Righteous!

I am in the real estate business.  I do title work and have done some real estate developing and construction.  So, needless to say, in this tough market I have quite a bit of time on my hands.  The time and the hardship have driven me to explore the Word of God more than I ever have before.  The past several months have been incredibly rich in insight from the Lord, so I decided the time was right to begin studying what for me is the most complex book in the Bible — Romans.  Although I only made it through Chapter 4 this week, there have already been so many insights into God’s grace and wonder!  However, because of the particular complexity and hardship of these times, one insight stands out to me.

We all seem to be in a holding pattern right now waiting for things to work out and give us some hope.  The oil & gas guys are waiting for oil & gas prices to go back up so they can get back in the fields.  Retail workers are waiting for sales to pick back up so they can get more hours.  Truck drivers need more miles a good economy will bring.  Teachers and doctors and mothers are waiting for the flu pandemic to subside.  Families are waiting for their mothers’ cancer to go into remission, or for their fathers to get help with their addictions.  Parents are waiting for their wayward teenagers to come back.  I could go on and on and on.  Tough times have always been with us and at any given time, trials dominate our lives.  However this nexus of hard economic times, flu pandemic, and world conflict have made our lives more uncertain than ever.

The Lord has made several promises to those who Love Him:

healing and forgiveness (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

food, drink, clothing (Matthew 6:31-33)

green pastures, quiet waters, soul restoration, guidance, comfort and protection, goodness and loving kindness (Psalm 23)

rest for your soul, light burden (Matthew 11:28-30)

good gifts (Matthew 7:7-11)

desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)

good plans for a future of hope (Jeremiah 29:11)

increase and comfort (Psalm 71:20-21)

strength and help (Isaiah 41:10)

These promises do not apply to those who do not believe that Jesus Christ is God’s sacrifice for their sins.  However, for those who do believe in our Lord, even with this extremely abbreviated list of God’s promises you can see there is not a problem that He has not promised to solve for us.  So, if He can solve all of our problems and has promised to do so, then why doesn’t He just get on with it?  Why do we have to keep waiting in anxiety?  In fact, if He loves us so much why does He allow these bad and grueling things to happen to us?  Why do our lives seem to be just a string of hardships chained together, the final link of which is our death?

In Romans 4:18-22, Paul gives us the answer to our questions.  He recalls how Abraham had been made great promises by God, one of which was a lineage of generations to come – a race of people to which Abraham would be the father.  Yet, Abraham’s wife Sarah had been barren and he and Sarah had grown old without a child.  Verses 19-21 state “Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, he was able also to perform.”  Now here comes the answer to our “whys” in verse 22 — “Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.”

The death of Jesus the Christ on the cross of Calvary brought us forgiveness, and restored the union with God that sin had broken.  But, righteousness comes only through a growing faith in God’s promises once we have accepted the salvation that Jesus offers.  So as saved believers in Jesus Christ, the answer to all of our questions is God’s righteousness, which is gained through the continued practicing of our faith in God, believing that He will deliver on ALL of His promises.

So, do you need healing, forgiveness, food, drink, clothing, green pastures, quiet waters, soul restoration, guidance, comfort and protection, goodness and loving kindness, rest for your soul, light burden, good gifts, the desires of your heart, good plans for a future of hope, increase and comfort, and/or strength and help?  Take a lesson from Abraham.  As things become more and more impossible in the flesh, then have more and more faith that God will deliver.  Your growing faith will be accounted to you as righteousness.

Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory.  Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of our sins is death.  That’s why we need the forgiveness offered through Jesus to be forgiven of our sins and avoid eternal death.  However, once we are saved we now have the option to attain righteousness in God through our faith in Him and in His promises.  So, if the wages of sin is death, then what are the wages of righteousness?  WOW!

Make sure that you observe a most important principle here.  Doing good things (works) played no role in Abraham’s righteousness.  In fact, we know from the scriptures that Abraham had as many character flaws as any of us.  No, Abraham’s righteousness came as a result of his belief in God and his faith that God’s promises would be met.  Any good works would only have come as a result of his righteousness that came from his faith that God gave him in the first place!

The fruit of good works comes from the tree of righteousness that grows from the roots of faith.  There are no trees or roots of good works!  So look at your trials (big or small) as a gift from the Lord in which He is offering you righteousness – the currency through which His good promises are met.  Then you will see that your trials are incredible opportunities for receiving God’s bounty through faith.

A few decades ago, the Imperials had an incredible song with the following lyrics:

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him.  Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise.   Praise the Lord, for the chains that seem to bind you serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you when you praise Him.

Had he known these lyrics, I have no doubt that Abraham would have been singing them to our Lord in praise and faith in the promises of our God.

By the way, soon after, Sarah gave birth to a baby boy named Isaac.  Isn’t God AWESOME?!?!

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