My heart has been riveted by the examples of godly men who take God at his word. Abraham in Genesis 15:5-6 is staring down the bleak hallway of being in his eighties without children, and God says “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them…. So shall your offspring be.” And the text says, “Abraham believed the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness.” He didn’t know the how; he didn’t know the when; he didn’t know the why; but he knew the who and that was God. God spoke and Abraham believed.
George Mueller also took God at his word. After seeing God answer prayers for thousands of orphans helped and at least 70 million dollars raised, his wife was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. After she died Mueller tells of his prayers prior to her death. He says:
The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says. (Mueller vol 2; p745)
May we learn and be given faith to trust God in everything and for everything. May we take Him at His word.
Yesterday was my birthday. And since I didn’t have a blog on Mercy’s b-day, I thought I would post a letter I wrote to Mercy on her first birthday. It reminds me of God’s gospel and glory.
February 17, 2009
Mercy, I thank God for you. Every morning I look forward to seeing your smiling face, your smooth, beautiful dark skin, and hearing your noises. You light up a room and your waddling with speed is dangerous but adorable. I love your hair, your headbands, your bows, your clips, and your products (Thanks goes to mommy for all the education and hard work on your hair). I thank God for how He constantly reminds me of His love for me as I increase in my love for you. It is an intense love. That is why adoption still stuns me. I struggle to wrap my head around the degree to which you were an orphan. I stepped on the broken concrete dust-filled streets of Addis Ababa; I talked to the people; we drove past the area where you were abandoned; I pictured your birth mom laying you on the street and running away or maybe crouching down behind something to see if you would be taken; I smelled the exhaust-filled air; I walked past beggars; I visited the orphanage you were taken to – little sanitation, no soap that we could find, dirt floors, small rooms, and tons of kids. The only redeeming fact was the sweet people who ran it and the kids themselves. All these less than perfect moments. The poverty, the hunger, the pain – surrounding me, consuming the city and her people – stand in stark contrast to our comfortable, safe, American inner-city life. You were an orphan and now you are a child. Heir of nothing and now an heir of…everything we have. Contrasts are helpful for me as I contemplate my adoption. The setting was more unpromising in my heart. The only reason I wasn’t left as an orphan in the dirtiness of my heart was grace – not my goodness but God’s grace. God sent His Son to die for me and His Spirit now indwells me to remind me that God is my Father and I am His child. Mercy Bethlehem, in this one-year-old birthday season, I thank God for you and how you teach me about God.
Happy Birthday little girl, I pray you will understand the joys of knowing God as your Father one day.
1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Although this hymn-like text does remind us of His ascension, the primary function is to highlight His glory. His home is glory. He is glorious and we want the world to see His glory. So why this hymn…? (here is an excerpt from my sermon on 1 Timothy 3:14-16)
…. So that Christ’s sacrifice looks amazing. So that God’s value would jump off the page. So that you will break inside at how much love was poured out for you and how that magnifies the worthiness of God. This is about glory – not yours, but God’s. Yes, the cross shows you as valuable, but not as most valuable. The rescuer is the hero of the story, not the rescued (The movie isn’t called Lois Lane. It is called Superman). The one who sacrificed his life for the helpless gets the fame. If the gospel were on the big screen, at the end the crowd is meant to leave in a unanimous chorus of “Jesus is best. I want to be like Him.” He is the star of the show. He is the brightest point of the universe. You are not insignificant; you are just not as significant as God. And this is part of the test that saving faith exists. The believer delights that God gets more glory than they do. The one who fights to protect his glory rather than God’s glory is flirting with insubordination. God’s glory is our aim, our delight, our treasure and His rights are to be trumpeted. It is His gospel that is to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth so that thousands, millions might embrace Christ and experience the abiding joy and peace through present suffering and an eternity with the King. He was taken up in glory because He is glorious.