Sunday School Material 8-14-16: Living Under God's Mercy





(Romans 9:6-18; 8/14/16)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God is concerned with spiritual connection, not just biological connection. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to make sure that we are spiritually connected and living accordingly.

Body:

Read Romans 9:6-8

I. Children of the Promise. Paul talks about how God’s word has not failed. In the Sunday School material he talks about how there is more to being “Israel” than having a biological connection.

Being “children of the promise” is more important than having a blood relationship with the man named Abraham.

Applications –

- Spiritual connection. Notice in vss. 6-8 that spiritual connection is more important than biological connection. In other words, a person can be biological descendent of Abraham and Isaac, but if they are not a “child of promise,” they are lost.

The only way to be a “child of promise” or spiritually connected is to accept Jesus as one’s savior by faith. Just being Jewish will not help. Let’s make sure that we are spiritually connected to God, by faith in Jesus’ payment for our sins.

Read Romans 9:9-13

II. Two Sons Times Two. In our Sunday School material Paul explains how it was promised that Sarah would have a son. Rebekah would have twins. God elected to have the older serve the younger. Jacob is loved and Esau is hated.

Applications -

- God the promise keeper. Notice in vs. 9 that there is mention of God’s keeping His promise regarding Sarah having a son. In like manner, God is still a promise keeper. God promises to bless obedience and punish disobedience.

If we really believed that God was a promise keeper, we would strive to obey and avoid disobedience, just like we do when we are being monitored by human authorities.

Let’s live like we trust God to be a promise keeper. This calls for obedience and trusting Him to move in our lives at the right times.

- God’s mysterious plans. Notice in vss. 11-13 of our Sunday School material that God has plans that are bigger than we can really understand.

First, God has already put a plan into effect. Our lives are much more about God’s plan or calling than our works. The best thing we can do is find and obey God’s will for our lives.

Second, God’s plans don’t always make sense to us. We tend to make the oldest the ruler, but God chose the younger to be the ruler. This is why it is so important for us to avoid leaning on our own understanding and learn to trust in the Lord.

Third, the language of “loving Jacob and hating Esau” may be easier for us, if we understand it to mean that God showed favor on Israel (i.e., descendants of Jacob) and allowed the Edomites (i.e., descendants of Esau) to suffer great destruction.

Whatever way we understand the Sunday School material, we should strive to be those whom God loves.

This calls for making sure that we are saved and striving to live lives focused on loving God and others, as we love ourselves. Let’s work on trusting God’s plans for our lives so much that we obey His will.

Read Romans 9:14-18

III. Mercy and Hardening. Paul continues by talking about how God is not being unjust. Our Sunday School material teaches that God can show mercy on whomever He decides to show mercy on.

It is not based on human desire or effort. God also hardens whomever He decides to harden (e.g., Pharaoh).

Applications –

- God’s mercy. Notice in vss. 15-16 that God shows mercy on whomever He chooses to show mercy. God’s choosing is more important than the individual’s desires or efforts.

First, we should thank God for choosing to show mercy towards us, in spite of our sometimes unimpressive desire and efforts to live by His will.

Second, we should be open to God showing mercy on others who have a less than impressive amount of desire and effort to live by His will (e.g., drug sellers, prostitutes, people getting out of jail, people who have mistreated us, etc.).

We tend to love being recipients of mercy, but can be too judgmental about God giving mercy to others. Let’s work on being so thankful for God’s mercy that we are open to God showing mercy on others.

- Hard hearted people. Notice in vss. 17-18 that God chooses to harden whomever He chooses to harden. And somehow He uses the hardness of people to get the glory, which leads to our blessings.

First, it is challenging to understand that God can harden someone’s heart. But instead of trying to undo what God can do, we would be better off making sure that our hearts are soft to His will. In other words, we should quickly do what God tells us to do, and trust Him for the results.

Second, it may give us some sense of comfort to know that the reason our best efforts may come up short is because God has hardened the hearts of those we are ministering to.

As God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, God may harden the hearts of loved ones, church goers, and people we meet in our day-to-day activities. In other words, sometimes it is not your fault that they don’t listen and repent.

Third, God is able to work even the hardness of people’s hearts out for His glory and our blessings. Think about how God used the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart to show that He could send the plagues, dry up the Red Sea, and take care of His people.

In like manner, God can take the hardness of people’s hearts in our lives and show us that He is able to destroy the wicked and take care of those who continue to trust Him. Let’s work on trusting God to work things out, when we are faced with hard hearted people.

Conclusion: Let’s work on being spiritually connected and living accordingly. God has much for those who obey His will.

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