Growing Strong in Trusting His Promises – Romans 4:17-21

ASPIRE: How do we grow strong in our faith?  How do I strengthen my capacity to trust the Lord?

1.         We grow strong in faith as we know what “is written” (v.17).  One must know well God’s promises before you can trust them.  You must know someone well before you have a greater capacity to trust them fully. 

2.       We grow strong in faith as we praise and worship God.  Abraham “grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”  What does it look like to give glory to God? Well, one thing for sure is that we get our eyes off of ourselves and the greatness of our problems and put them on the greatness of our God and His promises.

3.        We grow strong in faith as we refuse to allow our circumstances to dictate our emotional state and feelings.  Appearances can most often be deceiving and misleading. They were with Abraham and Sarai. They were at the cross of Jesus, and they will be in your life as well.

This passage sets forth two options for us.  One is wavering in faith.  Another is growing strong in faith.  There is no other option for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.  One is the pathway of walking by sight.  The other is the pathway of walking by faith.  Both types of people are aware of the same promises of God.  It appears that Abraham had plenty of opportunity to either grow weak (v.19) in his faith or to grow strong (v.20).  When he lied about Sarah, he was wavering in unbelief.  When he heeded Sarai’s counsel about going into Hagar, he was wavering in unbelief.  When he offered Isaac, he was strong in faith.  This see-saw story of the “friend of God” is our story, my story, your story. 

In a meeting with a small group of missionaries in China, Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship) reminded them that there were three ways to do God’s work:

“One is to make the best plans we can and carry them out to the best of our ability.

Two, carefully lay out our plans and determine to carry them through, we may even ask God to help us and to prosper us in connection with them.

Three, another way of working is to begin with God; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes.”              

— Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, Biography of James Hudson Taylor (London: China Inland Mission, 1965), p. 271.

Lord, grant to me and those I love…

  • a greater sense of the assurance of our salvation,
  • a growing willingness to obey Jesus’ word,
  • a growing burden to see Jesus exalted and enthroned in the hearts and lives of others,
  • a growing ability to smile at the future.
  • a growing desire to worship the Lord joyfully
  • a growing willingness to surrender all to Jesus.

Prayers from a devotional reading of John 8:48-59…

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Word-Saturated Worship

Scripture suffuses every part of our worship services.

  • We call one another to our awesome task of worshipping God with Scripture.
  • We sing God’s praise with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in order to make God’s Word memorable and vivid.
  • The Spirit uses God’s Word to convict us of sin and to show us our fresh need of His forgiveness and grace.
  • We use the precious promises of God’s Word to assure us of His pardon.
  • We give attention to reading His sacred Scriptures because faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
  • We preach His Word because, through it, God chooses to save and cause some to be spiritually reborn (1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Peter 1:25).
  • Also, His Word equips us to live for Christ and to make an impact His kingdom during the perilous times in which we live (2 Timothy 3).
  • Lastly, God sends us out with His blessing to serve a needy world. This benediction comes from His Word!

Why do we make such a big deal about the Word saturating all of our worship? Because… “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24).

Through the eternal, profitable, inerrant, and living Word of God, we hear and receive “the good news” by which we experience eternal salvation. Therefore, it is imperative that we carefully prepare our hearts to give our undivided attention to His Word when we gather with God’s people to worship Him!

What is a Christian?

Here is a sound definition from James I. Packer in his classic book Knowing God in the chapter “Thy Word is Truth:”

“A person who acknowledges and lives under the Word of  God. He submits without reserve to the Word of God written in ‘the Scripture of truth’ (Daniel 10:21), believing the teaching, trusting the promises, following the commands. His eyes are to the God of the Bible as his Father, and the Christ of the Bible as his Savior. The Word of God has convinced him of sin and assured him of forgiveness. He aspires to have his whole life brought into line with it. The promises are before him as he prays, and the precepts are before him as he moves among others.

He knows that in addition to the Word of God spoken directly to him in the Scriptures, God’s Word has also gone forth to create, and control, and order things around him; but since the Scriptures tell him that all things work together for his good, the thought of God ordering his circumstances brings him only joy. He is an independent fellow, for he uses the Word of God as a touchstone by which to test the various views that are put to him, and he will not touch anything which he is not sure that Scripture sanctions.”

J.I. Packer asked back in 1973: “Why does this description fit so few of us who profess to be Christians these days?” He concludes: “You will find it profitable to ask your conscience, and let it tell you.”

The Power of the Word of God in a Young Pastor’s Life

J.I. Packer, as a young pastor, found himself “marginalized, isolated and required to work on unfulfilling and flawed agendas, in a manner that made him think of the Israelites having to make bricks for Pharaoh.” He claims to have lived “like Moses in Midian, with frustration in [his] heart, wondering what God could possibly be up to.” During those years his spiritual education was proceeding. Below are some of the main lessons that God through his Word hammered into his heart.

I personally benefited from these few lessons and I hope you will too.

He summarizes:

1. Goodwill — I should not get bitter or lapse into self-pity or spend time complaining or angling for sympathy. God was using my ministry, and I was forbidden to get fixated on my frustrations.

2. Hope — I must not become cynical or apathetic about the vision I had been given or to abandon it because there was no immediate way of advancing it. God is never in a hurry, and waiting in hope is a Christian discipline.

3. Faithfulness — As husband, father, teacher, honorary assistant pastor and occasional author, I had plenty each day to get on with, and I could not honor God by slackness and negligence, whatever discontents I was carrying around inside me.

4. Compassion — Clearly I was being taught to empathize more deeply with the many Christians, lay and ordained, male and female, who live with various kinds of disappointments and thus were in the same boat as myself.

5. Humility — I must never forget that God is supreme and important, and I am neither, and he can manage very well without me whenever he chooses to do so.

What would it look like if the Word of the Lord prevailed mightily in your life?

One of the encouraging progress reports in the book of Acts reads like this: “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily” (Acts 19:20).
What happens when the Word of the Lord has a prevailing influence in our lives? Ask the Lord to search your heart as you reflect on the below prayer:

Blessed Lord,
You have caused all holy scriptures
to be written for our learning;
Grant that we may hear them,
read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,
that by patience and comfort of Your holy Word,
we may embrace, and ever hold fast
the blessed hope of everlasting life,
which You have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.
– Thomas Cranmer, The Book of Common Prayer

Personal Worship Guide – When God’s Word Pours Down Like Rain

Personal Worship Guide – When God’s Word Pours Down Like Rain

God’s Word is like the rain. It fulfills God’s purpose of causing life to flourish. It comes from beyond us. We can’t control it. We only receive it… much like this invitation to feast at God’s banquet of grace.

Isaiah 55:1-13 reminds us that God’s Word inevitably succeeds… in what it offers, in what it requires, and in what it promises. It offers us a lavish banquet of grace (vv.1-5). It calls us to a lifestyle of repentance and faith (vv.6-7). It promises us life-giving renewal and transformation. Our salvation includes within its scope the whole created order. God promises to renew everything.

Here’s a personal/family worship guide for your use to internalize more of the above. You may only use the Scripture memory verse or one of the quotes or a song or the catechism question. But, let me urge to be intentional about your own personal worship of the Lord.