Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

A Father’s Love January 5, 2010

Filed under: applications,Romans,Teen Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 5:22 am
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Sometimes we all need help to apply:  “For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28). What losses are you grieving  this January day?

We need to make sense of  this verse first, fit it into the sovereignty of God.  I don’t mean figuring out “Why is this happening to me?….” but seeing that a Father’s love is always back of our life’s events.  A father who is kind, patient, full of mercy, and good will.  One who smiles…Your circumstances are tugging at your heart, at a cross with what you desire…revealing discontent, bitterness, anger.  You are blocked in, there’s not much you can do about things. The key is to see the sovereign God as your loving Father.  He is your Father because you are “in Christ.”  You have been declared perfect.  Everything is all right between you and God. You are covered by Jesus’ perfect life and His sacrifice on the cross (Romans 3-5).  God cares about you even though what is happening to you is not what you want right now.

WORKING IT OUT

Getting hold of these biblical teachings helps change our attitude about what is happening to us.  You have to think those concepts out, work them like kneading bread.  That “attitude adjustment” makes all the difference.  After this understanding and change, we will feel it in our hearts when the Holy Spirit comforts and consoles us, and our love for the Lord Jesus wells up within us.

The following is my paraphrase from several letters written by Samuel Rutherford in the 1630’s.  His circumstances weren’t what he wanted either.  He was in prison for his refusal to go along with all the Anglican Church’s demands.

Let God make of you what he wants.  He will end all with comfort,and shall make glory out of your sufferings.


Let not the Lord’s dealing seem harsh, rough,or unfatherly just because it is unpleasant for you right now.


When what the Lord wants crosses with what you want, it is best, in humility, to strike sail to him and to be willing to go any way He pleases.  It is a point of denial of yourself, to be as if you didn’t have a will,to sail along with him.


You don’t know right now what the Lord is working out of this, but you will know one day.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it like this,

“Behind a frowning providence, is a Father’s face.

Be a good first mate.  Tend the sails to the course the captain has determined.  Don’t forget to express your concerns and to make requests of  Him along the way, but don’t  buck against His headings.  It makes for a much happier ship.





 

Rahab’s Mystery November 16, 2009

Filed under: Romans,Teen Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 1:45 am

In Joshua 2, we read about a lady who loved her hometown, but came to love the God of the whole earth even more.  She lived in Jericho–a fortress city on the edge of Canaan.  Through some mysterious way, she believed the stories she heard about Moses, the warnings God gave the Egyptians, the Red Sea parting, and the fierce destruction about to come to her hometown.  She believed God’s promise to give her town and lots of surrounding land to these slaves coming out of Egypt and the desert.  She knew she needed a rescue plan!

(I love my hometown.  Do you love yours?  It would be hard for me to give it up, see it wiped out.  It would be hard to trust two strangers to keep their promise to save me and all my family.  But this story is mostly about faith in the God of the whole world so we don’t want to get side-tracked!)

“‘And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath….And she tied the scarlet cord in the window'” (Joshua 2:11; 21).

Rahab hid two spies, helped them escape, and tied a scarlet ribbon in her window to mark where she lived.  Her faith that God would keep his promises caused her to do all these things. She was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Abraham had this same kind of faith.  Paul says that

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong  in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’  (Romans 4:21-22) .

Rahab’s faith was counted by God in the same way.  Her faith was like Abraham’s.

The spies kept their promise and came back for her.  Her family were the only ones from Jericho to live!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Rehab is a reminder to us of what this grace is like.  No one else in her hometown believed.  No one else helped rescue two of God’s people.  Why her?  It was all about God.  God stirred her heart to love him more than she loved her hometown! That grace was the mystery that caused her to believe God was God of the whole earth, and not only of the descendents of Abraham.

The Old Testament makes more sense when we know what the New Testament says.  This mystery of the way God worked in Rehab’s heart is further explained in Ephesians where Paul tells us, “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,..” (Ephesians 1:4).  Rehab was not from Abraham’s family.  Her culture worshiped idols and even sacrificed their babies to them! She had nothing to do with the Jews. She probably had never met one before meeting the spies.

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:4).

Her faith and her actions help us remember there is a way of escape for all who believe in Christ Jesus, the Lord of the whole earth.

Why not ask God to give you a new heart like this and to give you full confidence that he will keep his promises?  You, too, can have this experiential faith that God will keep His promises and rescue us.

 

Think Like A Christian:Isaiah 41 April 14, 2009

Filed under: applications,Isaiah,Romans — womenembracingfaith @ 8:08 pm

Isaiah wrote the following in his “Book of Comfort”  that God used to comfort the people of  Jerusalem during their 70 years in Iraq. God is speaking:

“But you, Israel, are My servant,

Jacob whom I have chosen,

The descendants of Abraham My friend.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,

And called from its farthest regions,

And said to you,

‘You are My servant,

I have chosen you and have not cast you away:

Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:8-10)

This promise that God would always be their friend to strengthen and help them was applicable to the Jews in exile 500 years B.C. and to His servants from all over the world now.  What a thought to be considered the friend of God.  It is how we are to think;  asking ourselves the right questions such as,

Am I God’s friend?

Jesus put it like this:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you”  (John 14:15-17).

Jesus was talking to His apostles right before His arrest.  They already knew they were God’s friend, they had these words from Isaiah.  Now the promise was enlarged to include an indwelling of the Holy Spirit to help and strengthen them. They needed to ask themselves “Who Am I?” and remember these Old and New Testament promises.

Paul described the eternal state and condition of  the redeemed when he wrote:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).

Who am I? How am I to live are the questions. God’s friend, His servant, strengthen by His Spirit, under no condemnation, and able to live under His guidance instead of under the power and pull of  your sinful nature is the “best” answer.  Paul says it is your eternal state, your condition forever if you have faith in Jesus as your Savior and Lord.  You are God’s friend forever.

How, then, do I face these worries I have for myself and others?

I am God’s friend.  I don’t understand it.  But it makes all the difference.

That is thinking like a Christian.

TEACHING TIP

Even young children can be taught to think like a Christian.  It  takes your asking the right questions as  you go through the normal day.

 

True Comfort and Hope March 31, 2009

Filed under: applications,introductions,Isaiah,Romans — womenembracingfaith @ 3:35 am
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The following is March 31, 2009 “Daily Reading” from http://www.mlj-usa.org.
It is Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaking in 1942 about the power of the gospel in contrast to any other idea about life and its problems. He was living in London, preaching at Westminster Chapel. His wife and daughters had left the city for refuge and safety. The war with the Germans did not end until 1945.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:16-17).

“The Gospel – still our only hope

We say [that the only hope for men is to believe the gospel of Christ] knowing full well all the talk about science and learning and culture. We say so knowing that, at the end of this war* the world, in exactly the same way as at the end of the last war, will announce with confidence its plans and schemes for a new world, without taking any account of what the gospel has to say. Why do we say so? For precisely the same reasons adduced by St Paul [Romans 1:16] … he is proud of the gospel because it is God’s way of salvation … At once we see that it possesses an authority which is quite unique. For all other ideas with respect to life and its problems are man-made. At their best and highest, they never get beyond the realm of speculation and supposition … The great minds and the profoundest thinkers … end by admitting that the ultimate problems of life are shrouded in mystery … The very fact that there are so many different and differing schools of thought bears eloquent testimony to this uncertainty and inability … But there was another fact … which proved how inadequate all the schools were finally. And that was the endless number of religions that were to be found … We see a perfect picture of this in Acts 17 as regards Athens. The same was true of Rome and all other great cities … Paul had something essentially different to offer and to preach. He knew of the other systems. But he also knew their limits and their inability to solve the problems. He could not make his boast in men and their systems. Before he could boast of a system it must have authority; it must have certainty. The gospel Paul preached was not speculation; it was a revelation from God Himself [Gal. 1: 11, 12]. There was no need to be ashamed of such a message. And it is precisely the same today.”

*Written in 1942.

“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians : 11-12).

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him:
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles..
.” (Isaiah 42:1).

How is true comfort and hope experienced spiritually?

We look at our circumstances anxiously,and want some kind of relief immediately. That’s why chocolate, coffee, wine are so popular.

Of course, that’s not spiritual experience at all. Instead, we need to think about ourselves in relation to the good news of Christ Jesus. Do I see Him as Isaiah did 730 years before He lived? The Promised One. The Savior. Am I in the realm of Christ or living under the control of Satan, sin, and the law? (See Romans 6). Which is it? You are either under Jesus’s governing power or you are not. That is the first step. Where am I? Who am I? Think of yourself as having died to Adam and his consequences and having risen to a new life loving and serving God. Comfort and hope start with right thinking.

Instead of seeking immediate relief from your raw circumstances, remember who you are. “God has set his love upon me. The Lord is my shepherd. He creates and orders and controls the cosmos for my good and His glory. He has forgiven me. “(Psalm 23, Romans 8, Isaiah 44:21-22)

Ask for the Spirit to give you understanding. To see things from God’s perspective. And to give you comfort and hope. (See John 16 )

You cannot produce comfort or hope on your own. But, you can think like a Christian and wait on the Lord to mysteriously come along beside you, giving you comfort, hope, and even joy. All in the midst of your pain.