Romans chapter eight begins with "no condemnation" and ends with "no separation". The space between is the filling of the Holy Spirit in you, it is the filling of the blessing we may have if only we receive them. We are told by god that we are more than conquerors, this is our realization of strength and assurance that nothing in creation can come against us! Through this we have an incredible assurance that nothing can separate us from God's love. Thus, if God is for us, then we need not fear anything such as trials, troubles, problems, setbacks, highs, lows, the devil or even death! There should be no reason in your life to keep you from growing in His love and living the triumph full Christian life, full of passion, conviction and character serving for the glory of our Lord! No mater what you have been through or will go through! Thus, no challenge is too small, no mountain too tall. So we should not worry or fear, but be bold to make the most of life's opportunities, in worship and in deed. Because if God is for us, who can be against us (Psalm 110:1; Rom. 8; 12; 1 John 2:1)?
By the power of the Spirit empowering us we can model the character of Christ. We can be positively responsive to others, because God is concerned with how we are with one another as well as how we are with Him. Because we confess our faithfulness on Sunday, but on Monday our confession is gone! We desire God to be a blessing machine, while we are impatient and disrespectful to what He wants us to learn. Because we have confidence in God and in His plan and purpose for our lives, we can then act on faith. Faith is based on the faithfulness of our Lord, and not of our goodness, just as animal sacrifice in the O.T. was a means of forgiveness and surrendered attitude because of a loss of something precious, but not the cause of the Jew's salvation. The reformers called this "meritorious ground for our justification," explaining that faith is the soil that the seed of justification is planted into. Christ was that soil, too. As we give our lives to Christ in faith, He, in turn, gives us His righteousness. Faith will generate real, impacting Christianity so we can become a committed disciple and build His Church. If you want to understand assurance, you must be willing to understand our Lord. Like faith your assurance is as only as good as the object into which you place it. If it is in money or power, it will be weak and lifeless. If it is in false teachings or personal ideas, it will be dead. Faith and assurance must be in our living God by way of His working in us and this gives us the character we can hold on too!
· From birth on, our Lord was a man on the path of distress, who experienced the greatest suffering on our behalf. He was, and is, the ultimate model for character!
· Great character is developed in the Crucible (Rom 5:1f). In God's plan, He has a reason for our "dry lands"--the times of our waiting and confusion, and for our loss and pain in life for the Crucible (what Christ did on the cross on our behalf). We gain persistence and proven character from this!
· We need to see hardships as a challenge to overcome and prove character!
· Solitude is important as with stillness and quiet, which is so often neglected today, especially in our youth.
· Solitude will not produce character because we need the demands of life. We learn by people pushing us, and learning how to respond through the Word. Yet, solitude will hone character by mediation, prayer, and reflection on how we could have done better.
· Character is born though struggle that takes time, just as developing a musical instrument takes practice. Being alone will not produce it. However, it will refine it!
· Character is found in people, not in animals, things, or technology, but in those who possess the image of God. (Gen 1:26-27)
· Character will not stay with us. It is easier kept than recovered, yet, flees from so many who had it. Just look at the life of Saul.
· We do not wake up one day with it. When we do have it, others will see it, may even point to it, or be discipled from it.
Pride is our biggest barrier to know Christ and receive His redemption and thus the greatest thwart and threat to our character. We by our fallen nature tend to only seek the pleasure of ourselves and are unable and unwilling to seek God or His goodness. We have to be awakened by the Spirit to see Him as Savior and to receive His redemption. Without being sought we would never have the faith to see or receive Him. We would just remain in our pride and blinded to our situation of sin. This means we cannot achieve anything spiritually on our own efforts. We cannot be saved, we cannot grow, we cannot worship, and we cannot even serve Him effectively. Keep in mind that Jesus Christ took your place and absorbed God's wrath, He paid your debt! So be willing to allow Him to take you beyond your self, beyond your pride so you remain in Him and not in your pride (John 3:5; 15:5).