Tag Archives: God’s Promises

March 15; Made In The Shade

Deuteronomy 6-8

God gave the Israelites a stern warning before they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. It went something like this:

“It’s amazing there. Streams and pools of water. Healthy wheat and barley fields. Fig trees, pomegranates, olive trees, honey. Flourishing cities you did not build. Wells you did not dig. You can mine copper out of the hills. And you will lack nothing.”

God goes on to say, “The land is inhabited by my enemies. Don’t worry about that. I will defeat them.”

Sounds pretty good, made in the shade, so to speak. A cushy lifestyle, health and wealth for the taking. Doesn’t sound like much of a warning. But there were two stipulations that went along with the promise:

  1. Destroy the enemy totally. Don’t show mercy. Don’t make treaties with them. Don’t marry them because if you do, they will turn you away from Me.
  2. Be careful not to forget the Lord your God. Don’t get comfortable in your new surroundings and become self-satisfied. Don’t get cocky thinking you deserve it, or created it yourselves.

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirm his convenient, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (8:18)

Then God’s stern warning:

If you forget… you will be destroyed like the nations around you. (8:19-20)

There are so many parallel lessons here. We could look at the state of our nation, the condition of the Church. But I think God would have us look into our own individual hearts today. What would God say to us about our relationship with Him?

Consider the enemy. Sometimes we “marry” into the enemy by adopting the world. We show mercy to the enemy by worrying about their feelings over their eternal souls. We look and act like them instead of standing apart, and sometimes we invite them into our hearts one compromise at a time. When you look into your heart, do you recognize the signs of the enemy there, even if it’s disguised as tolerance?

Consider our attitudes. Do we truly give God the glory for everything, or do we secretly take satisfaction in believing we are strong, capable, powerful in and of ourselves, like the enemy wants us to believe? Please don’t tell me you’ve fallen for Satan’s “I deserve this” lie. When you look into your heart, what do you  see? Be honest. Is it so full of Jesus that there is no room for anything else – not even yourself?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (6:4-5)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.(7:9)

Hold on to that promise. God is true to His word. But don’t ignore His warning. He shows no mercy for the disobedient. And there are no blessings, only destruction for those He considers His enemy:

But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

You might say, I don’t hate God. But do you love Him with all your heart, soul, and strength? I guess that’s what God has me looking at today for myself. I don’t want to be satisfied with where I am, sit back and think I’ve got it made in the shade. I don’t want to be entertaining the enemy while pushing my Savior aside. I want to give Him the glory with every breath I take, because He alone is worthy. And I’m just not.

March 3; Let’s Do This

Numbers 11-13

Back in June of 2015 I wrote about a former student of mine who lives his faith in God out loud. (They Hated Me Without A Cause). This young man is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. I thought about him today as I read these chapters in Numbers, because my friend is facing giants today.

Thirty years ago he was born three months premature, weighing in at a whopping 1lb 12oz. The doctor told his parents he hoped they’d have better luck next time. But this tiny baby spent 120 days in the NICU, then went home with his parents and has lived a perfectly normal life. I knew him as a middle schooler and trust me, he was a normal middle schooler! 🙂

He is a military veteran, married, and a hard worker. He has the most positive outlook on life of anyone you’ll ever meet. You never feel worse after spending time with this young man.

And he has cancer. Last week he was hit with the news that he will be fighting Stage 2 bladder cancer.

Moses sent out twelve men to spy out the land God had Promised to give them. Let’s not forget that fact. God had PROMISED to GIVE them the land.

You know the story: the twelve searched the land for forty days, came back with amazing fruit and a glowing report as to what that land offered. But instead of celebrating the good things God was giving them, all those men could focus on were the giants living there.

“It’s too much!” they complained. “We’ll never be able to defeat them.”

All the spies seemed to agree with this sorry assessment – except Caleb who exclaimed, “Let’s do this!”

I’ve never been diagnosed with cancer, so I’m not going to pretend I know what my young friend is feeling. He says he’s worried, and scared. He has questions. Who wouldn’t? He admits he knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But he, like the Caleb we read about here in the book of Numbers, says, “Let’s do this!”

He is not cowering in fear in the face of this giant. If you would visit his FaceBook page you would see post after post of Bible verses declaring God’s power, God’s goodness, God’s love. He continues to be a voice of one who has put his trust in the Lord Jesus, and whose faith is stronger than his fear. He knows God has promised him that He has a plan for him, plans to give him hope and a future. (from Jeremiah 29:11)

With his permission, I’d like to share this young man’s name, because his parents gave him a name meant to fight giants. His name is Caleb Jacob. Caleb, one of the two spies who saw God in the land of the giants.

I know many of you are facing giants of your own. They come in all shapes and sizes. But they are intended by the enemy to get our eyes off the Lord, to replace our confidence with doubt, to question God’s love or maybe even existence. I would challenge you to search the Scripture for God’s promises to you. Just like he PROMISED to GIVE the land to the Jews, He’s PROMISED His presence, His strength, His power, and eternity with Him to those who know Him.

Are you facing a giant? Be the one to take God’s hand and say, “Let’s do this.” Would you pray with me for Caleb and his wife Kassi as they begin their own battle with cancer? I pray God will be glorified as they face this giant, and may He be glorified as you face your own.

 

Jeremiah 26-29; God’s Got Plans

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that seem to indicate God wants His children to be healthy and wealthy, or at least receive the things they ask Him for. 29:11 is one of them.

So is John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

And Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

There are dozens more. You probably can come up with some off the top of your head, too. God promises to bless His people, to answer our prayers. And I believe Him.

But I look at the Bible as a whole and see many, many examples of God’s children not receiving what they ask for. Believers who are sick, tortured, poor. Paul said he prayed three times about something and God never granted him what he wanted.

So which is it? Is God true to His word, or not?

More than we ask or think!

We are short-sighted if we limit God’s promises to the material. Yes, God answers our prayers for physical healing, or financial relief. Sometimes He gives us the desires of our hearts. But not always.

If we limit God to answering only our material needs, we miss out on the greater thing. How does God prosper His children?

I am with you always… (Matthew 28:20)

Peace I give you… (John 14:27)

If you confess your sins… I will forgive… (I John 1:9)

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Remain in me and I will remain in you… (John 15:4)

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am… John 14:3)

There are more. God promises His presence, His strength, His joy, His righteousness, His help in our time of need. Someone told me once that I can believe all that because I’m not hurting, I’m not hungry, I’m not homeless, I’m not being persecuted. But I know there are hurting, hungry, homeless, and persecuted people who know the truth of these promises even better than I because of their circumstances.

The interesting thing to me about this is that, the closer I get to God, the more time I spend with Him in His Word and in prayer, the more I find His desires become mine. I think less about my physical comfort, and more about reaching the lost, or more about the needs of my neighbors. My prayers become more about others than about myself.

My friend, Toni, lived much of her life in great pain. She had a disease called HS from the time she was a child, and doctors were unable to do much to help her. But she never lost her joy in the Lord. She never lost her servant’s heart even on those days it was hard to move.

There is a youth convention in Atlanta held on New Years day each year, and Toni felt led to volunteer on New Years Day last year, 2017. She had such a burning desire, but common sense told her it was too much for her, as her pain had increased to an almost unbearable level. She talked to her husband. They prayed. And they went.

My friend was a greeter at that conference for hundreds of teenagers. Her job was to hold the door, and welcome the kids as they went into the worship services. She said she “fist-pumped” dozens and dozens of young people that day. In fact, she came home with bruised knuckles. But, she said, “I felt called to be a door holder.”

Four months later, she was diagnosed with colon cancer that had already spread. Her pain, that she thought was from her HS, was in fact from the cancer that was destroying her organs. But I will tell you, even with this devastating news, Toni believed in the plans God had for her, plans to prosper (her) and not to harm (her), plans to give (her) hope and a future.

God has plans. His plans include showering you with the forgiveness Jesus’ blood bought for you. He wants to fill you, build you up, be your joy and confidence. He wants to draw near to you, to walk with you, and finally, to bring you home to be with Him forever.

That’s where my friend lives today. She’s finally home.

Our road might be hard. Or we might enjoy the physical comforts of this world. But with Paul, let’s “learn to be content whatever the circumstances… whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need…” (Philippians 4:12-13)

And let’s trust God to bless us with Himself, to give us what we need when we need it and not a moment before. Let’s give Him our hearts, and let Him work out the rest as we obey Him.

Let’s trust God’s plans.

Genesis 21-22 I Believe Him

The Father offered His Son as a living sacrifice. The Son, obedient to the Father, hung on the cross, and willingly laid down His life. The Son, the sacrifice, the Lamb that was slain, lives again.

Was God’s instruction to Abraham some random test of faith? Or was it a foreshadowing of what was to come, a beautiful picture of Jesus?

Abraham might have been confused. God just got done telling him Isaac would be the father of nations. But Isaac hadn’t had his first child yet when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. I love the fact that Abraham obeyed anyway.

For three days he walked with his son. The son carried the wood for the sacrifice. The father carried the knife.

Didn’t Jesus carry His cross? Was it God the Father or the Jews who held the “knife?”

Abraham had time to change his mind, but he kept moving. His faith in God seems to have prevented him from disobeying. “God will provide the lamb,” he told Isaac. And I love how Abraham’s faith was revealed when he spoke to his servants.

He said, “We (Isaac and I) are going ahead to make a sacrifice to God. You wait here. WE’LL be right back.”

Abraham might not have known HOW God was going to keep His promise. He only knew God WOULD keep His promise.

And that’s how I want to live my life. God has promised never to leave or forsake me, He promised to forgive my sins when I repent, He promised to go prepare a place for me to live with Him forever. And I believe Him.

Dear Father, I want to live my life with faith like Abraham’s. I want to go about my day with the same determination to obey You. I want to take those steps of faith even when I don’t see how Your will can be accomplished in and through me. May I be yielded to You, sensitive to Your voice, believing You and trusting You. Thank you for providing the Lamb. Your promises are true. I love You. And I believe.

 

Genesis 9:1-19 – Rainbows

I get a bit angry when I see rainbow flags. Not because I’m a homophobe. But because Satan has taken a beautiful symbol of God’s promise, and turned it into something that dishonors Him. I kinda wish they’d cut that song from The Wizard of Oz like they had planned.

It’s interesting to me that the beginning of chapter 9 begins with God telling Noah and sons to “be fruitful and increase in number.” He’d commanded the animals to do the same in chapter 8. Now I’m not saying this is “proof” that God is against homosexuality. But I am saying it makes a case for God’s intentions that sex occur between a man and a woman for the purpose of producing children. Homosexuals are unable to fulfill that command.

Then later in chapter 9, God talks about the rainbow. The rainbow is the symbol for a unique promise of God. There is no “if” attached to it. Unlike most of His other promises, this one is totally on God, regardless of what we do. God is promising He will never ever for the rest of time destroy the earth by flood. No matter how far we fall, He will be faithful to keep His word. And He gave us, and Him, the rainbow to seal the deal.

God’s promises are true. Let the rainbow remind you of that important fact, like it was intended to do.

 

March 28 – God’s Promises Are A Done Deal

Joshua 19-21

So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. (21:43-45)

Did you catch what Scripture tells us? The Jews were given the land just like God had promised Abraham. None of their enemies stood before them. None of the promises God made to them failed. Not a one!

Can God be trusted to keep His Word? 100%

Would you mind if I share a personal burden I am carrying? I have a friend who is having surgery today to remove a large tumor from her brain. I am praying for complete healing, although this is not the only cancer invading her body.

I read passages like this one in Joshua, and in others like Matthew 4:23 where Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. Or like in James 5:16 that says we should confess our sins so we can be healed. And I am tempted to believe physical healing is God’s promise. But is it?

God promised the Israelites He would defeat their enemies. And he did. Promise kept.

But I am reminded that cancer is not my friend’s enemy. Her enemy was defeated when she asked Jesus to save her. She is a godly woman, a servant, an encourager. Her life has been a testimony for God’s grace for the forty plus years I have known her. She has touched thousands of lives through her years as a music teacher, a member of the city’s Philharmonic Orchestra, as her church’s organist and praise team member. Her unwavering faith these past couple years as she has battled this disease has shown a bright spotlight on her Savior to people in and outside the church.

I pray for a miraculous healing in my friend’s body. I pray for the doctors, for her husband and daughters. I pray for her church family and the community who loves her so much.  I pray that God will be glorified in this surgery today. No matter the outcome.

I know God will keep every promise He’s ever made to my friend. He will never leave or forsake her. He’s gone to prepare a place for her where she will live forever cancer-free, and in God’s Presence.

Would you pray with me today for Sheri? May God be evident in many ways, may hearts be drawn to Him, and may Sheri know the healing that God has in store for her.

He will keep His promises.