A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on August 28, 2011 by Pastor Dale Raether The Christian Faith One Word at a Time: Inseparable Romans 8:35-39Children, babies are precious. Babies love to be held, which is a good thing, because we love to hold them. However sometimes when a child holds a baby the mom will get nervous. Why do you think that is? The mom is afraid the child might accidentally drop her baby, especially if the baby gets wiggly like the one in this picture.Children, adults, all of us, we are God’s children. We are precious to Him, and He is holding us. However, because of things that are going on, we may not always feel secure. And so we might start to wiggle in God’s arms or be tempted to do things that we think will make us feel better, even though we know they’re wrong. We have been following a sermon series called: The Christian Faith One Word at a Time. Today’s word is inseparable. Even though we might feel at times that God has dropped us, that’s never going to happen. His love for us is Inseparable. 1. Throughout history Christians have gone through trials. 2. God’s love makes us more than conquerors. Our text reads: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” The last part of this verse is from Psalm 44. It was written 3000 years ago and it the believer’s cry, when going through a perfect storm of trials. The first trial Paul mentions is trouble. In the original Greek trouble is something that fills you with so much sadness, that you always feel like there’s a weight on you. Paul felt that as he saw all the immorality of his day. And then when his fellows Jews rejected the Gospel and leaders in some in his congregations started twisting the Gospel – that really hurt! And now add to this the start of the Roman persecutions, it felt like God was dropping His children. The next word in Paul’s list of trials is hardships. Hardships are problems for which there are no solutions; and no matter what you try, you risk making other problems worse. Sound familiar? What about the hardships our nation is going through? Or, what about the hardship of having a loved one, who’s going in a bad direction? It’s not safe for him if you say nothing, but if you do say something, he’s likely to take it out on you, and do whatever it is he’s doing even more. Oh, the sleepless nights, and Paul had a lot of them!Unfortunately, sometimes a loved one can get so far down a wrong path, that even if you don’t say something, just your silent example makes him mad. So this brings us to the next word in Paul’s list of trials – persecution. Persecution can be verbal or physical. Paul was beaten up many times just for being an Apostle. Persecution can also become economic. In Paul’s day Christian businesses might be boycotted, or burned, or simply confiscated, like what the Nazi did to the Jews. Persecution can then result in the next word on Paul’s list of trials, famine. Without work Christians wouldn’t have money for food. They might also end up on the streets, which could result in the next word, nakedness. The thought there is they wouldn’t have what they needed to keep a healthy body temperature. They would either be too or too cold, depending on the weather. An example of this happening today is if a person couldn’t pay his light bill, because economic hardships aren’t just from persecutions. They can also come from greedy people causing recessions, or from an expensive illness that destroys a person’s ability to work. Regardless of the cause, Satan may whisper in the Christian’s ear, “God is dropping you. He doesn’t really love you. You may as well give up on Him.” Deep down we know that’s not true. Unfortunately, when things are that bad, sometimes they get even worse. That’s what the early Christians found out. So, is this sermon getting heavy on you? But before we can talk about how God’s love makes us conquerors, there are two more trials on Paul’s list. The next is dangers. Dangers are terrible things that haven’t happened, but realistically could happen. It’s tough having a danger hanging over our head, such as waiting for a doctor’s report, or to see what’s going to happen with your company, or in Paul’s case walking into a crowd of people who hate God and then telling them about Jesus. Maybe the worse part of a danger isn’t what might happen, it’s Satan whispering in our ears, “Are you really sure God is going to help you this time?” The final word in Paul’s list of trials is sword. In Paul’s day, a Christian might be fearing persecution, and he may have even gone through a few things. But if he saw a Roman soldier coming at him with his sword raised, would he be able to hold on to his faith? If we were in his sandals, would we? Would we still feel secure in God’s love? Listen to Paul’s answer and may this also be our answer: In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. That phrase “I am convinced” is hard to translate. It’s actually a passive verb. It means literally, “I have been made convinced, so that today I remain convinced.” Who made Paul convinced? Not Paul, GOD made Paul convinced and He did this in a number of ways. When Paul was still an enemy of God, His Son suffered on the cross for his sins. Another way God made Paul convinced of His love is on the third day God raised Paul’s sin-bearer from the dead. Then on the 40th day, God seated Him at His right hand, where He is ruling the nations for the sake of Gospel. He was also interceding to the Father for Paul’s every need. And on the last day Paul’s Savior and Brother would return to be his judge, which means Paul, the sinner, already knew what His verdict would be. It would be redeemed, restored, forgiven!Let’s apply this to ourselves. Should we ever find ourselves in a perfect storm of trials, this does not mean God’s love has changed. How can it? God’s love for us is based on everything Jesus did for us. And so whether a trial is caused by the devil, or whether it’s just from living in a fallen world, or even if it’s something God laid on us to discipline our faith, we don’t need to keep asking “why”. Rather, trust God’s love in Christ. Trust also the promise we heard least week – that He is works everything for our good. But what if we can’t stand waiting for that good? Well, the waiting is not forever, only the blessings are. Also, we’re not the first to go through storms of trials. There were many who were before us, with whom we would not want to trade places. Yet God made them conquerors of their trials, and He will us too. We read again in our text: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Suppose our trial is that we’re facing death or a painful life. God makes us conquerors of both. This happens as we keep looking to His love for us at the cross, and keep praying that His Will be done and that He forgive us when we weren’t patient. Then as we keep walking a day at a time with Christ, people will see this and say “wow”. And someday we’ll look back and see the resulting blessings, and we’ll also have to say, “wow!” That’s being a conqueror! Another pair that God makes us conquerors of is angels and demons. Another way of translating these words is demons and rulers, such as the Roman ruler, Nero. Regardless of how we translate this, the point is no being or person can ever get in the way of God’s love for us. In fact when we fill our hearts up with His Word, God puts us on the offensive and works through the words we speak to defeat the evil. That’s being more than a conqueror of trials. The pair, neither the present nor the future, emphasizes that nothing God’s enemies might throw at us now or in the future, can change what I’ve been saying all along – God’s love for us is inseparable, and so our victory over everything that would tear us away from Him is certain. The next word in our text, powers. Powers refer to all the philosophies and isms of the world take would take over people’s heart and mind. They won’t ours. Through the Word, we’ll see those things for what they really are, and even be able to rescue any who listen to us. The final pair in our text is neither height nor depth. This emphasizes that no matter where we end up going, including the 7th floor of a cancer ward or the dungeons under the Roman coliseum, God will be with us and will hold us safely. The last phrase in our text, nor anything else in all creation, was Paul’s way of making sure he had all the bases covered. Nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ. Period! Did you ever have to change the diaper of a baby that wouldn’t stop wiggling? Who finally wins that battle? You do! In the same way because of things going on in our life, our sinful nature might wiggle against God. But who’s going to win! We want God to win, don’t we. And so, let’s rest in His love through the Word. Let’s treasure His love by trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and turning from sin. And finally let’s keep sharing His love with others, because we can either fight those perfect storms or become a part of it. So, we have work to do, but that’s alright. His love for us is inseparable and that makes us more than conquerors. Amen.

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