What’s In a Promise, part 2

promises-of-the-world-are-often-formed-in-sin-but-the-promises-of-god-are-redeeming-with-purposes-far-beyond-just-getting-what-we-want-ou-it

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The promises of God have purposes far beyond just getting what we want.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:4

“By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

The Purpose of Promises

Ever wonder why we have promises? Why do we need them? What is their purpose? Why couldn’t we just have all that we need?

When my children were little and really excited about something they could hardly wait for, they would sometimes look at me with their innocent, big eyes and ask, “promise?”. My kids knew that I would not say or promise something if I did not mean it. I wanted them to know that they could count on my being trustworthy in an uncertain world. They just wanted affirmation that it was going to happen.

Our Father is the same – only He has the means to fulfill all His promises where circumstances can throw our promises into a tailspin of delay.

The promises of man are often self-focused and materialistic in the pursuit of comfort. It is not evil to desire some comfort, but it can become a stumbling block if that is our desire above God’s purposes.

Faithfulness. God gives us His promises with a motivation much different than ours. He desires for us to be people of hope, living worthy lives yearning after His promises. When we look toward the fulfillment of His plan, we are not sitting idle, but become a faithful people. If every promise we ever had was already fulfilled, we would have nothing to look forward to and grow complacent.

Eternal Salvation. His goal is the pursuit of our souls with His promises. Drawing us near, He uses His promises for an eternal means. In trusting in His promises we do not waste time investing in temporary promises. Promises of the world are often formed in sin, but the promises of God are redeeming with purposes far beyond just getting what we want. His promises lead to the salvation of our souls.

Relationship. God wants us to trust in Him and to rely on Him, not ourselves. This is relationship. King Hezekiah demonstrates this relationship of trusting in God’s promises so well. The Bible says that there was none like him in his trust of God (2 Kings 18:5). Threatened by the king of Assyria who defeated everyone else, it would seem easy to fear and hard to trust, but Hezekiah staunchly placed his trust in God and the LORD was with Him. Even so, Hezekiah also had his moments of asking God to affirm His promises just like my children did (2 Kings 20). He was sick and going to die. Trusting God’s promise for healing was a real test in the face of such pain. So he asked for a sign. He did not ask with unbelief, but needed reassurance – God wants to give us His reassurance, too, as we wait eagerly on Him and walk in relationship with Him.

Sometimes a deep yearning of our hearts is never realized while other times promises are fulfilled that we never dreamed would happen. In both instances, we learn to trust our God is wise in all of His promises and the timing of the fulfillment of them.

It hurts while we wait and we can wonder what the purpose is of such pain. This is where faith comes in. Looking beyond the promises we hope for, we look to the One Who made them and His character –  then we understand. A God Who would leave the comforts of Heaven and choose suffering would ask us to do the same – set aside our purposes for His.

That God chose to patiently live a life on earth to achieve His purposes does not mean that God is not compassionate for our suffering and longing. He is growing our character and us into being a people after His own heart Who live worthy lives on purpose for His glory.

Lord, thank You for Your promises and for being a faithful God. Help us to be a people characterized by trust that is a witness to this world.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day 7: Wisdom

Cardboard box with red bow

Cardboard box with red bow

James 1:17

“All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.”

Proverbs 2:6

“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”

Psalms 25:14

“The LORD’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.”

One gift I have wanted my kids to ask for from the LORD is wisdom.  To be able to discern and understand is one of the greatest gifts of all, for ignorance leads a people astray and lack of understanding is often at the root of the wreckage of many lives.

To be able to know God’s heart on matters we face is a privilege; He reveals insight when we are lost and opens our eyes to see sin that easily entangles us as well as our need of Him.

Without this wisdom, we are easily led astray and waste our lives on things that don’t matter.  With wisdom we live in a way that honors God and has lasting eternal value.

Although we are finite and only know in part, God is willing to give wisdom to those who ask, yet many times we don’t.  Imagine seeing a beautifully wrapped gift underneath the tree, left unopened.  Or maybe an envelope with information inside that you have been waiting for – news from a job or a physician – but we choose not to seek the answer.

This gift of wisdom is precious, indeed.  God help us to see its value and to seek Him and His wisdom in this life we live.

Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself and Your will to us.  Help us to ask You for wisdom and to never grow weary of seeking to know You more.

 

 

Mundane Monday: Something in the Blood

Photo Credits: marccortez.com

Photo Credits: marccortez.com

Leviticus 17:11-14

11 “For the life of every living thing is in the blood.   So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life.  12 Therefore, I have said to the Israelites: No person among you is to eat blood, and no resident foreigner who lives among you is to eat blood.  13“‘Any man from the Israelites or from the foreigners who reside in their midst who hunts a wild animal or a bird that may be eaten must pour out its blood and cover it with soil, 14 for the life of all flesh is its blood.  So I have said to the Israelites: You must not eat the blood of any living thing because the life of every living thing is its blood – all who eat it will be cut off.’” 

Zechariah 9:11

“Moreover, as for you, because of our covenant relationship secured with blood, I will release your prisoners from the waterless pit.”

Hebrews 13:20

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep.”

1 Peter 1:18-20 (NLT)

18 “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but He has now revealed him to you in these last days.”

Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)

22 “In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”

I know – the picture kind of grosses you out, right?  it does me.  The sight of blood is enough to make some people pass out, strike still others with fear or disgust.  There is power in the blood, but it is not because of man’s perceptions.  What is it about blood?

Blood is life.  Without blood we cannot live and according to God’s word, without the shedding of blood we cannot live.  Our lives are costly and therefore the payment for our sins, which destroys our lives, is costly.  Spilled blood makes us aware of the value of the life lost.  Innately we know life is precious.

To sophisticated man, all this talk of blood is barbarian.  We would rather not hear or know about it.  It remind us that we are but dust and finite beings.  To need blood as our ransom is humbling.  We would rather be independent and provide for our own needs.  But alas, we cannot.

The offerings in the Old Testament were necessary before a holy God.  They might be hard for us to understand in our current culture, but God’s standard of a life for a life is borne out by the provision of blood covering our sins.

Today we remember His sacrifice in communion but can easily forget the symbolism of the cup of blood we drink.  His blood was spilled for our transgressions and should not lightly be accepted.  While we could not stand in the presence of God, the substitutionary death of His Son, Jesus, Who gave His life for our own, enables us to not just be forgiven of sins, but to have a relationship with a Holy God.

I had the privilege of attending a Bethel worship concert last week.  During that time, one of the worship leaders, Steffany Gretzinger, shared an insight into the power of God’s blood that has stuck with me.  She spoke of the dilemma many are in because of coming from a bloodline marred in sin, but then spoke of the hope we have in Christ’s bloodline, which trumps every bloodline on earth.

Sweet victory is ours!  Whatever our past, whatever sins were passed down or we ourselves committed, they have all been trumped by the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who set the standard for the wages of our sin then fulfilled them Himself – with His own blood.

How costly blood is, and how much more so from God Himself!  This amazing gift of salvation is not casually accepted; no, it is part of a covenantal relationship which holds us accountable.  We cannot continue in sin when such a cost was paid.  He Who set us free is worthy of our lives, as well.

Lord, how amazing You are – to know our need for Your covering before we ever were.  Thank You for Your sacrifice.  May we never take for granted this gift of Your life for ours.

Worshipful Wednesday: Provision of Promises

Photo Credits wau.org

Photo Credits
wau.org

Psalm 37:30-40

“30 The godly speak wise words and promote justice. 31 The law of their God controls their thinking; their feet do not slip. 32 Evil men set an ambush for the godly and try to kill them. 33 But the Lord does not surrender the godlyor allow them to be condemned in a court of law. 34 Rely on the Lord! Obey his commands!  Then he will permit you to possess the landyou will see the demise of evil men35 I have seen ruthless evil men growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. 36 But then one passes by, and suddenly they have disappeared!  I looked for them, but they could not be found.  37 Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly!  For the one who promotes peace has a future. 38 Sinful rebels are totally destroyed; evil men have no future. 39 But the Lord delivers the godly; he protects them in times of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, for they seek his protection.”

We cannot fully appreciate the grace of God until we understand salvation and what we were saved from.  Nor can we really apprehend God’s promises until they are all we are holding onto.  Until we have walked in the steps of suffering, we do not need to hang onto the precious promises contained in this chapter of Psalms and they will be a concept we learn and trust in by faith.

When we consider this reality of suffering, gratitude for the challenges of this life consumes us.  We recognize that we would not have the relationship with God if it were not for struggles that cause us to turn our face upward.  Sure, it would be great if we did not have to walk through dark valleys to appreciate God, but our nature is to crave comfort, not trials.  Our relationship with God would be shallow and we would not know the joy of intimacy with God.

These promises are completely free – for those who qualify.  I know, there is always a kicker to gaining promises.  But the thrill of this Good God is that living in the manner prescribed by God is the most blessed life, anyway.  When we are immersed in His word, His Spirit quickens our hearts to do what is right.  What kind of God would save us, provide promises to encourage us to keep pressing on, then remind us through His Holy Spirit and then enable us?  God Almighty.

Those who study His Word are apt to want to keep it.  Some think of it as brainwashing, but meditating on God’s word is life to our soul, not mere religion nor an attempt to just reform our external behavior.  The Word of God has power to change us from the inside out.  What an awesome God who set a standard, instructs us how to walk in that standard, gives us an incentive to follow His precepts, then grants us grace and forgiveness when we fall short.

Especially precious to me is when I read specific examples of God’s action in the lives of His children, like in this scripture passage above, and see times when God honored those very same promises in my life.  I praise God today for the fact that He makes promises to us at all.  We certainly do not deserve it, but He is the Covenant Maker and Keeper who faithfully continues to show us signs of His never-ending kindness and mercy.

Lord, thank You for providing for the righteous demands of Your law and graciously giving us promises to hold onto when life sends us on different roads we never thought we would travel.