November 4, 2013
There are so many wonderful promises in God’s Word! Therefore it certainly is bewildering as to why many people do not more often go to them for comfort and strength and encouragement. Here is one of my favorites (though, actually, they are all my favorites): “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” (Isa. 65:24) This is God avowing this. Could there be any better promise?
We should let this promise sink deep down into our spirits. God, “the Mighty God and Everlasting Father” (see Isa. 9:6), “our Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor” (see same verse) is pledging to us that He will answer our calls, our prayers, our requests, our questions, and our cries to Him. And He is declaring that He answers us even before we finish speaking.
“Oh no,” someone may say. “God doesn’t do this for me.”
Well maybe not. Some people God ignores because they have shunned His laws. (Ps. 50:16-22 // Pr. 28:9) But otherwise, for those who wait and trust, we later see that God did indeed answer while we were still praying, or even before we began. God decreed the orchestration of events and set them in motion even while our desires, our requests, were still being formed in our hearts and on our lips. It’s just that we do not realize this until later, sometimes a long while later.
Do we believe God’s Word? Do we believe His Spirit’s voice? Then we should believe God’s promises. For by His Spirit who uses the “Amen” which His children speak through Christ (the living and active Word –John 1:1,14 & Heb. 4:12), every promise God has made is “Yes” for those who walk in Him. (2 Cor. 1:20)
April 15, 2013
Last week we received some hopeful news about the Philippine province I grew up in. It looks like the efforts of those who have been fighting for the rights of the Agta, fisherfolk, and farmers against APECO, an organization which has been trying to usurp the land there, have been gaining an affect. Here is a good and interesting news video:
Ps. 103:6 says, “The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.”
Ps. 140:12 says, “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”
Such promises from God’s Word are certainly comforting when we watch oppressors trying to take from those who are weaker than them.
But how does God work on behalf of the poor and oppressed? He works largely by working through other people, especially those who are honorable, honest, and compassionate. He can especially work well through those who seek His voice, guidance, instructions, and will, and who, because of their knowledge of God and His Word, already have a bent to knowing what is right, righteous, and just, and who eagerly want truth, righteousness, and justice spread across the globe. Because of God’s own Spirit within these individuals, the human, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, is able to pray, intercede, praise God, speak, and act, and God thereby brings about the deliverance He desires.
However, if God can’t find people to work through, if people won’t go, won’t speak up to defend the poor, if they won’t pray, fast, and intercede, if they won’t cry out to God that He rescue the needy, then how is God supposed to secure justice for the afflicted? Sure, He can reach down from Heaven and move people around by the force of His own hand; but that is not how He has chosen to work within His creation. What He’s chosen to do is to look for a man or woman He can work through. A person who is pliable, willing to listen and follow His instructions, and eager to do what is right, kind, and courageous. He moves the person’s heart and compels that person to pray and act. When a person prays and follows any of God’s other instructions to him (such as writing, marching, lobbying, resisting, etc.), then God does move mountains. For God, who awards the plea of those who exhibit faith and compassion, does uphold the cause of those who are mistreated. God does rescue and deliver and save the abused who cry out to Him for help.
There are multitudes of promises in the Word of God, and many of them are promises about God coming to the aid of the oppressed. If we believe these promises, we are invited to walk in them and let God’s Spirit do His work through us. (Matt. 21:21,22 // John 14:12-14 // Rom. 8:9,26,27)
January 15, 2013
The Lord gives commands which He expects His followers to obey. One of these commands is that we give to others generously. (Luke 6:38) Another command goes way further: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor… Then come, follow Me.” (18:22) And there’s this one: “Leave all you have for My sake. Then come, follow Me.” (v. 22,28,29, paraphrased)
But what does Jesus promise along with the commands? He promises that if we give generously, particularly to those who can’t repay (because they are helpless –Luke 14:12-14 // James 1:27), as well as to those poor who are righteous, full of faith, and working hard to advance the Gospel (Matt. 10:40-42 // Luke 6:20-26 // James 2:5), we will reap an abundance. Jesus promises that we will be awarded a measure that is poured out, full, and running over. (Luke 6:38) He promises that we will “receive a hundred times as much in this present age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:30 // Luke 18:30) He promises that we will be storing up treasure in Heaven (Matt. 19:21 // Mark 10:21 // Luke 18:22), and that this treasure will endure forever. (Matt. 6:20) All this is promised to the one who is devoted to Christ (v. 24) and whose Treasure is Christ Himself, His Kingdom, and His will. (6:21 & 13:44-46 & 25:14-23)
But how hard it is to give up all. It can be traumatic. If there are weights around our necks, how hard it is to disentangle ourselves and throw them off. But, if we are eager to obey God, and if we are meditating on His Word, and if we are listening carefully to every one of His instructions, then the Lord will certainly provide the means of escape, the way out. And so, without the sins, the temptations, the chains, the hindrances, we will be able to run that race marked out for us. (Heb. 12:1) Then the joy that comes to us as we participate in the plans of God, in following Christ’s lead, and in serving in the Spirit, is definitely reward enough, though so many more blessings are also ours!
Moreover, when the Day of Judgement arrives, the quality of each person’s work will be fully evaluated (1 Cor. 3:13) so that “everyone may receive what is due them for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10) Those who have given to Christ by giving to others (by giving of their time, energy, talent, money, love, care, etc.) will be awarded eternal life (Matt. 25:31-40) along with reward, authority, and honor. (v. 21 // John 12:26) But, those who neglected to be generous, will incur eternal punishment. (Matt. 25:41-46)
Therefore, what is one very critical area of behavior in which we are evaluated by God? Generosity. The generosity of giving up all one has to help the poor, to assist the saints, to aid in the spread of the Gospel, and always for the sake of Christ.
December 22, 2012
What exceedingly excellent and wonderful promises we have from our God through Jesus Christ and by His Spirit! Beautiful, precious, and power-filled promises! If we were to try to tell of them all, we could not, for there are too many to recount. But, here are some:
1. The Lord is a faithful God who does no wrong. (Dt. 32:4)
2. The Lord shields His loved ones and gives them rest and security (Dt. 33:12) and sleep. (Ps. 127:2)
3. The Lord has made His obedient servants His treasured possession. (Ex. 19:5)
4. The Lord hears us when we call to Him (Ps. 4:3 & 5:3) and He answers us. (Ps. 120:1)
5. The Lord is our Support, our Provider, and our Comforter. (Ps. 18:19 & 34:9,18)
6. The Lord commands victories for those who have made Him their King. (Ps. 44:4)
7. The Lord is our Rock of Refuge and our Fortress. (Ps. 71:3)
8. The Lord gives us light, joy, hope, power, strength, and boldness as we do His will. (Ps. 68:35 & 97:11 & Acts 4:31)
9. The Lord gives us His constant Presence, enabling us through His Spirit, to walk in peace, confidence, love, patience, humility, and all holiness. (Gal. 5:22-26 // Heb. 13:5,6)
10. The Lord gives us wisdom, endurance, and joy as we go through trials, assuring us that they work for us our maturity, conformity to Christ, and a greater eternal reward. (James 1:2-5 & 1 Peter 1:6-9 w/ Matt. 25:21 & 1 Cor. 3:13 & Heb. 11:35)
11. The Lord not only grants salvation to those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9), but also comes to dwell right inside such believers. (John 14:23 // 1 John 3:24)
12. The Lord is completely holy, just, and true in all His ways and judgements (Rev. 15:3,4 & 16:5,7) and treats everyone accordingly. (Jer. 17:10 // Col. 3:23-25)
Because of all these glorious promises (plus countless more) coming from the All-powerful, All-loving, All-knowing God of perfect character, we should be overjoyed in the privilege of worshiping Him who is worthy of all praise. And so, along with all the peoples of the earth, may we ascribe to Him glory, honor, beauty, riches, majesty, splendor, kingdoms, authority, wisdom, thanks, exaltation, power, strength, love, faithfulness, mercy, salvation, holiness, and Truth, doing so continually as we serve Him who is our Savior, King, and Friend.
December 5, 2012
When something has happened to us that we cannot save ourselves from… when we are in a tight position in which we can see no exit of escape… when we are sick… or we’ve been falsely accused… or when a powerful and cunning liar has stolen from us… or when we are left to live and proclaim Truth all alone… we have a Savior, a Shepherd, a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. He is the Lord and King of the universe. He is the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6) He is the Mighty God and the Wonderful Counselor. (same verse) He is the One who came to earth in bodily form (same verse), died for us, and rose to prove His victory over the evil realm. And He is the One who invites us into His presence, into His deliverance, into His life, into His love.
So, if we abide in this beautiful, gracious God, then we are surrounded. (Ps. 125:2) Surrounded as a shield. Protected from all harm. Restored to health, healed, comforted, and given joy in place of past ashes. (Isa. 61:1-3 // Jer. 30:17)
If we are obeying Christ’s commands, we can know that we are remaining in His love. (John 15:10) In this place we can rest in all of God’s promises which “are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” (2 Cor. 1:20) For by being IN Christ, we have His Spirit, and so through Him, we pray in accordance with God’s will (Rom. 8:27) and can thus speak “Amen” concerning God’s promises. (2 Cor. 1:20-22) This is how we have the assurance that we can receive what we request of Him. (1 John 5:14,15) Ask, He tells us, that we may receive and be filled with joy! (John 16:23,24)
If we are in Christ, then we are also in His name. There, we will be petitioning for things that bring God glory. (John 14:12,13) This is why the Lord will answer whatever we ask. (v. 14) He not only delivers, but also fulfills the desires of those who fear Him (Ps. 145:19), because such believers set their petitions aright –in line with His will– and remind Him of His Word, which He always upholds.
So what do we do when God has let the brook dry up? We wait for directions. And we praise His goodness continually while we wait. Then, when He gives the signal, we proceed with continued thanksgiving, calling out to Him for help and guidance and strength while also listening intently as we read His Word. –His beautiful Word, such as Dt. 31:8: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Yes, even if your health is broken, even if you are leaving all your friends, even if you are entering a hostile environment, even if your source of income has ended… yes, amid all these and more, the God of the Impossible will be going with you and ahead of you, defeating the enemy as you advance –as you advance into the next phase of His will for you. (9:3 // Ps. 121:1-6)
Has not our Lord told us not to worry about our life –what we will eat or drink or wear? (Luke 12:22) Has He not assured us that since God knows we have needs, He will provide them Himself? (v. 23-1) He assures us throughout His Word! And if we take refuge in Him, wait patiently in trust, and keep obeying whatever He commands, we may soon hear Him say, “Now I will begin to do more good to you than ever before.” (See Ezek. 36:11 & Hag. 2:19)
Therefore, “Be strong and take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Ps. 31:24) For “The LORD will keep you from all harm; He will watch over your life. The LORD will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.” (121:7,8)
October 10, 2012
Sometimes, maybe even off and on for a season, horrible thoughts will randomly assault our minds. This can certainly be un-nerving as clearly, for a person in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit of God, these are foreign darts from the outside –attacks from the evil realm– meant to trip us up, to frighten and pollute us, and to douse us with evil.
But! What does God say He will do for those of us who are called to walk in His will? His Word promises that He turns evil into good! (Rom. 8:28)
So what should we do when assaulted by those fiery darts directed at our minds? We ourselves are to turn the evil into good, using the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance and will! (Eph. 3:20 // Phil. 2:13) This is a huge privilege, for this is how the evil one cannot truly touch us. (1 John 5:18) For though he tries, we immediately deflect the darts by turning our eyes on our Glorious Most High God and opening our mouths in exaltation to Him. The darts are thus immediately extinguished even as they come, and the enemy, seeing that only holiness is resulting from his intended evil, takes his cannons and flees.
What a wonderful God we serve! What strength and power and beauty we are privileged to walk in! What splendor and majesty, dignity and glory –of His– we are honored to participate in! (Ps. 29:2 // Isa. 52:1,2 & 60:1-3,7,9,13,21 & 61:3) “A crown of splendor and a royal diadem in the Lord’s hand”?! (See Isa. 62:3) Wow! What exceedingly great promises for those who shine out the righteousness of God! (v. 1,2)
So, when the enemy assaults us like a flood, God’s people have readily available, at their side, the Sword of the Spirit –which is the Word of God. (Eph. 6:17) And by using it, in faith, we are able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the evil one. (v. 16) Immediately. By lifting up the banner of exaltation, praise, and thanksgiving to our God –He who is robed in majesty, strength, power, honor, and holiness.
What beautiful, holy, and strength-filled thoughts and expressions these are!
August 7, 2012
The Lord, in His Word, has given us so many words of hope, words of comfort, words of promise. If we meditate on them, believe them, and let faith rise up within us, we can walk strong and joyful, even when the economy crashes, a job or home is lost, a divorce happens, or a loved one comes down with an incurable disease.
One of the best promises we have from the Lord is that He is there. That He is with us. This means that He will give us the strength to go on, and that He will even carry us when we feel we can’t –as long as we trust Him and let Him carry us. What an encouragement to know His presence is with us at all times –even if we don’t feel it. For it is about faith, not sight. (2 Cor. 5:7)
Hope and comfort come to us as we think on God’s promises concerning Himself. To quote slowly the words there that describe Him, such as these: Rock, Deliverer, Counselor, Comforter, Shield, Refuge, High Tower, Fortress… To worship Him, whispering, “God, You are full of splendor, glory, beauty, wisdom… All authority is yours, all dominion, all riches… May all peoples ascribe to You honor, holiness, wealth, kingdoms, thanks, power, strength…” To realize that this God is our God, our Savior, our Shepherd, our Friend.
There are promises of guidance, of rest, of security, of provision, of peace… and there are promises of power to overcome sin, enemies, and evil. What is there not to love about the Word of God for those who are seeking to know Him better, to obey Him consistently, to serve Him in joy? For truly, if we go to God’s Word with hearts repentant and willing, the Spirit will speak. His voice will come forth from what we read, entering our spirit to teach and console. His promises will come alive. Promises such as, “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isa. 41:10), and, “I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), and, “You are Mine –My treasured possession.” (See Isa. 43:1 & Ps. 135:4)
What beautiful promises! And He gives them to us because He loves us, because He is full of mercy, and because we belong to Him. This is why we can believe them all and take comfort. For as He says, “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you… ‘I Myself will help you.’” (Isa. 41:13,14)