Series: Family Privilege
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Don Pate
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Vanessa Rivera
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 11:1-36 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: You’ve seen them, they fill shelves in bookstores and libraries. Computer Programming for Dummies. Auto Mechanics for Dummies. Nature Photography for Dummies.
I’ve always thought I could write one of those—Breathing for Dummies. I could get that right.
I think Dan Gookin wrote the first of these books, and there have been scores of titles since his original one. It’s a clever marketing concept, for sure. And, in some ways, I almost think that the Bible could be called God-stuff for Dummies.
I don’t mean to offend—this just makes sense to me. And certainly Paul’s conclusion to the momentous discussion of Romans 11 could be summarized in such a form: God’s Insights and Faithfulness for Dummies. It feels like how God finally brought everything to clarity and balance at the end of the Job story. Chapters 1-37 are argument and convolution and then, in Chapters 38-41, God takes over and says, “Deal with it!” Eventually Job says, “Hush my mouth . . .” (Job 42:1-6).
Romans 11 carries powerful arguments, challenging insights, strong claims, and stern warnings. The end (Verses 33-36) just puts it all into perspective. “No matter what you feel about God and Israel and Jews and the like, ultimately He’s God and this whole thing is non-negotiable. Deal with your bigotry and your prejudice and your arrogance and your judgmentalism. That’s how you show Who is on your throne.”
I ask you, how does this not apply to you and to me today? It obviously touches on issues larger than the old “Jew vs. Gentile” thing.
Recalibrate: Do you accept that we all have blind spots? Are you open to the Holy Spirit showing you yours? What would it take for you to be receptive to God really exposing yours?
Respond: Lord, when we are directed to observe Your throne we are broken. We know that You can rebuild in ways that honor You. Please do it.
Research: In the light of Romans 8:33-36, a rereading of Isaiah 6:1-8 might be appropriate.
Remember: “So I ask, has God abandoned His people? Certainly not!” (Romans 11:1, KNT).
Don Pate is a veteran of ministry, including teaching (seventh grade through college), pastoring, publishing, and radio/television ministry. Now officially retired, he still remains engaged in creative ministry—teaching and preaching nearly every weekend somewhere. But he mostly is increasingly astonished at the generosity of Christ that has allowed him to continue to be the most unworthy servant of the Kingdom.
Paul talks about healthy and sick branches of a tree. Can you relate connections in your life that cause you to either feel sick or healthy? What are the things you are rooted in that determine your spiritual health? What are the things you are connecting your child to? Are you setting them up to be branches, connected to a strong tree? Healthy branches are connected to Jesus. Paul reminds us that even if we are sick branches, God can break us off and connect us to a healthy tree again.
The Bible tells us that we are kind of like tree branches. There is a special way that you can break a branch off a sick tree and connect it to another healthy tree to make it grow. Paul asks if the branches are what makes the tree healthy or sick. What do you think? Branches can become sick or they can grow strong and healthy depending on the root of the tree. Who do you think the root is? The root is Jesus! If you were a branch on a tree, would you want to be sick or healthy? How can you be a healthy branch today?
Read the three questions in Verses 34-35. Does someone know the mind of the Lord? Does He have a counselor? Has someone repaid God with a gift? The answer to all of those questions is simple: No one. All that we receive is from Him. That is why Paul ends the chapter by giving glory to God! It’s an incredible acknowledgement. Later in the New Testament, Paul writes that we are saved by His mercy and not because of the righteous things we’ve done (Titus 3:5). Everything we are, everything we are becoming, is all thanks to Him. We need to take the focus of anything we do off ourselves and glorify Him instead.