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: The last thing that any of us need is a God in this universe who is capricious or duplicitous. Can you imagine how horrifying it would be to discover that to be true?
I need stability. The older I get, the more stability is a high value for me. Life continually takes control from a person, and as you age and realize how very little you actually control, it seems inevitable that the idea of “adventure” loses some of its glamor. It may be a romantic notion in youth, but one that becomes somewhat unrealistic and unappealing the older you get.
Also, when you get a few years under your belt you also tend to lose some of your arrogance. (At least you do if you have any brains!) Life teaches you that you don’t control much.
Only a megalomaniac enters the “golden years” still believing he’s got the world by the tail. Or, as David Seamands once told me many years ago, “Oh, Don—someday you young guys will learn that there are no vacancies in the Trinity.” I’ve never forgotten those words and hope I’ve eventually learned to live the lesson.
Now, don’t get me wrong. What I just said about aging and moderation is not totally true. The life of faith is an adventure; it means we surrender control by choice. Living a life of faith actually means we don’t know the whole journey ahead of time and we don’t control all of it. That’s why it’s called a “faith” journey. But the faith element must be predicated upon our confidence in the One who does know the journey, Who does control the outcome, and Who does lead us through it.
So, back to the first premise: If we are going to live the Bible version of this destiny, we’d better have some degree of confidence in the One who controls it all. He’d better not be capricious or duplicitous or just jerking us around. (To quote Paul, “God forbid!”)
This week, let’s revisit Paul’s clarification with regard to the faithfulness of this God as it can be seen through the history of those whom He chose to choose—the people of Israel.
Recalibrate: If you personalize the Scripture it sings differently. What thoughts are triggered if you place your name into the following two passages? Romans 11:1: “Has God rejected [Insert your name]?” Romans 11:7: “What then? [Insert your name] failed to obtain what (he/she) was seeking.” What ideas fall into place for you when you make these verses personal?
Respond: Oh Lord, please don’t let us fail you as we reconsider your eternal faithfulness. You deserve better.
Research: If you consider yourself a Christian, you may be stretched by how a noted Jewish scholar related to the concept of Israel’s “chosen” status. You might find his book, Israel, An Echo of Eternity, to be a provocative read.
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.
Think back to the first time you went out without your child. Maybe it was for an appointment, to return to work, or to go out with friends. When you left for the first time, you knew you were going to come back; you weren’t leaving for good. There will be times in your life when you may feel as if God has walked out the door. Our Words to Remember this week remind us that God has not abandoned His people. He has not abandoned Israel, He will not abandoned you, and He will not abandon your child. Take some time today to remind your child that God will never leave them. No matter where they go and no matter what happens in life, God is always with them. He will never leave them or forget about them. God is love and love sticks.
Can you read our Words to Remember for this week? “So I ask, has God abandoned His people? Certainly not!” Do you know what the word “abandoned” means? It means to leave someone or something without ever coming back. Do you remember your first day at daycare or school? What was it like? When your parents dropped you off, did they abandon you? No way! They obviously came back to get you! Something that is super special about God is that He is always with us. No matter where we go or what we do, God sticks by our side. He never wants us to be all alone. Do you ever get scared when you are all by yourself? Next time you are scared, remember that God never abandons you. He is always there, right by your side, no matter where in the world you are!
Have you ever fallen behind in a class? It can be totally scary. You’re sitting there, the teacher is talking, but you have no clue what he or she is saying. My first week of my senior year, I missed classes to attend the International Camporee for Pathfinders. When I returned, I was able to catch up in everything except pre-calculus.
After class, I asked my teacher for help. I figured she’d tell me to come to her office during lunch or stay after school so she could help me. My teacher’s solution to my problem totally surprised me. She said there were other students who felt lost during the first week of her class. The answer? She was going to start a math boot camp the following week. So there I was, at 6:00 a.m., sitting in class with a few other students working on math problems.
And looking back now, I realize my teacher didn’t gain much from creating this math boot camp. She bought us donuts and orange juice every morning with her own money. She lived 45 minutes away from the school so she had to wake up earlier to get to work. She didn’t get paid extra for teaching an additional hour and half. The motivation behind these sacrifices was that she wanted us to learn the material. And, let me tell you, none of this felt deserved. Thanks to her efforts, I was able to catch up on the course material for the rest of the semester.
She could have told all the students, especially the ones who were present that first week of school, “Well, you had your chance to learn. You’re on your own now.” Or worse, to me: “Well, you weren’t even in school. It was your choice to miss my class.” But she didn’t. She showed grace to all of us.
Romans 11:11 asks if God’s people stumbled and fell beyond recovery. Paul tells us that they didn’t. We may feel that we’ve made poor choices, and that maybe we’re too far away from God. Maybe we feel like God’s grace won’t extend to us. No matter how far away we are, we will never fall beyond recovery. God will continue to restore us.