Romans 4. Abraham’s Faith Can Be Our Faith Too!

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans 4.

Your life is a part of God’s overarching story of Creation to Redemption.  The key players in this real-life journey are not just famous names in the Old Testament. Nor are they acclaimed people of faith who have walked since John penned The Revelation. Nor are they prolific pastors or authors in today’s culture. They are “ordinary” people too. Your brother. Your aunt. Your son. Your daughter. You.

“But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.” (Romans 4:2, MSG).

Read that sentence again and this time, insert your name where Abraham’s name is:

But the story we’re given is a God-story, not a _______-story. What we read in Scripture is, “_______entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. _______ trusted God to set _______ right instead of trying to be right on their own.

Do you see? Your life is a God-story, not merely your story. We are a part of His work in this world. We are part of the story of eternity. Trusting Him is the turning point! Can you trust Him to set things right in your life? Yes, you can!

Hear this: There is nothing we can DO that will make God love us more or less. Faith is not a “doing” thing. It is a heart thing. This grace that Jesus offers flies in the face of all of us who are rule followers. It is merely trust. Can we trust that God has led us to where we are? Can we trust that He will continue to lead us? Yes. Absolutely! I keep returning to the Romans 2:4 passage from last week. “In kindness, He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into radical life change.”

Your life is a God-story, not merely your story.

Look at Abraham’s life. Even when everything appeared impossible, he believed anyway: “God promised Abraham a lot of descendants. And when it all seemed hopeless, Abraham still had faith in God and became the ancestor of many nations. Abraham’s faith never became weak.” (Romans 4:18-19, CEV).

Wow! How do we get that kind of faith? I’m sure I’m not the only one who says, “God, give me Abraham’s confidence.” But yet, he didn’t have it easy. God told him to leave the land of his youth. Even after he believed and was recognized for his faith, he still had trials. He was challenged to lay it all down for God. He was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. And God continued to guide him and encourage him and bless him… even through those impossible and challenging seasons.

Do we have impossible and challenging seasons? You betcha! The whole country, even the whole world, continues to face its most imposing age. But God has a plan for each one of us. And it starts with death. When I see all that Abraham had to give up, I ponder these words of Jesus: “If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matthew 16:25, CEV). What does it mean to give up your life for Jesus? Abraham did it by trusting God. And God responded.

I believe God will do the same for you, for me, for us. So today, my prayer is this: “God, help me to lay down my life, my wants, my desires. Do what only You can do. I will trust You.”

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.


Isaiah 36 and 37. Pride vs. Humility.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 36 & 37.

These two chapters tell a sad story of pride and the good story of humility before God.

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria arrogantly threatens Hezekiah and blasphemes the name of God in the process. He taunts Hezekiah by bragging about all his victories, and even lies saying “the LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.” (36:10, NIV).

Hezekiah can respond in a couple of different ways. He might panic and accept the bribe of 2000 horses and sell his soul to the devil. Or, he might turn to God. Thankfully, he makes the right choice and lays before the Lord and proclaims “… You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth…” (37:15-18).

God affirms Hezekiah for making the right decision: “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!” (Isaiah 37:35, NIV).

And, boy, does God bring His holy vengeance against Sennacherib:

v36: an angel of the LORD put to death 185,000 in the Assyrian camp.

v37: Sennacherib withdraws.

v38: While he is worshiping a false god back in his home temple, his two sons murder him.

Wow! What a story! What a mess for Sennacherib. Our faith lesson? Make the right choice. I used to tease my children when I dropped them off at high school with a similar caution: “If you don’t know which way to turn today, make the right choice.” It was a dad-ism with just a bit more direction than Yogi Berra’s “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” But the point is this: Turn to God. Always. He will not only defend you, He will fight for you. He has a plan. In this case it was to defend Jerusalem for His servant David.

In the same way He has a plan and a warning for us. We might be tempted to believe it when someone  – like Sennacherib – says “the Lord told me to tell you…”  We must back away, take a moment or season to breathe and worship and seek God’s wisdom. Confirm the advice with a check of Scripture. And then, trust God as Hezekiah did. And we can stand on this promise: “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this!” (37:32, NIV).

Humbly give your choices and challenges to the Lord and see what He will do!

One additional thought. I love the final words of the angel when he tells Mary that she will give birth to a son, the Messiah. The future mother of Jesus asks the messenger how this might happen. His reply is one we can own in whatever situation we might question: “Nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37, CEV).

The zeal of the Almighty will accomplish this for you and for me!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.