God is… Committed

  • God is… Committed
  • Romans 8:31-39
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • July 21, 2019
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A Chicken and a Pig lived on a farm. The farmer was very good to them, and they both wanted to do something good for him. One day the chicken approached the pig and said, “I have a great idea for something we can do for the farmer! Would you like to help?” The pig, quite intrigued by this, said, “Of course! What is it that you propose?” The chicken knew how much the farmer enjoyed a good, healthy breakfast. He also knew how little time the farmer had to make a good breakfast. “I think the farmer would be very happy if we made him breakfast.” The pig thought about this. He too knew of the farmer’s love for a good breakfast. “I’d be happy to help you make breakfast for the farmer! What do you suggest we make?” The chicken, understanding that he had little else to offer suggested, “I could provide some eggs.” The pig knew the farmer might want more, “That’s a fine start. What else should we make?” The chicken looked around, scratched his head, then said, “Ham? The farmer loves ham and eggs!” The pig, very mindful of what this implied, said, “That’s fine, but while you’re making a contribution I’m making a real commitment!”

 

If you think about it, commitment is a central issue for all of us. Isn’t it?

 

Several years ago, author Lewis Smedes wrote a book called Caring and Commitment, which focuses primarily on our need for lasting commitments in our relationships. In it, he writes, “Commitments create small islands of security for us in our oceans of insecurity. They make enclaves of steadiness in the jungles of change. They give us the only human basis for trusting each other. For counting on each other.”

 

Smedes says there are consequences of living in a commitment-free world. Every year we sink a little deeper into the quagmire because commitments to spouses, children, friendships, and churches are broken.

 

More recently, the situation is getting worse because commitments aren’t just being broken; they are rarely being made in the first place. Record numbers of people are doing exactly what Lewis Smedes warned against.

They are trading in their power to make and keep commitments for the quick-fix illusion of an uncommitted life. The consequences and costs are astronomical.

 

Think about this:

  • Record numbers of couples are living together rather than facing the challenge of making a marriage commitment.
  • Record numbers of children are born to parents who are not married.
  • More and more people are drifting in and out of jobs, friendships, and churches.

 

In fact, a whole new generation is spawning designations such as the generation that wants to keep its options open, the non-joiners, the commitment-free generation.

 

This is evident even in the world of sports, whereas, in the past, most players would spend a career with the same team, and not go to the highest bidder. On almost every level of society, commitment has fallen on hard times.

 

In this commitment-phobic world, the Bible speaks into our lives about commitment, especially as it relates to God’s commitment to us. We find these words in Romans 8:31-39,

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

Here we have the most vivid picture of commitment of them all: Jesus nailed to a cross. God did not spare His own Son. This is the ultimate commitment.

 

In this same passage, we also have an incredible picture of Jesus interceding for us. What an incredible vision. Jesus cries out on our behalf, that is commitment. Let those pictures hang there in the hallways in your mind and rest assured this morning that God is committed to us.

 

A word the Bible frequently uses for deep-level commitment is “covenant.” One way to define the biblical idea of a commitment or covenant is this: declaring in a public setting an intention of our heart or mind. At that moment, it becomes a promise, a commitment, a covenant.

 

All through the Bible, God takes the risk of turning His intentions into promises. Bound up in His heart is the propensity to go on record with His love and commitment to His children, to create rock-solid promises that we can bank our lives on. It is His nature to make commitments and to keep them.

 

Let’s take a quick look at some of the promises God made throughout the pages of the Bible to His people. Here is just a small sample:

1 John 1:19 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

 

Deuteronomy 31:8 “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

 

Psalm 91:1-4 “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

 

John 14:1-3 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

 

I can personally testify to God’s faithfulness in keeping these promises.

  • I know what it is to experience God’s forgiveness when I’ve come clean with Him about my sin and failures.
  • I’ve seen God go before me. I especially think of all he did to prepare the way for my family and me to move to Texas a few years ago. God’s fingerprints were all over the move.
  • I’ve experienced God as my refuge in times of great challenge and difficulty. I’ve seen Him move in ways that I would never be capable of on my own.
  • I feel the calm assurance that comes from knowing that I have the promise of Heaven.

 

God fully expects His people to be commitment makers and keepers. The Holy Spirit’s work inside a child of God includes calling us to turn our heart’s intentions into concrete promises. We are drawn to go on record with our feelings toward God, other people, the church, and the world. Then we are to back-up our commitment with heroic follow-through.

 

The commitment-making and keeping nature of God starts to take root in our lives. Soon we start saying things like, “I want to get some things cleared up in my life. I want to sort out some of my allegiances. I need to establish some priorities and values intentionally orient my life around these new convictions.”

 

When we feel the inner pull to leave a commitment-free lifestyle to lead a more commitment-based existence, we can know God is working in us. Our newly formed commitments to God, other believers, the church, and the world reveal that we are growing in faith.

 

God does not want us to reach the end of our lives, look back over our shoulders, and realize we have squandered our only life for a commitment-free existence. He wants us to look back on marriages that were optimized because of commitment, and children whose development was protected and enhanced because parents were committed to them. God wants us to look back and see friendships, societies, and churches that were built and sustained by commitments that were made and kept.

 

Some of the most broken people are those who have been betrayed by one who promised to be loving, caring, faithful or honest – but wasn’t. When one person makes a commitment or covenant to another person and breaks it, there is always a wound. Sometimes we can forget that these broken commitments also impact the heart of God.

 

The vows we make to God should be expressed thoughtfully and prayerfully. They should be followed heroically. Vows we make in front of a church to our spouse are really vows to God. Promises to raise a child in a manner that pleases God, spoken before other believers, are serious words. Commitments we make to small group members, to our church, and so on – these are sacred moments. If we fail to keep these commitments, we wound the heart of the God who loves us.

 

But we also need to be quick to remind ourselves that when we break a vow, there is always grace. When Peter denied Jesus three times, he went out and wept bitterly, feeling the pain he had caused his dearest friend. But he also repented. In John 21, we read of his restoration, and in the book of Acts we watch Peter rise up as a leader in the early church. God made grace available to Peter, and he received it. Peter went on to live an unbelievable life of faithfulness and vow-keeping.

 

The Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown, New York. The Basketball Hall of Fame is in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Football Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio. The Faith Hall of Fame is located in the Bible in the New Testament book of Hebrews 11.

 

In this hall of fame, we read a partial list of men and women who left the safety of their commitment-free world and took a journey into the wild, open territory of a commitment making lifestyle. They made solid, honorable, and thoughtful commitments to God, and they kept them with a passion. Many paid the ultimate prices and were glad to do it. They delighted the heart of God so completely that their names are recorded forever.

 

God is still looking for average men and women like those mentioned in Hebrews 11. He is looking for those who dare to enter the adventure of being commitment makers and keepers, no matter what.  There are still commitment stories that must be written and read as Christian history rolls on, stories that will challenge and inspire our children and our children’s children.

 

As we close this morning, I want to ask you to spend some time writing down a half-dozen fundamental commitments around which you want to orient your life. Actually put them down on paper as a reminder. These can be commitments in your relationship with God, in your marriage, to your children, to your church, your community, or any other commitment you believe God wants you to make. As you record these, remember that these are commitments to God, first and foremost.

I commit…                I commit…

I commit…                I commit…

I commit…                I commit…