God’s promises are many and ever true, but they all come with that little two letter word upon which so much depends: “if.” You see, we have to do something in order to receive and function in the promises of God. In Deuteronomy 28 Moses outlined all that God was prepared to do for the Hebrews. Note how the chapter starts: IF YOU will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth (Deut. 28:1).
God is nobody’s fool, and He’s not about to freely pass out His blessings to those who won’t believe in Him, believe what He says, or act in concert with His design for humanity. So, there must be that conditional “if.” This is not a “do it or else” condition. God does not threaten us the way humans might—“if you don’t pick up this room immediately, there will be no supper for you.” It’s not a matter of forced labor, intimidation, fear, badgering, etc., etc. It’s merely a statement of fact, no different that saying, if you want to drive a car you have to have a license.
God’s promises could equally be called “terms of the contract.” For, God has made a blood covenant with humans. There was the old covenant (Old Testament) and then with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, there’s the new covenant (New Testament). John 17 lists the terms of the New Covenant—it is Jesus’ Last Will and Testament. In order to receive all that God has provided for us in this new covenant, we have to sign our names on the bottom of the last page next to where God has signed His. When we do, we say that we agree to the terms of the covenant that God makes individually with each of us. These terms say what we will do and what God will do. So, in that sense, they are promises by God, but they are likewise promises by each of us, individually.
Too often, Christians haven’t read the covenant they made with God. They have only a vague idea of what it really says. Perhaps they have a vague understanding that if they are “good” then God will allow them into heaven. There are plenty of jokes about this: “A man appears at the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter asks him….” In this mode of understanding, God becomes the equivalent of Santa Claus—“Making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice, Santa God is coming to town.”
Nothing could ever be further from the real Truth, Who is Christ Jesus. God does not keep a list, and then weigh us and find us either “naughty” or “nice.” He doesn’t dispense gifts to the “good” guys and a lump of coal to the “bad guys.” I almost gag writing this tripe. But, unfortunately this is the misconceived notion that many have.
Here’s how it actually works: we have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end (Heb. 3:14). When we give our life to Christ (sign the covenant) then that guarantees us “all He has for us,” and that’s a lot! When we sign the covenant we say that we believe God is real, and that He rewards us with all the blessings outlined in the covenant—which He has also signed in the Blood of Christ Jesus. We have to trust Him fully (have absolute faith in Him) that He will indeed fulfill His end of the bargain, for without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out] (Heb. 11:6).
Now, what God does for us goes well beyond what humans would do for us in a contract. God not only signs the contract with His own blood, but He then makes all His power and authority available to us to help us keep our end of the contract. Not only that, but when we mess up and violate the terms of the contract, He’s ready to forgive us, and set us up back in the full terms of the contract. All I can say is what an amazing thing God has done for us. It just shows how much He really loves us and how much He desires the very best for us.
Now, look carefully at the “if” statement in Heb. 3:14, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end. The question that should immediately come to mind, is “how do I do that?” The answer is rather simple, but the process not so much. Actually the process is simply, just hard to do with any consistency. What God is saying, is “stay in love with me.” “Keep your full confidence in me, never let it drop.”
So how does one stay in love with God and keep up absolute trust of the King of kings? First, and foremost is to constantly work on your RSMMA—read, study, meditate, memorize, and act. Don’t let a day go by that you don’t activate, enhance, and mobilize your trust in God by reading His Word. It doesn’t have to be great swaths of the Word—just reading John 3:16 and spending a few moments contemplating all that’s said there will certainly stimulate your faith. But you have to do it. You have to because faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself) (Rom. 10:17). We know this is absolutely true because we are to look away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2). Jesus is the One Who initiates faith in us and sustains it in us as we live in His Word.
The second part of the equation is to pray daily. Not some dry, preprinted prayer, but prayer from the heart. Certainly you can pray for specific people and specific things, but pray the way you would say it and for the needs that you see. It’s OK to look at the ways others pray, but use it as a model for you own words. What you should think of is that prayer is talking to God on a one-to-one basis with Someone Who loves you so much He was willing to die cruelly on the cross so you could live, and not just live, but live in His total blessing in His eternity. Pray with love and joy in your heart, and gratitude moistening you lips.
Stay young at heart, seek God’s presence and walk hand in hand with Him on a daily basis. BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name! Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! (Ps. 103:1-5).