Promises, Promises

Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. – Joshua 21:45

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Do you keep all your promises? If not, why not?

Perhaps the situation changed, you promised more than you could keep, or some other event intervened that was beyond your control. There are many circumstances that can cause us to fail to keep the promises we make and, yes, we sometimes fail.

On the other hand, God never fails! He always keeps His promises, be it a promise to bless or a promise to punish.  According to Scripture, God has promised many things to those who love Him and even if the situation or circumstances change, even if the promise seems to be beyond anyone’s ability to fulfill, even if all the basic earthly material elements themselves should disappear …

… the promises of God, every single one, will remain.

Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness, and simplicity. – Charles Spurgeon

Undeserved

I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:13-14

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Do we deserve the gifts of God?

As his death drew near, Joshua reminded the Israelites of all that God had done for them in bringing them into and establishing them within the Promised Land. They had received:

  • a land on which they had not labored,

  • cities which they had not built, yet lived in, and

  • food from vineyards and groves which they did not plant … all from the hand of God.

We know, from history, that the Israelites did not deserve these gifts, because they continued to rebel and disobey the Lord well into the future. In the same way, neither do we deserve the gifts that we have received:

  • a salvation we have not earned,

  • the assurance of heaven with permanent citizenship a current reality, and

  • the fruit of the Spirit planted in fleshly vessels … all by God Himself.

This is grace, an abundance of gifts which we have not deserved, and it must be our worship, not only to remember but also to act in light of this unmerited favor.

Let never day nor night unhallowed pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done. – William Shakespeare

Why Me?

They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses. – Judges 3:4

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Have you ever wished that God would just make life a little easier? You know what I mean. You’ve hit a run of difficulty and you think, “Hey, a little help, please!” You may even go so far as to think, maybe I’ve done something wrong and God is angry or displeased with me. In any case, you have probably asked yourself (more than once), “Why is this happening to me?”

Have you ever considered the fact that God just might be testing your faith?

Not all difficulty in our lives (though certainly some) is due to sin. Some difficulties are from God as inducements to persevere even when the path is full of obstacles. Is God powerful enough to remove every difficulty in our lives? Certainly He is, but we should never expect it to happen.

In order that we might display His strength (that is perfected through our weakness), such tests and trials must remain.

One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised. – Chinua Achebe

An Open Invitation

Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they contended with him vigorously. – Judges 8:1

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During my 20 years in pastoral ministry, I would (from time-to-time) hear someone reply, after being asked to serve or help out with a particular event, that no one had asked them to do so. I always thought, “Why do you need an invitation to serve God? What are you waiting for?”

Consider the aftermath of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites. Didn’t the tribe of Ephraim know that the Midianites were Israel’s enemies? Weren’t they already aware of God’s command to “take the land” and drive out all ungodliness? Could they possibly have not known of the Midianite oppression? And yet they still complained about not being invited to the battle?!

Just in case you missed it somehow, here is an open invitation for everyone who claims to belong to Christ, “Follow your Savior, and keep following until He says, ‘Stop.'”

I find the doing of the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans. – George MacDonald

Cross Your Heart

When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.” – Judges 11:35

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When you said, “Yes,” to Jesus Christ, did you cross your fingers or your heart?

As a kid, in order to express the seriousness of an oath, I might have said, “Cross my heart and hope to die.” On the other hand, if I didn’t intend to keep my promise, I might have crossed my fingers in the midst of my “false promise.” Most adults remember doing this and it is why I posed the previous question. Were you serious about your surrender to Christ? I assure you; God was.

Jephthah made a serious oath before God and it cost him dearly. Perhaps, you did not know the cost of saying, “Yes,” to God when you first believed, but now you realize that “you have given your word to the Lord and cannot take it back.” Even if the price might sometimes seem too great, when you said, “Yes,” to God, your heart became His. Christ “crossed” it for you and your greatest hope is to live forever with Him.

Whatever the cost, there is now no turning back.

Masters who sacrifice for servants will receive the gift of loyalty. – Anonymous

All Kids Are Special

But he said to me, “Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” – Judges 13:7

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Are your kids special? Of course, they are.

Samson wasn’t like other children. We know this. He was a judge and deliverer of Israel as well as a person of supernatural strength. His birth was a unique and special event, unexpected and a gift from God to his parents. The Lord had many things for Samson to accomplish and, therefore, his life was consecrated to his Creator.

Yet, isn’t that always the case? Shouldn’t each child be treated as if his or her life could make an enormous difference for God? Isn’t it possible that God has also consecrated your children for His service? Have you taken time to acknowledge this truth? If not, why not?

God gives many the privilege to be parents. While we cannot abdicate the stewardship of those entrusted to our care, maybe we should return the responsibility for their future to the Creator. While our children might not be “Samsons,” God might have something even greater in store. Children (aren’t we all), be thankful for godly parents. Parents, be thankful for (and take seriously) the opportunity you have been given.

Sometimes we’re so concerned about giving our children what we never had growing up, we neglect to give them what we had. – James Dobson

In Need of a King

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 21:25

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When you read the last few chapters of Judges, you can get pretty disgusted. The stories found there are full of lies, rapes, and murders. At this time in Israel’s history, sin was common, and shame was not. Does it sound familiar? Things today aren’t much different, are they? Perhaps the reasons are similar, as well.

In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what he wanted. Well, it seems to me that we have a president, but we do not have the King. We have a congress, but we do not have the King. We even have a lot of judges, but we don’t seem to have the King. Perhaps we need better government, but more than anything, we need the King!

Whatever we must endure in order to see our need, and to embrace Him, it will be worth it in the end.

The Lord is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land. – Psalms 10:16