Saturday, January 22, 2011

Who deserves the credit?

If it's to be...it's up to me?
In the last post,  two angels promised Abraham and Sarah that a year from now she would give birth to a son and Sarah burst out laughing. What they said did not square with reality or biology (Gen. 18:12).

 A year quickly went by. Genesis 21: 1 confirmed that the angels were right: The Lord did visit Sarah as he said; the Lord did to Sarah as he promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his Son who was born to him, Isaac. God's grace is never based on our efforts. 

Have you ever heard people say or imply that your life could be better if only you had more faith? If  you haven't had someone say this to you yet, hold on, they will. These well meaning folks fail to realize their mistake: they place their faith in faith. For them, faith is a force, a lever, a tool that one uses to get all the goodies from God. If the goodies are not coming in, then it's time to burnish one's faith. 

What's wrong with this picture? Well, for starters, God is faithful even when we are faithless(2 Timothy 2:13). Furthermore, faith in faith is basically another God-helps-those-who-help-themselves-lie. The truth is, God delights in helping those who know they can't help themselves. This is what grace means. 

Faith focuses squarely on the Lord. The Lord acts before Sarah does anything. The Lord visited Sarah; the Lord did to Sarah as he promised; she conceived and gave birth to a son just as God promised.  

This is the good news of the gospel: when we stumble and fall, God is faithful; when we laugh (and inwardly doubt), God is faithful. God, says the Psalmist, knows our frame and remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103: 14). Stop trying to whip yourself into spiritual shape. Focus instead on the grace of God shining forth in the face of Jesus. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 103: 8). We are saved by grace, through faith, it is the gift of God, not works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Who deserves the credit? Christ, and Christ alone!

Read through the bible in 2011
Psalm 21: 1-8
Genesis 21: 1-21
I Chronicles 25: 1-31
Luke 13: 10-35