When we Fail to Keep our Promises, God does not
Part 3 continued from June 19th
Ruth—No Problem Is Too Big for God’s Grace
It is in the second part of Matthew 1:5 that we see another special mother in Christ’s lineage. Ruth—could be described as having been “despised.” Yet, her life represents such a beautiful portrait of grace that God devoted a full Book to tell about it.
Ruth’s story began way back in Genesis 19. Ruth’s distant forefather—Abraham’s nephew,
These people whom God had cursed because of their wickedness were protected until Deuteronomy 23. Because the Moabites were from such a defiled and despised race, God announced that no Moabite could enter God’s assembly for ten generations. Therefore, though Ruth had done nothing personally to deserve it, she was despised by the Jewish people. Remember all the strikes against her?
- She was of the wrong race.
- She was out of the wrong family.
- She was tainted by a bad past.
- She was hounded by someone else’s sin.
- She was scarred by a family scandal.
- She was plagued by the darkness of a stain.
Additionally, after a short marriage, Ruth’s husband died; and a famine was all around them. God tells, in the Book of Ruth, one of the sweetest Old Testament stories of grace that has ever been written! What did He write? He reported how He graciously reached down and took a woman from a cursed race, a despised people, and said, “You come into My family!” Thus a man named Boaz took Ruth to be his wife, and she then, upon that marriage, became a woman of hope. Like Tamar and Rahab, Ruth was one through whom Christ would come—one through whom God gloriously portrayed His grace, as recorded in Matthew 1:5: “Boaz begot Obed by Ruth ….”
Adversity reveals who we really are. Its fires burn away only what is temporary, and leave behind what is permanent. What are your trials revealing? Peter said that God’s grace accepted in trials purifies us, and we become precious like costly gold. Give those big problems to the Lord; allow Him to refine you and do something you could never plan or imagine—and then He will get all the glory!
Finally, we remember the reason these women are here in this chapter is to remind us of the doctrine of God’s forgiving grace. That doctrine reminds us all that we are like…
Mary—No Task Is Too Great for God’s Grace
The word that best describes the final woman of Matthew 1 is “determined.” What is interesting about Mary is that we have heard a lot about her that is not true, and we know very little about her from what the Bible records. In fact, books and books have been written about Mary, none of which contain facts from the Bible. What is in the Bible?
We know this to be truth: Mary was born a sinner. There is nothing in Scripture which says Mary was anything else other than a very normal sinner. She came to faith in the true God by acknowledging that she was lost without Him (Luke 1:47)
She quoted from the Old Testament, talking about the fact that God lifted her up out of the ash heap, out of the dung hill (I Samuel 2:7-8; Luke 1:52).
Mary, who wanted to know God’s Word and obey it, even as a young woman became quiet and determined. She kept on following and obeying the Lord—even through all this:
- She fell in love, and was engaged.
- She was visited by an angel.
- She received an unusual commission.
- She supernaturally conceived a child.
- She faced possible stoning because that was the penalty for fornication.
- She was scorned by others and falsely accused.
- After Christ’s birth, Mary patiently endured public shame for one third of a century—through the entire life and ministry of Christ.
- She was even “put in her place” by Jesus.
- She was continually saddened by her unbelieving sons.
- She never gave up; she determinedly pressed on in faith for God’s glory!
All that Mary was experiencing fit perfectly with God’s gracious plan: He had chosen her to be the “Mother of the Promise.” She bore Christ. She partook of grace. She rejoiced and said, “Oh, God, my Savior!” (Luke 1:47)
She ultimately became the one through whom “The Promise” arrived: “And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1:16)
The lesson for us today is to decide now that we are in this for the duration. We see our husband and children not just as they are, but how they will be by God’s grace. We do what we are called to do, staying in close personal touch with the Lord—and persist.
Mary is never mentioned again after Acts 1, yet she was so used of the Lord. Keep on keeping on—whether you are noticed or ignored, loved or rejected, needed or abused—and determine by God’s grace to persist no matter how great and overwhelming the challenge may seem.
Experiencing God’s Fathomless Grace
None of these five special women deserved to be a woman of grace. None of them deserved for God to use them. All of them were women with a mark against them, and most were unqualified to serve in such a manner. Yet, God lifted up each of these special ladies as an example of His fathomless grace! Through their life experiences, women for all time can learn that:
- No pain is too great to be healed.
- No past is too bad to be forgiven.
- No problem is too big to be solved through Christ.
- No stain is too deep to be cleansed through Christ’s blood.
- No task is too great for God’s enablement.
Have you personally ever been defiled by sin? Defeated? Defrauded? Despised? The good news is that “God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may have abundance for every good work.”a Regardless of your present circumstances, there is hope in Christ for the future! By God’s grace, you can partake of “The Promise.” You can trust Him, your Savior, to wash away whatever sin has been dragging you down—as far as the east is from the westb—so that He can look upon you in the righteousness of Christ!
Will you, then, as each of these five special mothers did, determine that by His grace you too will be energized by hope? What do I mean by that? Every child you bear, Mother, is marked by sin. All of them are already defiled. All of them, because they are sinners, are already defrauded out of the inheritance God wanted to give them. Every one of them is despised. Every one is defeated at birth by sin. But today, like the “Mothers of the Promise,” you can point your children to Christ; your life can be a portrait of God’s grace to them—a portrait of hope!
Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely! And as long as you trust Christ to be your strength, you will never walk alone, for:
“He Giveth More Grace”
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When [you] have exhausted [your] store of endurance,
When [your] strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When [you] reach the end of [your] hoarded resources,
[Your] Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
— Annie Johnson Flint
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