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Monday, July 9, 2012

Once more on God’s Ability and His Promises

Once More on God's Ability and His Promises
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think . . . .  (Eph_3:20)

These opening words from one of the most well-known benedictions in all of the New Testament offers a unique opportunity to consider God's ability, as related to His promises. How able is God? He is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. " Could we possibly ask for more than God has already promised? Could we properly think greater things than God has promised? Well, let's reflect upon some of the promises of God that we have already considered. 

We have seen that God promised to make a mighty nation with world-wide blessings from one man, Abraham. "I will make you a great nation . . . and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen_12:2-3). God also promised to deliver His people from bondage into an abundant land. "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt . . . to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exo_3:17). He also promised to fight for His people. "The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you" (Deu_1:30). Additionally, God promised an eternal kingdom for his people, through the line of David. "And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever" (2Sa_7:16). Further, God promised that His Messiah would sit on that eternal throne. "A Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him" (Isa_11:1-2). Moreover, God promised that Messiah would be a unique King. "A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench" (Isa_42:3). Ultimately, the Father promised that the Messiah Himself (Jesus) would be the new covenant of grace. "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will . . .  give You as a covenant to the people" (Isa_42:6). Correspondingly, the Lord promised that this covenant of grace would provide forgiveness of sins ("I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" — Jer_31:34), intimacy with God ("They all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" — Jer_31:34), and an inner work of God to change us from the inside out ("I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts" — Jer_31:33). 
Certainly, we could not ask or think beyond these promises. Yet, our God is able to do far beyond these extraordinary matters. What confidence this gives us regarding God's promises, as well as every prayer we offer based on these promises!

Almighty God, how often I underestimate Your ability and thereby end up doubting Your promises. Lord, I praise You that You are able to do far beyond my prayers or thoughts — and every promise that You have ever made!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How Do You Respond To Seemingly Impossible Circumstances?

How Do You Respond To Seemingly Impossible Circumstances?

With fear or faith?

King Saul and his son Jonathan illustrate both:

SAUL, panics as he sees his troops deserting him while on a military skirmish as they await the priest's appearance to offer a sacrifice. So Saul steps in and presumptuously assumes the priest's religious duty.

"I saw that the men were scattering." – Frazzled by circumstances.

"I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me… '" – Ruled by fear.

"I felt compelled to offer burnt offerings." – Prompted by emotions.

The consequences? Saul is disenfranchised as king, (and dies a premature death):

"Now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leaderbecause you have not kept the Lord's command." (1 Samuel 13:14)

JONATHAN, by contrast, is vastly out-numbered by the Philistine army, yet chooses to believe God to use him in defeating them.

"Come, let's go over to the Philistines" – Scoped out the enemy.

"Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf" – Made himself available to be used of God.

"Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few" – Believed God could use him to destroy the enemy.

The consequences? Jonathan victoriously destroys enemy forces.

SAUL saw challenging circumstances through the eyes of fear and failed.

JONATHAN saw challenging circumstances through the eyes of faith and succeeded. (1 Samuel 13:1-14:23)

QUESTION: When you are faced with difficult circumstances that appear to be overwhelmingly impossible, what do you do? Panic, like Saul and resort to your own solutions? Or do you, like Jonathan trust God, and see Him come through with His solution?

—Facts of the Matter