Teaching Series
The Called
Sunday—Grapes of Wrath

Series: Called
Message: Grapes of Wrath
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
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 1:18-32 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: Yes, life is a miracle, but is God always obvious? Paul wanted his readers to come to this conclusion: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:20, NLT). Having grown up with a sense of the value of the outdoors and the natural world, and their link to the power and goodness of God, it is difficult for me to think about it otherwise. However, I suspect it might be one of those things for those with eyes to see and ears to hear (see Matthew 13:12–17).

But where does this leave those of us who live lives detached from natural environments? Today, many of us live more of our lives disconnected from the outdoors. With climate-controlled homes, self-contained cars, and screens for work, entertainment, and social interaction, our connection with the natural world can be surprisingly limited. Scientists have termed this Nature Deficit Disorder and it can have significant effects on our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Perhaps we should also consider its spiritual implications. If we don’t see and interact with the earth and sky in anywhere near the ways in which people have done so for most of human history, we might be cutting off a connection with God that Paul believed was transformative, perhaps even definitive.

Many people have found that intentional time in the outdoors—whether it be gardening or mountain climbing, walking the dog, dancing in the rain, or sitting in the sunshine—engages them more with creation and, in some sense, opens the way to the Creator. And, in this respect, there might be an opportunity to invite others to step outside, immerse themselves in the world we see as the creation of our God and perhaps to experience something more of the life we were created to live. In a culture in which we have lost so much of this connection, it is not difficult to be countercultural—and in so doing, to be active in engaging with at least the possibility of this reality of God.

Recalibrate: When have you seen God in the natural world? Or how can you intentionally become more connected with the natural environment around you?

Respond: Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear God present and at work in the world around you.

Research: Do you think God is always obvious in the natural world? Why or why not?

Remember: They exchanged the truth about god for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the creator- who is forever praised amen. (Romans 1:25 NIV).

Nathan Brown is a writer and editor at Signs Publishing in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. He has written numerous books; his most recent is Engage: Faith that Matters. ​

The Bible says that "they worshipped the God they made instead of the God who made them" (Romans 1:25, The Message). God loves us and wants to know if we love Him. Teach your little one this verse with the actions. They (pointing fingers out) worshipped (prayer hands) the God they made (hold hands apart palms up) instead of (turn head from side to side for no) the God (point up) who made them (point to self). Romans 1:25 (hold hands as if holding an open book).

Our text for this week is about the people who chose to live as far as possible away from God. Romans 1:25 (The Message) says, "they worshipped the God they made instead of the God who made them." Worship is treasuring something the most. How can you treasure all that is good today?

My wife loves climbing mountains. She says that it is the challenge that keeps her going, step after step. I'm going to warn you, this week's Daily Walk is going to challenge you. You may have to think about some things you don’t often think about or like to think about. Today take the time to read through Romans 1:18-32. What things stood out to you as you read the verses? Do you have any challenging questions? Write them down and ask a pastor or friend. This process may challenge you, but rest assured that the more you challenge your relationship with God, the more vast and amazing it will become. Sort of like a mountaintop!

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