One Tree – Lots of Mercy
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree.
I was playing a video game with my son the other night – it was a basketball game. It was the first time I played him. I beat him by almost 30. It was such a beautiful thing! But, then he asked for a second chance, another opportunity to play me, and this time he destroyed me. Beginners luck I guess.
We all love getting second chances! I want you to know that we serve a God of second chances. In Romans 11 Paul was talking about how God hasn’t given up on Israel. These have been repeatedly disobedient people and at times against the things of God. But, God has never written them off or gone back on His promises. Instead He has given them tons of mercy.
The amazing thing is, is that mercy has been extended to all the Gentiles. Paul describes this tree with branches that have been grafted in and others that have been cut off. The cut off branches were the disobedient Israelites and the grafted in branches were the believing Gentiles. Of course this made some of the Gentiles pretty prideful and some of the Israelites pretty discouraged.
But, then God steps in and says not so fast. Even though He is the one that cut off the branches He is also the One who is willing to graft them back in. This says a couple things to me. Every branch I have ever cut off a tree has died, making it impossible to graft back in. God may cut us off the tree but then keeps us alive until we decide to come back. Then, He has the power to graft us back in.
The God of second chances! We may have gotten beat the first time – but we can be very victorious the second time if we want. Don’t give up on yourself – God hasn’t given up on you. Turn from your unbelief, your sin, and come back to the Father. He is ready and willing to graft you back into the tree.
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Have you ever felt stuck? You have known what to do but just couldn’t seem to get it done? Maybe you’ve felt that way with various projects in the past or maybe even in life in general. There may even be times when you feel like you are stuck in your relationship with God and that you have just been unable to overcome the sin in your life or the other obstacles in your way. So, what are we supposed to do when it seems we just lake the strength to move forward?
Paul tells us in Romans 8 that we have this amazing asset as a result of coming to faith in Jesus Christ – the Holy Spirit. Just before Jesus died on the cross He told His disciples that when He left them He wouldn’t leave them alone, that He would send them a helper. Then, again, at His ascension in Acts 1 He told the disciples to wait for this helper, the Holy Spirit who would come and fill them with amazing power. That happened a few days later, on the day of Pentecost.
Romans 8 reminds us that this new life we have received in Jesus is not meant to be lived alone or in our own strength. We find ourselves getting stuck because we often try to move forward in our own strength and abilities. We are only able to get ourselves so far, before we need a little help. God has provided that for us in His Spirit. Once we come to know Jesus personally we are all filled with Him.
The Spirit of God fills our hearts and gives us the assurance and confidence that maybe we didn’t have before. He even works in and through our weaknesses. Paul’s example in this chapter is that He is praying for us when we don’t know what to pray or how to pray. The point is the Holy Spirit is doing for us things we don’t have the strength to do alone.
Paul describes this power that is available to us as the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Now, that is some pretty amazing power. IT is life giving power! So, if you are feeling stuck or lifeless – take advantage of the strength that lies within you. Lean into the Holy Spirit who is ready and waiting for you to just let Him do what He does best – strengthen you in your weakness, assure you of God’s presence, and free you from a life of sin and death!
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.