Promises… Promises

Promise I grew up with 4 older brothers who, in my opinion as a kid, were bigger than life. If they said it, I believed it period! They were my heroes and they knew it. The stuff that they would “talk me into” was amazing. They once convinced me that I could parachute off our roof (2nd floor) with a bed sheet. Let’s just say that the law of gravity is ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

I fell and I fell hard. The promise of the parachute wasn't very reliable. The reality of this and life is simple…A promise is only as reliable as the one who makes it. This is why it would have been smarter for me to focus on my brothers and their motives (which was to have fun), versus what they asked me to do.

Think about the scenes from scripture we have looked at so far and consider what we have learned about God. From the very beginning, God was Lord over all creation. He created it good and when it came to us, it was very good. He put mankind in the perfect environment without need for anything. The promise of His care and protection was as reliable as it could ever be. Yet, man decided they would trust in God and His promises, which led to separation.

Still, God demonstrated His faithfulness, even with man’s repeated unfaithfulness. He went to Adam and Eve even after they failed to trust Him. He warned Cain even before He committed murder and expressed the promise of His acceptance. Yet, Cain gave into the sin and the rebellion that was once crouched at his door but suddenly invaded his life. What was God’s response to Cain’s rebellion? Grace and love even in the judgment of the sin.

Then we see Noah and the rainbow. The rainbow was the symbol of God’s promise to never again destroy all living things with a flood, even though people’s thoughts and actions are bent toward evil from childhood. The Rainbow is the opportunity for all creation to remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature.

Remember God’s promise to Abram. God committed to make him a great nation and bless all the families of the earth through him…a man who was old and without a child. Yet, we will discover later in the story that one of his descendants fulfills this promise. We were asked this week to consider this idea of PROMISES as it relates to God. The question was asked like this…

“What would my relationship with God be like if I believed everything He promised would come true?”

What do you think??? Do you believe that? Let me share a secret with you that I learned a few years ago from a wise man named Charles that might help you as you consider it. He taught me that the Bible has only two types of promises. Before I tell you the types lets make sure we know what I mean by a PROMISE. A promise is a spoken or written commitment to preform a certain act or to refrain from doing something.

In the Bible, here are the two types of promises the Lord makes:

UNCONDITIONAL – This is a commitment made without exceptions.

CONDITIONAL – This type of promise is subject to certain mandates.

Romans 10:9 offers us the promise of salvation but it is conditional upon faith in Jesus Christ. This is key for us in our belief because there is a tendency for us to question or become disappointed in God because we think He’s not keeping His promise to us. The problem with this isn't God’s faithfulness but our understanding.

Remember that desiring something and believing God will do it doesn't always mean He’s promised it to us. Sometimes the hindrance or delay isn't God – it is us. Just like sin separated Adam and Eve in the garden – it separates us and can create barriers in our relationships.

Remember what I said at the beginning… A promise is only as reliable as the one who makes it. Consider so far what we have learned about God in the story…His character and His ability to make a promise and keep it. I would say we have learned He is both willing and powerful enough. He is truthful and faithful. He is gracious and loving. He is powerful and unchangeable. He cares for us and wants to provide for us. So I ask you again… “What would my relationship with God be like if I believed everything He promised would come true!”

Find a promise today in God’s story and claim it! If there are any conditions, do it and trust that He will do what He says He will do. If it is unconditional, make sure you see who it is for and what its for and claim it as well. May not be for you but for someone else. God loves you and He loves me – trust it!

Hope to see you this weekend as we live life and gather together as family to celebrate the promises of God! Be there and invite a friend!

Your Plans Or His?

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From the breaking of the daylight Help us see the world through Your eyes Finding beauty in the broken Trusting promises You've spoken

CHORUS You've got plans to give us a future and a hope We are not forgotten We are not alone Plans to lead us home into Your heart You are always with us Everywhere we are

On and on Your love will never stop Shining down upon us Never letting up On and on Your love will see us through Even in the shadows We will trust in You

VERSE You stay loyal for a lifetime Through the shadows and the sunlight When our worries overtake us We believe that they won't break us

If you are making plans for your life and you are not seeking God then you probably won't be successful at what you are attempting to do. God doesn't usually bless your plan for your life, in fact He seems to take delight in upsetting the plans that we have made without Him, just when you begin to move with your plan it can all fall apart in a heartbeat.

 "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:8-9

We all have dreams, we tell our kids to dream big, we all have ideas about what we want to be when we grow up or how we want our life to turn out. God did not put you on Earth to live for yourself and He didn't put you here to make your own plans. There isn't any good reason that I should settle for my plan when His plan is for me to do far greater things than I could even imagine.

Are you in a place you never expected to be? Has God taken you on a path you never would have chosen?

God has not deserted or forgotten about you, usually it is the other way around, we forget about Him. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him and it isn't working out so well.

God knows exactly what He is doing. Most of the time we need to slow down and wait for him so that we can hear Him speak into our life over all of the noise. You need to realize that He is desiring to accomplish more in you and through you than you could ever think or imagine.

The Daniel Fast - Are You Listening

IMG_1452 The Daniel Fast is a great opportunity for you and I and even our church family to focus and reflect on what God is trying to say to us and where He wants to lead us.

You have heard me say that listening to the spirit is vital to our growth as followers of Christ. It is the means by which God wants to lead us. Just like God used the cloud by day and the fire by night to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us and reveal to us the way He wants us to go. The real tension for you and I is this:

Am I listening for the Holy Spirit in my everyday rhythm of life? Am I willing to believe in Him no matter what He reveals to us? Am I willing to do whatever He asks no matter what?

You see how these three all build on one another? You have to be willing to slow down, eliminate the noise and take time to listen. When you and I do that, we can be confident that He will speak and will reveal something to you.

How? God speaks to us in a variety of ways, God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and your church family to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways.

Did you notice why He speaks? To show you and I who He is – our provider, our help, our refuge, our deliverer, our peace, our healer, our sustainer, our refresher…I could keep going. He also speaks to show us His purposes. You want to find out His will – Do what He says – He will show you. Finally, He speaks to show us His ways. We learn how God works in and through our lives by following His voice. TRUSTING His voice and knowing that He isn’t going to lead us down a path of destruction.

This is why is should be easy to be willing to do whatever He asks no matter what.  Yet it  causes the most tension for most of us. Why is that? I would love to hear your thoughts.

As you are taking this time with the Daniel Fast and hopefully taking some time to listen and reflect. Here are some tips that might help you as you work out that muscle of LISTENING to the HOLY SPIRIT.

Where does God have you and where are you seeing Him working in your life? Is there a need or needs in you or others that you see? Is there a burden you feel or have that you can’t shake off? Is there something, someone, or somewhere that you see you can bring or be good news to? Why aren’t you going? What has God given you? Look around and really consider this in light of this question…Are you using it for Him or for you?

Please know that I am praying for you and with you as you take this journey. Be encouraged by these verses today as you think of LISTENING & TRUSTING the voice of the HOLY SPIRIT. Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” (John 16:16) It goes on to say that the disciples struggled with (or experienced tension) what He meant by this. Yet, listen to these words He said just before that statement:

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:12-15

You really need to take time to read this entire chapter and even go back to Chapter 13 and read up to this point to see where this whole discussion began to gain a greater perspective. But look at this final question…

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered. John 16:31-32

This is where we are at now! A church scattered. Followers of Christ all over the world scattered abroad sent by God to be His expression and example to a world that desperately needs Him. This is why it is crucial that we ALL are leaning in and listening to what the Spirit is saying and BELIEVING it. This why it is important for us to gather and encourage one another to do just that…BELIEVE. Believe in who we know God is. Believe in what God has and is doing. Believe in what that means to us. Believe in who we are as a result of what He has done. THEN we go and do with confidence not in ourselves but in a God who loves us so much that He did all of this to show us the next steps.