Teaching Series

Series: Saints
Message: Adoption
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
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 8:12-17 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: I realize that not everyone listens to the Daily Walk podcast, so you are probably not aware that I think Romans 8 is a phenomenal chapter. It provides a much-needed release from the tension created in Romans 7. At long last, Paul discusses just how we respond to the Gospel. How we respond to the Good News. The first 11 verses, which Kory Douglas unpacked for us last week, promise us Life in the Spirit. That life is a new identity in Jesus that is powered by the Holy Spirit. So we are called to live not in the “flesh” but in the “spirit.”

Basically, we are called to think and be different from the way we were before. We are called to reflect who God is in the way we live our lives. We are called to be the image bearers we were created to be in the first place, before sin hijacked the world. Sin has destroyed so much of what God originally planned as the purpose of humanity. Humans struggle in so many aspects of life. We gravitate towards, and have a tendency to lean into, our fallen natures. Sometimes this reality hits us so hard that we might only relate to certain sections of the Bible.

We tend to see whatever we are attuned to. You know how wonderful it is to be in love and to see love in everything around you. You also know how hard it is to suffer at the hands of racists or those who are bigoted in other ways that harm you. You can end up reading this issue into many other areas of your life. Others may have a problem with the way you read situations—based on your experience—and, instead of addressing the root cause, will diminish it by accusing you of having a “chip on your shoulder.”

Our reality—our past and present experiences—shapes how we understand and appreciate God. It shapes how we hear God. Before there was an app for that, before the invention of the printing press, before the Bible was translated and unchained, and before the Bible was written, God spoke. God has always spoken. Father, Son, and Spirit together. Truth was known. People were saved.

I take hope in this mind-bending reality: that God will communicate to each of us through our biases. He will work through our perceived reality. There is always more to learn and change is always possible.

That is why, when I read popular quoted texts from the Bible such as Jeremiah 13:23, I prefer to read the entire passage. I prefer to read the verses in context. I prefer to seek the bigger picture. Often the portion of Scripture that is not included in popular quotes is significant. For instance:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil. —Jeremiah 13:23 (ESV)

Simple logic tells us that no dramatic or fundamental change is possible. But what if Jeremiah was pushing the people to think about that question? What if he wanted them to think about the impossible becoming the possible?

Recalibrate: What beautiful examples have you seen where the seemingly impossible became possible?

Respond: Pray for the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Research: Read Jeremiah 13 and see if the context of the chapter adds to your understanding.

Remember: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” Romans 8:16 (NIV).

Japhet is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and was co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).

The Bible tells us to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh, to live by something invisible in a world full of visible things. This is really hard to do, especially when there are many tangible needs, wants, and things in front of you. Watch your child today. Do they live by the Spirit or do they live by the flesh? Probably by the flesh. Living by the Spirit does not come naturally. Check your own habits out. How are you living today? Are you modeling living by the flesh to your child or are you modeling living by the Spirit?

Whenever we hear a story about Jesus, He is always doing something for others. Jesus healed people who were sick. He raised people from the dead. He comforted those who were scared. Jesus was always doing something to help someone else. When we are looking out for others, we are living by the spirit. The Bible teaches us to love others the way God has loved us. Do you trust that Jesus will always take care of you? When we trust that Jesus will take care of us, that means we can focus on caring for other people. Who would you like to do something nice for today? What would you like to do for them?

Have you ever felt obligated to do something? Obligation is when you are bound to do something. A thing that you enjoy doing can become burdensome if it becomes an obligation. During my sophomore year of college, I became the school photographer. I love photography, but when it became my job something changed. The love I once had, the passion I once possessed, it all began to disappear. Obligation is even worse, however, when we are obligated to do something we dislike. An example might be taking out the trash. I have an obligation in my home to take out the trash every Tuesday night. I hate it, but it’s my job! You and I are born with an inclination to sin, but what Paul is trying to teach us in Verse 12 is that we are not obligated to sin! There is nothing binding us to sin, nothing keeping us from stopping our sinful lifestyles. Today, I encourage you to step into life without obligation to sin. In Jesus there is freedom. Maybe not freedom to keep any of us from having to take out the trash, but freedom to kiss our obligation to sin goodbye forever.

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