Monday, December 28, 2015

Romans 8:32

What an amazing promise is ours from this chapter of Scripture!  If God was willing to give us His own Son, how can we think He would withhold anything good from us?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


A little more from Romans 8:28…

The words work together mean to “work together, help in work, be partner in labour. To put forth power together with and thereby to assist.”
Some other instances of this Greek word in the NT:
  • Mark 16:20 – they went forth preaching everywhere as the Lord was working with them.
  • 1Cor.16:16 – Submit yourselves and to everyone that helps with us.
  • 2Cor.6:1 – we are workers together with Christ.
  • James 2:22 – faith works with works and works makes faith perfect.
The root of this Greek word is transliterated into English as synergy, meaning “a companion in work, a fellow worker.”  The definition of synergy is “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

Therefore we could read this verse, “All things synergize for good.” Everything works together in cooperation with God’s wondrous plan in order to produce a combined effect greater than their separate effects. He is able to bring all of these separate circumstances, events, people, life changes, etc. together to work something far greater than any one of the things alone could work. Only God can do that.

I don’t always see the “synergy” of God’s hand at work in my life right at this moment.  I feel the effects of the current goings-on and get discouraged. But God knows how that is going to work with the past and with what is right around the corner. He brings it all into cooperation as only He can, and just as in creation, the outcome is “good.” In Genesis 1 God saw all that He had made and it was very good. In the same way He is creating circumstances and things in my life to bring about the same wondrous result – good – in my life.

The author of the Bible Study I am working through is Pam Forster.  She summed up the “synergy” of God’s plan in these words:
We may not be able to see good in a particular trial. By itself, there may not be anything we would call good in it, and if it continued indefinitely, with no other demonstrations of God’s grace to temper it, it might be our ruin. But, mixed with all that we experience, all that God allows into our lives, all the different trials and blessings and people — all of these work together to “have a greater total effect than the sum of their individual effects”.

Often times we can look back and with 20/20 hindsight see how God put everything together to produce that total effect of good.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Help Me

I was struggling through a difficult day yesterday and my husband gave me the words of Psalm 143 to chew on.  They didn’t impact me as much yesterday as they did when I just reread them this morning. 

[A Psalm of David.]] Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. 2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. 3 For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. 4 Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.  5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.  6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.  7 Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.  8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.  9 Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.  10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.  11 Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.  12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

So many times my spirit feels overwhelmed and the enemy beats me down with doubts and fears and guilt.  He reminds me of my insufficiencies and shortcomings,  and makes me feel worthless.  When I come to the Lord, I don’t want someone else pointing the finger at me and bringing judgment (v.2), because I already feel the weight of my sin and guilt.  I come to the Lord for help, knowing that He has already promised to forgive those shortcomings (1 John 1:9). 

Verses 3-4 give such an accurate description of how I felt yesterday.  Defeated.  Beaten into the ground.  Persecuted.  Alone in darkness, with no way out.  Desolate.

But what is the solution?  Verses 5 – remembering everything God has done in the past.  Meditating on His works.  Recalling the works of His hands.  What has God done that would encourage me in times like this?

  • He created me.  He knows me intimately and He knows my weaknesses
  • He died, for me.  He sent His beloved Son Jesus to take my place, even though the sin was my fault, and my choice.  Even though it was sin that brought me to such a low-point in my life.  Repeated sin.  Something I struggle with often.  But He forgives it – over and over again.
  • He has worked in my life in specific ways to bring me to the point where I am today.  I am the wife of a man called to be a pastor.  I am part of a missionary team preparing to plant a church in New York City.  I am on deputation.  I have five small children.  I am a homeschooling mom.  There were parts of each of those life callings yesterday that were combining to make me feel out of place, crazy, and defeated.  But each of those roles that I have are the works of God.  Each one was by His design.  So He knows that the combination may sometimes be hard (and even crazy), but He is there.
  • He has provided for me in specific ways, repeatedly.  I was able to graduate from five years of college debt free.  He has provided for us on an ongoing basis to enable us to live in New York City.  He has met every single need, and more, as we have traveled around the country living out of our van on deputation.  Just last week He provided for our brakes to get fixed, without a hiccup or hang-up of any kind.  The works of God’s hands are marvelous.
  • He allowed me to grow up in a Christian home.  He gave me a husband and godly in-laws.  He has drawn our oldest daughter to salvation.
  • I have been privileged to sit under the teaching and preaching of some of the most amazing servants of the Lord at Ambassador Baptist College.
  • I grew up in a wonderful church that emphasized to me the necessity of giving my life to serve God however He would have it.  I was blessed to have many missionaries stay in my home and influence me as a teenager.  I have been able to spend the last five years marinating in the teaching of my pastor in Brooklyn.
  • He has gifted me with friends who regularly encourage me in my walk with God, raising my children for the Lord, and my life on deputation and in ministry.

The next step is to thirst after the Lord.  Yesterday, when I felt my life was falling apart around me (just a feeling, but a strong one at the time!), I really just wanted to spend time with the Lord.  I wanted Him to lift me up.  I realized that I begun my day without Him, and thus immediately jumped on the roller coaster ride that dumped me where it did.  I stretched out my hands to the Lord, and I said, “Help!”  My soul was thirsting for the Lord to do something amazing in me that I knew I could not do. 

I didn’t have the patience for my children.

I didn’t know what to do for homeschooling

I didn’t have enough arms to meet everyone’s needs.

But God did.

The rest of this chapter is just like balm on my raw soul.  Today my future looks brighter.  Yesterday I saw only darkness and despair.  This morning His Word is soothing my soul and giving me hope, just as verse 8 says.  “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”  Things always look better in the morning, but better doesn’t describe it when we have the Lord.  His lovingkindnesses reach down and give me just the Scriptures I need.  He takes the broken pieces of my soul that I stretch out to Him and He mends it.  He directs my steps.  He clears my eyes, and He reveals His tender love.  That’s an amazing God!

In troubling times, we can flee to the Lord (v.9)

He teaches us what His will is for our lives.  If I am doing His will, then I don’t need to feel the weight, pressure, and guilt of all that I am not doing.  These are the things which the enemy constantly brings to my mind and piles on my shoulders.  But the Lord gives strength for me to do His will.  Then, when it is done, I can say with Him in John 17:4, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

The Lord quickens us, and brings us out of trouble (v.11)

He will eventually cut off the enemy and destroy the one who afflicts my soul (v.12).

I am the servant of the Lord.  Sometimes I forget this truth.  I try to be the master in my life.  But I am just a servant.  He is in control.  He is behind all the circumstances, weaving a beautiful story and picture so that all around me can see His power and gory.  Even if the only ones around me are my family members, He reveals His power.  They need to see it too.  My kids need to see God at work in Mommy’s life. 

I sat down this morning and prepared to do the next lesson in my Bible study in Romans 8.  But as I opened my Bible app, I noticed it was still on Psalm 143, and so I reread it.  When I turned to the lesson for today, I found that the title was “All Things” and I would be digging into Romans 8:28.  How appropriate that the Lord would teach me about “all things” following a day when I felt “all things” against me for evil.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Reckon

I have been studying through Romans 8 with the Doorposts blog “Busy Mamas Bible Study.”  This chapter is so rich that we can barely scratch the surface in a 30-day study.  I am currently digging into verse 18:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

As part of the lesson, we read Matthew Henry’s commentary on Romans 8:17-25.  (I find it on the Blue Letter Bible app, or for free).  I love his description of “I reckon.”

I reckon, as an arithmetician that is balancing an account.  He first sums up what is disbursed for Christ in the sufferings of this present time, and finds they come to very little; he then sums up what is secured to us by Christ in the glory that shall be revealed, and this he finds to be an infinite sum, transcending all conception, the disbursement abundantly made up and the losses infinitely countervailed.  And who would be afraid then to suffer for Christ, who as he is before-hand with us in suffering, so he will not be behind-hand with us in recompense?”

A couple of other thoughts on this verse:

1. The word for "suffering" is translated as "affections" in Gal.5:24 - crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts. I was digging into the relationship between suffering and "affliction" and trying to understand why it was translated that way. I think the base word is really a strong feeling.

Think of the strong feeling - the aversion, the weight, the "suffering" - that we feel when we are going through a trial or difficult circumstances. Its a strong feeling. A passion. Christ's suffering on Calvary is sometimes referred to as passion week or the Passion of Christ.

But our affections for the world, which we are to "crucify" in Gal.5:24 are also strong feelings - strong attachments to the world. And if we keep those fleshly affections, they ultimately bring suffering because of the consequences of sin.

2. As I was meditating on glory I was struck with the fact that the Hebrew (OT) word for glory is kavod or "weight." To ascribe glory to something was to give it due importance because it was weighty.  It also has a reference to the fact that in that day, payment was made in gold (so a heavy amount of gold was something of great value).

When I skimmed through the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge verses for "glory" (in the NT) I came away with the constant comparison that our suffering here is light and our glory (weight) in heaven will be "heavy" - great, important. Maybe it's insignificant, but I never thought of the "heaviness" of the glory compared to the lightness of the suffering. 

This falls right in with the meaning of “reckon” also.  As an accounting term, it was to weigh things in the balance.  As Matthew Henry described, when we weigh the minute suffering here on earth with our heavenly inheritance, the latter far outweighs (or counter-balances) the light suffering.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Therefore…walk worthy

In my current Busy Mamas Bible Study I had to go through the book of Ephesians.  In chapters 1-3 I highlighted everything that God has done for me.  This was very eye-opening to see so clearly what God has done for me.  Sometimes, a girl who was raised in a Christian home, and never committed any “major” sins, I take for granted exactly what God did when He reached out and saved my soul.  Ephesians 4:1 opens with the words, “Therefore…walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”  The next three chapters list command after command – each of which we are to do because of what God has done for us (chapters 1-3).  It is a “reasonable” service to do these things in response to everything that Christ did for us in salvation!

  • 1. 3 – Blessed us with all spiritual blessings
  • 1. 4 chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world
  • 1.5 predestinated us to the adoption of children
  • 1.6 made us accepted in the beloved
  • 1.7 redeemed us through His blood
  • 1.7 forgiven our sins
  • 1.8 abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence
  • 1.9 revealed the mystery of His will
  • 1.11 given us an inheritance
  • 1.13 sealed us with the Spirit of promise
  • 2:1 quickened me, when I was dead in sin
  • 2:4 loved me with a great love
  • 2:5 quickened me together with Christ
  • 2:6 raised us up together to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus
  • 2:10 created me in Christ Jesus unto good works
  • 2:10 ordained that I should walk in good works
  • 2:13 brought me near by the blood of Christ
  • 2:14 broken down the wall of partition
  • 2:16 reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross
  • 2:16 slain the enmity

Our responsibility in response to these things…

  • 4.1 Walk worthy
  • 4.2 Keep the unity
  • 4.14 Be no more children [but be mature]
  • 4.15 Speak the truth in love
  • 4.15 Grow up into Christ
  • 4.17 Walk not as other Gentiles
  • 4.22 Put off the old man
  • 4.23 Renew your mind
  • 4.24 Put on the new man
  • 4.25 Put away lying and speak truth
  • 4.26 Let not the sun go down upon your wrath
  • 4.27 Do not give place to the devil
  • 4.28 Do not steal, but work with your hands
  • 4.29 Do not have corrupt communication
  • 4.29 Speak edifying words
  • 4.30 Grieve not the Holy Spirit
  • 4.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice be put away
  • 4.32 Be kind
  • 4.32 Forgive as Christ forgave
  • 5.1 Be followers of God
  • 5.2 Walk in love
  • 5.3 Let uncleanness, fornication, and covetousness not be named among you even once
  • 5.7 Be not partakers with the children of disobedience
  • 5.8 Walk as children of light
  • 5.10 Prove what is acceptable unto the Lord
  • 5.11 Have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness
  • 5.11 Reprove the works of darkness
  • 5.15 Walk circumspectly
  • 5.16 Redeem the time
  • 5.17 Be not unwise
  • 5.17 Understand God’s Will
  • 5.18 Be not drunk with wine
  • 5.18 Be filled with the Spirit
  • 5.19 Speak psalms and hymns to yourselves
  • 5.20 Give thanks always for all things
  • 5.21 Submit yourselves to one another
  • 5.22 Wives submit to your husbands
  • 5.25 Husbands love your wives
  • 5.28 Husbands love your wives as your own body
  • 5.33 Husbands love your wives as yourself
  • 5.33 Wives reverence your husbands
  • 6.1 Children obey your parents
  • 6.2 Children honor your father and mother
  • 6.4 Fathers provoke not your children to wrath
  • 6.4 Bring up your children in the admonition of the Lord
  • 6.5 Servants obey your masters
  • 6.7 Do your service as to the Lord and not to men
  • 6.10 Be strong in the Lord
  • 6.11 Put on the whole armor of God
  • 6.13 Take the whole armor of God
  • 6.14 Stand therefore [against the devil]
  • 6.18 Pray always
  • 6.18 Watch with perseverance

So, go – and walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called!