1 Cor. 1:8-9 (NKJV)..."Who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
1 Thess. 5:23-24 (NKJV)..."Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He Who calls you is faithful, Who also will do it."
Heb. 10:23 (NKJV)..."Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful.
If you have been born again and have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you, then you have something wonderful, something mysteriously, albeit quietly and sometimes unkown to you, taking place inside of you. It is the Spirit of God working in you to form you into the image of Christ. He promised He would do it and He is faithful!
Sometimes we see our own unfaithfulness to God, to others in our charge, to the Church, and we become discouraged, thinking, "if only I could be more faithful!" Even that thought is because of the faithfulness of God at work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)
We strive to find faith at times and don't seem to have enough. But God in you won't fail. He comes through with the faith in you that you need to bring you through the testing of your soul, purifying it, revealing Himself to you in new ways, and showing you that it was Him all along, and never you at all that caused you to stand. Only choose to rely on His faithfulness.
Does it boggle your mind to think that He has promised that one day we will be perfect? One day we will see Him face to face and be able to stand before Him spotless? We will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is? WOW!! He's faithful....HE will do it!
We see our weakness and our falling and feel that we can't face Him at times. Again we have to come to Him with the same failure. Again we have to confess we blew it. Again we face our own inability to measure up. We feel that He must be getting tired of us. But again He receives you and again, waits for you to realize that you can only always fail again and again no matter how many times you try. Again He waits patiently for you to look away from your own inability and find His ability and His faithfulness empowering you. It happens ever so softly. We don't even always know how. But His Spirit does it within that secret place in our hearts. He'll never give up on you. He saw from the beginning that you were a hopeless sinner and weak and helpless to save yourself and deliver yourself from sin. And He is not surprised at all when you fail. He doesn't condemn you but gently convicts you, and continually woos you, working in you, even using the failures, to see His faithfulness.
He was faithful to make a way of salvation for you. He was faithful to call you. He was faithful to work in you and reveal Himself to you. He is also faithful, continually, to now lead you on the way and complete that work He has begun in you. He has provided all you need along the way.
Do you think that He hasn't seen the beginning from the end? Do you think anything that comes up in your life is a surprise to Him? Do you think that He hasn't already made out the plans way ahead of time for you? Do you think that what He is promised He is not able also to perform? Do you think that somehow your salvation and sanctification is too tough for God?
Faith is a choice, but isn't dependant on us. It is dependant on His faithfulness. And that will never fail. We choose God...that is faith...He is faithful to put the power in that faith and bring it about. Not one living soul could make it if salvation were dependant on our faithfulness. But when He puts His Spirit in us, He is faithful to continually work in you all that He planned before hand for you. Only continue to choose to trust Him to do it.
When we blow it, He's faithful to forgive and pick us up, and enable us. When we are weak, He's faithful to be strong in us. When we are in darkness, He's faithful to shine His light, and be our light. When we are helpless, He's faithful to be our help. When we are threatened or in danger, He's faithful to protect and guide. When we need wisdom, He's faithful to be our wisdom.
I could go on and on. If you are feeling "faithless," take a good concordance or topical study guide and look up all you can on God's faithfulness. See what it does to you. One thing I know, it will get your eyes off the seemingly impossible situation you face and on to the perfect faithfulness of God and His sufficiency for you.
Sometimes we limit God by what we think we are capable of. But God wants us to see what He is capable of. That's why He sometimes allows the circumstances in our lives that seem beyond our endurance.
2 Cor. 1:9-10 (NKJV0..."Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us."
And as His child do you think He will ever fail you? No.....never! He is faithful. Trust Him to be so. Even when it doesn't seem like it. Even when you don't feel like it. Even in your darkest hour. Even when it seems like He's abandoned you. Trust in Him, cling to Him, rely on Him, and call on Him to be faithful.
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever amen." Eph. 3:20-21 (NKJV)
"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'" Romans 4:3 (NKJV)
I recently saw a movie about the life of Abraham and Sarah. It gave me a much greater appreciation for this portion of scripture and burned the meaning of it on my heart a little deeper.
What did Abraham's faith mean? What did it cost him? I'll tell you...it wasn't a passive faith. I have heard people say they had faith in God but their lives would demonstrate otherwise. I believe in my own life, in my journey in spiritual growth when I thought I had faith, God put that faith to the test and showed me that it was lacking. When God puts your faith to the test, if it is genuine, it is only purified. It may be genuine, but fail the test at first...then if it prevails over failure, and over unbelief...it is purified...as pure gold. You may fail over and over....but over and over you prevail over failure and doubt and unbelief and cling to God and press on...until faith is purified, strengthened and made complete.
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuinenes of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love." 1 Peter 1:6,7 (NKJV)
The thing that struck me so strongly about Abraham's faith is that he gave up everything for what he believed. It cost him. He acted on what he believed. James tells us faith without works is dead. The faith of Abraham wasn't mental assent. It was a true, and deep conviction. He lived by what he believed. He had many a trial of his faith and suffered much hardship because he acted on his faith. Real faith produces action. Real faith causes us to persevere and not quit. Real faith sees the end of the road and bears all the obstacles along the way.
Lets look at Hebrews 11. Wow! What examples of faith we have there! These heroes of faith had a faith that counted on God's faithfulness and acted on it. Notice every verse begins with "by faith....." By faith in God's faithfulness...these saints accomplished great things, and even gave their lives. They could do nothing less.
We get discouraged when we fail the test of our faith at times....but if we look to God and His faithfulness and not backwards...pressing on, and prevailing over our unbelief, then we haven't failed the test.
Abraham had some failures and gave into some doubts...but he was still known as a man of faith...and as the father of those who have faith. He prevailed over his unbelief and continued in faith.
"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. by faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called,' concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense." Heb. 11:8-10, 17-19 (NKJV)
Abraham's faith was grounded on God's calling and His promise. He believed Him!
Abraham showed that faith by excercising it...he went out not knowing where he was going. He resigned his own will and trusted fully in God's will and wisdom. By doing so he was able to offer up Isaac, his beloved son, though it must have seemed a contradiction to all God promised...yet he trusted that God was even able to raise the dead, but he must obey. Obedience is based on faith.
Abraham kept his focus on what was ahead..."for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." We can also know that we have a joy set before us...and just as Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God," Heb. 12:2, we also live for that joy.
I know if you are a child of God than you have stories of faith in your life that you can tell. Not that faith is of ourselves or that we can muster it up. It is a gift of God that no man should boast! It is dependant on God's faithfulness.
Think of the times God gave you faith in your circumstances that enabled you to prevail. Make your own "Heb. 11" list...take a sheet of paper and make a list starting each with "by faith I...." and think of the victories God gave you. Thank God for those victories.
Now look at the trial of your faith you are now facing and make another list..."By faith I will trust God to......"
Not that you are to conjur up this faith but simply gather together all of God's promises...knowing that what He promised, He is also able to perform. Put your trust in God's promise, and go forth....as Abraham did, trusting God to lead the way. Faith is choice, not feelings. Faith is acting on that choice. Choose to believe God, as Abraham did.
What can we conclude? "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb. 12:1-2 (NKJV)
Dear Abba, Father, I ask today that you would reveal to us, and within us, the seed of faith that You alone have put in our hearts, when we chose to believe Your Son would be our Saviour. Burn away the dross that we may see what is left...a faith that is pure and undefiled. It is You who are the author and finisher of that faith. It is You who gave it and You who will make it complete. Help us not to forget each day in each circumstance not to forget to count You faithful!
Last Sunday I was blessed to hear a sermon by a man named Lynn Hansen. It was about living in the promises of God. He was gracious enough after to give me his notes and give me permission to use them for my devotional. Since I've been writing about God's faithfulness, and our faith, I believe, now God has led me to add to that theme, living in His promises. I would like to borrow from Lynn's notes and mix in my own thoughts, experiences, and insights as well. This will be a two part devotional.
First let's look at 2 Peter 1:2-4.."Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as 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."
How are you living your Christian life? Are you believing (relying on, clinging to, trusting in) His promises? Or are you living in doubt and fear?
In order for us to live in His promises we need to know what they are. By this our faith can be strengthened. Actually, as Lynn put it...rather than to have more faith, I hope you will be less tempted to doubt.
In Matt. 14:31, we read..."And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?
Peter had faith...even a little was enough to get him on the water and trusting in Jesus to enable him to walk on it...but he doubted. When we get our eyes off from Jesus and His promises, and onto our circumstances and feelings...we are tempted to doubt.
What is a promise?
1)An intentional commitment made by one person to another, like a contract. Sometimes in the Bible we have statements made of how things usually turn out...lesons on life and it's probabilities..such as the book of Proverbs. They are not promises but lessons on how to live a good life. God's promises are stated intentionally..."I will do this..."
2)Make sure you understand what is being promised. Matt. 21:-23 for example says we should be able to say to a fig tree "be cursed," and it will happen and to a mountain, "be cast into the sea," and it will happen. But I have not met a person yet or heard of one who can command a mountain literally to be cast in the sea. But here, Jesus was claiming the authority of God. He was promising that this authority was delegated to believers and they should live in the promises of God and in reliance upon God. When God's will was in them and they knew it, and God needed such a miracle, then He could work through them in the same power and authority as through Jesus. I also believe it could be taken as a promise that if we have any spiritual mountains in our lives that we can move them by faith in His promises.
It is important to study the Word and know what is being promised.
3)A promise is only as good as the power of the person making the promise. We know God's promises are sure...2 Cor. 1:20.."For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."
4)A promise is only as good as a person's integrity. We can know that what God has promised He is also able to perform, and will. God is perfect, and God is holy. He cannot fail to keep His Word.
5)A promise is meant for a particular person or group of people. Don't take promises out of their Biblical context. Some are only for Israel at specific times. Some are for the whole earth. Some are for the church.
6)Two kinds of promises: Positive and negative...God blesses and He curses. They often take the form of an if/then statement. sometimes His promises are dependant on what we do. He responds according to His if/then contract with us. We can know He will keep His Word, whether positive or negative...for He is God, and cannot lie.
Is there anything more important in our Christian walk then, than knowing, understanding, and trusting God's promises. Going back to 2 Peter 1:2-4, it is through these promises that we are to live godly lives and escape the corruption that is in the world. It's through clinging to, trusting in, and relying on who God is, His character, and holiness, and integrity that we know His promises are sure and can never fail!
Next week I'd like to continue by talking about what to do when it seems God's promises have failed.
Until then may God bless and keep you!
Abba..teach us Your promises. Teach us what rich blessings and assurance You have given us in this world. Help us to remember in our trials to keep our eyes on Your sure promises and not on the circumstances around us, or our feelings. Teach us to trust You when it seems Your promises are not sure...or we aren't quite sure of what they are for us. Teach us to trust Your promise to be with us to the end and never leave us or forsake us. Thank You Abba! Thank You for the treasure You have given us!!!
"While the earth exists, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." Gen. 8:22.
This was God's promise to Noah, and to mankind. This is a direct quote from God written in the Bible. It is meant for everyone living on earth. Even the lowliest on the face of the earth can count on this promise being fulfilled. This promise does not depend on anything I can do either against it or for it. It has no if/then clause because He doesn't want somethng humans can do to destroy everything.
This is a promise that the natural order will continue as we are used to it. God will not change the natural order of things. Everything depends on this promise. Even though we have natural disasters, drought, weather changes, etc., we can be sure that again the rain will come, again Spring will come, again there will be food, and again the sun will shine. We make it through the bad times knowing that the natural order will be there and we are sure of it.
Even though unbelievers don't realize they are partaking in the blessings of God on this earth even now, they are sure they will be there. We who know personally our Heavenly Father count on His promise to always keep the natural order of things and not to change. We have security in His care of us.
There are times in our lives we are overwhelmed with trials that seem to never end. As His children we can also be sure that, just as He causes the sun to rise in the morning and go down at night...those seasons in our life He is also in control of. We can be sure of His promises to bring us through and look for that hope set before us. The seasons change....and we can know that God will be faithful to carry us through from one season to the next. He has promised that all in our lives as believers is working together for our good to conform us to the image of Christ. We never need fear the seasons of change, the storms, the droughts, or the floods. We know they will end. We know with God there is always a new day, a new hope and a purpose. He has promised it.
But what of those times when it seems the promises of God fail? I think of Abraham and Sarah again. Look at how long they had to wait for the fulfillment of the promise. They even decided they would help God along at one point and Sarah gave Hagar, her slave to Abraham that she might have a son through her. But that was not God's way. He intended all along to fulfill His promise....in His time. Oh how restless we become when we don't see the hand of God immediately in our lives! We think we know what God is doing in our life and what His purpose is and seek to fulfill it and, unfortunately, go ahead of him and create many problems in our life.
When you feel the promise of God is failing...when you don't see it happening...hold on! Stand firm! Cling to His Word. He cannot fail His promises. Make sure it is truly a promise from God. Make sure you understand the Word. Make sure if the promise requires something on your part you have surrendered all to Him and obeyed. Then HOLD ON. Don't give up.
But there are also those times when we feel in our spirit that God has given us a promise and has confirmed it to us. Yet we have nothing tangible to hang on to. What do we do? How do we know it is truly of God? How can we hold on to it?
When Jesse, my son was first diagnosed with Tourettes and a few other neurological disorders that went along with this syndrome, I felt God gave me many promises in my own heart for Him. And someone one day in prayer over me even gave me a word from God that Jesse would be healed. At the same moment I received that word, my husband and Jesse were on a camping trip. My husband suddenly got a sense and presence from God that He was saying to Him Jesse would be alright. A couple years later when all seemed to be falling apart and Jesse was placed in a children's home because we couldn't handle him anymore, we were there visiting him. We took him to a church and after the service the pastor came up to us, never having met us before and not knowing anything about us or Jesse, said to us, "God wants me to tell you that all the promises He gave you and your wife for Jesse, He is going to fulfill."
I went through agony for the years following those "promises." I searched the Word, cried out to God for Jesse, and didn't see any miracles. I only saw things getting worse and worse. My family was falling apart and Jesse was so out of control it was dangerous to have him in our home anymore. Where was God's promise?? Was it truly God's promise??
I fasted and prayed. I had many others praying. I cried out to God, and was losing hope that anything would ever get better. Why wouldn't God just heal Jesse now? Why was He letting us go through this? Then one day He led me to Hebrews 11:17-19....
"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called,' concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense."
God spoke to my spirit, that I needed to offer up the promise that I had received to Him. I didn't need to try to figure out if it were from Him or not or question it, or strive over it, or try to bring it about. I just needed to offer up the promises to Him. Yes...give them up! I had to lay them at His altar and give them up and not concern myself about them again. At first I didn't understand. But the second part of that verse spoke to me..."concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense."
I knew I could trust God alone with these "promises". He alone could take them and "raise them from the dead" in His own time. I felt such a release as I offered the promises and Jesse up to God. They belonged to Him now. I knew I could trust the power of God...the power of His resurrection life....to do good.
I saw no results and quit looking for them but learned to walk in faith in God. I knew I could trust my Abba Father. I put all into His hands.
Jesse was 12 years old at that time. Now he is 21. Last year on July 4th, Jesse gave his heart to the Lord. He has come a long way and still has Tourette's, but God has begun a spiritual healing in Jesse. I know the work He has begun He will continue to perform in Him.
Hebrews 11:39-40 says.."And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us."
Abba, Father, help us to put our trust in You regardless of what circumstances tell us. Help us to regard You as faithful, even when it means we have to surrender the promise to You. Even when we can't understand why You don't answer speedily when we think the situation demands it. Help us to count on Your love and purpose being fulfilled in our lives and prayers. Give us that faith that will stand the test. We ask in the name of Jesus our Saviour...amen.