Romans


A Father’s Love

(I ran across this old post from 2010 that means a lot more to me today after being a widow for six months.  I remember what it felt like to see my father smiling down at me (he was 6:5).  I  knew he would protect and provide for me and that helps me visualize God as my loving Father who smiles kindly even though my circumstances are horribly lonely right now.)

 

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 to change  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 forgiven and declared perfect.  Everything is all right between you and God. You are covered by Jesus’  sinless life and His sacrifice and suffering 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 and making them our own 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 acceptance, 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

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.