GOD is in control…

Our steps are ordered of the Lord…

In my Bible reading today, I’m starting at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel.

And as I often do, when starting a new book, I often read from Eugene Peterson’s book entitled “The Invitation,” which gives a summary of each book in the Bible.

I thought this introduction to the book of Matthew was quite insightful.

I particularly like the part that says,

“Jesus is the coming together in final form of themes and energies and movements that had been set in motion before the foundation of the world.”

MATTHEW
Fulfilled
by Eugene H Peterson

The story of Jesus doesn’t begin with Jesus.

God had been at work for a long time.

Salvation, which is the main business of Jesus, is an old business.

Jesus is the coming together in final form of themes and energies and movements that had been set in motion before the foundation of the world.

Matthew opens the New Testament by setting the local story of Jesus in its world historical context.

He makes sure that as we read his account of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see the connections with everything that has gone before.

In fact, in his account of Jesus’ birth alone, Matthew reminds his readers of two Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah.

Watch for this —a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; they will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).
(Matthew 1: 23, quoting Isaiah 7: 14)

It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear.

From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.
(Matthew 2: 5-6, quoting Micah 5: 2)

“Fulfilled”is one of Matthew’s characteristic verbs: such and such happened “that it might be fulfilled.”

Jesus is unique, but he is not odd.

Better yet, Matthew tells the story in such a way that not only is everything previous to us completed in Jesus; we are completed in Jesus.

Every day we wake up in the middle of something that is already going on, that has been going on for a long time: genealogy and geology, history and culture, the cosmos —God.

We are neither accidental nor incidental to the story. We get orientation, briefing, background, reassurance.

Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives —work, family, friends, memories, dreams —also completed in Jesus, who himself said, “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures —either God’s Law or the Prophets.

I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama”(Matthew 5: 17).

Lacking such a context, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the newspapers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

———

Matthew’s gospel was primarily directed to the Jews, pointing out all the many prophecies, in the Tanakh (Jewish Old Testament), that were fulfilled in Jesus’ life and ministry, which He performed here on Earth, from age 30 to 33.

The Bible tells us that God lives in eternity, which means He lives outside of our time space continuum, both of which He has created for our benefit.

I think this point is emphasized quite well in Isaiah 46:9-10:

“9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying,

‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ “
———

Eternity is not a long time, but rather it’s the absence of time and space, as we understand it.

The Bible tells us that we each have been created with a destiny and a purpose, and that God’s plan of redemption, for Adam and his descendants, began before God laid the foundation of the Earth.

In Revelation 13:8 we read: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

When attempting to understand a verse, it always helps to look for other verses containing similar words or phrases.

Scripture should be compared with Scripture; after all, every verse is related to at least one other verse.

This method of cross-referencing increases the likelihood of exegesis (interpreting the text as Almighty God intended) and minimizes the possibility of eisegesis (interpreting it to fit our own biases and preconceived ideas).

We find something similar in 1 Peter chapter 1:

“19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” ———

Long before Adam was created and placed on the Earth, long before he sinned in the Garden of Eden, long before Calvary’s crosswork was ever accomplished to undo the damage of sin, that crosswork had already occurred in the mind of the triune Godhead.

Jesus Christ’s destiny was predetermined long before He ever became a man, and long before there ever was a creation.

Nothing in His earthly life occurred fortuitously; even His miraculous birth and graphic death were in the Godhead’s eternal plan!

“Lo, I come to do thy will,” Messiah Jesus, quoting Psalm 40, told His Father at His incarnation (Hebrews 10:7-9).

If you read verses 10-22 of Hebrews chapter 10, you will see the cross!!

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—in their omniscience (all-knowledge)—could actually look into the future, down the corridor of time, to see that the Son would suffer and die on Cavalry’s cruel cross.

All three Persons would cooperate to work to that end. It was all settled fact in Heaven before it even came to pass on Earth.

[Quoted from: For What Saith the Scriptures? – arC Ministries’ Bible Questions Answered from the Dispensationally-Delivered Scriptures]

———

And the Bible says about each of us, that we also were created with a destiny and a purpose that was formed before the foundation of the Earth.

Romans 8:29-30
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified;

those he justified, he also glorified.”

Ephesians 1:5; 11
“He (God) predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

Psalm 139:16
Living Bible (TLB)

16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! ———

My point is God already has a plan and purpose for the Earth, for the future our nation and for each of us as individuals.

Nothing that happens, in the earth or in our individual lives, catches Him by surprise.

For God’s destiny to be fulfilled in our lives, the Bible tells us that we must first allow the Holy Spirit to rewrite the corrupt programming that we have received from the world; and this is done first as we immerse ourselves in God’s Word (the Bible), and thereby put on the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16 and Philippians 2:5); and secondly as we learn to trust God with all of our heart, not leaning on our own understanding; and then by acknowledging Him in all of our ways, He promises that He is directing our steps (see Proverbs 3:5-6), as we learn to walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

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The just shall live by faith…

George Mueller’s Timeless Advice for Growing in Faith…

Hebrews 10:35-39

Expanded Bible (EXB)

35 So do not ·lose [throw away] ·the courage you had in the past [or your confident trust in God; or your boldness], which has a great reward.

36 You must ·hold on [persevere; endure], so you can do ·what God wants [the will of God] and receive what he has promised. 37 For in a very short time [Is. 26:20],

“The One who is coming will come
and will not delay.

38 ·Those who are right with me [L My righteous one]
will live by faith.

But if they ·turn back with fear [shrink back],

·I [L My soul] will not be pleased with them [Hab. 2:3–4].”

39 But we are not those who ·turn back [shrink back] and are ·lost [destroyed]. We are people who have faith ·and are saved [leading to the possession/ preservation of life/the soul].

Let not Satan deceive you in making you think that you could not have the same faith but that it is only for persons who are situated as I am.

When I lose such a thing as a key, I ask the Lord to direct me to it, and I look for an answer to my prayer; when a person with whom I have made an appointment does not come, according to the fixed time, and I begin to be inconvenienced by it, I ask the Lord to be pleased to hasten him to me and I look for an answer; when I do not understand a passage of the word of God, I lift up my heart to the Lord, that He would be pleased, by His Holy Spirit to instruct me, and I expect to be taught, though I do not fix the time when, and the manner how it should be; when I am going to minister in the Word, I seek help from the Lord, and while I, in the consciousness of natural inability as well as utter unworthiness begin this His service, I am not cast down, but of good cheer, because I look for His assistance, and believe that He, for His dear Son’s sake will help me.

And thus in other of my temporal and spiritual concerns I pray to the Lord, and expect an answer to my requests; and may not you do the same, dear believing reader?

Oh! I beseech you, do not think me an extraordinary believer, having privileges above other of God’s dear children, which they cannot have; nor look on my way of acting as something that would not do for other believers.

Make but trial! Do but stand still in the hour of trial, and you will see the help of God, if you trust in Him.

But there is so often a forsaking the ways of the Lord in the hour of trial, and thus the food of faith, the means whereby our faith may be increased, is lost.

This leads me to the following important point.

You ask, “How may I, a true believer, have my faith strengthened?”

The answer is this, George Mueller said:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17).

As the increase of faith is a good gift, it must come from God, and therefore He ought to be asked for this blessing.

The following means, however, ought to be used, according to George Mueller:

1. The careful reading of the word of God, combined with meditation on it.

Through reading of the word of God, and especially through meditation on the word of God, the believer becomes more and more acquainted with the nature and character of God, and thus sees more and more, besides His holiness and justice, what a kind, loving, gracious, merciful, mighty, wise, and faithful Being He is, and, therefore, in poverty, affliction of body, bereavement in his family, difficulty in his service, want of a situation or employment, he will repose upon the ability of God to help him, because he has not only learned from His word that He is of almighty power and infinite wisdom, but he has also seen instance upon instance in the Holy Scriptures in which His almighty power and infinite wisdom have been actually exercised in helping and delivering His people; and he will repose upon the willingness of God to help him, because he has not only learned from the Scriptures what a kind, good, merciful, gracious, and faithful being God is, but because he has also seen in the word of God how, in a great variety of instances He has proved Himself to be so.

And the consideration of this, if God has become known to us through prayer and meditation on His own word, will lead us, in general at least, with a measure of confidence to rely upon Him: and thus the reading of the word of God, together with meditation on it, will be one especial means to strengthen our faith.

2. As with reference to the growth of every grace of the Spirit, it is of the utmost importance that we seek to maintain an upright heart and a good conscience, and, therefore, do not knowingly and habitually indulge in those things which are contrary to the mind of God, so it is also particularly the case with reference to the growth in faith.

How can I possibly continue to act faith upon God, concerning anything, if I am habitually grieving Him, and seek to detract from the glory and honour of Him in whom I profess to trust, upon whom I profess to depend?

All my confidence towards God, all my leaning upon Him in the hour of trial will be gone, if I have a guilty conscience, and do not seek to put away this guilty conscience, but still continue to do the things which are contrary to the mind of God.

And if, in any particular instance, I cannot trust in God, because of the guilty conscience, then my faith is weakened by that instance of distrust; for faith with every fresh trial of it either increases by trusting God, and thus getting help, or it decreases by not trusting Him; and then there is less and less power of looking simply and directly to Him, and a habit of self-dependence is begotten or encouraged.

One or the other of these will always be the case in each particular instance.

Either we trust in God, and in that case we neither trust in ourselves, nor in our fellow-men, nor in circumstances, nor in anything besides; or we DO trust in one or more of these, and in that case do NOT trust in God.

3. If we, indeed, desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and, therefore, through the trial, be strengthened.

In our natural state we dislike dealing with God alone.

Through our natural alienation from God we shrink from Him, and from eternal realities.

This cleaves to us more or less, even after our regeneration. Hence it is, that more or less, even as believers, we have the same shrinking from standing with God alone, from depending upon Him alone, from looking to Him alone: and yet this is the very position in which we ought to be, if we wish our faith to be strengthened.

The more I am in a position to be tried in faith with reference to my body, my family, my service for the Lord, my business, etc., the more shall I have opportunity of seeing God’s help and deliverance; and every fresh instance, in which He helps and delivers me, will tend towards the increase of my faith.

On this account, therefore, the believer should not shrink from situations, positions, circumstances, in which his faith may be tried; but should cheerfully embrace them as opportunities where he may see the hand of God stretched out on his behalf, to help and deliver him, and whereby he may thus have his faith strengthened.

4. The last important point for the strengthening of our faith is, that we let God work for us, when the hour of the trial of our faith comes, and do not work a deliverance of our own.

Wherever God has given faith, it is given, among other reasons, for the very purpose of being tried.

Yea, however weak our faith may be, God will try it; only with this restriction, that as in every way, He leads on gently, gradually, patiently, so also with reference to the trial of our faith.

At first our faith will be tried very little in comparison with what it may be afterwards; for God never lays more upon us that He is willing to enable us to bear.

Now when the trial of faith comes, we are naturally inclined to distrust God, and to trust rather in ourselves, or in our friends, or in circumstances.

We will rather work a deliverance of our own somehow or other, than simply look to God and wait for His help.

But if we do not patiently wait for God’s help, if we work a deliverance of our own, then at the next trial of our faith it will be thus again, we shall be again inclined to deliver ourselves; and thus with every fresh instance of that kind, our faith will decrease; whilst on the contrary, were we to stand still, in order to see the salvation of God, to see His hand stretched out on our behalf, trusting in Him alone, then our faith would be increased, and with every fresh case in which the hand of God is stretched out on our behalf in the hour of the trial of our faith, our faith would be increased yet more.

Would the believer, therefore, have his faith strengthened, he must especially, give time to God, who tries his faith in order to prove to His child, in the end, how willing He is to help and deliver him, the moment it is good for him.

Though older, these timeless truths from George Mueller can help us grow in our faith.
———

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