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Archive for the tag “God’s promises”

Our Lifeline

Faith is the hinge to God’s promises. Without it, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).Without faith we will not see the miraculous happen. Without faith, we won’t see God’s hand at work; we won’t experience all God has for us. There will be no hope because faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith is one of my highest spiritual gifts on the gifts assessments tool. I don’t know if that means I have more faith than most or that I just take God at His word with greater frequency than most. I do believe God is who He says He is. I do believe God will do what He says He will do. At times, I need to be reminded. My faith starts to diminish and it needs a boost. I got that this week. I didn’t see anything happen that I have been praying for, but I read a book on Fresh Faith by Jim Cymbala that put some air under my wings.

In the last chapter of the book, Jim mentioned that the battle of the Christian life is not only to believe but to keep on believing. It’s a struggle in this day and age to keep believing when society tells us otherwise. Society is a fickle thing. It changes constantly. What was fashionable yesterday may not be fashionable today. But God’s Word is a constant thing. You can stand on it with assurance that what God said is the Truth because God does not lie. Lies do not come from God but from the enemy of God – Satan – it’s Satan’s native tongue.

According to Jim, Satan’s target is to break down our faith – we are the righteous who live by faith. If Satan can cut that life line, then he has us right where he wants us. When we believe the Satan’s lies over the promises of God, we have committed the original sin. It’s what drove Adam and Eve out of fellowship with God. They believe Satan’s lie that they would not die when they ate of the forbidden fruit. Satan didn’t know everything, but he knew enough to drive a wedge between God and man. The wedge was doubt.

Faith is about the future. It’s the things we hope for and the things we do not yet see. The future is about God’s promises to us. It’s something we cannot prove, but we know it will come to pass just because God says so. Jim mentioned that the greatest tragedy of our lives is not the things that have happened to us, but “it’s the missed opportunities to see God help them, due to their unbelief.”

Joshua is a powerful example of a man with incredible faith. He was one of twelve who scouted out the Promised Land. He believed the Israelites could take the land because God said it was there’s already. God promised it. However, ten of the spies led the majority to believe the land was too hard to capture because the occupants of the land were too big and too strong. Everything the ten said about the land was true. However, they didn’t take into fact that God said it was a done deal already. They didn’t believe God. These same people went through the Dead Sea on dry land. They witnessed the miracles to get them to the edge of the Promised Land. And yet, they still didn’t believe God.

How many times do we also come to the edge of a promise when Satan whispers in our ears – it can’t be done? How many times do we believe the lies instead of the promise and the Promise Giver? I am reminded of the story of the man with the demon-possessed son who came to Jesus to ask if Jesus could drive this spirit out of his son. Jesus took exception to the phrase “if you can” and said everything is possible for one who believes. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

What seems impossible to us is nothing in comparison to all that God can do. It says in the very first line of the Bible – In the beginning God created… if we do not believe these first five words then we do not believe in a big God. We have brought Him down to our size and He can do nothing for us. It’s impossible for a small god to take care of our big problems. But if you believe those first words, then everything changes. We don’t have to rely upon society to dictate what we believe. We can stand on the promises of God. We can have a greater faith because before time began, God is the Creator God. Everything we see today is because of that first line… In the beginning God created. Then He breathed and the story began.

We are a part of the story. We are God’s workmanship and He completes all that He starts. Count on it. Stop the unbelief and believe God’s Word over Satan’s lies. Have discernment over what you hear – test it against God’s Word, does it hold up or fall apart? Faith is our lifeline especially in these trying times. Keep it fresh… keep it strong. And remember that God’s love is central to His character. Look to the cross for the evidence of that love for you. It’s there that all things come together and promises are fulfilled. Jesus said, “It is finished.” Victory has been won in every regard. Believe it.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

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The Fulfillment

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 

When I began my college career, I started at a Christian college. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My parents were thrilled with my choice. I signed up for chorus; again to the delight of my parents. They thought I would follow in their footsteps singing in church choirs in my future life. Both of my parents loved singing. When they moved to new towns, they chose churches based on choirs first; preachers second (or at least that was my perception).

I didn’t really want to fall into their footsteps. I really wasn’t musical at all. I could hold a tune, but to sing in such a formal arrangement really held no interest, yet I did it anyway; maybe to please them. However, it was an easy grade. But I hated the black gown that I had to wear in our choral recitals. I didn’t like all the time spent going over the same song until every syllable was emphasized correctly on the right beat. It just seemed tedious. Some love singing in that manner. To me, I endured it.

Every Christmas season, when I hear Handel’s Messiah; I am brought back to that time in the college choir singing the choral presentation. “For unto us a child is born… unto us… a Son is given.” Can you hear it? Being a part of the choral presentation still brings me goose bumps when thinking about it. One hundred plus voices blending together in perfect harmony with such a beautiful arrangement of Scripture. For that alone was a good enough reason to have gone through the tedious practices and putting on that black gown. I lasted one year at that college and in that choir. That was the extent of my choir duties for the rest of my life. I’m done with it unless Jesus calls me to the heavenly choir as a background singer.

As I contemplate Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus’ birth, I look at the names Jesus is given. Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua meaning He came to save us. The name Emmanuel tells us that He is with us; He will never leave us or forsake us. Wonderful Counselor means He is personal with us; we can go to Him with anything. Mighty God means He’s everything to us; nothing is beyond Him. Everlasting Father means He is more than just God to us but shows His loving nature as a wonderful Father who loves us unconditionally. Prince of Peace means He is destined to be King of the Kingdom; the Kingdom that will never end and will be one of peace and love.

God promised a miraculous birth a few centuries before its fulfillment. He put into place everything that needed to happen at the right time. He chose Mary. She would carry the child; give birth in an unexpected place by her understanding but was perfect in God’s prophecy. Can you imagine Joseph having to make the decision to take his very pregnant wife on such a long journey? But he had to go because of the Roman law to go to one’s ancestral home. Joseph was a descendant of King David as was Mary. It just so happens this was foretold as well. Jesus would come through the line of David; be born in David’s hometown of Bethlehem. God chose a Roman government to issue a decree at the time of the Savior’s birth to get them in the right place at the right time. Nothings impossible for God.

We can go all the way back to Abraham and Sarah to see how God planted a seed that would be fulfilled many centuries later. God promised and it happened just as it was foretold. Genesis 17:6 God tells Abraham the promise that would change history. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. God became personal and brought forth the promised son who would bring forth the nation of Israel and eventually bring about Jesus through this ancestral line.

From Abraham to Jesus was written in God’s Word long before Mary had a clue that she was the one chosen for this blessing. The Gospel of Matthew records this genealogy. The Gospel of Luke goes even further back in time to the first man – Adam – from Adam to Jesus. God’s plan was established from the very foundations of the world. Jesus was sent to redeem what Adam had done. It just took a couple of thousand years to bring it about to make the conditions right for the Good News to spread.

If we can see this far back, we can see into the future because it’s all right there in black and white and read all over. God’s future promises will be fulfilled; we just don’t know the timing of it all. But at the right time, it will happen. We can believe it because of Jesus – He was promised, and He fulfilled it all. Birth. Death. Resurrection. Ascension to Heaven. Redemption for all who believe. The promised Spirit to come and be with us until Jesus’ return.

It happened just like He said it would. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). For us a child is born, a Son is given and His government will rule forever. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her (Luke 1:38). And it was done.

Whole Lot of Shaking

Have you looked at your retirement fund or stock portfolio lately? I haven’t. I have been scared to even peek at it. A couple of nights ago, I was listening to an alternative financial guru (alternative – meaning not the mainstream media folks). He is forecasting this year to be the collapse of the almighty dollar. The dollar hasn’t been backed by gold since the 70’s; and I have often wondered how currency floats without anything but paper to hold it up. I am not an economist and have no clue how the economy actually works. To me, it just doesn’t seem too stable. No wonder God tells us not to trust in money – it’s not very reliable to hold anything up for long!

Are you aware of all the earthquakes and volcano activity over the last year or so? There’s a YouTube channel that posts updates on all the activity around the world. It’s amazing the number of earthquakes that occur every week. The “ring of fire” is definitely on fire. The activity travels around the plates as they all move and shift under our feet. Can’t rely on the earth being a firm foundation either! It could shift right from under us. Not to mention the incredible storms we have had in the past few years. What in the world is going on?

Then there’s the war on terror happening around the globe. Extremists are trying to blow up anyone that doesn’t agree with their religious views. I read Joel Rosenberg’s the Twelve Imam series a few weeks ago. It was pretty eye-opening as a fictional account of radicalism that hits pretty close to home. His books are too eerily close to reality for peace of mind in this crazy world we live in. When I read his fictional accounts, I have to remind myself “this is fiction; not reality!”

We have hardly even started the political campaigning, and I am already tired of hearing about it. The candidates think they are the answer to the country’s woes. Why would anyone in their right mind want to take on this enormous task to straighten out this country? With the debt, with the immigration issues, with the possible terrorists camping out in plain sight; everything seems about ready to implode! Yet, people want to be the head of this mess. I just say “good luck, you’re going to need it!” The leader of this country is not going to get us out of this mess. The government cannot be our savior.

Nothing but doom and gloom on the horizon. The picture is not too bright (if you listen to the nightly news). However, if you look at the news through the biblical lens, I see God’s hand at work. The stage is being set. The earth is groaning and waiting for that Day. What if this is the year Jesus comes back for His church?! Scripture tells us it will be just like in the days of Noah. There was no sign of rain when the boat was sealed. People laughed and thought he was so foolish. Scripture tells us Jesus will come like a thief in the night. No one will suspect His coming.

There is nothing in this world we can count on, but the promises of God. God is the Promise Keeper. He is the only One who can fix our woes – nationally and personally. He is the only One we can rely upon. He is our firm foundation. God doesn’t change. He is trustworthy. When all else fails, the great I AM will never fail. Provider, protector, comforter, all His attributes are surrounded by love for us. God tells us to have courage. Andy Stanley said in his message this weekend, “We should not grow weary and lose heart. We are scaring the children!” People are watching Christians to see how we react to the circumstances. Scripture tells us to fix our eyes upon Jesus. Stand firm on His promises. Let nothing move us. Stanley says “We’re not to be sissy Christians!” We have a trustworthy God – believe Him! He keeps His promises.

Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king. He will answer him from his holy heaven and rescue him by his great power. Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20:6-8 (NLT)

Wiped Away

The end of the seven-year cycle passed with a whimper. God has used this seven-year pattern throughout much of modern history to raise nations up or bring them down. He has used it to wipe away debt. Over the previous seven-year cycles, debt has been wiped out by dramatic swings of the stock market. When the last few weeks were showing the same signs of a likely crash, I thought God was going to do it again. But the time has passed and to my knowledge, nothing has happened. Did God forget about this timetable thing? Didn’t He know we were anticipating something to occur? It’s almost a disappointment. Until I come to my senses and realize this is something we don’t want to see happen!

It just shows us: God’s ways are not our ways; God’s time is not our time. It also occurs to me; there is something always going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to. There is an ongoing war, which is unseen to our naked eye. It is a spiritual war; which if seen, would cause us to faint dead away. God has a plan we do not see. We are not privy to His thoughts. We can seek His guidance and ask for wisdom. God gives us His Spirit to communicate His desires to us. We have to be paying attention to His promptings.

I was listening to the evening news last night when I heard this comment by the anchor: the fires raging in California are wiping away houses and whole towns. California has seen disastrous fires over the last few months. Fires are destroying millions of acres of forests, homes and towns. Flooding is also going on in part of the western states. Both are extreme natural occurrences. They are historic in measure. What in the world is going on?

Nothing catches God by surprise. He doesn’t pace in His throne room looking for an answer to the world’s problems. He already knows the circumstances. Our job in the meantime is to believe in His Sovereignty and in His goodness. Fire burns away the perishable things, but leaves the imperishable. Floods leave behind a new landscape. We are to believe God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. We are to trust in Him and live according to His perfect will and pleasure. Through the Holy Spirit, we are given eyes that see and ears that hear. We are given a greater understanding into God’s perfect plan by His Holy Word.

Beth Moore spoke on Saturday about being audacious. She said we are built for fire. It’s the passion that burns in our bones. The fire of the Holy Spirit does not consume us but fuels us. In the last days, we will be given greater audacity to have more “guts for God’s glory.” We are not given a spirit of fear. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit! In future events, Beth mentioned fear will go viral. We cannot be swept into the wildfire of fear. And we cannot be lulled into complacency. We need to be awake to the world around us. What is unseen can be made known to those who are aware. God says He will pour out His Spirit on His sons and daughters in these last days. The Holy Spirit is our guide and our teacher.

Whatever suffering we must endure here is nothing in comparison to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). Jesus is worth the sacrifice we must endure. Jesus asks us to count the cost of following Him. Do we have what it takes when everything is wiped away? Can we say with certainty, Jesus is everything to me? In God’s economy, up is down. In humility, we seek the all-knowing God who does not leave us in times of trouble. We will have trouble in the days ahead, but we are given a greater hope in the future. God is who He says He is. And He delivers on His promises!

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:22-25 (NLT)

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