Summer 2020 - Season of Promise1. Standing on the Promises of God
Summer 2020 - 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.”
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 –
2 Responsibilities -
Unleash God’s power. Friend, do you know that you don’t need another book or blessing or seminar or experience if you know Jesus? Notice the past tense: “has given to us all things…” You have all that you need right now to be all that God wants you to be – the “all things” means everything!
Utilize God’s promises. God’s promises are great and they are precious. The word “great” means exceedingly outstanding. The word “precious” means of such great value that a suitable price is hard to estimate. God’s promises are to be prized because they are precious - they are mega magnificent! When we appropriate these promises –
2 Benefits -
We get closer to the Saviour: “…that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature.”
We get further from sin: “…having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
In a world of broken promises, God can be counted on.
Saved by a Promise
Aren’t you glad that salvation has nothing to do with our promises to God but rather with His promises to us? 1 John 2: 25: “And this is what he promised us – even eternal life.” Until you have believed and received, God’s promises will not be accessible to you.
You need to know that there is extreme urgency in being saved by Christ. One day it will be too late. That’s a promise. But because God is patient, He is giving you time right now to decide to follow His Son. 2 Peter 3: 9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”