Tuesday, July 21, 2009

God Fulfills His Promises

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

People are generally untrustworthy, wouldn't you say?

No, I'm not a pessimist. Most often than not, I take what people say at face value, and when they say they are going to do something I just expect that is what they are going to do. But, more and more I find that this is not the case. Some people, and even some Christians sadly, feel it is OK to twist the truth or just outright lie if it helps them gain some kind of advantage. In their defense, many people do have good intentions or a plan bigger than they can actually handle and so can't always follow through on what they've committed to do. People are fallen and not perfect, and we all have to deal with that, even in our own selves. But, in the end, unfortunately, I have to conclude that people cannot be fully trusted.

Ever wonder if God can be trusted to fulfill the promises He makes?

Because we generally view people with distrust, our view of God tends to get smudged. We know in our head that God is perfect, and therefore must be totally trustworthy, but in our hearts if we're honest with ourselves there is doubt. The experiences with imperfect people shades what should be our clear perception of God. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror" (1 Cor. 13:12a). It can even cast the smallest doubt that God may actually follow through on what He said He'd do. That skewed perception may even lead us to believe that God embellishes, if only a tad.

Is thinking God can't be trusted teeter on blasphemy? Well, pick up the stone only after thinking back on your walk with Christ. If we look deep within ourselves, we can see a pattern of disbelief, doubt, and unheeded worry since we put Jesus in the driver's seat of our lives. It would only be blasphemy if we truly believe God is a liar. Instead, we must realize the problem lies within us. As Paul cried out in anguish in Romans 7:24, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

What can we do to get the right understanding of God's faithfulness again?

That's easy - go to the Bible! Nothing focuses the lens like getting into God's own Word.

For example, I was reading in Genesis 18 about Abraham receiving three visitors, two whom we find out are angels and one the Lord Himself. I was reading this story in the pursuit of the topic of nomadic living, and instead (like He always does when reading the Bible), the Holy Spirit showed me something else entirely. Now, I was able to learn about what life was like living in a Patriarch's tent, but what I got out of Genesis 18 was so much more.

In Genesis 18, the Lord gives Abraham three promises:

  1. "Then the LORD said, 'I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.'" (Gen. 18:10)
  2. "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation," (Gen. 18:18a)
  3. "all nations on earth will be blessed through him." (Gen. 18:18b)

The Lord then confirms to Abraham that He will do these three things in verse 19, "the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."

And did God do all that He said he would do for Abraham? You betcha! First, skip on over to Genesis 21:1-2, "Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him."

Secondly, look today how Abraham's descendents — the Jews and Arabs — dominate the world news, control much of the world's oil and inhabit the entire Middle East.

And thirdly, think how through the Jews the world got the Savior, the Bible, and the moral foundation of law and government. It may have taken a few thousand years for all of these promises God made to Abraham to come to fruition, but each and every promise God followed through, and in spades.

And what about God's promises to us?

As we asked earlier, can we actually trust God to fulfill His promises to us? We know we're not super-saints like Abraham. And yet, we don't have to be. Let's see what promises God made to the rest of us.

1) God will forgive us.

  • "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord," (Acts 3:19)
  • "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Heb. 8:12)

2) God will rescue those forgiven from judgment in Hell.

  • "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Acts 2:21)
  • "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Rom. 10:9-10)

3) God will guide the saved through life by His Spirit.

  • "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

4) God will help believers overcome the trials of this world.

  • "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 Jn. 5:5)
  • "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Pet. 5:6-7)

5) God will rescue those who are saved from the time ahead when He'll pour out His wrath upon the world for its continued rebellion against Him.

  • "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:9)
  • "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." (Rev. 3:10)

6) God gives us a purposeful life.

  • "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph. 2:10)

7) God brings those saved to live with Him at His home, called Heaven.

  • "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (Jn. 14:2-3)
  • "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Col. 3:4)

8) God will give an awesome eternal life to those who believe in His Son Jesus.

  • "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (Jn. 3:36)
  • "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." (Jn. 10:28-29)
  • "However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.'" (1 Cor. 2:9)

What amazing promises — promises that despite our human lapses, God who has always already proven his trustworthiness to Abraham and others will fulfill!

"What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do." - God (Isa. 46:11b)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I decided to just believe what God says. I realized that so many truths in the Bible are faith truths--ones you can't see with your eyes or even explain logically; however, I realized I needed to believe those truths because GOD SAID THEM. In other words, my belief could not be based on whether I could prove them to be true or not. Instead, it had to be based on the infallible character of God.

So began a process of reading God's Word and saying things like: "Okay, it says here that Christ is MY VERY LIFE (Col. 1:27 and 3:3-4). I don't know how that works, but I believe it. And here, it says I am holy, righteous, blameless, and a saint (Col. 1:2, II Cor. 5:21 Eph. 1:3-4, etc.), so I believe that, too. And over here it says that my old man (sin nature) has died (Rom. 6:3-6). Just about every Christian will say that our sin nature is still alive (and they'll point to their own experience to prove it). But I'm going to reject man's beliefs and man's "proofs." I'm going to believe what God says, thinking *just maybe* He knows what He's talking about. So, I believe my sin nature is dead because God says it's dead! And here it says that I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms--right now, today (Eph. 2:5-6). I don't know how that's possible, but God says it's true of me, so I'm going to believe it!"

As I continued this process, I began to realize that a lot of the limitations in my Christian life were because of unbelief (similar to the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years).

I'm learning that it's amazing what God can do when we really and truly BELIEVE what He says!

Laura

son of thunder said...

I gotta admit that, even though I should know better, I have 66 books to prove me wrong, I have that nagging little doubt about God fulfilling His promises. So I really hope it doesn't count as blasphemy.

Unfortunately, I've always had a habit of finding that one small black cloud in an otherwise clear-blue sky and focusing on it, even though I know that it makes the rest of the sky look that much more blue.

son of thunder said...

This post also reminds me of dream (at least I think it was a dream) I had a few months ago during a particularly rough stretch in what has been a rough year. It was very short and to the point: I woke up and there were four rather tall men wearing white robes in my bedroom surrounding my bed. I felt no panic nor worry. There were no lights. No glow. Nothing was said. I just looked at the four stern faces and went back to sleep.

Was I dreaming? Was God giving me a look into the spirit world? Am I just nuts?

hartdawg said...

the issue for me isnt trusting God to keep his promise, the issue is did God promise this or that. for example, spose i lose my job, is there some obscure stipulation in the back of habbakuk that i somehow missed thus voiding his promise? if i know God said something, there is no doubt in my mind he will keep it. but the bible aint always clear about our day to day problems, like some talking trash behind my back causing friends to mistrust me. things like that. thats where i have a difficult time trusting God. and i KNOW i'm not the only one who feels that way at times.

Laura said...

Hartdawg,

I believe God keeps His promises whether we're aware of them or not, don't you think?

In fact, He may very well use an incident to lead us back to the promise in Scripture that He just fulfilled.

I guess what I'm trying to say is God's faithfulness in keeping His promises is not (THANK GOD) based on us. Certainly, He can work in and through us more when we believe what He says. However, I see this as a growth issue for believers--not a conditional issue of whether a promise will or won't be fulfilled.

Laura

Laura said...

One more thing, Hartdawg:

II Cor. 1:20 says, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God."

As a believer, you are "in Christ," so all God's promises are "YES" to you.

Laura said...

Son of Thunder,

I've been thinking all day about how I might speak a word of encouragement to you. First of all, it seems that you *might* need to repent. Before you protest, let me remind you what repent means--it means to change the way we THINK about something.

In this case, you might need to repent (change your mind) about how God sees you. Maybe not, but maybe so, eh?

First of all, when you were saved, ALL your sins were forgiven--past sins, present sins, and future sins. They were all dealt with on the cross (Col. 2:13-14). Now, tell me, at the time of the cross, how many of your sins would be committed in the future? All of them, right? And those verses in Col. clearly say that all your sins have been dealt with (past tense) at one point in history--at the cross. Heb. 10:10 says, "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL."

Now, I know many people will say that forgiveness is doled out as we sin, but that directly contradicts what God's Word says. So my point here is this: no matter what your sin is (unbelief perhaps?), it's forgiven. God's not holding it against you. In fact, He's forgotten it because IT'S BEEN DEALT WITH at the cross.

So, my encouragement to you is to see yourself the way God sees you: as someone who is completely forgiven. You don't have to worry about "committing blasphemy by your unbelief." Just focus on the truths of God you KNOW to be true. Stay in the Word, as faith comes from hearing God's Word. And finally, trust God to take care of your doubts.

After all, our faith isn't something we muster up ourselves. It, too, comes from God.

Anonymous said...

Just as the apostle Paul said as he was pondering his walk with the Lord saying that God was always faithful! They were healed except for Paul's thorn which Paul understands that now.
I too look back over the years and do see His master plan of working all things together for us that know Christ Jesus. He is really something and eternal life with Christ to top it all off with!

son of thunder said...

Laura, I thank you for your concern and am flattered that you thought about the issue at hand.

I'm working very hard at changing my mind-set. I'm trying to see the blue sky instead of that dark cloud. I'm doing better with God's guidance and my friends here on L&L. I just have a lot going on and sometimes it's over-whelming.

hartdawg said...

hi laura, i believe God keeps his promises, my issue, or whatever you wanna call it is the day to day stuff thats not clearly spelled out inhis word. i think we all have our own sometimes distorted view of God that was shape by parents, maybe friends, circumstances or whatever. the key is getting to know the true God.

Laura said...

Son of Thunder,
I know how ya feel--life can throw way too much at us sometimes. I'm praying that God will give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and in the midst of it all, a deeper understanding of Him! That's something I think we all long for, yes?

Hartdawg,
Yup, I have lots (no, I mean LOTS) of distorted views of God, and He is patiently un-distorting them. And I guess He'll keep doing that until the day we "see clearly."

davidsoncounty said...

I love this verse, Jeremiah 1:12 Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it."

This verse means a lot to me for God keeps His promises and performs His word. What an Awesome God!Never forgetting His people!

son of thunder said...

Laura, thanks.