Mature Class Study, teacher Edith Tolbert

Many people misquote scripture to mean it’s all about what’s good for them and according to what they think.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

The scripture is really about what’s important to God and his purpose. It’s much bigger than our wants or problems. God is working to produce something so much better than what we think is good. To us good is something comfortable, pleasant, happy, healthy, or wealthy. In this scripture good means beneficial, profitable, and useful for God. It’s a totally different meaning of good than what we personally ask for or think is good. Good is primarily about God’s purpose. We present our body a living sacrifice and take our hands off of ourselves for God to use however he wishes.

Romans 8:27-29 (Amplified Classic) And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will. We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many…

God is using things in our lives to mold us and help change our perspective so we’re more like Christ. The Holy Spirit intercedes and pleads for those who love God and share his image as they are in harmony with the will, intent, and mind of God. We’re assured that all things work together for good and are fitting in a plan of God’s design and purpose.

Romans 8:17-18 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

There are lots of bad things that happen. When someone has severe illness, loses a loved one or their job, don’t quote the scripture that all things work together for good – meaning this is good for them. That does not encourage them. God says if we really love him with all of our heart and he’s in control of our life, he will give us grace for what he allows. God did not put on Job what he went through. God allowed it but the devil is the one that killed all his children, took all his houses, and destroyed his wealth. The devil said Job would curse God if everything was taken away but God had confidence Job wouldn’t do that. The devil afflicted Job with boils. Cancer and diseases do not come from God. The devil puts them on people. Don’t tell people all things work together for good, but tell them you’ll pray and ask God to help them have grace. When Paul asked God three times to take away the thorn in his flesh, God said he wasn’t going to take it away but his grace was sufficient. God wants the grace of God to be radiated above all our trials and heartaches.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present…things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God didn’t promise an easy life but he promised grace to help us go through the hard places. God never intended for trials to separate us from him. If we’re completely dedicated and submitted to God, he will help us. Stephen was whipped and stoned but God gave him grace. The people were persecuted but God gave grace to preach everywhere.

Acts 8:1-4 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church …and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation…As for Saul, he made havock…entering into every house, and haling men and women…to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching…

God refines us like silver or gold that is heated real hot. The heat reveals the dross (scum, worthless stuff) so it can be separated and removed. All that’s left is pure gold or silver. Through all the dark and hard places, God want has two purposes: 1. to draw closer to him; 2. to make us more like him in our attitude, conduct, and the way we live so people see Christ in us. When we’re in a hard trial, what’s on the inside is going to come out. If there’s dross, God wants us to see it and get it removed. That’s the purpose of all things working for good in us – to help us see where we can draw closer to God, and where we can let the dross go and be more like Christ. God’s plan has predestined us to be like Christ. It’s only through hard trials that things like wrong attitudes, impatience, or unkindness will show. God wants to remove those things because they aren’t like Christ. God is testing us to see what’s really in our heart.

Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

It isn’t easy to count it all joy in divers temptations, but we have the joy of salvation and are confident that we’re right with God. He wants us to continually add to our endurance, steadfastness, and patience. We have to ask for his help.

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

In really hard trials some say: I wonder what I did; why is God is angry with me; why did God let this happen to me; why am I having to go through this? God isn’t angry with you. He wasn’t angry with Job when everything happened. It wasn’t because Job sinned that all that came on him. So it isn’t because of sin or that God is angry with people but he wants us to not think that it’s strange. We’re all going to be tested and go through the fiery furnace but it says rejoice because you’re partakers of Christ’s sufferings. God wants to display the grace of God when we suffer tragedy, death in the family, or other grief’s so the world can see that there’s something different about us. We can be sweet, loving, and kind regardless of how our physical body is or what we’re going through.

I Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

In the story of Esther, the king of Persia was displaying all his gold and the majesty of his kingdom at a feast. He was drunk and asked his chamberlains to go get Queen Vashti. The custom was that she was not to be seen in public with men. The queen refused to go so the king was counseled to get rid of her. The king sent servants and found 400 of the most beautiful virgins. Esther (Hadassah) was 15 years old and one of them. Mordecai said not to tell that she was a Jew.

Esther 2:5-9 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew…Mordecai…had been carried away from Jerusalem …whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter…was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter. So…when the king’s commandment…was heard, and when many maidens were gathered…to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house…And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave…things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet…out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.

The king loved Esther and chose her for his queen. She could only go into the king if he called for her.

Esther 2:12 Now when every maid’s turn…to go in to king Ahasuerus, after…twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for…days of their purifications…six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours…)

Esther 2:17 And the king loved Esther above all the women…so that he set the royal crown upon her…made her queen…

The king promoted Haman an Agagite (descendant of Agag who king Saul was to kill) above all the princes. When he sat in the king’s gate, Mordecai wouldn’t bow to Haman. Haman hated the Jews and told the king they didn’t obey the laws. He got the king to order the Jews to be killed. Mordecai put on sackcloth and cried in the streets. When Esther sent to find out why, he told her about it and said she needed to go before the king. Esther said the law said anyone who went before the king without being called would be killed unless the king held out his scepter. She was married to him but hadn’t been called for 30 days. Mordecai said Esther may have been made queen to help in this situation.

Esther 4:11-14…the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except…the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. …Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house…For if thou altogether holdest thy peace…then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place…thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther told Mordecai to have the Jews fast and pray for her three days. Esther prayed continually and loved God with all her heart. She was obedient to fear God, keep his commandments, to do what God wanted when she left Mordecai to go to the palace. She decided that if she perished, she perished. God gave her direction and helped her tell the king about Haman. The king had Haman hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai. The king promoted Mordecai so he was the leader of the people. There was a lot of rejoicing and happiness that day. The 75,500 Persians that tried to kill the Jews died. Esther had to go through hard things, but God was with her and never forsook her. She trusted him, prayed, and God gave her the strength and grace to go through things. Whatever we face God will help us with grace and strength to work things out. We may never see all the good that God does. It was 13 years before Joseph saw the good from the bad situations he had to go through. God’s timing is his timing. He wants us to be faithful and have grace to show his light in this wicked world we live in. When it says all things work for good to those that love the Lord, it’s for God’s purpose, to lift up God, to draw us closer, and to refine us to be better Christians.

Esther 10:3 For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.