I have been thinking a lot about the promises of God recently. I think part of this was provoked by a sermon series on the Good News and part was prompted by my reading through the Old Testament. There are so many promises God has given us in His word:
- And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
- And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20b
- Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
- The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10
- Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24
- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
These are just a few of the thousands of promises that are written in the Bible, God's word for us. Truth we can hold onto in times of struggle, a foundation on which we can build our faith. Some of these promises are completely centered on God's actions, some require action on our part. But we can be sure that God will always keep His promises.
I thought I got it last week and was all excited to write a post about our need to know God's promises. Because when we know God's promises we can find comfort and strength in them. We can know for certain that God will hear us, protect us, guide us, redeem us and love us. Maybe by knowing God's promises we could let go of the stress we feel, the strange requirements we put on ourselves and the overbearing sense of being lost in a wilderness that we often feel as we traverse life. I thought I knew where to find the magic key we all seek.
And then I got reminded yet again, that I really don't get it. I was reading "With Christ in the School of Prayer" by Andrew Murray (as always because I am sooo, sooo slowly making my way through this book which I do highly recommend) last week when this sentence struck me to the core.
Learn to believe in God, hold on to God, and to let God take possession of our life. It will become easy to grasp the promise. Whoever knows and trusts God finds it easy to also trust the promise.
and later he writes
It was the revelation of God Himself that gave the promise its living power to enter the heart and cultivate faith. Because they knew God, these men of faith could not do anything but trust His promise.
And then to get to the root of my turning God's gifts into my idols, I read this sentence.
Jesus is teaching us a precious lesson today. We seek God's gifts, but God wants to give us Himself first.
I was going at it backwards, yet again. Learning God's promises, knowing His word, points us to God himself. These promises show us who God is. They are an extension of His very being, the pouring out of His heart into our world.