miserable kind of life.

But although I am guilty of all of the above and more, condemnation is NOT the reality I live under. I live in a different world now–one of grace rather than law. After I had failed on many fronts in one recent incident, the familiar feelings of discouragement, anxiety, despair started to overwhelm me. But this truth that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” gives me hope. Even though I am guilty of these very real sins, I can receive forgiveness, I am still loved by God. I am the same person that I was before Christ – the same temper, pride, ego, selfishness. But what makes all the difference is that I no longer live under the sentence of death. I am not doomed. Rather, I am loved, forgiven, given the gift of eternal life!

Submitted by Eddie N. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 8 Reflection Questions

Romans 8:1-4

  • Reflect on God’s grace, “that the righteous requirements of the law [are] fully met in [me]” because of Jesus.  What is my response to this statement that “there is now no condemnation” for me?

It would be impossible for me to follow all of the requirements of the Old Testament law.   I would have quickly failed and my sins would have caused me to break the law.  The result for falling short of the law was death.  Through Jesus’ death on the cross, my sins were forgiven.  Jesus paid for my sins on the cross.  Through Jesus, the new law was established through his blood.  Those who placed their faith in Jesus would no longer be condemned!  This is truly God’s grace that I do not deserve!

As I look back in my spiritual journey, I recall how it was out of God’s grace that he brought Gracepoint Davis church during my sophomore year in college in the fall of 1997.  I was reminded of the faithful staff members who left behind comfort of close relationships and familiar surroundings in order to plant a church in Davis, to a college population of 31,000 students.  By God’s grace, I was one of the 31,000 students who was reached and received the good news of the gospel.

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  My response to this good news is that I need to take action and share the good news of the Gospel which I have received.  There are many co-workers, family members and friends in my life who have not heard the gospel yet.  Because my life has been saved from my sin, I can freely love others and freely share with others about the good news of the gospel.

Romans 8:5-17

  • According to this passage, what is the relationship between the kind of life I live and what I will set my mind on?

When I look at my heart, I see that there is willingness for me to obey God and His Word. However, my sins get in the way.  Romans 7:15-18 (NIV) describes it as:  “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.   And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.   As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, my sinful nature for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”   If choose to focus on the desires of my sinful nature, such as physical comfort, materialism, self-elevation, then I will fall to these sins as I end up feeding my sinful appetites.   The only way I can fight against these temptations and concerns is by turning to God, confessing my sinfulness, and asking God to help me to grow in what the Spirit desires.

Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  My mind and heart will focus on whatever I feed it.  If I want to “live in accordance with the spirit,” then I must feed my spirit with God’s word, prayer, reflection and accountability.  However, if I allow my thoughts to wander, and allow my mind to wander, daydream, and focus on escapism, I will quickly fall to sin or be tempted.   Therefore, I need to check frequently to examine my heart.  One concrete way is to acknowledge my weaknesses by sharing honestly with my Life Group members and spiritual leaders, so that I can be held accountable for my actions and choices and receive the help that I need.  By feeding my spirit with what the Spirit desires, I can grow the desires of my heart to do things that are pleasing to God.

Furthermore, I can focus on God’s word in order to guard my heart and to help me to grow.  I can also memorize key verses (especially during the summer) to keep God’s word fresh in my heart.  Philippians 4:8-9 states, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”

  • What can I do to “have [my] mind set on what the Spirit desires?”

There are many things I can do to set my heart of what the Spirit desires.  I can read the bible, share with others about God, and also read good Christian books, especially over the summer.  I can memorize scripture to remember God’s promises and I can pray for the people God has placed in my life.

  • Reflect on vv. 15-17, and the fact that we are “heirs” of God and “co-heirs with Christ.”  To what extent have I embraced this promise?  What does our “inheritance” include?  What understanding of suffering and glory does this passage provide?

This is am amazing reality and truth – that I am an heir of God.  It amazes me that God, the Creator of the world, would choose me to include me in his work.  As an heir of God, I am called to imitate God and to do things that would please him.  I am so thankful that God allows me to share in his kingdom work of loving people and sharing with others the gospel.

In addition to sharing the gospel, my inheritance in God includes sharing in the responsibility in building God’s church.  God has blessed our church with many ministries and has called us to serve in various roles and capacities.  Whether we are called to serve the elderly in Elderly Care Ministry, to ministering to college students, to serving the little ones in Joyland, God wants us to join Him in serving Him, loving His people, and in doing so, build up His church.

Romans 8:18-27

  • What does this passage have to say regarding personal as well as world-wide suffering and brokenness?

Verse 22 talks about the whole creation groaning in pains since childbirth.  Our world is broken because of sin, ever since the beginning when Adam and Eve first sinned.  However, God is able to redeem the brokenness in our world.  God sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to die and take the punishment of everyone’s sin, so that we could be forgiven.  God is able to reverse the curse of sin in this world!  Therefore, I can wait in “eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” as stated in verse 19.

  • What should be my attitude when facing these?

My attitude should be of hope and patience. Although I face and struggle with my sins, the reality is that I have a personal relationship with God, who has saved me from my sins.  I need to have hope, not in myself, but in Jesus, who is at work in my life.

  • How does the picture of the “Spirit himself [interceding] for us with groans that words cannot express” give me hope and courage?

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”  This is amazing that when I don’t know what to do, or what direction to take, God is still at work and His Spirit is interceding for me.  When I am feeling lost, I need to remember that Jesus is still praying for me, to guide me and cares about me.  God is encouraging me to keep going, and reminding me to rely not on myself, but to rely on Him.

Romans 8:28-39

  • How different is v. 28 from the worldly perspective of people of this world?

The world’s perspective is about survival, competition and greed and looking out for oneself.  God is not in the picture.  One may think, if I am not going to provide for myself, who will?    However, from God’s perspective, He desires for us to love him and to relate to him.  God will work and will provide for man’s needs.  This is two completely different views of the world.

  • Are there some situations in my life in which I need to really hear these words, “if God is for us, who can be against us”?

Often times, I want to derive my worth in this world based on what I can do, such as striving significance through my work, or trying to appear to be spiritual at church by serving diligently, hoping to gain recognition from others.  However, God is for me.  God loves me the way I am.  I don’t have to achieve my worth from doing things.  God doesn’t care about all the things that I can do for him.  The most important fact in this life is that God knows me fully, and cares for me, and is interceding for me even now.   God is for me and wants me to relate and connect with Him.

  • Reflect on vv. 38-39.  What, ultimately, is the source of my security and assurance?

These verses give me so much hope and assurance that the love of God is so strong and powerful.  There is nothing in this world that can separate Jesus’ love for me.  Nothing can hinder God, not even death!  God reigns in all situations, even over my unknown future.   My security in this world is in God’s love for me.  This is a reminder also that I must not neglect my relationship with God, but I must take time daily to cultivate my relationship with God, through DTs, through prayer, and reflection and sharing with others what I have been learning and going through.

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