Week of May 30

The Hand that Leads You Home

Read: Proverbs 4-6; Romans 8

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . . The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”
Romans 8:1, 16, ESV


I took him by the hand, but he had absolutely no idea where I was leading him that day. I knew precisely where we were going. He trusted and followed me into an entirely different life. I will explain in a few moments what I mean by this mysterious opening to today’s devotional, but, for now, I want us to turn our thoughts to where God is surely leading all those who are in Christ Jesus. Do you think much about where God has been leading you since you put your hand into the hand of Christ and began to follow Him? You will know more clearly where the journey is leading you today, and the response will be overwhelming praise.

Let's See What the Bible Says

Paul has led us to a critical mountain summit at this point in the Roman letter. He has shown us that the just penalty for sin has been paid in the atoning death of Jesus Christ (7:25). The verdict “guilty” has been removed from the lives of all those who are in Christ. They are beneficiaries of forgiveness (NAC). The objective reality of condemnation has been removed, so the there is no longer any place for subjective condemnation to linger over the lives of the forgiven (8:1). Robert Mounce writes the powerful truth that to continue to feel guilty is another way of trying to assist God with our salvation (NAC). I ask you to pause and consider the enormity of this truth!

The great missionary writer has presented before us two principles: the principle (law) of sin and the principle of the Spirit. The former leads to death, and the latter to life (8:2). Union with Christ by His Spirit is the way that we may live victoriously. Romans 7 presents us with the ugly, repressive truth of what sin does to our lives, then chapter eight shows us how to live free from that tyranny. How strange it seems that both principles are operative in our lives, but this is the case while we are in this life. However, the empowering presence of the Spirit supplies us with the resources to live triumphantly. Romans 8, to me, is not so much about theology as it is a doxology of praise for God’s remarkable gift of life in Christ.

There are two further realities for us to consider when we are drawn into the same praise that the Apostle Paul voiced. First, Adam and Eve’s sin adversely affected creation (8:20; Genesis 3:17-19). Paul writes that creation was “subjected to frustration.” He offers us, however, an enduring ray of “Sonshine” that fills us with hope (8:21). I use these words because the passage is eschatological (i.e., related to the end-times) in the sense that the entire creation is looking toward its final and full redemption upon Christ’s return. This is our hope and it is to sustain us while the entire universe is in travail, as though it were giving birth (8:22).

The redemptive power of God is evident because even the travail gives way to new birth—a hope and promise for all creation. We see evidence of it in our changed hearts, but we await its consummation at the Lord’s coming. We sing, “All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.” The universe joins in singing praise for God’s redemption. There is one further truth.

Secondly, the sufferings of this life may seemingly be overwhelming, but the Spirit intercedes in our behalf even when we cannot put our groanings into words (8:23, 26). God knows the deepest longings of our hearts, even when we pray and cannot seem to break through to Him (8:27). So, we are to keep praying!

Even while we are praying, the Spirit is interceding, and God is working in our behalf to a good end (8:28, “every circumstance”). Dr. Mounce reminds us, yet again, of the praiseworthy truth: “God directs the affairs of life in such a way that, for those who love him, the outcome is always beneficial. The 'good' of which Paul spoke is not necessarily what we think is best, but as the following verse implies, the good is conformity to the likeness of Christ” (NAC). God knows what is best for us and ensures, despite our circumstances, that we will be conformed to the likeness of Christ. So, we no longer pray for God to change our circumstances; instead, we praise Him for changing us through them!

Let's Deepen Our Walk

Now, I will finish the story that I began in the introduction. My daughter sent me a picture to recall the day that our adopted grandchild became a citizen of the United States. I was able to attend the ceremony. She took a picture of the two of us walking hand in hand into the waiting area where he would soon be granted citizenship. His mom’s and dad’s love brought that child to that place. He grows more and more aware of this blessing as he grows older.

Your Heavenly Father adopted you into His forever family and has made you a full citizen in His kingdom based upon the saving work of Jesus Christ. We are to spend a lifetime growing in awareness of this incredible gift and offering our praise for it. He has taken us by the hand in Jesus Christ and is leading us home.

Here is a praise-shaping thought for our lives today. Reflect again upon the truth in this chapter. We all, at some point in our young lives, chose to live lives of spiritual poverty, hunger, and became estranged from God and His love. Our actions (and those of the entire world) subjected our lives, those we love, and creation itself to sorrow, suffering, and decay. Hallelujah, we were rescued by a loving Father and assured of our place in a new forever home. We hold this pledge in our hearts, but we one day soon, and all who hope for His appearing, will experience it for all eternity!

Let's Think and Discuss

1. Write down in a few sentences the misery that was your life before you met Christ. Or, if you began to follow him at an early age, then jot down some of the difficulties through which he has led you. Now, draw a circle around those sentences. Use the line of that circle to encompass all that misery with words of praise from Romans 8! Use phrases like “no condemnation,” “walk according to the Spirit,” “Spirit of adoption,” “Abba!” “Father!” and “heirs.” Live in that truth.

2. For families: When our children learn to put their hand into God’s hand from an early age, the doors of their hearts and minds will already be tuned to God’s guidance. To help them to see what will happen as they grow older and love God more each day, have them take your hand as you walk down a hallway in your home. Then, stop in front of a mirror, with your hands still bound, and have them look at what they see. They see you and they see themselves. Now, explain that, if they continue to walk with God as they get older, they will look and act like God more and more. And what others will see is God in them. That is where this journey with God takes us. What a wonderful path ahead!

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock