Trusting the Promises

September/October 20162016Esmall

Promises Related to God’s Continual Oversight of our Affairs – Trusting the Promises

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4 NIV).

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Bible Students have highlighted scriptural texts that meet this broad definition of “Precious Promises” and compiled them into a well-read booklet, originally published in 1954 in Los Angeles, California. However, there are many more Scriptures that fall into this category that are not included in the publication.

Who has not appreciated Psalms 119:105? “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

How many times have we heard and recited 1 Peter 5:7? “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”

And of course, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

We read them, we appreciate them, we love them and we are inspired by them. But often we do not trust these hundreds, even thousands, of promises that God has lovingly and intentionally placed especially for us to search out and guard like priceless treasures.

Why, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, do we sometimes question if we have a right to claim these promises for ourselves? Do we only know these beautiful phrases intellectually and carefully place them around our minds like embroidered pillows? Or do they take deep root in our hearts and minds, strengthening our ties to God?

These promises lead to life — everlasting life. It is through the promises that we may participate in the divine nature. So is it any wonder that Satan would do all within his power to keep us from that goal? Nullifying the promises of God might be too obvious. But what if he could put enough uncertainty in our minds to cause us to question and doubt our claim to them and think that they apply only to others: those who are better studied, have kinder words, seem more “put together” and are stronger in faith? Would it not be just like Satan to strategically place “promise blockers” directly in our path? The amount of regret, resentment, and feelings of unworthiness that we dwell upon become tools the Adversary uses to accuse us as unworthy of the promises. The level of trust we have in the promises, to apply to ourselves, directly corresponds to our ability to “block” the blockers.

Satan’s plan is actually quite brilliant. These promise blockers are so insidious because they play on our real fleshly imperfections. They use both our obvious faults as well as the little foxes of our hearts warned against in Song of Solomon 2:15. As Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus to try to tempt him into disobedience, he might ominously remind us of Galatians 6:7, “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Or Psalms 69:19, “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonor.” Or Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Thinking this method would work to mislead even Jesus, Satan can use our beloved Scriptures to make us doubt our claim on the promises. If not careful, we could become fixated on our shortcomings instead of correctly using them as tools of motivation.

But rather than focusing on these we must continually remember 2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV), “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

Perhaps a visual will help. Picture your heart as a dusty old attic full of boxes all boldly marked with labels “Regret,” and “Disappointments: Old and New,” and “Things I Wish I Had Said,” and “Things I Wish I Had NOT said,” etc. If we are filled with these things, when a fresh earful of promises comes flooding in, they will not have any space to take up residence. The choking dust of all the old boxes will block the way for God’s promises to take their rightful place.

Negative emotions, like regrets, are not necessarily sinful, but they can take up a lot of room in our hearts and heads that could otherwise be used for God’s Promises and for “perfecting holiness.” Not learning from these strong emotions and directing them to propel us forward to do better would be neglectful. Sometimes the greatest blessings come from the hardest trials. We do not want to squeeze in the Promises between the crowded spaces of what might be, not only negatively lingering, but subtly dominating our lives.

Here are some Promise Blockers that can Stumble God’s People.

Regret. (How do I stop this cycle? God could never forgive me for things I did, or should have done.) Counteract with 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Colossians 2:10, “Ye are complete in Him.”

● Forgiveness of others. (I am hurt and offended and cannot get over it.) Counteract with: 1 John 4:12, “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

● Bad choices and temptations. (I did it AGAIN. Can I be forgiven?) Counteract with Psalms 103:13,14: (NRSV), “As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.” Lamentations 3:22,23, “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”

● Bad study habits. (I have so many other things to do first. No one will notice if I don’t study.) Counteract with Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.” Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” James 1:5,6, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”

● Bad attitude. (Why does the Lord require it of me and not of others?) Counteract with Psalms 119:165: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” James 4:6, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

● Anger. (I have a right to be angry.) Counteract with Psalms 107:29, “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” Matthew 5:12, “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

● Lack of direction. (Where would I even start? What’s really the point if I will never be good enough?) Counteract with Psalms 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord shall guide thee continually.” James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”

● Wrong priorities. (I have so little time and so many interests I want to pursue.) Counteract with Proverbs 3:5,6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Psalms 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way.” Matthew 6:32, 33, “For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

● Anxiety. (There is so much to worry about.) Counteract with Psalms 29:11, “The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.” Isaiah 66:13, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” Psalms 91:11, “For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Volume 6, page 572: “[The Lord’s people] should so thoroughly apply the precious promises of Divine care that their hearts would be entirely free from anxiety.”

● Fear. (What if I’m not strong enough to overcome?) Counteract with John 16:27, “The Father Himself loveth you.” Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Hebrews 13:6, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Genesis 18:14, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?”

● Doubt. (I am not good enough. I am certainly not smart enough. I know I am a sinner but how can I change?) Counteract with Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” 1 Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.”

● Second guessing. (I cannot make a decision. What if it is the “wrong” choice?) Counteract with Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”

● Greed. (I need just one more and then I will be really happy.) Counteract with 2 Corinthians 9:8, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and He addeth no sorry with it.” 1 Corinthians 3:21,23, “For all things are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”

● Loneliness (I am alone and no one can help me.) Counteract with Psalms 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalms 34:18, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Unfortunately, this list of challenges seems never-ending. That is one reason that God gave us so many promises. It is because of this list that we need the Promises, and moreover, we need to trust that they apply to us. Trust is the heart application of faith; it is where the difference between mediocrity and excellence in our Christian life is determined. Our hearts and minds can be cluttered with the collected (and dare we say cherished) refuse of a lifetime. This collection of negative thoughts and actions creates a barrier that can prevent the Promises from taking firm root in our minds and growing into a controlling daily influence.

Our challenge therefore is to fight these promise blockers by consciously exercising our trust in God, learning to live that trust on a deeper level every day. The Promises are tools that help us have a life-changing trust in God, moving beyond just exuberance or appreciation.

The Promises fight these blockers with “how to” lessons on real joy, unbreakable peace, lasting fellowship, transformative patience, clear guidance and ever-deepening trust.

Many deeply flawed characters in the Bible — loved of God — did not allow their baser side to defeat them or stop them from praising Him no matter how difficult the circumstance. Regardless of any reward, our goal is to be pleasing to the Heavenly Father and to do His will, honoring Him. Our intent is what is reviewed and weighed.

We sow our intent and desire to do His will. We trust it will be watered with truth, so that fruitage may be developed. We struggle to continually plant honest desire, fighting against our natural inclinations and the manufactured temptations placed in front of us by Satan to do us harm. It is a difficult climb, but we must keep moving forward, using the Promises as handholds with each step we take.

These Promises are an important element used to make the strong and weighty sword of the Spirit in the armor of God. We are to wield this sword confidently as a trained soldier. If we do not constantly practice with it, we will buckle under its weight, making it feeble in our defense. Psalms 89:43, “Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.”

2 Corinthians 7:1, again, but this time in the Living Bible: “Having such great promises as these, dear friends, let us turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit, and purify ourselves, living in the wholesome fear of God, giving ourselves to Him alone.”

To help us in this goal, we should provide a daily account as recommended in the Manna from March 30. “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).

“God-likeness certainly cannot include any harmful gossip, any unclean or unholy conversation, any disloyal or rebellious words. Let such things be put far away from all who name the name of Christ in sincerity and truth. And let us remember daily to settle our accounts with the Lord, to make sure that no record of idle words, unrepented of, and consequently unforgiven, stands against us … If daily we render up our accounts to God and seek His grace for greater overcoming power with each succeeding day, we shall be acquitted in judgment and stand approved before God through Christ, having the testimony of His Holy Spirit with our spirits that we are pleasing and acceptable to Him” (R1938).

 

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