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

Not yours

Do you need God to move in a big way in your life? Wait. That’s a silly question. Who doesn’t need God to move in a big way in their life? If you’re sitting there thinking that you don’t, then you really need God to move in a big way.

We all need God. And we all need Him to move in our lives. But most of us never really see God move in the ways we’d like him to. Jim Cymbala said in his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, that he despaired at the thought that [his] life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on [his] behalf. What a sorry existence we live as Christians if we never really see God move in or through us.

So what does it take to see God move?

  • Individuals. A move of God starts when one person decides that they want more for their life than what their own plan can accomplish. It takes one person making the choice to put God’s plans ahead of their own.

The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands father than the practices of Israel.

2 Chronicles 17:3-4 (NIV)

  • Leaders. A move of God requires leaders—those who have made the choice to put the plans and purposes of God above everything else—to stand up and encourage others to do the same.

As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”

2 Chronicles 20:20b

  • Families. If one person can make a decision, a family can make a difference. The entire nation of Israel was one family descended from Abraham. When they chose to walk in the ways of the Lord, God went before them and blessed everything they touched.

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.

2 Chronicles 20:13 (NIV)

  • Worship. Our response to God, His goodness, His faithfulness, His good plans for us, stirs His heart. God cannot move where He is not welcome and what better way to welcome His Spirit than to stand in an attitude of adoration?

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21 (NIV)

In the case of Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah, God went ahead of the army and defeated the enemy for them. By the time the troops arrived on the battlefield, all that remained were dead bodies and so much plunder that it took three days to gather it all.

We may not be headed into a physical battle, but we are most certainly in a spiritual one. If we want God to move on our behalf, there are certain things required of us. The greatest of these things is the sacrifice of ourselves.

He must become greater; I must become less.

John 3:30 (NIV)

It’s hard to let go of our own wants and needs. Scary, even. But when we recognise God for who He is—a good God and a loving Father—it becomes easier to allow Him to set the course for us. And that is what we must do. God will move, but it will be in His direction, not ours. We must be committed and submitted to His will.

For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

2 Chronicles 20:15b (NIV)

Read: 2 Chronicles 20-22, John 16:1-15

The process of promise

Read: Exodus 22-24, Matthew 20:17-34

Many of us, when we pray, would like to see our entire prayer answered right when we pray it. We’re used to instant gratification. Drive-thrus. On demand. Our prayers have become a reflection of that. Like Veruca Salt, we want it and we want it now!

But what happens when we get everything we want when we want it whether we’re ready for it or not? Did you know some studies show that up to 70% of people who unexpectedly come into large sums of money end up broke within five years? Getting rich quick isn’t always the best thing for us.

Exodus 23:29-30

I’m sure Israel would have loved nothing more than to walk out of Egypt and right into the Promised Land. God could have gone ahead and cleaned house, sweeping out the land and preparing it for His people. But He didn’t. He chose not to for a couple of reasons.

  1. Israel wasn’t ready. Here was an entire nation who had been enslaved for four centuries. While their physical captivity had ended, anyone who has been held against their will can tell you that it takes longer for the mind to adapt to freedom. God had a lot of things to teach His people before they were ready to take the land. He needed to renew their minds to His plans and purposes before they could move ahead.
  2. The land was ready. Israel had some learning to do, but the land was move-in ready. It was inhabited. It was already being farmed. Cities had already been built. There was a population that was tending to it, keeping it profitable. Had God scattered those people, the land would have reverted back to its original state. Fields would go fallow and fill with weeds. The cities would begin to crumble and wild animals would once again take over. The Israelites would have had to start from scratch.

Our land, our promise, may be ready for us, but we may not yet be ready for it. There may be lessons we need to learn along the way. We may need to build up endurance and strength. We may need to renew our minds, changing our old way of thinking. We may need to be broken down so that we can be rebuilt. And while all of that is happening, God has made sure that our promise will be ready for us when we are ready for it. The process is just as, if not more, important than the promise.

He controls my destiny

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

Job 23:14 (NLT)

For those who are in Christ and have surrendered themselves to the will of God, this is a comforting statement. For those who may see God as a big bully in the sky, this can be a frightening thought. Since I’m not one to see this as a scary idea, let’s pursue the comfort in this verse a little more.

We know that we are created in God’s image. He didn’t create the world, fill it with animals, populate it with humans, and then walk away from it all to see what would happen. God is very interested in what happens—especially with us,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Many are tempted to and even do lose hope when things don’t go the way they expected. They forget that God has a good plan for them and give in to the lies the enemy would have them believe that God cares nothing for them. That God wants to punish them. Nothing could be further from the truth!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

The good things that God has planned for us come when we are walking in His will, not our own will. Will it all be easy? No. Will it all seem good when it’s happening? Probably not. But is the end goal worth it? Yes! A thousand times, yes!

Who do you think has the better plan, you with your limited knowledge and experience? Or God, with His infinite knowledge—the one who knew the end at the beginning?

So I will let Him to do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny. Thank God for that!

Daily Bible reading: Job 23-25, Acts 10:24-48 

The plot

One thing I’ve noticed in reading the New Living Translation is that the Bible reads a lot like a cheesy mystery novel.

“Here comes that dreamer!” They exclaimed. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into a deep pit. We can tell our father that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what becomes of all his dreams!”

Genesis 37:30 (NLT)

Then the Pharisees called a meeting and discussed plans for killing Jesus.

Matthew 12:14 (NLT)

There is a lot of nefarious plotting going on all throughout the Bible. Plotting by bad people and good ones, too. There are good plots and there are bad plots.

In Genesis, we read the story of the young(est – we don’t read how old Joseph was at the time) brother, Joseph. If you’re at all familiar with Genesis, you know that Joseph goes on to pretty much rule Egypt and his family is forced to submit to him in order to survive.

In Matthew, Jesus had the audacity to eat grain and heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day. Gasp! This was, apparently, reason enough to plot His death.

In both cases, both Joseph and Jesus were destined for more. Their stories of salvation had been plotted long before their deaths had been planned. Joseph had dreamed of being in a raised position and his family being made to bow before him. Jesus had been prophesied of back in Isaiah.

Look at my Servant,
whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved,
and I am very please with him.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nation
He will not fight or shout;
he will not raise his voice in public.
He will not crush those who are weak,
or quench the smallest hope,
until he brings full justice with his final victory.
And his name will be the hope of all the world.

Matthew 12:18-21 (NLT) *see Isaiah 42:1-4

So the next time you feel like you’re stuck in the mystery novel being plotted against, remember this:

“For I know the plans I have for you, “says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Even if the world is plotting against you, God has already plotted your victory.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 36-37, Matthew 12:1-21

Help

Do you ever need help?

Wait. Never mind. We all need help. If you answered no, you should probably take a close look at your life.

We are not meant to be alone. When God created Adam in the garden, He had said that everything He’d made was good. Until Adam. Then God said that it wasn’t good for him to be alone.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not goo that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

So then we have to ask another question: where does your help come from? Did Adam’s help come from Eve? After all, that’s what she was created for. Or did Adam’s help come from God? He was the one who saw Adam’s need and fulfilled it.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8 (ESV)

God knows our needs long before we can ever bring them to Him in prayer. Do you not think He has already made plans to send us help? Whether it be in an anonymous blessing or sending the right person along our path at the right time, God is our help. It may come in the form of man,  but without God, that man would not even exist.

Thank God for His help! Thank God that He knows our needs. Thank God He cares more than enough to send us what we need if only we look to Him.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 124-127, 1 Corinthians 7:1-24

Firstborn

There are some that believe we are all predestined for a certain purpose and eternal end. That we have no choice in the matter. No matter what we do, nothing will change what God has laid out for us whether it be good or bad.

I cannot bring myself to agree with this idea.

The idea of predestination could be derived from Romans 8:29 where it states that, “those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” It makes sense. Almost.

Think about it.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them

Psalm 139:16 (ESV)

God foreknew all of us. Every last human being on earth. He formed us in our mother’s wombs.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30 (ESV)

God predestined the entire population of planet earth to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. He called us. He justified us. He glorified us.

So why aren’t we all living the happy, wonderful Christian life?

Because in giving us a destiny, God also gave us free will. You can make plans for someone. Good plans. But that doesn’t mean that the person you’ve made plans for will follow them. If we have no choice in the matter, there’s no point in the matter.

I take great comfort in the knowledge that God loves me enough to have set out good things for me. A hope and a good future. I was skillfully made for a purpose. God thinks about me. Good thoughts. Many thoughts. He has a plan for my life.

Is this plan just going to happen on it’s own? Does any plan just happen on it’s own? No! In order for plans to be carried out, you need to know what they are. The best way to learn the plan is to get to know the planner.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 82-84; Romans 8:19-39