What’s in a Promise, part 1

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our great God Who did not owe us any promises, still chose to make them.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 89:34

“No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back one word of what I said.”

The Source of Promises

Blew the diet again this past weekend. Severely. Broke my treadmill, too, and figured that would really not help my cause. But today is a new day and the treadmill is fixed. Once again I promise that I will make consistent healthy choices. Ok, maybe not. But when I fall, I am caught by my Sovereign God Who keeps all of His promises and encourages me to rise up and try again.

Sound familiar? I am a flawed human, and while I keep important promises by the grace of God, sometimes the smaller ones are rationalized away.

I’ve been thinking a lot about promises lately, and how much God’s promises have been a constant comfort and strength in my life. So I thought I would devote this week to exploring the promises of God.

Life hurts sometimes and we search to find something to hold onto, to help us get through. But in this fallen world, promises are easily made and often not kept by man. So how can we hold onto promises from a God we cannot see? How do we access these promises? And how do we hold on when it seems that God’s promises are not kept?

Today I want to look at our Covenant Maker and Keeper. Looking at the source of the promise, we understand that we cannot compare God’s promises with man’s. While people change their mind and a faithful man cannot be found (Proverbs 20:6), the promises of God are trustworthy because . . .

The promises of God are made by a God that doesn’t change or lie. 

1 Samuel 15:29

“And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”

Our security cannot be satisfied in an ever-changing world, but the God Who made this world does not change His purposes or lie. That means He said it, I believe it, that settles it.

The promises of God are made by our God Who is Holy.

Isaiah 57:15

“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.”

The one true living God is Holy, unable to sin, so far above us, yet He has compassion on the lowly. In His Holiness, He could not mislead His people or not keep His covenantal promises. It is not in His divine nature to do so.

The promises of God are made by a God who is in complete control.

Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Jeremiah 32:27

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”

He is in control of all things. The One Who set up the world system is fully capable of maintaining it. If He can create this world and sustain it, He can handle keeping all of his promises and our problems, too.

Our great God Who did not owe us any promises, still chose to make them. He delights to bless His children and to give them His hope, because He is good and kind.

 

Control’s Control

its-not-faithin-technology-its-faithin-people

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The One Who had all control laid it down to save our souls.

Scriptures of the Day:

John 11:48

“If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary and our nation.”

John 12:10-11

“So the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus too, 11 for on account of him many of the Jewish people from Jerusalem were going away and believing in Jesus.”

John 12:27

“Now my soul is greatly distressed. And what should I say? ‘Father, deliver me from this hour’? No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour.”

A sinister character plots an innocent man’s demise while the dissonant tones from the background music come to a climax, piercing the palpable tension felt while we eagerly watch to see whether the righteous or the wicked will overcome . . .

This typical dramatic scenery has drawn many with the lure of the villian/hero storyline. Me, too.

Many years ago I am ashamed to admit that I was addicted to watching soap operas. True story. When I think back on it now, it is embarrassing. But there I was, watching the clock to make sure I did not miss an episode and clinging to every word to make sure that my favorite character was not duped by the newest control monger in town.

This addiction with soap operas ended when the LORD confronted me on it. “I will set no vile thing before my eyes . . . I will walk in my house with blameless heart . . . (Psalm 101). When I doubted whether or not God was really speaking I asked Him to shut off the television if He did not want me to watch it. And. The. Television. Shut. Off. Thinking it was just a coincidence, I turned the television back on and asked the LORD to confirm. And. The. Television. Shut. Off. Again.

So, that ended my fascination with soap operas and television, in general. But what was it that was so addicting about them in the first place?

Deep within we all want to know that the good guy wins. The thought of manipulative people wrecking people’s lives and plans by controlling their outcomes is unjust.

But even in the vilest plots of the enemy, the sovereignty of our God trumps it all. His will WILL be accomplished. No matter what. No one can control that outcome. It is done.

Even with this truth, man still strives to control in his folly. So how does control end up controlling us? The motivations for control are many. Here are just a few:

Fear. The Pharisees were motivated to kill Jesus because of fear – fear that they would lose control. What was it they were trying to control and why would they want to keep the living Truth from all people?

Power. They wanted to maintain the power they had and were blinded by their selfish pursuits and . . .

Jealousy. They did not want another leader to come and take away their audience. They were even willing to kill the man Jesus had just raised from the dead (Lazarus) to try and stop the fame of Christ from spreading. Wow. How did they become so blind?

We, too, can lose perspective and become crazed in our quest for control, if we are not careful. It might be a little matter, but it could become a big problem, causing dissension even in the body of Christ. In the end, we ultimately control nothing.

While God is always in control, the One Who had all control laid it down to save our souls. Jesus did not seek to control or to have deliverance from His suffering, but solely chose to glorify God, yielding His will to the Father. God was sovereignly in control at all times, even over the death over His own Son – and the Son trusted the Father in it all.

The fruit of our thoughts and actions reveals their source – is our behavior of God or Satan? Is the glory we seek our own or God’s? When we rid ourselves of fear and bitter envy and recognize that God is in control, we are free from control’s control.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: When Dreams Are Shattered

Photo Credits johnkrohn.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
johnkrohn.blogspot.com

Job 17:11

“My days have passed, my plans are shattered, even the desires of my heart.”

Proverbs 13:13

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.”

Joel 2:25

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” 

Psalm 27:13-14

13 “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Perhaps nothing stings more than the reality of a hope that is dashed or a dream that is unfulfilled.  You were so close to your goal, and then suddenly it is gone.  Or the plans you had for your life have seriously been altered, completely shattered because of circumstances beyond your control.

Why is it so disheartening?  What is it about a dream crushed that causes disillusionment?  I use a GPS most of the time I am driving.  My husband does not.  If he gets lost, he just works to figure it out.  I, on the other hand, begin to wonder if the world will end – I am lost – what do I do?  I want to be certain where I am going and the uncertainty causes concern and insecurity.  That is where faith comes in.

The great heroes of the faith did not always get in their time-frame what they were promised.  They desperately wanted to see their dreams or promises fulfilled, but they learned precious lessons while waiting.  Patience and trust cannot be earned by merely being taught, they are instead caught through endurance.

Perhaps the terrain looks a lot different than you thought it would.  Maybe you are on the correct path, but in God’s sovereignty, your destination is going to take longer to get to.  The character or tools needed for that assignment need to become part of you, before you can handle the plans God has for you.

But our souls cry out, how can destruction or pain be God’s best?  I honestly do not know or fully comprehend how God does it, but He does use every part of our pain for good.  Perhaps your hope or delight was in that dream, and seeing it as your end or goal, rather than in God and seeing it everything as part of God’s plan and surrendering our way to God’s best.

When it seems like there is no more joy, no more hope, that is where faith comes in.  Placing our hope in God rather than on the temporary fulfillment of this earth is perhaps the greatest treasure learned when our longings are not fulfilled in the timing or way we wanted.

Lord, help us to trust you when things look vastly different than we thought they should.  You know best.

Thoughtful Thursday: How to Fight

Job 15:1-9

15:2Does a wise man answer with blustery knowledge, or fill his belly with the east wind3 Does he argue with useless talk, with words that have no value in them? 4 But you even break off piety, and hinder meditation before God5 Your sin inspires your mouthyou choose the language of the crafty. 6 Your own mouth condemns you, not Iyour own lips testify against you7Were you the first man ever bornWere you brought forth before the hills8 Do you listen in on God’s secret council? Do you limit wisdom to yourself? 9 What do you know that we don’t know?  What do you understand that we don’t understand?

Job 16:2-5

16:2I have heard many things like these before.  What miserable comforters are you all3 Will there be an end to your windy words?  Or what provokes you that you answer? 4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my placeI could pile up words against you and I could shake my head at you. 5 But I would strengthen you with my words; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

James 4:1-3

“Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?  2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.”

Assumptions.  Pride.  Hurt feelings.  Control.  Put any two people in a room and conflict is inevitable.  Sure, some conflicts might be more sparky, and depending on whether or not you have a fighter or a flighter, the duration and intensity can vary. Add to that the past baggage each one brings into the fray, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good old fashioned quarrel.

I do not think many people truly enjoy conflict – so why do we do it?  It is one of those necessary components of life and can actually be a very healthy thing if we do not permit bitterness, envy or vengeance to cloud our view.  At the root of every disagreement is a desire to be understood.  We want to be known and cared for – even when we do not see eye to eye. We want people to believe the best in us – even when perhaps that assessment is not accurate.

In humility, we are all flesh and even when we think we are right, we are wrong.  Wrong for wanting to be proved right, perhaps, or wrong for not caring for our brother or sister in Christ.  A constructive discussion should always contain the elements of respect, kindness and consideration.  When voices are raised, chances of being understood are vanishing quickly.  Laying down our agenda and seeking to understand is a beautiful Christ-like response when engaged in difficult conversations and can end up turning the argument into a beautiful expression of love and caring for souls.  Asking questions and refusing to pass judgment is essential.

What is our goal?  Evaluating our motives can help us to stay on track.  Why is it so important to us that we win an argument?  What are we trying to achieve?  Redemption?  Or having our way?  Frustration is a pretty good indicator of pushiness and not entrusting the process and other person’s heart to God.  Judgment and guilt trips are an indicator of someone trying to control or manipulate.  Seeking to understand why someone is hurt, however, is beautiful.

How about laying all techniques in arguing down and praying first?  Sometimes both parties need to take a reprieve and realize they are a team.  Working on a solution together and hearing every argument as valid will help bring the quarrel to a healthy resolution.  Ultimately, His glory should be our highest goal and cherishing one another and putting each other above our own needs is honoring to God and all parties.  Just as Christ served as an intermediary when we were at odds with God, sometimes we might need someone to help guide our conflicts, too, if no solution seems possible.  May we endeavor to love one another and give to Christ our deepest need to be known and accepted.

Lord, we want to honor you in every aspect of our lives.  In struggles and hurt, disagreements and pain.  Help us to die to self and to glorify You by our unity.