A Season of Promise
1. Standing on the Promises of God
2 Corinthians 1: 20
We live in a world of broken promises, don’t we? From relational pain, to outlandish political promises, to over-the-top ads for fast food, many of us have become skeptical whenever we hear someone make a claim that appears too good to be true.
Our big idea today is this: In a world of broken promises, God can be counted on. We’re beginning a new series today called, “A Season of Promise.” According to one estimate, there are more than 8800 promises in the Bible. I haven’t tried to count them all, but we’re going to tackle a number of them this season.
Most frequently in the OT the word promise refers to - here’s the deal: When God says something…that settles it. “A promise is the assurance that God gives to His people so they can walk by faith…while they wait for Him to work.”
“A command from God is something we should do; a promise from God is something God will do. A command must be obeyed; a promise must be believed. When God gives a command He says, “YOU WILL”; when God gives a promise He says, “I WILL.”
“God never over-promises and He never under-delivers.”
Pointers about Promises
It’s important to pause at this point and establish some guardrails on the pathway to God’s promises.
1. Put the promises in their context to get their full meaning
One of the most popular promises - Hebrews 13: 5: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” This is so comforting, isn’t it? But we seldom quote the first part of the verse: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said…” Because of the promise of God’s presence we can live free from the love of money and become more content with what we have. Now that’s a promise we all need.
2. Be willing to accept all God’s promises, not just the ones you like
God also promises persecution and suffering and difficulty for the Christ-follower - John 16: 33: “In this world you will have trouble…” We can’t just put the pleasant promises up on our walls and act surprised when suffering comes. Hold on to the second half of this verse because we know that we don’t suffer alone: “…But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
3. The ultimate aim of God’s promises is to glorify Himself
Be careful about demanding that God must do something for you. We can’t just name it and claim it without worshipping the Name that is above all names and desiring that He display His honour and glory. Psalm 119:38: “Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.”
4. Some promises are conditional
God will do His part when we do ours. Often we see this in the use of “if/then” passages. Deuteronomy 11: 22, 23: “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him – then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.”
We see something similar in Psalm 37: 4: “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” We like the second part of this verse about getting the desires of our hearts but we must remember that this promise is linked to delighting ourselves in the Lord first. Conditional promises are also found in the NT.
James 4: 10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
5. Promises must be appropriated and applied by faith
By the exercise of our faith, God’s promises become personal. Hebrews 4: 2: “…but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” We’re told that Jesus did not do many miracles in a certain town “because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13: 58).
This is clearly seen with the giving of the land of promise - Joshua 21: 43: “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers…” The promise of land was given to them but they had to take hold of the promise to make it their own: “…and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.”
Let’s not be like the people described in Psalm 106: 24: “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise.”
6. Don’t be passive about God’s promises
Friend, if you want to profit from the promises, you can’t be passive about them. Hebrews 6: 12: “That you do not become sluggish [lazy], but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” The promises were made to be used by God’s children, by all who will believe them and appropriate them.
7. Make sure you are spiritually prepared to receive God’s promises
1 Samuel 2: 30 says that God honours those who honour Him. God is looking for surrendered hearts and for those who are quick to confess sin. Psalm 66: 18: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
8. Hold on to hope
Sometimes we have to wait a long time before a promise is fulfilled. Hebrews 10: 23, 24: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Don’t give up. Don’t bail when you think God has failed you. He hasn’t. Hebrews 10: 36: “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” The beautiful promise of Psalm 37: 4 - “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” is followed by verse 7: “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.”
Remember this: “A promise is the assurance that God gives to His people so they can walk by faith…while they wait for Him to work.”
Walking Through the Word
In a world of broken promises, God can be counted on. I thought it would be good for us to soak up some Scriptures that speak of God’s promises. Let’s worship together as we walk through the Word.
Numbers 23: 19: “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
Deuteronomy 1: 11, 12: “May the Lord, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised!”
Joshua 23: 14, 15: “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
1 Kings 8: 24: “You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it – as it is today.”
1 Kings 8: 56, 57: “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.”
1 Chronicles 17: 23: “And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised.”
Nehemiah 9: 8: “You have kept your promise because you are righteous.”
Psalm 77: 8: “Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?”
Psalm 106: 12: “Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.”
Psalm 119: 50: “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”
Psalm 119: 116: “Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”
Psalm 119: 162: “I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.”
Psalm 145: 13: “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.”
Malachi 3: 10: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!’”
2 Corinthians 7: 1: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
A Powerful Promise Passage
2 Peter 1: 3, 4: “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Isn’t it comforting to know that God has already given us everything we need to live our life and grow in godliness? I see 2 things that we’re called to do –
1. 2. Responsibilities -