Saturday, March 06, 2010

Lent Reflection: Our Hope against All Hope

Date: Thursday, March 4
Title: Our Hope against All Hope
The Bible Passage: Romans 4: 13-25

Key Words: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.” (Romans 4:18)

Reality check: The guy was a centenarian while his wife was sterile. They faced the fact that they were never going to have a child of their own. (v19)

But here comes the promise: “Your name will be Abraham for you will be the father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). It must have sounded like a divine punch line because even Abraham and Sarah can barely stop laughing! Yet when all hope seemed lost, they put their confidence in God. If He can raise the dead and create everything out of nothing, surely He is big enough to do what He has said.

Their miracle boy Isaac was pledged by the sheer grace of God. And they received the promise with the empty hands of faith. It was not something they had earned. God didn’t say, “Obey this law and I will bless you”.

It was more like, “I will bless you and make you a blessing. Believe in My promise”.

Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness. (v22)

Don’t we sometimes get into the habit of bargaining with our heavenly Father for goodies? “Lord, if I deny myself some earthly pleasures, would you promise to answer my requests? Or if I give extra offering, surely I deserve extra blessing!”

Such prayers look more like a business deal than a relationship. And if we fail to keep up with our efforts to appease God, we fall into despair.

Perhaps we need another reality check: Aren’t we now spiritual children of Abraham through faith in Jesus? By sheer grace, God’s promised blessing is poured out to many nations (including us!)

Like Abraham, we are declared as righteous through Christ who died for our sins and resurrected for our justification (v 25). That’s good news!

Which means the basis of our acceptance and petitions before God depends on what Christ has done rather than our track record in law-keeping. The gospel sets us free to humbly say, “Lord, it’s not about me. It’s all from you and for your glory. Help me with this need or support me without it being met. I trust in your promise to never leave nor forsake me.”

When all hope seems lost, open up the empty hands of faith and lay hold of His promises. Be fully persuaded that God has the power to do what he has said.

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