Teaching Series
Grounded in Love
Tuesday—Our Circle

Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Circle
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
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: Ephesians 1:1-14  in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: The Second Testament letter writer says, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world . . .”

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no worse mental anguish in the world than the anguish of rejection.

I was 19 and I was in love. With Ruth. She and I met at the fish and chips place where we worked, went on a couple of dates, and fell hard in love. We spent every available moment together, made sure our work shifts coordinated so we could work together, and declared our love to each other every chance we got.

At one point we realized that we had about two weeks of vacation coming our way, so we started going over our options. We had socked away some money and could afford to do whatever we wanted. Hawaii was on the table. I had an uncle in Reno who co-owned a casino. We had friends in Southern California. As we mulled over our options, Ruth said, “I think I’d like to go to South Dakota for our vacation.”

I was taken aback. Who would want to go to South Dakota? On purpose?

She explained that she had gone to school there for a year and still had a bunch of stuff in storage that she’d like to get and bring back to Seattle. I didn’t really care where we went, as long as I was with her, so I agreed. South Dakota was our vacation destination.

We got in my truck and started the long journey east. We finally arrived at the home of a family friend (Ruth’s family) in Huron, South Dakota. We were welcomed warmly and fed a hot meal. As we were sitting in the living room visiting, there was a knock on the door. A young man came in. Ruth got up and hugged him. He was ugly.

Ruth explained that this was her ex-boyfriend and that she was going to take a quick walk around the block to say “hi” to him. Being the ever-evolved human being that I am, I said, “No problem. I’ll just wait here, in a house of strangers, in South Dakota, by myself.”

Her walk around the block lasted three hours. When she came in she announced that she had decided to get back together with Keith. She broke up with me, entered her bedroom, and closed the door. She chose Keith instead of me. I felt the full brunt of romantic rejection. I’m 56 years old now, and, as I write, I still feel the pangs of rejection.

I’ve never really felt pain like that. It took months before I even started to heal from the pain of having someone I loved choose another over me. Maybe that’s why God is depicted in parts of Scripture as a jealous God. Even He doesn’t want to experience the pain of rejection!

Yet, in the end, He did. It was rejection that broke the heart and snatched the life out of Jesus on the cross. He felt rejected by both God and man. Nobody, not even God, can withstand that kind of rejection.

That’s why the very good news of the Gospel is that you are chosen. God picks you. He doesn’t flirt with others. He doesn’t have an ex whom He is hoping to get back with. You are His beloved. You are His betrothed. He’s desperately in love with you.

Recalibrate: Have you ever been rejected? What must it do to the heart of God when a child that He desperately loves chooses to reject Him? Can you see why the prophets wrote like they did about God’s feelings of rejection when Israel forsook Him for another?

Respond: Meditate on the thought that God has chosen you. He chooses you. His greatest desire is to live the rest of His life (eternity) in a loving relationship with you.

Research: Read the story of Hosea and contemplate love and rejection.

Remember: “Bring praise to God’s glory” (Ephesians 1:14, ICB).

Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.

Play a game of Find My Family. Let your child go through the photos on your phone and select all the photos of your family. Or they can find  photos around the house or in your family photo album. Talk with them about how every person they can see is chosen to be part of God’s family.

Get ready for an outdoor adventure today! Find a park or pathway you can enjoy outside and find as many plants, trees, and animals as you can and see if you can remember what day of the creation story God made each one of them. Just like God made a home for Abraham, and for you, He made a home for all humans and the plants and animals that live here with us.

Sometimes we forget how blessed we are. We may complain to our parents or teachers about chores or homework, but if we stop to think about what we have, it might change our way of thinking. Try this: Find a piece of paper and make a list of 10 things you’re thankful for. Easy? Try to list 20 things you’re thankful for. I would venture to guess that it’s easier to find things to be thankful for than it is to find things to complain about.

It is a beautiful thing to be chosen and wanted by someone. In my elementary school years, I played sport with the boys during every recess period. I remember playing football in my pink rain boots and running around in a skirt. I did my best to keep up with them and always play my hardest. In the evenings, when I’d go home, I would practice throwing a football around with my dad and running so that the next day at recess I could keep up with all the boys. In my mind, I was pretty good. I would almost always catch the ball and I was a fast runner. However, I was never the first person to get picked for the football games. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. I was always second to last or last. I was picked out of pity, it seemed, even though I was a strong player. Over time the boys started to realize that I was a good player and consistently steady and I began to be picked first. But this came after I proved myself. The beauty of God’s love is that you don’t need to prove yourself or practice in order for God to pick you first. He chose you before you even existed on this earth. You are adopted into His family not for what you have done, but because of who He is. You are chosen. How does this change the way you live? And how does this affect the way you treat others?

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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