Thursday, January 12, 2012

Promise, Plans, and Prayer for 2012 and beyond

God says through the prophet Jeremiah, "You will be in Babylon for seventy years.  But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and i will bring you home again.  For I know the plans I have for you" says the LORD.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."   (Jer. 29:10-13, NLT)

My next three blogs will deal with the themes of the above word from the LORD:  Promise, Plans, and Prayer.

I am a far better promise maker than I am a promise keeper.  I must confess that in my humanity, weakness, and sinfulness I have, at times, failed to do things or not do things that I promised God, my wife, my friends, and my churches.  How many of you who are married can honestly say that you have, at all times, love, honored and served your spouse?  Because we are human we cannot keep all the promises we make.

But we have a God who will not, indeed cannot break his promises.  When a promise is made two things are very important.  The promise is important but the one  making the promise is even more so.  The most important thing is who is making the promise.  I can promise to give you a million dollars but I do not have the resources (or the inclination) to keep my word.   So, if the one making the promise cannot deliver, what good is the promise?  We can count on the promises of God because He is God!  

The LORD has made a lot of promises.  One of the biggies was the promise of a promised land for the Israelites.  Another was the promise of the Holy Spirit for followers of Christ.  There is a sense in which Israel entered the promised land and that Christians have received the Holy Spirit.   But the Bible makes it clear that Israel did not completely take all of the land(Hebrews 4:1-11).   They did not have enough faith to totally claim all that God had for them.  When a person receives Christ as Savior, he or she receives the Holy Spirit.  But we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit(Eph. 5:22).  So, if we are commanded to be filled, it stands to reason that we may not have received all that God has for us in the Holy Spirit.  

The Holy Spirit is a promise made by Jesus(Lk. 24:49 & Acts 1:4).  He is a down payment on all that the LORD eventually will give us(Eph. 1:13,14).  In a sense, it can be said that God has placed inside of us a little bit of Heaven.  We can't have it all yet, but we can have enough to live an amazing life filled with His plans and based on our relationship with Him.

The God of the universe has promised that we will have a relationship with Him whereby  He will listen to us and bring us into His land of promises.  If you feel as if you are in exile now--that God has forsaken you (no sense of His presence, terrible circumstances, financial worry, health concerns etc.) trust the Promise Maker-Keeper who loves us and gave His Son for us to demonstrate how much He cares.   

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