Romans 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Advertising, TV commercials, politicians in election campaigns, all major on promises to their respective audiences. None of them true.
As you get older, you get more skeptical, that is, more realistic.
At one’s a man’s word was usually enough. The British used to say, “A gentleman’s word is his bond.” Or “An Englishman’s word is his bond.”
Those days are gone.
Except with God.
With God, it has been, and is, and always will be true that when He says it, it will happen.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Faith is believing what God has said, not how you feel, not what your friends say, not how the circumstances look, not what seems logical to you, not what the newspaper reports, not what experience has taught you…
Living by faith means believing what God has said.
When God promises, it’s as good as done.
How do we apply this in our lives?
The baseline is this:
Know God’s Promises!
Satan started his attack on mankind with the question addressed to Eve:
“Hath God said …?” (Genesis 3:1)
We must understand what God said lest the words of Jesus to the Pharisees apply to us, in which he told them flatly that they were wrong.
Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
We need to read, understand and chew the Word (meditate, ponder, consider in application to our lives, and in all its phases and issues).
Then these words, which Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders whom he called to a meeting at Miletus, will come true in our lives:
Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Let God’s Promises direct you to the Promiser.
When the angel came to Sarah to tell her she would become the mother of a child at age 90, Sarah burst out laughing at such a ridiculous idea. But after that initial reaction, she believed the promise anyway.
Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
The promise did sound crazy, but she knew God wasn’t crazy, so she believed it would happen just as He had said.
You can come to know the Promiser by investigating what He has and has not said He will do. God has never promised to keep all trouble away from you, but he has promised to provide all you need to meet those troubles with joy, and to cause all the troubles to work together for your good.
He has never promised that every step you take in obedience to His will would result in your instant popularity; but He has promised that whatever yo lose in man’s esteem He’ll up to you Himself.
Psalms 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
Getting to know God’s promises is not hard. It’s true some claim promises that God never intended, and try to justify it from Scripture. It’s true that you can “prove” anything with Scripture taken out of context. But it depends on whether your intent is to conform God to your way of life, or to conform your way of life to God’s.
If you are out to be God’s person, and if you want to know what He wants and how He can help, then you’ll find God’s promises easy to grasp and follow.
Here are four simple guidelines to help you.
- Ask the Spirit’s Help
To be understood, and to be a foundation for your faith, the promises of God must be read with the same Spirit that originally inspired them.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: …
You would do well to let Him do His job. Just ask Him, as you begin to read the Bible, to show you God’s thinking, and what God wants you to know from what you’re reading. Then listen.
- Be objective, not emotional.
Emotion can cause you to “find” things in the Word of God that are simply not there.
A man I knew wanted desperately to go to the Middle East where he thought he’d make more money than in his present job. He lived in a westerly house by the sea. When he opened the Bible, he came to the passage where Elijah’s servant sees a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand. He lifted his eyes from the Bible and looked through the window. And there he saw “a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand.”
You cannot imagine his excitement when he narrated what he saw.
“The cloud,” he said, “was in the western sky. From my home, that cloud was pointing to the Middle East.”
He quit his job and went to the Middle East and got himself a job.
He left his wife and family behind in his home city. He sent them money, plenty of money, for a good living. Soon the wife began entertaining another man, and asked for him for a divorce so she could marry her paramour.
God had not promised him anything for leaving his wife and children while he went abroad in search of “better prospects”.
Go thou and do NOT likewise.
Instead, ask yourself: “If somebody else read this passage, what would he say it was saying?” That question will make you see the passage more objectively.
- Look at the context to help find the meaning
For example, God told Joshua, in Joshua 1:3, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given to you, as I promised to Moses.”
A pastor in Mumbai who was planning to return to England so his children could get a college education there, looked for a plot of land he could buy so his church could erect a building which would house the meeting hall, and several flats on the floors above, where the elders and their families could live.
So he and they walked on that ground, and even went all around it, in a “Jericho march”.
The church raised a lot of money to buy the plot and money continued pouring in to build on it.
But the owners of the land decided against selling it, preferring to build on it himself.
Net result? After several years of not finding an alternative, the board of elders decided to return the money to all those who contributed.
End of building project.
Did God fail to keep His promise? Not at all. In fact He specified that He would do this for Joshua as He promises Moses, Joshua’s predecessor. It was a promise He made to Joshua, not a promise for believers at large.
- Relate the promise to your own life.
It’s wonderful to know that God has promised to supply all your needs, but what specific need do you have today for God to meet? He’s promised direction. What decision are you facing, for which you can claim His guidance?
Believe the Promises
Many believers think they know and believe the Bible. But not until a need arises do they discover the difference between knowing and believing.
As an example take Matthew 6:33. Every believer “believes” that.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. …
If they did, they would not be concerned about being jobless, about the recession, etc.
Knowing the promises and knowing God’s Word is true is a good beginning. But believing God’s promises requires grabbing the promise and saying “That’s for me!”
Look at David in 2 Samuel 7.
After had taken the kingship of Israel, God gave him whole chapterful of promises. David knew what God was promising. But in verse 25 he showed that he took those promises seriously. He said,
2 Samuel 7:25 And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.
The same prayer is recorded in 1 Chronicles 17.
1 Chronicles 17:23 Therefore now, LORD, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said.
God stopped speaking to David and David started speaking to God. He almost gives God an order, tells God to commit himself.
After God spoke, David believed what God had said.
Claim the Promises
Claiming God’s promises means acting as if they are true for you.
When God told Noah there was going to be a flood, Noah acted as if it ws true and started building an ark.
When God told Moses there would be a way for the people of Israel through the Red Sea, Moses acted as if it was true, and stepped into the water.
There are two ways to “act as if” a promise of God is true for you.
- You can claim the promise by fulfilling its conditions.
2 Corinthians 9 is full of promises of God’s abundant supply and blessing. But there’s a condition in verse 7. To qualify for those promises, you need to be a cheerful giver.
Romans 8:28 promises that everything will work for your very best, if you fulfill the conditions of loving God, and responding to His call and purpose.
- You can claim the promise by taking the next obvious step.
Sometimes the next step is as simple as putting all worry away at night, and going to sleep, relying on the promise in Isaiah 40:10.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
If you believe the promise in Matthew 28:18, that all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus, then you can act on that promise by taking the obvious next step listed in verse 19, going and making disciples, starting with those nearest to you and then moving outward from there.
If you believe God has promised you a trip abroad, the next step is to keep your passport up-to-date and making arrangements to have your work taken care of while you are on holiday.
Living by faith means living and acting in the light of what Go d has said He will do. You have to know what He’s said, believe it, and then claim it as your own.