Thursday, August 30, 2007

Glorifying God and Faith

[Abraham] did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 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.
Romans 4:19–21 ESV

Yesterday in my devotional time with the Lord, I came across these verses in my Daily Light devotional book. And I saw something I had never seen before. But before I explain what, I need to go back and explain a little.

The Daily Light is a devotional compiled back in the early 1900s. It has readings for morning and evening, and each reading has a theme verse in bold at the top of the reading with several verses that follow the theme. All scripture; nothing but God’s Word.

My grandmother got a copy of this devotional book when it first came out. Portions of it she clung to as promises that helped her get through some very difficult situations in her life (my sister has her original marked-up copy). Then my mother started to use it. And her testimony was similar to her mother's; portions of it she committed to memory because of how those particular scriptures helped her (I have that copy—torn, tattered, marked up—but oh so precious to see which portions helped her and when). As a young adult, I wanted a copy for myself. So I bought a paperback copy. All of these copies were in the King James Version.

Why is that last sentence important? Because my copy finally became so tattered and falling apart that I ordered a new hardback copy—this time in the English Standard Version. And that’s why a particular phrase jumped out at me in this passage. (I highly recommend having your devotional time in other versions of the scripture to gain fresh insight into God’s Word that can become superficial when reading from the same version over and over again.)

I’ve often been amazed at Abraham’s faith. Mostly because I’ve never felt like I had much faith. I’m constantly praying the prayer of the at-his-wit’s-end father in Luke 9 when he prayed, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” I’ve read the stories of the great men and women of faith in the past, and longed for that kind of faith to be real in my life. Others tell me that they see it, but I don’t, probably because of the struggle it is for me.

One Sunday many years ago now, I can remember my pastor in Illinois preached on this passage, focusing on Abraham’s incredible faith. At home, I said to my husband, “That’s all well and good . . . for Abraham . . . but HOW can I get that kind of faith?” Hmmm . . . wrong person to ask! My poor husband, all he could do is shrug. See, for him, it’s simple—just choose to believe God is who He says He is, God can do what He says He can do (yes, I took Beth Moore’s Believing God long after this incident).

At the time I was so frustrated with my husband . . . and, yes, God . . . for simplifying an issue I was having such a hard time getting my mind around. Little did I know the journey the Lord would take me on in order to teach me how simple faith really is.

It really is choosing to believe. Choosing to obey, even when I don’t understand it. My human mind isn’t going to grasp the fullness of every doctrine or aspect of God’s attributes. But when I finally give up my “right” to understand everything and accept what God says as true, I experience His grace, His love, and yes, His faithfulness—and I’m walking in faith.

What was the phrase that stood out this time? In verse 20, Abraham “grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” Giving glory to God is simply accepting that He is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do. Period.

The Message makes this concept even clearer: He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what He had said. . . . The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

Wow! Abraham didn’t “tiptoe” around the promises God gave him. He didn’t ask “cautiously skeptical questions.” So why do I? As you can probably tell, I’m still on this journey of learning how to live by faith. I’ve made progress, but I still have a long way to go! And thank God, He will be with me each step of the way, faithfully teaching me to plunge into His promises.

God is good. God is faithful. And He loves each one of us with an everlasting love. I’m choosing to believe these things today. I hope you will join me in this wonderfully rewarding faith walk!

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