Monthly Archives: September 2012

Awesomed out by God’s Sovereign grace – and shown what it looks like.

I was awesomed out by the sovereign grace and faithfulness of God today whilst reading Chapter 4 of God’s Big Picture (Vaughan Roberts).  I’ve heard the words “Sovereign,” “grace” and “faithfulness” thrown around a lot, but the overview of the history of Israel that I read today has really helped me to appreciate what they actually look like.

God chose Abraham to be the father of his chosen people.  By God’s Sovereign choice, and not by birthright or individual merit, Jacob became the father of the people Israel, as heir of Abraham.  Jacob was the younger of two sons, and by the inheritance custom his brother should have been the heir.  However, it was prophesised from before his birth that “The older will serve the younger”, and as God is Sovereign, that was what happened, even though Jacob got to be Abraham’s heir by trickery and deception.  A generation down the line, when the sons of Jacob sold their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt and told their father that he was dead, God still upheld his promise to protect them as his people.  He made Joseph Prime Minister there so that Jacob and his sons could flee to Egypt from famine and live.

When the descendants of Jacob’s sons were enslaved by the Egyptians (which has a certain ring of justice about it, in my opinion), God went to great lengths to redeem them, until they were saved by the blood of the Passover lamb from the destroying angel that killed the Egyptians’ firstborn.  God, who is Sovereign, ordained that to happen.

Israel did not deserve God’s favour and nor do we.  But this is his grace to us, and God, being Sovereign, arranged things so that it would be within our grasp.  Jesus is our Passover lamb, and through his blood God protects us from destruction just as he protected his people Israel, whilst the Egyptians perished by God’s wrath for their sins.  Nor do we understand why God chose to unfold his purposes in the way that he did.  But what we do know is that God made a promise to Abraham to uphold his descendants as his own chosen people, and whatever lengths God went to in order to bring this about, and however treacherous and undeserving the people were, he deliberately and Sovereignly ordained things to come to pass so as they did so that this could remain the case.  As he has proven himself a faithful and merciful God to his Old Covenant people, we have reason to believe that he will uphold his promise to us too.

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How to pray for something that you know you need but desperately don’t want.

Ever found yourself in a position where you have had to ask God for something you knew you should want, but actually didn’t want at all?  Like the ability to forgive someone who has deeply hurt you and refuses to repent?  Or the ability to repent for a sin that you aren’t quite sure was a sin, and had quite enjoyed committing?  Or the ability to respond respectfully to your parents or boss or teacher and submit to them when they give you a tough time over something you either didn’t do or hadn’t known you were doing, or at least, hadn’t thought was all that bad?

Admit it.  You’ve been there.  It’s the proverbial “OMG that’s soooo unfair!!!” moment.  You know you need to pray that God will help you to forgive, repent, submit – but you don’t want to.  You don’t feel like you should have to do those things.  In fact, you feel you have every right to hate those who have remorselessly wronged you, to do what makes you feel good, to stand up for yourself, to fight your corner, because you think you’re in the right, and it seems criminal to have to deny yourself the justice that’s due to you.  However, even if you can think of a million ways of justifying yourself, at the very least you know that the Bible says you ought to pray for repentance, forgiveness, submission and everything else that is required to love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself, and you know that if you don’t, you’ll have God to answer to.  Now, you might ask, how can I honestly get down on my knees and beg God to give me something that I not only don’t want, but vehemently hate the idea of having, and can’t see the justice in having to ask for?  One answer is: pray through the degrees of separation between you and the desire for the thing which you know you need, and one day you will cherish that thing as your own.

You might not want to forgive your selfish, thieving, ungrateful little liar of a sister, even though the Bible says that you have to forgive her.  But do you want to want to forgive her?  And if you can’t even bring yourself to desire to want to forgive your little sister, can you want to want to want to forgive her?  If even this is too much, can you want to want to want to want to forgive her?  And so on and so forth.  Carry on down the degrees of separation, and you will probably come up with a petition that accurately describes where you’re at.  God can then remove each degree of separation one by one, until you actually do desire the thing that you hadn’t originally wanted to have to ask for.

It might seem ridiculous, but no matter how many degrees of separation there are between you and the desire for that thing you know you need to pray for, you can always say, “Lord, help me to want to want to want to want to want to…”.  It’s an honest plea, and it’s something that God can work through with you step by step, until his sanctifying work in you eventually does enable you to forgive, repent, submit or do whatever else you need to do in order to honour God with your heart-attitude.  And as for the grievance done to you, the sin you don’t think you’ve committed, or the accusation you think has been unfairly levelled at you – be encouraged that God who sees all things and roots for those whom he loves knows whether you’re in the right or not, and will reward you for submitting to his Word regardless of how entitled you think the circumstances might make you to do otherwise.

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