Being Fully Persuaded
One time as I was reading in Romans 4, the part starting in verse seventeen through the end of the chapter caught my attention. It speaks of Abraham and how he believed the promise of God in spite of the fact that everything in the natural seemed to point to an outcome other than the one God had shown him. He hoped against all hope. It made me look at myself and ask the question, "Am I believing God like Abraham did?"
I frequently allow how things appear in the physical world to dictate whether I believe God and what He says. Abraham did not. He believed, period. The most interesting part is that he did not pretend like the circumstances in his life did not exist or force himself into some super-spiritual la-la land in order to believe the promise of God. Paul says Abraham "faced the fact" that neither he nor Sarah were likely candidates to bear a child given their ages (v.19). Even though he faced that reality, that reality did not weaken his faith. The reason his faith was not weakened, but was actually strengthened in spite of the facts, lies in another reality of which Abraham was fully persuaded: "that God had power to do what He had promised" (v.21). Not a little bit persuaded or mostly persuaded, but fully persuaded. Abraham had no doubt in the power of God. If God said it, He could do it, and that was good enough for Abraham. As Abraham was fully persuaded that God's almighty power could accomplish anything, so must we as believers be persuaded. When we pray according to the Word of God, we must believe that our Lord not only hears but can answer our requests. We must in faith be convinced that the promises of God to us in Scripture will be fulfilled. A good example of one of those promises is in Philippians 1:6: "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". Notice how Paul frames this promise: "being confident of this". Am I confident of this? I think and act on many days as though it must be impossible for God to continue His good work in me. I either throw my hands up in despair or behave as if I am the one doing the good work in me, rather than allow myself to be fully persuaded that God can do it for me. Now, I know there is responsibility on our part to walk in righteousness as the Lord empowers us, but the actual transformation of our hearts and lives is completely in His hand. My job is to cooperate and obey. If I have faith and believe what God says, I am already well on my way to receiving the promise. An unpersuaded heart cannot receive God's promises, because it does not believe God has the power to do what He says.
If you are like me, you may at times find yourself in the place of being able to believe God can do a miracle on another person's behalf, but not yours. This is not being fully persuaded that God is all-powerful. It is a partial persuasion, and is still waist-deep in unbelief. The Lord is able to do the impossible for anyone, including you. Sometimes, like Abraham, we must wait for God's timing. We have to go through a process to receive the promise, and not waver in our belief throughout that process. If we waver, we may not make it through. There are many naysayers, both people around us and our Enemy, who will try to get us to stop believing God's promises. Do not listen to the voices of those who say God cannot, when God has said He can. This applies to specific promises God makes to you as an individual as well as general promises in Scripture. If He has told you to faithfully pray for a loved one who is lost with a promise they would be saved eventually, then do it, believing what He has told you. If He has promised you a child when you have, like Abraham and Sarah, been unable to have one, believe He will in His way and in His time. If He has promised you a spouse, hold onto that in faith and wait for Him to bring that person to you. (I will stop and make an aside here: be careful that you weigh everything you feel the Lord has promised to you specifically to make sure it is of Him and not borne out of your own desires for one thing or another. Saying God promised to make you a millionaire sounds nice, but I'd do some serious praying about something like that. As with anything we feel we hear the Lord say, we must check that word against the written Word [in its proper context], and discard anything that is clearly against what God has spoken in Scripture. God will not tell you to move in with your boyfriend.)
I want to live as someone who is fully persuaded that God can do all things, that He is "the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Romans 4:17b). When we take God at His word and believe He is Who He says He is, we can, like Abraham, have hope when there should be no hope, and faith when situations look impossible. Abraham was so fully persuaded that even when God asked him to give Isaac back up to Him as a sacrifice, he did so, knowing that God could still give Isaac back to him once more. What unshakable faith! Even more amazing is that Abraham did not just sigh and say, "Okay, God, I believe You." Paul says "he gave glory to God" (v.20). Abraham rejoiced in the outcome before he ever saw the promise fulfilled, so certain was he that God was able. Lord, help me be fully persuaded of Your awesome power today. There truly is no one like You!