Protect the promise

If you’ve made a commitment to someone, how far will you go to see that it happens? If someone has made a commitment to you, how far will you go to see that it happens? And what about what God has promised to you? How far will you go to hold on to the promises that you have from the Lord? Only until it gets a little uncomfortable? Only until it’s inconvenient and doesn’t really fit into your plans?

What if we could see the end at the beginning? Would it change our response to God’s promises? It certainly made a difference in Judah. God had promised that David’s line would never end. David would have an heir on the throne forever. But as we read in 2 Chronicles, that line was in serious jeopardy. Upon the death of King Ahaziah, his mother took it upon herself to destroy every possible heir. But one got away. Just a child, but an heir nonetheless.

Jehoiada said to them, “The king’s son shall reign, as the Lord promised concerning the descendants of David. Now this is what you are to do: A third of you priests and Levites who are going on duty on the Sabbath are to keep watch at the doors, a third of you at the royal palace and a third at the Foundation Gate, and all the other men are to be in the courtyards of the temple of the Lord. No on is to enter the temple of the Lord except the priests and Levites on duty; they may enter because they are consecrated, but all the other men are to guard what the Lord has assigned to them. The Levites are to station themselves around the king, each man with weapons in his hand. Anyone who enters the temple must be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.

2 Chronicles 23:3b-7 (NIV)

That is an awful lot of fuss for a kid just barely out of kindergarten. Yet Jehoiada knew that this boy was heir to far more than just the nation of Judah. He was the heir of a promise that would extend throughout eternity and they would protect that promise with their lives.

We have a book full of promises from God. How far will you go to see those promises come to pass?

The thing is, just because a promise has been made, doesn’t mean that we aren’t required to do anything. It doesn’t mean that we just get to sit around and let it happen around us. Had Jehoiada decided to leave matters be—it’ll all work out in the end, won’t it?—Joash would have been killed along with the rest of his siblings. The last of David’s line gone. And then what? It’s not as though God couldn’t have come up with another plan for salvation. But that’s not what God does. He’s not a God of plan B. He doesn’t even have a plan B. It’s plan A. Period.

So how do we know that God will keep His promises?

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NIV)

If God has made a promise to us, we can be assured that He will keep it. But we also have a responsibility to protect that promise. We must arm ourselves as Jehoiada armed the priests and Levites to protect Joash. God has given us His Spirit so that we can stand firm in the face of our enemy and declare the Amen—let it be so—with confidence that if God has promised it, He will perform it.

Do you have a promise from God? Protect it. With your life.

Read: 2 Chronicles 23-25, John 16:16-33

Methodless Man

Jesus performed miracles. Lots of miracles. Most people who do a lot of the same thing over and over again come up with a method for doing just that.

When I worked for the bank, my job title was Workflow Specialist. It was my duty to make our necessary processes run as efficiently as possible. We had methods of doing things. We did the same thing the same way every day so that it was easy to teach, easy to learn, and as easy as possible to do. Fewer mistakes are made when you get into a simple routine.

I don’t think Jesus knew about workflow specialists.

In Luke 7:9, Jesus healed a man’s servant simply because the man believed Jesus could do it. Jesus never even met the man he healed.

In verse 14, he touched the coffin of a dead man and the man was raised to life.

In verse 21, Jesus went all to cure many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits and gave sight to many who were blind.

Jesus was consistent in what he did, but now how he did it. Maybe he got bored with just touching people. A little spit and dust would certainly stir things up. Or maybe, he needed to avoid a particular method so that the Pharisees and other religious fanatics wouldn’t latch on to any particular way of performing a miracle and try to replicate the method.

Admit it. When something works out really well for you one time, you try to replicate the circumstances the next time you go to do it. If it works just as well the second time, you may start to refine your method for even better results.

Jesus didn’t do that. There is no one method we can use to get something from Jesus. That was the whole point. The only common strain that ran through all of Jesus’ miracles was faith. People went to him expecting a miracle. It didn’t matter how it happened, it only mattered that they got it.

If you want something from God, if you need a miracle, there are no surefire steps to take. To the man who wanted his servant healed and believed that if Jesus only said the words, it would happen, Jesus said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel!”

More than any one method, I believe it is the confident faith with which we approach Jesus that will see the greatest results. If God made us a promise in His Word, we can approach Him with all confidence that it will happen!

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

Read: Judges 1-2, Luke 7:1-30

No doubt

To even the most accomplished scholar, the book of Revelation can be daunting. Filled with inexplicable visions and prophecy, who can really know what the writer saw? But there are a couple of things that we can be sure about.

First, no matter what’s going on, worship continues. Aside from that half hour pause, every being in heaven continues to worship God. Their songs, their attitudes and their posture never changes.

Second, is the assurance holding on to God’s promises.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The whole world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 11:15 (NLT)

The host surrounding the throne of God was so confident in their remarks that they announced long before the end what the end would be. According to John, the entire world is in turmoil at this time and yet the declaration is past tense.

But those two songs which precede it show that the real result is the coming of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom. The tense is that of prophetic certainty—the Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, though all is in the future. But there is no more doubt about the future than about the past if God has determined it.

F. Bertram Clogg, The Abingdon Bible Commentary

When God makes a promise, we can be as certain that He will keep it as though it has already come to pass.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say, “Amen” when we give glory to God through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT)

Notice the use of past tense again here. All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. In whom? Him. Jesus. The Amen. The Alpha and the Omega. The One who knows both the beginning and the end because he is the beginning and the end.

You may question or doubt a few things in Revelation, but there should be no doubt at all when it comes to whether or not God’s promises will be fulfilled.

Daily Bible reading: Micah 4-5, Revelation 11

Sustain

What sustains you? Food, obviously. Hopefully sleep. Water. Maybe the help of family or friends. Perhaps there are things in life that you enjoy that make the tough times more bearable. But what about words? In many cases, words are empty. On their own, they may hold great meaning, but when offered by certain people in a certain way, they may be hollow and weightless. Worthless.

Your words are what sustain me. They bring me great joy and are my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.

Jeremiah 15:16 (NLT)

Few of us could say that we have it worse than Jeremiah when it comes to the words of God. The prophet spoke these words while God was in the middle of telling him of all the destruction He was going to bring upon Judah and Israel. They were to be utterly destroyed and yet, somehow, Jeremiah finds it within himself to let God know that His words are sustenance. They bring him joy and are his heart’s delight.

SUSTAIN: To bear; to uphold; to support, as a foundation; to keep from falling; to keep alive; to endure without failing or yielding.

In the midst of what must have been a truly dark time, Jeremiah still found God’s word to be full of life. Enough so to support him, to keep him from falling or failing, to keep him alive. And Jeremiah wasn’t the only one who found delight in the words of God in the middle of a trial.

Your decrees are my treasure,
they are truly my heart’s delight.

Psalm 119:111 (NLT)

How can these two men, through storms, destruction, war, and everything else that may have come against them still have found comfort in God’s words? Aren’t they just words?

The yes to all of God’s promises is in Christ, and through Christ we say yes to the glory of God. Remember, God is the one who makes you and us strong in Christ. God made us his chosen people. He put his mark on us to show that we are his, and he put his Spirit in our hearts to be a guarantee for all he has promised.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NCV)

Jeremiah, David, Paul, and many others all found joy and delight in the words of God because God gave us a guarantee. He gave us His mark. He gave us His name. And because He has never failed, we can take that as our assurance that His words will indeed sustain us through whatever may be in store for us in this life.

So he will do for me all that he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Job 23:14 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 14-16, 1 Timothy 5

 

He hears

Sometimes, when I pray, I feel as though I’m praying against a wall. There are occasions where I wonder what I’m doing. Am I really talking to someone? Is someone up there or around here really listening?

But then there are moments in prayer or worship where I know the presence of God. English isn’t enough to explain it. In Spanish, there are two words for the verb “to know”. One refers to a general knowledge. Something learned. The other refers to a personal knowledge. To know someone more intimately. Not just to know of them.

God wants us to not just know of Him, but to know Him. Intimately. But how are we supposed to do that when we can’t even see Him, hear Him, touch Him? How do we even know He’s out there listening?

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)

Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Are you going to feel the presence of God every moment of every day? Probably not. But when you enter into prayer or worship, like Hebrews says, believe that He is. God has promised us that, if we go to Him in belief and humility, He will hear. And when He hears, He answers. When He answers, we are blessed and He receives glory.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 7-9; John 13:1-17

They grumbled

As a kid, did you ever get something for your birthday that you didn’t really want, but in the end, it was the most useful of all?

One year, I got underwear for my birthday. Yep, undies. At least the person who gave the gift had the decency to give it in private and not present it to me in front of all my pre-teen friends. That year I also received a friendship bracelet and ring and some other stuff that was so important to me that I can not now recall what it was. The bracelet and ring rusted and I’m not longer in contact with the person who gave it to me. (So much for “Best Friends Forever”.) But the underwear got used. A lot. I wore it until the elastic separated from the rest and even wore it after that. (And washed it in between).

What’s my point? Sometimes the best gifts of all are the ones that may not seem like it at the time we receive them. I got far more use out of a necessary item than I did the frivolous accessories.

In John 6, the Jews get disgruntled over the gift Jesus has presented to them – eternal life.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst… For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

John 6:35, 40-41 (ESV)

Now, I’m not comparing eternal life to underwear, but the idea is similar (and you’re less likely to forget!). Jesus offered a wonderful gift. A useful gift. A lasting gift. But the Jews would have none of it. They had only followed Jesus because he had fed five thousand men plus women and children the day before. They wanted eternal free food. Instead, Jesus offered them eternal life and they got mad.

Take a look a the gifts you’ve received. Go through the Bible and see what God has promised you. Are all His promises (which in him, are yes and amen according to 2 Corinthians 1:20) not worth more than having your immediate needs fulfilled right now? Yes, God wants us to live full and prosperous lives on earth, but don’t go looking for the temporary gifts at the cost of the greatest eternal one.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 18-19; John 6:22-44

Boundaries

If you own property, chances are that you know where your property line is. You know what land belongs to you and what land doesn’t. If your neighbour took it upon himself to build a new fence three feet into your yard, you’d have something to say about it. You won’t let anyone take what rightfully belongs to you.

This shall be your land as defined by its borders all around.

Numbers 34:12b (ESV)

You know your natural borders, but do you know your spiritual borders? God gave very precise lines for Israel to draw around the land they had been promised. Everything within those borders was theirs to keep, to prosper from, and to protect. Do you know what God has promised you?

The yes to all of God’s promises is in Christ, and through Christ we say yes to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NCV)

When we approach life knowing who we are in Him through the revelation of His word, we know what we’ve been promised. As God set boundaries for Israel, He’s set boundaries for us. He said that He would keep His word to us, but the only way for us to know whether or not He’s kept his word is to know His word. When we know what we’ve been promised we are then also able to protect the promise.

Once Israel inhabited Canaan, it became their responsibility to maintain possession of the land. They had all the benefits along with the responsibility of being property owners.

When you have your promise in your hands, it’s up to you to keep it. God gave it to you. Don’t let anyone or anything take it from you. Know what’s yours and keep it.

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 34-36, Mark 10:32-52