Promises! Promises?

Is God good enough and big enough to make all of his great promises come true?

We hear people make promises to us all the time. Print media, television, radio, and signs are full of ads making all sorts of promises. Politicians glibly make false promises. People we love make promises to us. Companies make glorious promises about their products and offer all sorts of guarantees — company promises — about their products. Promises seem to fill the air around us.

Broken promises often break our hearts. Unfortunately, promises don’t mean much to the many of the people who make them. A deep cynicism slowly seeps into our hearts. Before long, the protective side of our minds warns the open side of our hearts about phony promises and how they have disappointed and hurt us in the past. We think things like:

“There’s no way they can keep that promise!”

“Yeah, right! I’ve heard that one before!”

“I remember the last time I fell for that promise!”

“That’s just more political mumbo jumbo; I don’t believe any of it anyway.”

“All news is slanted. None of it is ‘fair and balanced’ or ‘most trusted’: they’re all pushing their agenda or trying to garner eyeballs for their ratings!”

Even many folks who have been exposed to some form of religion feel as if God has let down by not keeping his promises to them. “I’ve tried to live a good life, so why does God let this stuff happen to me?” Of course, they’ve been sold a bill of goods by some preacher who preached pie in the sky that promised that if they lived a good life everything would be easy, they would be rich, and no bad things would happen to them.

Truth is, God never made many of those promises, at least not in the way they’ve been portrayed by hustler and huckster preachers. All we have to do is read the story of Jesus, notice what happened to early believers in Jesus, or look at the lives of the apostles. Jesus was rejected, beaten, abused, humiliated, and crucified. Early Christians, as well as Christians through the ages even until today, have been imprisoned, tortured, ridiculed, had property taken from them, and martyred. Most, if not all, of the apostles endured martyrdom because of their faith and their proclamation of Jesus. God has made us many great promises, but has also clearly reminded us that the crown for the life we have lived may mean we have to be faithful even to the point of death.

What do we do with God’s promises? Can they be trusted? How can we be sure? How do we know which are promises God has made to us? Bottom line, we’ve got to come to terms with the following questions:

Do we say, “Promises!” because we can trust God’s promises?

Do we say, “Promises?” because we’ve become skeptical of even God keeping his promises?

James Nored reminds us of Abram (whom we know better as Abraham). God called Abram to summon up all his courage and leave everything he knew and go to another place God would show him. Abram left to follow that call. But, because God is gracious, he made Abram a huge promise. Notice how this one promise impacts us all and helps us trust all of God’s other promises:

Centuries after God’s promise to Abram, Paul wrote the believers in Corinth and talked about God’s promises. He said:

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20-21)

What Paul means is that Jesus is the reminder that God keeps his promises. God answered each of his promises to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3) through the life of his people, Israel. His answer to each promise was a resounding, “Yes!”

Yes! God made Israel into a great nation.

Yes! God gave the Promised Land, the “land of milk and honey” to Israel.

But, that’s only two of God’s three promises to Abraham. What about God’s promise to bless all people through his people?

Israel didn’t live out God’s call to be a light to the nations. Despite God’s intent and despite the preaching of his servants, the prophets, God’s people were not the witness to the nations that God had called them to be. So, God’s prophets began to speak of a Messiah who would bring his light to those in darkness (Isaiah 42:6-7; Isaiah 49:6-7; Luke 1:29-32). A Messiah whose sufferings would provide a way for all peoples to be healed by the grace of God through his servant (Isaiah 53:1-12). Jesus came and fulfilled this third promise, and as Paul says, all of God’s promises with a… “Yes!”

Why is this important to us?

Many people don’t keep their promises, but God does. Jesus is our assurance that God keeps his promises. He is the reminder that God will go to any length and make any sacrifice necessary to keep his promises to his people. Jesus is our hope that all of God’s promises to us will ultimately be answered, “Yes!” We can trust our lives, our future, and our hope in the only one we can truly trust to keep his promises.

So, what promise of God do you need to hold onto today?

What call of God do you need to respond to today because you know God will be faithful to his promises to you?

How do you keep holding on to a promise God has made to you even when it appears for the moment that he has abandoned you?

How can you be sure God’s promises to you are going to be answered, “Yes!”?

We hope you will visit with other believers and discuss these ideas and continue to join us as we follow God’s “Story of Redemption.” We hope and pray that in your faith journey, you will find all of God’s promises to you are a great and mighty, “Yes!” in Christ.

-James Nored and P Ware