Trials Come So That…Part Four: That You May Believe

As we continue in our chapter, we come to a part that talks about the promises from God. Let’s dig right in and read some scripture. A favorite of mine is Ephesians 2:8-9, but context is also important, so let’s look at versus 1-10. It really reminds us how to be alive in Christ.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I love verses 8-9 because it reminds me that there is nothing I can do to earn God’s love. God loves me for who I am, regardless of what I do or don’t do. I’m saved simply from His grace…which is a gift. We don’t do anything to get gifts…they are just given to us. And that is what God did. He gifted us His saving grace.

Verse 10 reminds us what we are made for…to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. When I really stop and think about that, it suddenly makes everything else so small. And I realize that everything I do is really because it is God’s will for me. He has planned out everything that I will do. So even if I don’t like something, I just have to remember that it is what God wants me to do…and that often puts my attitude in check! Now, let’s take a look at promises God makes so that we may believe His will. We’ve already looked at 10 verses from Ephesians, but let’s look at a couple verses from Isaiah.

I will go before you     and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze     and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures,     riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord,     the God of Israel, who summons you by name. ~Isaiah 45:2-3


so is my word that goes out from my mouth:     It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire     and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:11


Look at all the promises from God in just these three verses. God will level the path we walk by going before us. He will break down and cut through all the gates that block us. He will give us hidden treasures, and riches stored in secret places…and all so that we know that He is God…so that we may believe. And notice that nothing returns empty! God’s word will not return empty, but rather will  accomplish what He desires and will achieve exactly what He sent it out for…so that we may believe! God uses us for His purpose and gives us promises so that we can believe in what God wants for us. And if we stay in His word, then we know of God’s promises to us for our faith and belief in Him and what He asks of us. And we also know that nothing from God returns to God empty. He will use us for His glory. In closing today, let’s look at one last scripture from Romans.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. ~Romans 8:28-30

Here is a promised based on a condition. If we love God, then all things work for the good, because we have been called for His purpose. We are predestined to love Him and so we are called, and because we are called, we are justified and glorified. And all this…so that we believe!

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Trials Come So That…Part 3: God’s All-Sufficient Grace

The term “grace” is used so often, but what is that true meaning, especially when it comes to the gift that God is giving us. I turn to Easton’s Biblical Dictionary for a definition:

Grace

(1.) Of form or person (Prov. 1:9; 3:22; Ps. 45:2). (2.) Favour, kindness, friendship (Gen. 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 2 Tim. 1:9). (3.) God’s forgiving mercy (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:5). (4.) The gospel as distinguished from the law (John 1:17; Rom. 6:14; 1 Pet. 5:12). (5.) Gifts freely bestowed by God; as miracles, prophecy, tongues (Rom. 15:15; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 3:8). (6.) Christian virtues (2 Cor. 8:7; 2 Pet. 3:18). (7.) The glory hereafter to be revealed (1 Pet. 1:13).

I love all the scripture references, and you can read them as you need to. I thought it was interesting that the first meaning was “of form or person”. I actually needed to read the scripture to understand it. Number 3 was really what I was looking for, “God’s forgiving mercy” Yes…in trials, especially those that are brought on by ourselves, we need God’s forgiving mercy…His grace…His All-Sufficient Grace!

Let’s look at another part of scripture that really talks about that grace. Many are probably familiar with verse 9, but I really like the context of verses 1-10.

Paul’s Vision and His Thorn

12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

Here is why context is so important. I never realized Paul was describing what the Lord said when he asked if the Lord would simply take away the thorns in his flesh from satan, which torment him. The Lord said no…depend on my grace! Depend on my grace. Worth repeating to remind us that we cannot do it alone. We must trust the Lord that His grace is sufficient and HIS power is made perfect in OUR weakness! We cannot do it without the Lord!

Let me repeat…

We.Cannot.Do.Anything.Without.The.Lord.

We must depend on Him. God isn’t our co-pilot…He IS the pilot!! We need His grace.

It’s important to remember that God will give us everything we need to get through every situation. And in our weakest moment, there is the comfort knowing that God’s power is perfect. So we should not ever be concerned with approaching God at any time. The more we depend on Him, the more His grace blesses our souls.

What an amazing gift God gives to us. We certainly don’t deserve it, but I’m so grateful He gives it to us. Yes, I am weak, but with God grace, His power is perfect, and I am renewed in Him. God’s grace is always there.

 

Pray So That…Part 5: Remain In Him

Well, we’ve come to the end of yet another chapter. I can hardly believe it. This chapter was more convicting than any of the past in that it made me realize that my prayer life isn’t what God wants it to be, but further more, God starkly reminded me that I must remain in Him, but I’ve been cherry-picking about what verses of scripture I want to read and applying my own meaning to it.

OUCH!! Not that I can argue, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t sting! How could I not remain (or be) in Him.

It’s all about context. Continue reading

Pray So That…Part 4: Help Me With My Unbelief

When I first read the title of this part of the chapter, I became so defensive! I don’t have unbelief, I kept saying to myself. Right?? Why would I do a “bible study” and be half-way through this book if I was filled with unbelief? Continue reading