Wednesday, September 08, 2010

THE PROMISES OF GOD

In the modern age of limited liability, few things are as advertised. Wise consumers have learned to be careful when signing contracts or purchasing products which come with warranties. The small print typically reveals the real terms and a not-so-ironclad guarantee. This is the way it is in a world system where the bottom line is profit and the end justifies the means. Thinking back on how many times I have been taken by a so-called good deal has made me very weary of promotions, pledges, and promises. "Thanks, but no thanks" has become my usual response to those trying to interest me in a once-in-a-lifetime or limited-time offer. I have come to understand that what they are really interested in is separating me from my money. If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

There is, however, no skepticism in me when it comes to the promises of God found in Scripture. The Bible is very definite that “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). I am glad for that, because the issues at stake are far more important than the things which pertain only to this life. Let's consider four wonderful promises found in God's Word. The first is the doorway into the treasure room of His many blessings, the promise of eternal life to all those who call upon the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). However vast the doctrines pertaining to salvation may be, we need not complicate the simplicity of the message of the gospel of grace. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). Surely, the worst of sinners can cast themselves upon the mercies of God, and they will not be disappointed. Neither can this wonderful gift of eternal life be taken away once it has been granted, for the Scripture says, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).
In my moments of the earthly despair, my thoughts often travel heavenward, and the reality of the joy and glory that awaits me shines like rays of sunshine which pierce through the dark and gloomy clouds of this world. "But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Charles Spurgeon likened the trials of this life to the loosening of the pegs of a tent which anchored it to the ground. Earthly existence was never meant to be permanent, and with each trial which comes our way, we learn more and more to, "set (our) affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). The outer man may be perishing, but the inner man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). God has prepared a dwelling place for us with Him that has no comparison on earth and that no earthly experience, however wonderful, can equal. Praise God for his unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15) which we received the moment we first believed, and is ours forever: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13,14).

Another wonderful promise the Christian is assured of is the promise of the continuing presence of Christ in our lives. Jesus will never forsake those whom He purchased with His blood. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit whom He has given, every Christian has a Divine enablement, sufficient to meet his every need. God's children do not wander through life aimless or helpless, without purpose or plan. God Himself is their compass, wisdom, and strength. David asked, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Psalm 139:7). We can all rejoice that the Spirit of the living God is with us always. He was with Noah on the ark, with Abraham in a smoking pot and fiery torch, with Joseph in prison, with Moses at the burning bush, with Joshua at Jericho, with Hannah in her barrenness, with David in the wilderness, with Elijah on Mount Carmel, with three Hebrew youths in a furnace of fire, with Daniel in the lion's den, with Nehemiah in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, with Jonah on board a sinking ship, with Peter on the day of Pentecost, with Paul in his many persecutions, with Mary in the garden, and with John on the island of Patmos. Dear child of God, you are not alone and have not been forgotten by the One acquainted with all of our ways.

The third promise, which is the heritage of the saints, is the promise of God's sovereign will for our lives. We can be assured that our experiences in life are not accidental. The Lord God Almighty is always in absolute control of all things in heaven and upon the earth. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His permissive will (Matthew 10:29), then we who first trusted in Christ can be at peace, knowing that God is not only omnipresent, but also omniscient and omnipotent. He sees all, knows all, and does according to His own good will and pleasure (Philippians 2:13), to the end that His children by adoption through faith in Christ might be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). Furthermore, everything which God permits in the lives of His children is always in perfect harmony with his Holiness and love for them: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Hard as this might be for us to grasp when the storms of life are raging, let us always remember that Jesus is Master over the tempest. The winds and the waves come at His command, and at His command they cease. Although we now see through a glass dimly, one day we will know that the Judge of all the earth does what is right, what is good, and what is necessary in the lives of His people (1 Corinthians 13: 12; Genesis 18:25).
Tho' night be dark, and it may seem
That day will never break,
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.

The last promise I leave with you is the glorious promise that one day we will be like Jesus, holy and separate from sin: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). As the psalmist said, some things are too wonderful for us to comprehend (Psalm 139:6), and this is one of them. Who among God's people does not long to be free of sin and the suffering it brings? Who among us, born again by the Spirit of God, does not long for complete victory over sin and Satan, the one who is a roaring lion, devouring everyone that he can in this world? Praise be to God, brethren; a new world awaits us in which the destruction and ruin caused by human rebellion and all of God's adversaries will be seen no more: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie” (Revelation 21:27). Satan himself will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Hallelujah! The Lord has spoken, and it will come to pass that the glory of God will fill the earth and we will reign with him forever and ever as priests of God in Christ (Revelation 20:6). Following the earthly kingdom of Christ, the Lord will supernaturally bring to pass a new heavens and new earth which will be our final destination. This is an incentive for holy living and constant prayer that our blessed Savior may come quickly: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:11-13).

Although there are many more promises of Scripture to feast upon for the encouragement of our hearts, I pray that these few will bless you today and cause your spirit to rejoice in God your Savior. It may not be long before Jesus comes; only the Lord knows the day and the hour, but time is hastening on. With each setting of the sun, we are closer to the time of His appearing, or our home-going. Keep on praying, serving, and trusting. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.

God bless,

Pastor Tom