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Utilizing the Benefits

socialmedia@cityrise.org March 24, 2021 Devotionals, sermons, church, cityrise, edward welch, houston, romans, sermons,

Each week we will be sharing a post from a staff member in response to the most recent sermon in our “Good News” series. Click to watch or listen to the sermon shared by CityRise Network Director and CityRise Missouri City Campus Director Mark Edworthy on Sunday March 21, 2021.

I like games. Whether it is a board game, a sport, or even a random video game, I’m open to giving it a try. The sermon on Romans 5:1-11 reminded of a time where I used to play fighting video games with one of my friends as a kid. He was the type of player that would study the manual and learn one or two characters. He aimed to learn everything he could about them. I was a “button-masher.” I learned special moves and combos by accident, mixed with previous experience in other fighting games. Regardless of the game, our competition always looked the same. At first, I would beat him over and over again. As he kept practicing and reading the manual, it became harder and harder for me to beat him. My friend was willing to spend the time to learn the intricacies of the game, and I was just in it for a quick thrill. I wasn’t as invested from a long-term perspective.

Pastor Mark talked about the benefits that come from our relationship with Christ. He stressed three benefits of peace, grace, & hope. There are many who profess to be Christians that have lives that don’t resemble someone who has peace, grace, and hope. We live in a world that is filled with worry, anxiety, and fear. This is understandable for an unbeliever, but why is it that Christians seem to be struggling with these same symptoms even though they contradict the peace, grace, and hope that the Bible says we have been given? Some Christians are just like I was when I played those video games. We enjoy the thrill of the benefits, but the enjoyment is randomly experienced in life because we haven’t taken the time to study the manual of the Scripture. We sometimes struggle to access these benefits on a consistent basis. As Christians, we have all been given the same gifts. Unfortunately, it is hard to feel peaceful when you are unsure about the manual’s instructions that clearly say we already have the victory in Jesus. It is easy to be anxious about next week’s struggles when the manual’s message of God’s sovereignty is overlooked. The longer my friend and I played a specific game, the less frequently I won against him because he invested more time to studying how to unlock all of the benefits of every character. He also took the time to practice what he read in challenging situations (ahem, that means playing against a “button-masher” like me). As Christians, we need to do the same. We need to invest more time learning about the peace, grace, and hope that God has freely given to us so that we can consistently win in life by experiencing the abundant life that God wants us to have. We need to practice living out the truth of the Bible, even when it seems like we have an enemy that is just mashing all of the buttons against us in life. My friend knew there was no shortcut to excellence. It requires patience to practice living with our God-given peace, grace, and hope, while discarding the worry, anxiety, and fear that randomly attacks us. None of us are perfect, and this Christian walk requires patience. We shouldn’t be “button mashers” in life. All of us should respond to Romans 5:1-11 with a renewed vigor to invest time in studying and meditating on God’s word. Practicing this in our day-to-day lives will help us utilize all of the benefits that God has given us.

Edward Welch is the Associate Pastor to Students at the CityRise Missouri City Campus where he encourages others to apply the Bible in their day-to-day lives and experience an abundant life. Edward lives in West Houston with his wife Olivia.