‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ‘
Romans 8:28 NLT
God works in “everything”— not just isolated incidents— for our good. This does not mean that all that happens to us is good. Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good. Note that God is not working to make us happy, but to fulfill his purpose. Note also that this promise is not for everybody. It can be claimed only by those who love God and are called by him, that is, those the Holy Spirit convinces and enables to receive Christ. Such people have a new perspective, a new mind-set. They trust in God, not in life’s treasures; their security is in heaven, not on earth. Their faith in God does not waver in pain and persecution because they know God is with them.
Romans 8:28 Study Notes
NLT Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
To live as Jesus did— serving others, giving up one’s rights, resisting pressures to conform to the world— always exacts a price. Nothing we suffer, however, can compare to the great price that Jesus paid to save us.
Romans 8:17 Study Notes
NLT Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
All that happened in Elijah’s life began with the same miracle that is available to us— he responded to the miracle of being able to know God.
It is interesting to think about the amazing miracles God accomplished through Elijah, but we would do well to focus on the relationship they shared. All that happened in Elijah’s life began with the same miracle that is available to us— he responded to the miracle of being able to know God.
For example, after God worked an overwhelming miracle through Elijah in defeating the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel retaliated by threatening Elijah’s life. And Elijah ran. He felt afraid, depressed, and abandoned. Despite God’s provision of food and shelter in the wilderness, Elijah wanted to die. So God presented Elijah with an “audiovisual display” and a message he needed to hear. Elijah witnessed a windstorm, an earthquake, and a fire. But the Lord was not in any of those powerful things. Instead, God displayed his presence in a gentle whisper.
Elijah, like us, struggled with his feelings even after this comforting message from God. So God confronted Elijah’s emotions and commanded action. He told Elijah what to do next and informed him that part of his loneliness was based on ignorance: Seven thousand others in Israel were still faithful to God.
Even today, God often speaks through the gentle and obvious rather than the spectacular and unusual. God has work for us to do even when we feel fear and failure. And God always has more resources and people than we know about. Although we might wish to do amazing miracles for God, we should instead focus on developing a relationship with him. The real miracle of Elijah’s life was his very personal relationship with God. And that miracle is available to us.
Publishers, Tyndale House. NLT Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition (Kindle Locations 119074-119085). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
significance isn’t found in things like winning a Super Bowl—or whatever is considered to be the pinnacle of your career or ambitions. No, significance is found in focusing on the priorities you know are important: doing as good a job as you can do, spending quality time with people you love, and investing yourself in ministry opportunities and influencing others for good. In other words, real success is about doing what God has called you to do as well as you can.
When we figure that out, it sets us free from a lot of pressure. We don’t have to become a head coach, a CEO, a PhD, a billionaire, or a celebrity in order to be successful. There’s nothing wrong with being any of those things, but our significance doesn’t depend on them. In fact, we need to find our significance long before we ever step into one of those roles. We need to set our minds on discovering what God has put us here to do and then doing it as well and as faithfully as we can. When our hearts and our actions are true to our callings, God considers us successful. And in the end, His is the only scoreboard that counts.
Dungy, Tony; Whitaker, Nathan. The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge (p. 30). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Our tendency to sin must never deter us from striving to be more like Christ. Christ calls all of his disciples to excel, to rise above mediocrity, and to mature in every area, becoming like him. Those who strive to become perfect will one day be perfect, even as Christ is perfect (1 John 3: 2-3).
NLT Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Study Notes on Mathew 5:48
‘“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.’
The comparison with salt has always been interesting to me. Salt has the properties of a flavor enhancer, a preservative, and it stings in a wound. Likewise, we are to bring out the best in people, encourage the continuation of what is good, knowing that our conduct will be like salt in a wound to those who oppose us. Salt losing it’s saltiness speaks to me of losing your integrity or moral purity. Once that happens, your ability to act as an enhancer and an agent of preservation are compromised. Once compromised, we can’t fulfill our destiny. I don’t think this is to say we can’t be forgiven and have a new start, but the world is slow to forgive and stains on our character follow us, reducing our effectiveness.
John the Baptist called people to more than words or ritual; he told them to change their behavior. “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins” means that God looks beyond our words and religious activities to see if our conduct backs up what we say, and he judges our words by the actions that accompany them. Do your actions match your words?
Publishers, Tyndale House. NLT Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition (Kindle Locations 145150-145153). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
God has given each of us a purpose for living, and we can trust him to guide us. John did not have the complete Bible as we know it today, but he focused his life on the truth he knew from the available Old Testament Scriptures. Likewise, we can discover in God’s Word the truths he wants us to know. And as these truths work in us, others will be drawn to him. God can use you in a way he can use no one else. Let him know your willingness to follow him today.
Publishers, Tyndale House. NLT Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition (Kindle Locations 120642-120645). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
When Stephen forgave those who stoned him in Acts 7:60, he may have opened the door to the eventual salvation of some of them. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus said that whatever the apostles bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven, and in John 20:23 he said “If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” This is the same behavior we see from Jesus on the cross. Perhaps an integral and necessary part of our salvation was his release of us for the sin of crucifying him. Perhaps his declaration that “they know not what they do” wasn’t limited to those who crucified him. Perhaps it was in reference to all sin, for he did bear the sins of the entire world in his body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). Do we ever really know what we give up when we choose sin over deeper relationship with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we ever really comprehend the cost, either in what we lose or in what He suffered? I think not. And while we do know that we are sinning and choosing to sin when we do make that choice, I dare say that we don’t really know the cost, either in our loss or his suffering.