During the past few months and even just this week we have watched unbelievable horrors on our televisions: entire cities wiped out, leveled to the ground. We have seen the aftermath of brutal murder and legal proceedings about murders, and it seems there is no end to the reports of storms and earthquakes.
Often, even closer to us are the personal and daily pressures we face. For some of us it is financial problems, and for some it is family problems and perhaps taking care of the sick members of our family. We would not do otherwise, but the 24 hour attendance of the sick is taxing on our strength.
For others of us the pressures are in our own homes or in the homes of family members in which there is trouble in the family; marriages that are not working out, or children that are addicted to various activities or substances, some time it is the frailty of our own flesh. Our problems can be many and we have differing ways of handling those problems, or of not handling those problems.
Our Scripture texts are about those techniques that God offers to us, and the texts also tell us why these types of troubles are often on our list of experience, with God's full knowledge of them.
Let's look at the Proverbs text, it is Proverbs Chapter 8 verses 1-5:
This text is similar to the opening reading taken from Proverbs Chapter 1, Wisdom is speaking; and again Wisdom is speaking to the people where the people are, in places where she can be heard, but are the people listening? "O simple ones, understand Wisdom: and you fools be of an understanding heart." In verse 6 she says, "Hear, for I will speak of excellent things:
If we look into all of Proverbs, Chapter 8, we find that Wisdom tells who she is and how long she has been around. She was there from before there was anything of the earth created. She saw it all happen as it happened. She would have us to understand that all she speaks is truth and that we can depend upon it. She tells us in many places that we must read and rely upon what is said to us in the Scriptures, for it is there that we gain knowledge and understanding about life and God, and ourselves and there we learn how to live life and be the winner over our trials.
Our New Testament text is from the Book of Romans, Chapter 5: verses 1-5. Verse 1 begins with "Therefore," and I am certain you know that when there is a "therefore," in any reading passage you must discover what it is there for!
Actually in the preceding Chapter Paul is discussing the faith of Abraham and Sarah about having a child. Abraham could believe that he would have a son even though Sarah was old, and he was even older. So they waited. Twenty-five years.
Wouldn't you think that God should have known that time was passing and that they were not getting any younger?
Sarah was apparently anxious for this promise to happen and she twisted Abraham's arm and made him take her maid as a wife so as to help God get the show on the road. What a mistake that was. Hagar's son was never her son. But it is understandable, from a purely human point of view, that she felt things were moving too slowly. That was the problem too, she was thinking from a purely human point of view.
Sarah and Abraham should have known that they must trust God to do what He said He would do; that is what Wisdom speaks to us all throughout the Scriptures, BELIEVE WHAT GOD SAYS!
Now that we understand what the "therefore" is there for, let's look at the text for today's instruction: there are some key words in these five verses, and so that the full impact of their meanings can be applied to our experience today, we will need to elaborate upon each word for just a moment.
I looked up these words in the Strong's Greek Concordance and here is what I learned:
"Being justified by faith," carries the meaning of a person who places their complete fidelity and their action of being reliant and dependent upon God, and what God says to be the true fact. It is standing on what God says despite what we are seeing or feeling. It is knowing that God will come through, because He said so.
"We have peace with God;" peace covers a wide variety of our lives from national tranquility, to peace between individuals, to having security and safety, to the tranquility of our souls, to the ultimate Peace which is peace in our hearts that God IS, and is both with us and for us all the way to and including peace about physical death, and the following glory. It is CONFIDENCE regarding our relationship with God and what He will do. (Incidentally, you cannot know what God says, nor what He says He will do unless you read the Manual He has given to us.)
"Through our Lord Jesus Christ" all of our provision, peace, salvation, assurance, confidence, protection, and every other good thing that God will do and does do for us, is all because of Jesus and is based upon our relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells us in John 14:6: "I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the father except by ME." To get to the Father we must go through Jesus. We cannot be acceptable to God by any other method.
"BY Whom also we have access BY faith INTO this GRACE wherein we stand;" we have access and we can approach God being sure that we are acceptable to Him because we have accepted Jesus into our hearts. We are the objects of GRACE, unmerited favor, given to us by God The Father because of our connection with Jesus! Jesus earned this place with God and we are favored in His behalf, because we belong to Jesus.
"And we rejoice in hope of the Glory of God." "Rejoice," we are light hearted and confident in "hope," looking for a good outcome, expecting a good outcome, talking about the good outcome, of whatever situation we are going through.
Then Brother Paul says some strange sounding things. What he is going to describe to us are our experiences in this world, but he wants us to use his previous message of facts about God faithfulness and ability, and our being accepted by Him, as a platform upon which to stand as we experience life.
Paul says, "And not only so, BUT, we also glory in TRIBULATIONS!" Why Paul? "Because we know that tribulations, those pressures, the oppressions, the afflictions, the burdens and distresses, are working in us to create in us "PATIENCE;"
Paul says that with acquiring patience, we get experience, and in experience we learn that God is always there, and that we can depend upon Him; and then having the experiences that we acquire HOPE, and this hope will never leave us to be ashamed or disappointed that we hoped, "BECAUSE the LOVE of God is shed all over, inside and outside of our hearts by The Holy Ghost which is given to us."
We have and hold a great Salvation in a great Savior and God! We can be triumphant in all things, "knowing that the experiences of this present time are working in us an eternal weight of glory." II Cor. 4:17
Ps. 34: 19 "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, BUT The Lord delivers them out of them all."
Refs: Strong's Concordance, The Blue Letter Bible, (online) and The Holy Bible, KJV
It is through tribulation,
that we obedience learn
when things are rough
and life looks tough
and weíre filled
with great concerns,
we press against the stresses
looking to the Son in faith,
wondering with each step,
ďIs there strength to run this race?Ē
Itís written in the Scriptures,
when will we ever learn?
The battle and the strength
are His, and our part is to in faith
rest, while moving forward
knowing that with each pace
the victory and His strength
are ours; when we are
looking unto Jesus
Who has never lost a race.
O, didnít it look like a loss
when He hung upon the cross?
But at that time the greatest
Victory was won!
You see, itís not in what weíre
viewing, itís not in what we see,
itís with faith in what He said,
that will win the Victory!
So really, whatís the problem?
We, press steadfastly on;
it helps if we remember that
we ought to sing a song.
Weíre of the generation
that understands this truth,
"God sits in Power on His Throne."
So let us give ourselves to Jesus,
Heís watching with great pleasure
as Heís forming Christ in us,
as He gives to us, Himself!
But do we really understand
that in hope, and with delight
He creates Himself,
in us, His Earthen Treasure?
Letís be astute to understand His purposes,
God crowns us without measure,
and He desires with passion
that we return to Him the favor,
and give ourselves to Him.