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 New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: To be honest, I don’t know a ton about sports. I know enough to get by, but not nearly as much as my fiance, Kiefer. He is obsessed with sports in general, and currently (because it’s the season) college football. Recently, I found out that the really good schools will actually pay the really crummy schools to play against them. I find this simultaneously funny and pretty pathetic. It’s like an adult entering an elementary school spelling bee just to boost his or her own confidence by being able to spell better than a nine-year-old!
When I read Romans 8:31, I can’t help but compare these words to one of these lopsided situations. “If God is for us who can be against us?” It’s a powerful sentence that gives us both a clear definition of God’s character and power and our identity in who He is. But I can’t help but wonder if we ever misuse this text for our own satisfaction. Do we ever use it to pay crummy football teams to play us just so we can win?
This verse makes me feel bold, secure, and on top of the world. How about you? Someone’s hurt your feelings? Well, God is for you, so they can’t be against you. You lose a job or do not receive the position you were hoping for? God is for you, so that can’t be against you. I’m sure you could make up a whole list of situations in which you know for a fact God is for you and so those who seem to be opposing you really can’t be against you. They are just teams being paid to play you only to lose.
The problem with this way of thinking is that we make God’s power situational rather than a state of being in which we live daily. We turn it into a football game of life; when we win we feel really great and when we lose we feel defeated. This verse is not situational; if it were, we would doubt the power of God. How is God for me when X is against me and winning big time? This verse reminds us of the bigger picture. It reminds us that we are called to live in a state of confidence, not arrogance. Arrogance is fueled by winning and is crushed by defeat. Confidence is not moved by a specific situation or a particular outcome.
Today, as you read through this section of Scripture, I ask you to evaluate your spiritual temperature. At one point or another, we have all allowed another person or a situation to shake our faith. We have called upon Romans 8:31 as a weapon when we are feeling beaten down. I encourage you to read these words again, and to look at them not as a weapon but as a calm, cool definition of confidence—of God’s power and His everlasting love for you.
Recalibrate: Besides Jesus, who is the most defining voice in your life? Are you happy with that influence or is it something you would like to intentionally change?
Respond: Define the difference between spiritual confidence and spiritual arrogance and ask God for confidence.
Research: What other stories in the Bible feature a character who is confident in God even when they seem to be in a losing situation?
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.
If your little one is crawling, make a tunnel. If your child is an infant, play Peek-a-Boo. You may have a pop-up tunnel, or you can use a sheet stretched over chairs. Place your child at one end, then move to the other end and look through the tunnel so your child can see you. Encourage your little one to move through the tunnel. Cheer them through and when they get to the side you are on, celebrate that they have made it. Know that while we are going through difficult stuff, God does not take His eyes off us. He is cheering us through.
Have you ever played a game where you were losing? Did you give up and walk away? Did you keep playing? Make a list of all the encouraging things that you can say to yourself when you feel like you are losing. In Romans 8:32, Paul tells us that God did not spare His own son, Jesus, from losing when He died on the cross. It was when Jesus died that He beat death forever. He also beat it for all of us who want to be on team Live Love. Know that when you feel like you’re losing, God is for you. If God is for you, you will always be a winner even when you don’t feel like one.
I am typically fascinated when someone tells me that they will never do something. So when my fiancé Ricky told me he would absolutely never cheer for any sports team other than the New York Mets for baseball,the Miami Dolphins for football, and the New York Knicks for basketball, I had to test this to see if it was true. Every once in a while, I try to test his allegiance to his teams. I present a variety of scenarios, like, “What if your favorite player changed teams?” or “What if your future child ends up playing for a rival team?” or “What if your team didn’t win a game for the entire season?” or “What if another team paid you to endorse them?” Although I feel like my scenarios are increasingly creative, his allegiance has not budged. He is completely faithful to his teams. He truly would absolutely never consider cheering for another team. God tells us He is for us, but has that fact truly sunk into our minds? He is so committed to us that He has redeemed us by sending His Son to die for us. The text asks the question—who could be against us when God is for us? Well, if God has the ultimate power to save us, absolutely nothing can get in His way. We are saved. His love is everlasting. To whom do you give your allegiance?