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 8:31-39 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: You have to love Paul’s list of questions at the beginning of this portion of Scripture. He begins with “What then shall we say to these things?” What are the “things” Paul is referencing? The verses that set Paul up for these questions go back to the identity of God and our own personal identity that is formed in Jesus. In the two verses preceding the portion of Scripture we’re focusing on this week, Paul writes:
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30, ESV)
So what then do we say to these things? How do we respond? What is our reaction? Paul addresses our hesitations and fears about following his radical definition of Jesus followers. We were foreknown and predestined to be conformed into the image of God’s Son; we are called, justified, and glorified.
Paul recognizes that this is a large pill to swallow, so he exposes the questions many might ask and follows them up with an answer—or another question. The very first question, found in Verse 31, is crucial to our personal walk with Jesus. What then shall we say to these things? When you read Romans 8:29-30, what do you say? How has your relationship with God and with others been formed by knowing your place with God?
Paul clearly states things that we are and things that God has done for us. Paul tells us who we are. A lot of people tell us who we are; sometimes the things they tell us are positive and sometimes they are negative. When someone tells us something about ourselves, we have to evaluate it. “Am I this?” “Do I act like that?” We often take on the good and put off the bad with little to no investigation to discover what is really true. Paul challenges us to test who he just said we are. What do we have to say about it? How do we know his assessments are true? How do we live with this new information? Will anything about us change?
Paul delivers some earth-shattering, life-changing, identity-molding pieces that have been brought to us through Jesus. Paul himself went through the process of bringing his head (knowledge) and heart (emotions) together in order to follow Jesus, and he urges us to do the same. He wants us to not just passively absorb the information presented earlier in his letter, but to apply it to our hearts. What do you say to these things? Will you let them languish in your mind, or will you challenge yourself to move them to your heart?
Recalibrate: What are some truths you know about yourself? How did you come to your knowledge? How does your relationship with Jesus tell you who you are?
Respond: Pray through your questions today.
Research: What is the power of a good question? Read through your favorite Gospel and note the questions that Jesus asks.
Remember: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, ESV).
Jessyka Albert has been associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church since 2016. She grew up in Washington State, graduated from Union College, and is engaged to Kiefer Dooley, Rocky Mountain Conference associate youth director. Jessyka is passionate about children’s, youth, and young adult ministry.
The Bible says, in Romans 8:3, that God is for us. Here are some actions to teach your child. God (Point upward) is for (thumbs up) us (point to yourself and your child, giving them a hug). Know that God is always for you.
The Bible says, in Verse 31 of Romans Chapter 8, that God is for us. Imagine life as a game. Sometimes games are fun and sometimes they are not. Imagine that the creator of the game, the only person to ever beat the game, and the best coach of the game all want you to be on their team. They want you to play for and with them. This is exactly what God invites us to do—to be on Team Live Love. Verse 31 ends with the words, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” How do you think a kid on Team Live Love would play?
“Do you feel comfortable handling large amounts of cash?” the interviewer asked. It was my first job interview and this was a question that I was not prepared to answer. “Um, yeah, of course!” I stammered, trying to sound confident. The interviewer began to explain that every day before I started my shift, I would be expected to carry cash from the finance department, located in the back of the park, to my register to the entrance of the park. I agreed—while internally panicking. On my first day, the teller handed me a bag of money. With the bag in my hands, I was overcome by responsibility and felt chills all over my body. As I have grown older, I’ve had more of these chilling moments. I felt those same chills when I drove my car alone for the first time, and when my father dropped me off for my freshman year of college. God has commissioned us to take responsibility. So what do we do with it? At this point in the book of Romans, Paul has outlined the basics of our human nature, the way God has redeemed us, and has described what a follower of Jesus looks like. Do you feel a sense of responsibility? How do you handle it? How can you live more intentionally as a follower of Christ?