People of Promise 104 Promises Promises
This is the last lesson in the “People of Promise Series. It has run a full two years, and covered a good deal of Biblical ground, so to speak. Next week, we will begin a new series, “Engaging the Christian Lifestyle.” Can’t wait to see where the Holy Spirit takes us.
This last lesson in the People of Promise series looks at a verse that was discussed once before, but which we need to finish with, and examine a bit more thoroughly. For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes [answer] in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God (2Cor. 1:20).
There’s a great ad on TV based on human notions of promises. I shall paraphrase liberally. “A promise is only words” “It is no better than the maker of the promise.” “It can be broken.” It can go unfulfilled because of external circumstances.” A promise unkept is a nothing.” “Ah, but a promise kept, that is something; it goes beyond words to the true nature of the heart.” And God’s heart is always for us. What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] (Rom. 8:31). For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).
Yes, God loves us beyond our understanding and will never willfully separate Himself from any one of His children. That’s why all of His promises are “yes” to us.
But here’s the rub. We can, and often do, separate ourselves from God. It’s not that God’s promises fail, it’s because we fail. We fail because (1) we don’t know God’s promises; (2) we don’t stand in His promises with anything that even approaches true faith; (3) we allow others to convince us that His promises are for others, were only for those in the past, etc. Listen, if God promises you something, then it is yours, and you need to seize it and hold onto it for dear life.
This is not an easy thing to do because humans are impatient. Even the great father of our faith, Abraham, got cross-ways in his total reliance on God, and took things into his own hands. But that didn’t nullify God’s promise, and Isaac was indeed born of Sarah even as God promised. Ah, but the agony of the wait, that was Abraham’s undoing and it is often ours, too. We pray according to 1John 5:14-15, asking for something God has promised His children, and then don’t receive it right away. “Ah well, we say, God’s answer must be no.” Well, guess what, your failure to stand in God’s promise is what caused it to fail.
Yes it’s hard. No one ever said that all you have to do is spin the ol’ prayer wheel, and you get whatever the pointer lands on. No, you must absolutely believe that God will do what God says He will do. You must believe with absolute certainly that God is not going to jerk His promise away at the last second, and then taunt you because you weren’t quick enough to grab the brass ring. You have to believe that God is not human, and doesn’t think or operate as humans do (Isa. 55:8-9). You have to stand rock solid with God.
“But why?,” we whine. “If God knows I need it, why doesn’t He just give it to me?” I just said that God doesn’t think and operate like humans do. God’s covenant, signed in the blood of Christ Jesus, provides all we need in life if we are willing to live under the terms of the covenant. And the number one condition? Seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides (Matt. 6:33).
Yup, ya gotta get involved in a big way. “Well God sure does expect a lot from me, doesn’t He?” Well, yes, He does. He expects you want to know Him fully, He expects you to spend time developing that relationship, He expects you to want that relationship more than anything else in life. “Whoa, He wants too much,” you say (or think). “I just don’t have the time for all that.” Well, God is perfectly capable of redeeming the time you “lost” when you were spending it with Him. In fact, He makes things fit together in such as way that even if you had twice the time you gave Him, you would not accomplish what He will accomplish in your life.
So, Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed (Prov. 16:3). Notice it doesn’t say that your plans will just succeed, it says that they will be established and succeed. The plans are God’s plan, established in you so that you may succeed. That’s true success.
Our job, as God’s children, is to spread the Good News of His love and care for us. So, thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere, For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2Cor. 2:14-15). We cannot ever hope to fulfill our assignment unless we rely fully on God’s help and His ever-presence with us. When we do, and others see God at work in our lives, then they, like the Psalmist, will say, All the kings of the land shall give You credit and praise You, O Lord, for they have heard of the promises of Your mouth [which were fulfilled] (Ps. 138:4). Just imagine.