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Archive for the tag “Promises of God”

Preparing the Way

As we contemplate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I want to draw your attention to the waiting time. Have you ever noticed when God gives a promise, it usually doesn’t happen right away? Abraham and Sarah waited twenty-five years before the promised child arrived. Noah had to wait 120 years before the first raindrop fell. The Israelites lived in the land of Egypt for over 400 years before they got sick and tired of being oppressed by their slave masters and cried out to God for deliverance. God waited forty years for Moses to be ready to lead the people out of Egypt. Once they were led out, it took forty years before they took possession of the Promised Land.

From religious scholars we are told that it was 400 years of silence from the last Old Testament Prophet until the voice of the Lord spoke to Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist. A baby would be born to Zechariah and Elizabeth to prepare the way for the Lord fulfilling prophecy concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus. The Old Testament prophets prophesied the birth of Jesus and the anticipation grew year after year. But when He arrived on the scene, only a few recognized Him as God’s promised One. It was foretold about His death and His resurrection, but again, no one understood what this would represent to all of humanity. The promise was fulfilled and the sting of death would be removed for all who believe. Promise after promise – and it all came true.

God is faithful in His promises. The silence though is unnerving to us. It erodes our confidence. It causes doubt to arise in us. Did we really hear from God? Noah built a boat on dry land! Abraham and Sarah decided God meant something else; after all she was in her sixties when the promise of a son was given to them. So they took matters into their own hands to fulfill God’s promise to them. But that was not the promised child. God said what He meant. Elizabeth too had a promise of a birth in her old age. Really? This makes no sense to us; yet, God is faithful to fulfill His promises in His time for His reason and in His way.

Then there’s the birth, life, ministry of Jesus written for all of us to read and believe. Prophecies are meant to be fulfilled in God’s will, in God’s way and in God’s time. And we still wait on the fulfillment of more prophecies to come. The Bible is full of promise. It’s full of hope. We are told that Jesus will return one day and receive the church – His bride. And we wait. Like the people of old who didn’t recognize their Messiah, will we lose sight of the promise? After such a long wait, generation after generation; complacency and doubt sets in. God has taken forever to send the promise, maybe He’s forgotten. But we know that’s not true. To God, a thousand years is like a day. His timetable is not ours.

Every time we are waiting for fulfillment, God is still at work. God continues to move things in place in order for everything to be right for the promise to be fulfilled. During the 400 years of silence, the language had to be common throughout the known world; roads had to be built for easier travel; military peace was given throughout the land to make the way for the Word to travel when the time came. God was busy preparing the way. I believe He is still preparing the way for the next event in His eternal plan.

It may seem God is slow in fulfilling His promises. We may have to build a large boat. Or we may have to live in the desert to grow to our potential for God’s purpose. Or there maybe roads that need to be built or nations that need to be lined up to God’s plan. God is always working, even when we hear nothing but silence. Maybe the silence is for us too. Maybe He is preparing our hearts for the promise to be received. Maybe there’s a reason that we cannot fathom right now, but we can be confident in our God – He always comes through – no matter what. His will, His ways and in His time. Just look to the cross of Jesus as proof. He is faithful and He loves you beyond any reason. Count on it and trust Him to fulfill His Word to you. No matter what you’re waiting on; if you have a promise from God, He will fulfill it. And we can count on Jesus coming back. Are you prepared to meet Him?

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. 2 Peter 3:14-15a (NLT)

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The Altar

Instead of making resolutions for a new year, I like to concentrate on one word. This year the word seems to be surrender. I hoped for a different word. But this is the one that keeps popping up over and over. Every first Sunday of the New Year, my church has a special service to consecrate ourselves to the Lord for the coming year. This year, we received white flags to remind us to surrender. The word didn’t come to me in that moment. It happened while I was reading from AW Tozer’s “Pursuit of God.” It became clear this is my word for the year.

In the second chapter, Tozer writes about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. The story is familiar – I have heard it most of my life. Isaac was Abraham’s greatest possession. God asked Abraham to lay Isaac on the altar of surrender. It was a test of Abraham’s total surrender of his heart. “Things” are not meant to take the rightful place of God. Possessions should not possess us. Tozer points out that in the beginning, God gave Adam things to rule over. “Before the Lord God made man upon the earth, He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight.” These things were for use, not possession. Sin introduced us to possession. Possession forced God out of the center of our hearts; His rightful place; the place He designed in us for Him alone.

The central message of this chapter was this: “The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing.” In the words of Jesus, Matthew 5:3 states: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” According to Tozer, “it’s an inward state of paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem – this is the word ‘poor’ used by Jesus.” Abraham found this ‘poor spirit’ through the sacrifice of Isaac. Although he was rich outwardly, he possessed nothing internally.

At some point in our walk with Jesus, we will be asked to remove that thing that possesses us. We all face this testing, like Abraham, and this maybe the year we might have to lay something on the altar which is dear to us. Something will need to be sacrificed. Tozer wrote there won’t be a dozen choices, but just one and an alternative. “Our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.”

Christine Caine spoke at the Passion Conference this year. In her talk, she stated the highest honor is to be the servant of the Lord. In the Bible, there are only four who are given this “title” Abraham, Moses, Joshua and David. These men knew what it meant to lay everything down for the sake of the Kingdom. Each man had a time of testing. They were given assignments, but they first they had a season of preparation. Abraham left everything behind to go to the land God promised as an inheritance; not to mention the wait for the promised child. Moses tended flocks in the desert for forty years. Joshua was Moses’ aide for forty years before he took the possession God promised Abraham. David had many years of being a warrior before he became a king. These men possessed nothing, but the promises they were given.

Jesus is our greatest treasure. This is the one thing that we are to possess for eternity. John Piper said to the crowd at the Passion Conference, “we need to live and die showing Jesus is more precious than life.” We have a wonderful inheritance stored for us in heaven. Whatever we give up in this life is nothing in comparison to what we will receive one day. Abraham left it all on the altar. We can do the same and be called one of God’s faithful servants. What an honor!

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:20-22

Rebuilding

I have told of my struggles with my eye problem in previous posts. I have done all I have known to do to correct the problem. Recently, I discovered the reason of my eye problem. Dairy has always been a nemesis of mine, but I allowed it to creep back into my diet. When I stopped using my whey protein, I noticed my eye got better. When I was on my mission trip, my eye problem had gotten completely well. Then back at home, it flared up once again. I realized I had been taking probiotics while I was away too. I decided to start back on them; once again, I noticed a difference. So as I start my new year off, I have to put a rebuilding program into place. My temple has broken down, and the walls need to be repaired (intestinal walls that is)! As I was considering this line of thought, I recalled a sermon I heard on New Year’s Eve. The sermon was titled “Count on It” and was spoken by pastor Steven Furtick (Elevation Church). It was a powerful word for this coming year.

God has made some incredible promises in His word. The thing about God is: if He promises something, then He will bring it to pass! One of the promises of God concerned Solomon’s temple. He stated the temple would be rebuilt after it was destroyed by the Babylonians. The first temple was built by Solomon. The second temple (Ezra 3) was built on the old foundation, but it seemed to be less grand than the first (Ezra 3:12). But God said in Haggai 2, it was going to be better than the first. The look on the outside may not look the same, but the temple would be grander than the first because of God’s glory (vs 9). This promise was also fulfilled when Jesus came to earth. He fulfilled many promises in the Bible. Another promise was given that the Holy Spirit would come when Jesus ascended to heaven. The Holy Spirit fulfills the promise too that our temples will be grander when He comes to dwell in us.

My body is the place where the Holy Spirit resides. If my walls are broken down, then I need to rebuild from the foundation that is already in place. I need to shore up my spiritual walls. I want the Holy Spirit to be grander than previously experienced. God has promised me that the Holy Spirit will help me. I can count on it! I can count on His promises to be fulfilled. Awesome! As I am rebuilding, He is working the blessing for the glory of God to be even grander. “‘This Temple is going to end up far better than it started out, a glorious beginning but an even more glorious finish: a place in which I will hand out wholeness and holiness.’ Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.”Haggai 2:9 (The Message)

I am so excited to think God is at work. As I am obedient to do the things I know to do, His glory is going to be grander. His seed has already been planted in me. I do not yet see all that He has in store, but His promise is to prosper, not harm. I can count on it!

“‘Now think ahead from this same date—this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Think ahead from when the Temple rebuilding was launched. Has anything in your fields—vine, fig tree, pomegranate, olive tree—failed to flourish? From now on you can count on a blessing.’” Haggai 2:18-19

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