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This is a meditation on four verses found in Romans chapter 4. In the four verses of Roman’s 4:18-21, Paul talks about the faith of Abraham. He mentions four aspects of Abraham’s faith, thereby explaining to us why his faith was reckoned as righteousness.
1. ‘In hope against hope, he believed.’ He believed in the face of despair. That’s what ‘hope against hope’ means. Reason, considering the hopeless circumstances that beset him, cried, ‘Impossible!’ Abraham contemplated his own body which was as good as dead and the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. He carefully considered the circumstances, but refused to accept what reason told him. Faith transcends human reasoning. Faith is way beyond what people call ‘common sense’.
2. ‘He did not waver at the promise of God.’ He did not waver. Remember James; he spoke about ‘Nothing wavering. For he who wavers is like a waves of the sea driven with the wind and tossed around.’ James 1:6. Abraham believed in God’s amazing promise that he would be the father of many nations and his descendants would be as numberless as the stars in heaven. It was a huge promise. Way beyond human imagination. Can you understand these two phrases: ‘father of many nations’ and ‘numberless as the stars in heaven’? Abraham stood upon the enduring word of God; divine words which will never pass away [Isaiah 40.8; Luke 21.33]. He did not doubt, even for a moment; he did not question, even once. Faith stands absolutely and implicity on the unbreakable, all-faithful, ever-enduring word of God.
3. The Amplified Bible amplifies what the Bible says, because the Hebrew and the Greek are very rich languages, and the English translation cannot adequately convey the thought contained in the verses of Scripture. The Amplified Bible says that Abraham grew strong in faith by giving praise and glory to God. In other words, Abraham went a ‘step further’. He not only believed, but he increased his faith by giving thanks to God and praising Him in everything. Do you know that a living faith always expresses itself in worship. Read Psalm 106:12: ‘They believed His words; they sang His praise.’ Faith must respond in praise and worship. Sad to say, we are plagued by unbelief, and when we face a problem we tend to worry and get depressed, instead of believing in God’s promises (given to us in our quiet time) and praising God. Here we see clearly that Abraham ‘grew strong in faith, by giving praise and glory to God’. Do you know that whoever praises God glorifies Him? Read Psalm 50:23a.
4. ‘He was fully assured that what God promised, He was able to perform.’ He believed God is able. Take a concordance and trace out all the verses that talk about God being able. Listen to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:17: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver…” Listen to John the Baptist: “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Listen to the man of God telling king Amaziah of Judah: “The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.” Listen to Paul, who had a matchless confidence in God and has provided several instances of ‘He is able’ in his epistles. Listen to this: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Eph 3:20.
Faith declares boldly, ‘My God is able!’. God has spoken, and He will do it. Nay, when He speaks, it is done! Psalm 33:9.
After describing these four aspects of Abraham’s faith, Paul concludes: ‘Therefore, it was reckoned to him as righteousness.'[Rom 4.22].
Do you have such a living and practical faith in a living and true God? Faith is not belief in doctrines and theories. Doctrine is important, but when Paul writes of faith, when the Bible speaks of faith, we see faith as being alive. ‘The righteous shall live by faith’ Rom 1:17. Those words are very profound. We ‘live by faith’. We walk by faith, not by sight. If we don’t have a living faith in the living word of the ever-living God, our faith is dead. Abraham’s faith carried him beyond hopeless circumstances, beyond an agonizing and apparently interminable wait, and brought him directly in touch with God. And God honored his faith. Which is why we know Abraham today as ‘the father of faith’. Can we declare boldly: ‘With God nothing shall be impossible.’ Luke 1.37. I believe it is possible for people like you and me to have such a faith. Our Lord said that if we had a mustard-seed quantity of this kind of faith, we would move mountains!
(These are notes from a Sunday message given a few months ago.It was a worship message, given for about 15-20 minutes. The message is only on Grace; perhaps at a later date, there will be a message on Peace. Grace and Peace is what we Christians need to have, and live by.)
Paul uses this greeting often in his letters: ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Peter also uses a similar greeting: ‘Grace and peace be multiplied unto you.’ And we find John also using the same sort of greeting in 2 John and Rev 1:4.
What Grace Means
Grace means that God does everything; He supplies every need, solves every problem, strengthens us in every trial. Grace came to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, John 1:17. A Christian lives entirely by the grace of God. Paul says, in 1 Cor 15:10, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly that them all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ Three times we find the word ‘grace’ appear in that single verse. As CH Spurgeon said, our Christian life is ‘all of grace’!
We should remember this always: The gospel is the gospel of grace. It is not legalism. We always have a tendency to look at ourselves, and try to find some merit, something worthy, in ourselves. But all in vain. There is nothing good in us, as Paul states so emphatically in Romans 7:18. We live entirely by the grace of God. As we grow in the Christian faith, we will find that we become more and more helpless to live the Christ-life. Remember, He said: ‘Without Me, you can do nothing!’ John 15:5. We need His abounding grace, at all times, in very situation.
How Grace is Ministered to Us
Grace comes to us through i. The word of grace, Acts 14:3, 20:32. Paul speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus says: ‘I commend you, brethren, to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up…’ Acts 20:32. Grace comes to us through ii. The Spirit of grace, Heb 10:29. We need to ask for, pray for, grace. James 4:6, ‘He gives more grace. Wherefore…God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.’
Three Kinds of Grace
Basically, there are three kinds of grace. i. Saving grace. Eph 2:5, 8. ‘For by grace are we saved through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God’, Eph 2:8. We are justified by His grace, Tit 3:7. (Justified means ‘declared righteous before God’. It is more than being pardoned or acquitted; the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to us, placed in our account. We are accepted by God just as Christ was accepted by God because of His perfect sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary.)
The second grace is ii. Sustaining grace. 2 Cor 12:9. ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ It is the grace given by God to us to bear every burden, endure every suffering that He allots to us. 1 Pet 2:19, 20. ‘This is grace with God, that if a man…endure grief, suffering wrongfully.’ ‘If you do well, and suffer for it, and take it patiently, this is grace with God.’ In the KJV the word is translated as ‘acceptable’, but the original Greek for ‘acceptable’ is the word for ‘grace’. We are sustained by the grace of God.
The third grace is iii. Special grace. This is seen in the gifts given to every child of God. ‘To every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.’ Eph 4:7. ‘Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us…’ Rom 12:6. ‘As every man has received a gift (or gifts) from God, even so let him minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.’ 1 Pet 4:10. These special gifts of grace are given for the building up of the church, as Romans 12 shows.
The riches of grace are made available by the Lord Jesus Christ to every child of God – saving grace, sustaining (enduring, suffering) grace, and special grace (or gifts of grace). He is the God of all grace, 1 Pet 5:10. We live by faith in His word (promises) and by prayer, so that the Spirit of grace can strengthen us and give us victory over all situations, while providing for all our needs at the same time.
May this short message be a blessing to you all!
(June 2011. Hubpages. The link is https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Grace-and-Peace )
(What is being spoken here is the truth of who a Christian is. A Christian is one who is born from above, i.e. born from heaven; heaven is his home; he lives by heavenly resources; he calls upon His Father in heaven; he is a citizen of heaven, and a stranger on earth; he is indwelt by the Spirit who came down from heaven. Let us understand this very clearly, because most of Christianity today is an earthly Christianity, not the true Christianity of the New Testament; it is false. Many Christians are in love with the world, and they think like people of the world, and they have settled down in the world, and they have no idea of what an ‘open heaven’ is.)
(This is an extract of a wonderful message spoke by TAS, which has been titled The Way. It is possible to get copies of The Way from The Golden Candlestick, a bi-monthly brochure published by The Golden Candlestick Trust in Twello, Holland. For full details you may google the key words here.)
When we quietly consider and meditate upon the life of the Lord Jesus during the three and a half years of His walk in the midst of men, there are certain things about Him which are quite evident and quite impressive. Those things are the things which must be carried over into our own lives if others are to have indicated to them the way to God.
We will begin by noting one thing that is so very evident and always present and noticeable about the Lord Jesus in His earthly life, and that is His consciousness. In a greater or lesser way every life that is really alive is marked by a consciousness, and in a very marked way this was true of the Lord Jesus. His consciousness was that of His relationship to heaven. You just cannot fail to recognize that. He is constantly speaking about it, and His speaking of it so frequently and so much is because that is the ever-present and uppermost consciousness with Him, His relationship to heaven. Just as a man’s native country is in his blood, so heaven was in the spirit of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps you know what that is. You of course do not know very much what that means unless you have been away from your native country, and then you know after a time that that country is not so far away after all, it is in your very blood. There is a pull and a call and a remembrance, the consciousness of where you belong, where you came from, which rises up and asserts itself. I think some of you know what I mean. If I may make a personal reference, there was a time years ago when I spent years in London and was not able, neither was there the demand then, for going to Scotland so often as there has been in recent years. At a certain time in the year Scotland made such an appeal that I just had to go, that is all. If it were only for a weekend, not with any object at all, not for any work, but I just had to go and come back again. Something would not let me rest until I had just gone and come. The pull was there.
Now what is true in the natural was true in the spiritual with the Lord Jesus. “I am come down from heaven” (John 6:38). And He even said that He was still in heaven while He was here (John 3:13). Strange, strange speaking! The Son that came from heaven and is in heaven! It was this strong deep consciousness of His relatedness to heaven, and that had various meanings for Him.
Heaven the source of His life
It meant that heaven was the source of His life. His life came out from heaven, and He was all the time living out from heaven by that heavenly life. He could find nothing here to answer to the life that was in Him. Everything here just failed to give what that life in Him demanded and required. He just could not live here except in so far as life was constantly ministered to Him from heaven. Heaven was the place of all His resources. For every demand He went back to heaven to have it met. That is, He got away in spirit, He got away in prayer, to draw what was required for the situation, the need, the next move, for every crisis and for His whole life. Heaven was His source of supply.
Heaven the seat of His government
Heaven was the seat of His government. In everything He went to heaven for direction. You know what I mean, He got His life from heaven, He refused to be governed by things here, He refused to be governed by the world, what the world expected, what the world demanded. He did not allow the world and its mind and its way to influence or affect Him at all. He refused to be governed by religious tradition, by the established religious order. He refused to be governed by religious expectation and religious precedent. Often they tried to impinge that upon Him and tell Him that was the thing expected, that was the thing done, that was how it was usually and He refused it all. He stood back and got His direction from heaven. The oft-repeated phrase indicated this heavenly life — “My hour has not yet come” — the phrase which He used in so many different connections, at so many different times, not meaning as He used it that final hour, His hour, but meaning, ‘The time has not come just at this moment for Me to do that, I have not got it from heaven; it may be your hour, it may be the hour of circumstance, it may be the hour of seeming demand, but that does not weigh with Me; My hour is the hour when heaven says, Now!’ Heaven was the place, the seat, of His government.
Now let us pass this over as we go along, that is, in that threefold way: the essential consciousness of the true Christian and of true spiritual Christianity and of the only Christianity which, as we have repeatedly said, will go through the ordeal of fire. That is something which is implanted in us at our spiritual birth and if we are not able to sense that, we ought to attend to it, for it is an essential feature of being born from above that immediately — not in its fulness — but immediately we are aware that we are related to another world, we are related to heaven. To put that round the other way, immediately we have become strangers here. The true Christian from very birth has a stranger-consciousness in this world. It may be a simple beginning, but what is true of every Christian going on in the way of Christ is that that strangerhood grows and grows and deepens all the way along until it becomes, on the spiritual side, almost impossible to live in this world. We have got to do it, it is no use trying to get out until the Lord takes you out, but you know spiritually it is becoming more and more difficult to accommodate yourself to this world, to find anything that you can call home here. Forgive the simplicity of this, but it is an important factor. It is the very witness of the truth of our Christian life, but the fact is so apparent that a vast amount of what is called Christianity has no such consciousness. It can accommodate itself to this world, and it is doing so, and moreover, it thinks hardly of those people who do not do it. The ‘Christianity’ that really does not understand Christians who cannot accommodate themselves to this world is a false and an illegitimate Christianity. If ever there was a stranger here, He was that stranger. His consciousness was altogether other and we “ought to walk as He walked”.
Again, it should be true of Christians that all their resources are in heaven, not as a fact but as an experience, that they really are being supported and sustained out from heaven, and further, that their seat of government is in heaven. We put it before in this way, that the church has no headquarters on earth, its headquarters are in heaven, and all government is to come from heaven by the Holy Spirit. That is how He walked, and unless that is true in our case and in the case of Christians, there is something fundamentally weak and wrong and lacking, and only in so far as that is true shall we be able to stand up against the world. We have got to settle that. Is it strange to you that the world knows you not and the world is against you? Is it strange to you that you have no place here? Well, if it is, you have missed the point. It should not be strange. It is native, it is natural, it is just a part of a true position, and it is quite false to be otherwise.
T Austin Sparks, “The Way” Chapter 4
(August 2010, Hubpages. The link is https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Our-Citizenship-in-Heaven)
Judgment and Mercy: From the Book of Jeremiah
I have been meditating on the book of Jeremiah. Why was such a large book written? Could it not have been shorter? What is its importance? What is the key message of this book? Why does the book end the way it does?
It is no doubt a book of judgment. I believe we have to experience judgment or chastening. It is better to be judged in this world, than in the next. Self-reform is of no use. We need to go through a deep inward experience of the cross. Only then can we realise the wickedness of our own hearts, Jeremiah 17.9. We cannot set right our own hearts; they have to undergo the experience of the inward cross. Then will we learn to fear God. And it is the fear of God that will bring us to wisdom. God is a practical God, and our Christian life here on earth is a practical life. We may mock the Puritans and those who seek to live holy and God-fearing lives. But let us remember: ‘Without holiness we cannot see God’ Heb 12:14.
Jeremiah’s message to the people of Judah and Jerusalem was that they should go into captivity. Nebuchadnezzar was the servant of God sent to chastise the people of Judah for their sins. Jeremiah warned that the Jews should not seek shelter in Egypt. In fact, Jeremiah prophesied that they would be cursed if they fled to Egypt, but blessed if they went into exile in Babylon. What a message! It is very difficult to understand. But God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways. Isa 55:8,9. As the poet William Cowper said, ‘God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform!’
Why did God want His people to go into captivity? 70 years in Babylon! The land must have her rest, 7 x 10 times! Surely there must be some deep meaning here. The Lord says, ‘When 70 years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfil My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.’ Jeremiah 29.10: And the Lord goes on to declare that the fortunes of the tents of Jacob will be restored; their captivity will be turned. Jeremiah 30.18, 19; 31.4-14.
The last segment of Jeremiah, i.e. chapter 52.31-34, is a wonderful story of God’s mercy. It shows how God’s power of resurrection has to work to deliver His people. Here is Jehoiachin, king of Judah, 37 years in exile, in captivity, and then one day, in a marvellous manner, he is released, his garments are changed and his throne is set high among the kings in Babylon, and he dines in the presence of the king of Babylon, and he is given a daily allowance for all his needs. What does it mean?
We cannot rectify ourselves; neither can we repent of our own accord. Our hearts are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. We need to be broken. We need to go into the experience of captivity, the experience of the prison, the experience of being ‘shut up’ to God. It is the experience of death, burial and resurrection; the experience of the inward cross. It is only by such experience we come to know God, we come to fear God, we come to trust in Him at all times, and, yes, we come to love Him and experience His amazing love for us.
Jehoiachin was under a curse [Jer 22.30], but here he is blessed. The man declared to be childless bears children, seven of them! [1 Chron 3.17-18].He becomes the grandfather of Zerubbabel. He is in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew chapter 1. He is redeemed. He experiences the resurrection power of God in Jeremiah chapter 52.31-34.
What is that daily diet (KJV) or daily allowance mentioned in the last verse? We have to depend on the Lord for His daily allowance, day by day. We must experience God’s sufficiency for every daily situation and crisis, just as the manna was sufficient for the daily needs of the Israelites in the wilderness.
(October 2010. The link is https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Judgment-and-Mercy-From-Jeremiah. This important book is understood only with age and experience. 7 years later, there is a deeper understanding of this book. ~ JK, 2017)
Lord, answer us speedily in the day of trouble,
Defend us and set us securely on high;
Send us help from the heavenly sanctuary,
Support us from Zion: this is our cry.
Remember our prayers, worship and praises;
Forget not our service and due sacrifice.
With loyal devotion we offered our bodies
On the altar, O Lord: what more would suffice?
Lord, fulfil Your purpose in us, and grant us
Our heart’s desire and passionate plea –
You have answered all our petitions, Master;
We will shout for joy, and make melody.
On Calvary’s Cross You saved us, redeemed us,
You conquered the Accuser and great Adversary;
You recovered every loss and swiftly restored us,
Our hearts rejoice in Your glorious victory.
You are our Defender, High Tower and Rock;
You rescue us repeatedly with a righteous right hand.
Others may trust in sword, chariot and horse,
But you save with a word, a heavenly command.
You have revived us, O Lord, we stand up again;
Our enemies are conquered, and beaten they fall;
We will boast in our Savior, in the power of His Name;
Our King always answers us in the day that we call.
(Taken from Hubpages, the photo is Mungpoo, 2004, the Eastern foothills of the Himalayas. The link https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Twentieth-Psalm-In-Verse)
The first thing about the Christian life is that you need to have a first-hand experience of Christ. It is possible for Christians to hold on to Scripture, and yet not know Christ. It is possible for many to believe, falsely, that they are the children of God, because they endorse certain creeds or beliefs, or have signed a decision card, or mentally accepted certain truths about Christ. The Jews who followed in Christ (because of His miracles) believed in Christ, John 8:30, 31. But their lack of the revelation of Christ, their lack of an immediate first-hand experience of Christ, and their clinging to tradition and second-hand truths led them to almost stone Christ, John 8:59.
In John’s Gospel we see the contrast between true faith and false faith. Read John 2:23-25. These people believed in Jesus’ miracles, but their hearts were not changed. In John 6:66, many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him, because His words exposed their hollow beliefs. They were not willing to be set free from sin, self, and empty religion. They would not, could not, face the truth about themselves. No wonder our Lord uttered such terrible and scathing words to them in John 8:44. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.”
Luke 8:14. What chokes the word of God from bearing fruit in our lives? Weeds and thorns. Our heart has other ‘seeds’ (other desires) in it, that sprout up as weeds and thorns. We are obsessed with earthly cares & worries; we focus too much on temporal & material things. Our Lord said, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God.’ Matt 6:33. We harbor secret desires for riches and pleasures. Our mind is set on earthly things; our belly seeks self-gratification. Phil 3:19. No wonder the word of God is choked in our lives. That is why the Spirit of God uses the cross to empty us, to eject all these fleshly desires, and to keep us focused on Christ.
If one is ‘in Christ’, he will live above the world and in the heavenly places. The earth may be covered with storms, but about the clouds the sky is clear and the sun is shining. We need to rise above our troubles, by learning to wait upon the Lord. If we wait upon the Lord, we shall renew our strength; we shall mount up with wings like eagles. Isaiah 40:31. How important it is to have communion with Christ, through meditating on His word and spending time in prayer! The effect of peace and tranquillity in the heart is immediate.
Our communion with Christ is suggested by the stones in a building, all standing together. That speaks of our communion with fellow-believers. The entire building stands upon the foundation, and that foundation is Christ. Taking another image, our communion is seen in the branches holding on to the True Vine; that speaks of a communion of life. We see fellowship and communion in the different members of the body all knit together, all working in harmony. That speaks of a healthy and harmonious assembly of believers. But the best image of communion is seen in the marriage union of husband & wife; that speaks of Christ & His Bride. It is the intimate union of love. There is one more picture – seen in the union of the Father and the Son, a divine unity which God seeks to realizes with every individual believer and with the Body of Christ.
[June 2011. The link is at https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Reflections-on-the-Christian-Life ]