Tuesday, June 7, 2016

standing on the promises

I got to spend last weekend in Charlottesville with some of my favorite people in the world - the crazy awesome Morales family who we've been friends with for thirteen years. The weekend was jam-packed - we celebrated Maddie's 20th birthday and got to watch Josh's soccer games and just hang out together. At night we watched the mountain behind their house light up with thousands of fireflies as a thunderstorm rolled in.

One of my favorite moments of the weekend was Sunday morning when we gathered for a time of worship after breakfast.

Mr. Morales read a few verses, one of which was Hebrews 6:11-12, "And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

Then he asked: "What are the promises?"

Each one of us - thirteen people ages 6 to 50 - named one of the promises of God.

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." Matthew 18:20

"And He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways." Psalm 91:11

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:23-24

"With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies." Psalm 60:12

He has promised the crown of eternal life to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

The Bible is full of promises from God to His people. In fact, the Christian faith centers around the fulfillment of the promises of God - the central one being the promise of eternal life.

Search the Scriptures - or just put "promise" into a Bible search engine - and you will find that God makes spectacular promises. And His promises are true.

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:20.

I started thinking about some of the promises of God that I return to over and over.

Thinking about the promise of eternal life reminded me of one of my favorite verses in Scripture.

"And this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." John 17:3 

The promise of eternal life is the promise that we can know God intimately. It is closely connected with the promise that Jesus makes to us that "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake You" and "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20). Because of these promises, I am confident that in every moment of life Jesus is with me. He is, after Emmanuel - God with us. This is no small thing - that the Lord of the universe who conquered death and crushed the powers of hell promises that He is with me always and that He will fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit - the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11). As if that promise were not enough, I know that He will fill me with joy in His presence now and that ultimately I will find eternal pleasure at His right hand (Psalm 16:11). As I walk in His presence and in obedience to Him, He will satisfy my soul (Psalm 63:5).

Jesus does not promise an easy life. In fact, He promises that the world will hate those who love Him - just as they hated Him (John 15:18). But He does promise that He is with us through good times and bad and that all our troubles in this life will be like nothing compared to the weight of glory that will greet us in heaven (2 Corinthians 4:17).

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

These are powerful promises, ones to internalize and mull over and cling to and use as a cause for worship and great rejoicing.

What are the promises that you live by? Comment below: I'd love to hear!

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"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

When I doubt, He will not forsake me, for it is promised that "if we are faithless, He remains faithful - for He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13).

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful - He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." 1 Corinthians 10:13

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

"Have I not commanded you - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

"The grass withers and flowers fade. But the word of the Lord stands forever." Isaiah 40:8