by Marilyn Roberts
Abraham entered into what God was doing for him and that was the turning point. This is the Message translation of Romans 4:3: “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” New King James Version.
My husband and I can’t seem to get away from the lessons Abraham teaches. We’ve encouraged each other with them, we preached and written about his faith, we’ve shared the lessons God has shown us with other people. God has used Abraham’s faith to inspire us, correct us and to motivate us.
When I read Romans 4 in the Message translation, the Word of God illuminated my thinking.
“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.”
Abraham entered in, in other words, he embraced what God was doing.
Reading the story of Abraham in Genesis reveals that he had to overcome a lot of obstacles and his faith in what God had promised him was tested over and over again.
He could have easily given up and decide to go his own way. Instead the bible tells us that Abraham didn’t shy away from these tests (even the ones that he didn’t pass), but instead he learned to trust God in and through them. He embraced what God was doing. eHeWhen testing and trials come our way, do we embrace what God is doing for us?
Verse 9 “ … For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.” (NKJV) The Message reads “ … that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God.”
When we are tested, we don’t often think of it as God’s doing. We don’t even consider that He might be testing us. Here’s a familiar verse; James 1:2: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Here is how it reads in The Message: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” Abraham is showing us the way. His life tells us what real faith is about; it’s about trust! Trusting enough to embrace His way of doing things.
Let me continue in Romans 4 with The Message translation:
Verse 13: “That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed “.
God has made a decision concerning you! Romans 8:29a (NKJV) “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….” The Message reads, “God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of his Son….”
What promise has God made you? What decision has God made concerning you? What circumstances is He using to put it all together for you? We must enter into what God has promised by believing and trusting Him while we are being tested.
Verse 16 : ”This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way, and then simply embracing Him and what He does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. ….”
All God is asking from us is to believe; to trust Him and His way of doing things. The fulfillment of what He has promised depends entirely (totally, completely) upon Him when we do.
Verse 17 says Abraham “was first named “father” and then “became” a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do.” Do you see it? God promised and Abraham trusted.
Put your hand up against your face. Let your nose rest on the palm of your hand. Bring your fingers and thumb together so that your view is blocked. When you do that, it’s difficult not to focus on your hand. In order for you to see anything you have to move your eyes or your head. For our purposes, move your head and look up!
That’s what happens when circumstances and trials come. They are designed to block our view of God. They are in our face and we can see nothing else unless we look up. Psalm 121: 1-2, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”
I quoted this verse in my last newsletter; Romans 4:18: “When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said He would do.”
Abraham is showing us how to trust God. Not based on our circumstances, not based on what we can do for ourselves or what we believe someone else can do for us, but on The Almighty God that promised He would do what He said He would do.
“God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19 (NLT)
Tests are not of our choosing. Some tests are severe. Some are long and even exhausting. We pass some tests and we fail others. We come out of them smelling like roses or we come out bloody and scarred. In the midst of them, it can be hard to see the hand of God; it takes faith to trust.
Let me encourage you with verses 22-24 in The Message, “That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! 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.”
We are declared fit by trusting God! Embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life while you are facing your test. Make a decision today and on purpose trust Him. Learn from the lessons of Abraham, who taught us what faith looks like.