Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pondering God's Promises, Part I

Hey Friend,

I don't know about you, but I have made promises that I haven't kept.  I may have had really good intentions, but for some reason I failed on the follow through.  I tried so hard with my children not to do that - to let my "Yes" be yes and my "No" be no.  I didn't want to be a promise breaker, but the simple fact is that at times I failed.

In the Bible it says that the Lord our God is One.  I am so thankful that God IS that I mean that He is consistent, steady, never contradicting Himself, or changing His character. 

I am not that way.  I am duplicitous in nature - I can be deceptive in my behavior. I can be two fold our double.  One day I can be cheerful and generous.  The next day I might be moody and stingy.  One day I might make good on my promises and the next day I may fail.  Why?  Because I am made in God's image, but I am fallen and sinful. This double nature makes us/me different from God. 

There is nothing fallen or sinful about God, therefore He can be trusted to make good on His promises.

In my wanting to spend more time with God and be in His presence, I decided to delve a little deeper into some of my favorite and cherished promises from God in the Bible.  I invite you to slowly read God's promises.  Let them sink deep into your heart and I will share what nuggets of truth He revealed to me in my digging.  Concordance and Commentaries in hand, and prayers to the Holy Spirit for guidance, here's what I found:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his mercies  never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I am so thankful that every day is a new day.  Every day the slate is wiped clean.  God withholds His wrath, and instead pours out mercy with each sunrise.  Note that it says "mercies" which is plural.  God is faithful to ALL His covenant promises. 

Mercies = compassions, kindnesses, promises, great love

His faithfulness is beyond measure.  For you math majors - beyond infinity lol.

Because God IS love, all His actions are in keeping with His loving nature.  That's cause for great praise!

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  (Matthew 6: 31-33)

The pagan model of prayer was more of a "business partnership" with their gods.  Kind of like a contract:  If you do this then I'll do that.  Not so with the One true God.  He already knows our hearts, our thoughts, and what we need.  God is a Father who delights in meeting the needs of His people. He wants to meet your needs!

God wants a relationship of intimacy (Seek Him first), not a business partnership.  God desires that we seek Him first and He delights in taking care of the rest of our needs. Keep our focus stayed on him and seek being in right relationship with Him and He'll take care of the details.  We were made for intimacy with God.  He doesn't need our filthy rags of righteousness, He WANTS our hearts.  He wants your heart!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
(Jeremiah 29:11)

This is a favorite verse that is written in graduation cards.  I believe we are somehow mistaken when we think that God's plans to "prosper" us equate to material riches or everything working out wonderfully in this life. 

In this particular verse the word "prosper" is the Hebrew word "salom" or peace. 

salom =peace, well being, safety, feelings of satisfaction

God has plans to prosper us - to give us peace and a sense of well being and satisfaction.

Also, the Hebrew word for "future" is "ah rit" which means final destiny, at the end, on the other side (not in this lifetime).  We/I get upset with God when things don't work out well in this lifetime.  Not that God doesn't give us good things in this lifetime...He certainly does.  But, our ultimate peace, satisfaction, and well being will be when we reach the other side and are with Him in Heaven. 

I know I get caught up in always relating scripture to this lifetime.  God, however, has an eternal timeline that we would do well to stay focused on.  I can just hear God saying, "Hold on...the best is yet to come and it will all be worth the wait and the cost!" He is building a mansion in Heaven just for you!

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11: 28-29)

As Jesus often does, I believe He is speaking on two different levels here.  The poor Jewish follower knew what it was like to be weary (kopiao) or physically tired from relentless hard labor of lifting burdens (or heavy loads).  This was often done by using a yoke. Like someone offering a weary laborer a cup of water - Jesus speaks of offering refreshment to this laborer. 

We may not be lifting heavy loads, literally, but we need rest and refreshment when we are tired from life's heavy burdens (emotional and mental as well as  physical).  Jesus is the only one who can give us the refreshment that we so desperately need. He's holding out the cup of water to you!

On another level, the Jewish people spoke of carrying the "yoke of God's law" (The Commandments).  Obeying the law could be hard work - carrying a heavy load with a yoke.  Jesus, here, is offering His yoke - the yoke of the New Covenant.  He tells the people that His yoke, unlike the old yoke, is easy and the load is light. 

We will find refreshment under the New Covenant of grace by Jesus' sacrificial offering of atonement for our sins. 

We are no longer under the load of the law...our load has been made much lighter by what Christ accomplished.  What pure refreshment that brings!!! Jesus' gentle and humble heart stoops low to lift the heavy yoke from our shoulders and replaces it with His yoke of love, grace, mercy, and compassion. He's offering this gentle yoke to you.  Will you take it on and leave legalism behind?

I am by no means a theological scholar.  My written word is not the gospel truth, but by digging into just these four promises from God, there is such great and deep truth to be mined.  These are just a few of the insights God revealed to me.  Every promise is filled to the brim with His great love for me/you.

As a lover of words, I love looking at the original Greek and Hebrew in which scripture was captured.  Also understanding some things about the culture, the times, and the history sheds a whole new light as well. 

I invite you to join me next week for Part II of Pondering God's Promises.  I can think of no better Valentine's gift to give yourself :)

Meanwhile I invite you to share your favorite promise(s) from God.  Maybe I'll dig into it for next week. 

Dear Heavenly Father,  I thank you that you are the One true God - that your character is constant and never changing.  I praise you that you are faithful and that I can count on your promises to me.  Great are ALL you promises - just like your mercies that are new every morning.  Thank you for your Word that speaks of your great love and compassion for me.  You know my heart even before I utter a word and before time began you already had a great plan for me to give me my one true hope of salvation.  Great is your faithfulness O Lord!!  I can never stop singing your praises.  Thank you for the peace, the refreshment, the intimacy, the love beyond measure that you offer to me.  May I know how fully I am blessed.  In Jesus' precious name, Amen.

Be blessed...

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