For the week commencing 25th August 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on “Dear God, how can I trust your promises?
Here’s the outline for our current series “Dear God”:
11 Aug Do I have to go to church? Heb 10, 1 Cor 12, 1 Peter 2
18 Aug Why aren’t you real to me? Psalm 13
25 Aug Sometimes I’m not sure if you care Psalm 62, 2 Cor 12
01 Sept How can I trust your promises? Psalm 46, Psalm 119
08 Sept I’m not a very good Christian Romans 10:9-13
15 Sept My kids don’t want to know about you Mark 10:13-16
“How can I trust your promises?” The short answer is by looking back to see how God has kept his promises in the past and then taking him at his word for the present. In a slightly different approach this week, we’ll spend a couple of days looking at just some of God’s promises and then we’ll explore how we might trust them.
DAY 1: God’s promises in the Old Testament
God promised to bless Abraham and, through his descendants, the whole world (Genesis 12:2–3). This promise, called the Abrahamic Covenant, pointed to the coming Messiah for whom Abraham looked (John 8:56).
God promised Israel to be their God and make them His people (Leviticus 26:12–13). Old Testament history is teeming with examples of God fulfilling this promise.
God promised that if we search for Him we will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). He is not playing hard-to-get. “Our God is near us whenever we pray to him” (Deuteronomy 4:7).
God promised protection for His children (Psalm 121). He was the vigilant watchman over all Israel.
God promised that His love will never fail (1 Chronicles 16:34). He is faithful in every way.
God promised Israel that their sin could be forgiven, their prosperity restored, and their nation healed (2 Chronicles 7:14). Repentance opened the road to fellowship and blessing.
God, under the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, promised prosperity to Israel for obedience and destruction for disobedience (Deuteronomy 30:15–18). Unfortunately, Israel eventually chose to disobey, and the northern kingdom was destroyed by Assyria and the southern kingdom, by Babylon.
God promised blessing for all who will delight themselves in His Word (Psalm 1:1–3).
How do you react to our promise making – promise keeping God?
DAY 2: God’s promises in the New Testament
God promised salvation to all who believe in His Son (Romans 1:16–17). There is no greater blessing than the free gift of God’s salvation.
God promised that all things will work out for the good of His children (Romans 8:28). This is the broader picture that keeps us from being dismayed by present circumstances.
God promised comfort in our trials (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). He has a plan, and one day we will be able to share the comfort we receive.
God promised new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Salvation is the beginning of a brand-new existence.
God promised every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Our inheritance is reserved for us (1 Peter 1:4). God promised to finish the work He started in us (Philippians 1:6). God does nothing in half measures. He started the work in us, and He will be sure to complete it.
God promised peace when we pray (Philippians 4:6–7). His peace is protection. It will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.”
God promised to supply our needs (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:19). Not that we get everything we want, but our needs will be taken care of. We are more valuable than the birds, and our Heavenly Father feeds them (Matthew 6:26).
Jesus promised rest (Matthew 11:28–30) for those who are yoked to him.
Jesus promised abundant life to those who follow Him (John 10:10). Following Jesus brings us more spiritual fulfillment than we could have anticipated.
Jesus promised eternal life to those who trust Him (John 4:14). The Good Shepherd also promised to hold us securely: “No one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Jesus promised His disciples power from on high (Acts 1:8) – the Holy Spirit. With his power, they “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, ESV).
Jesus promised that He will return for us (John 14:2–3). From then on, we will be with Him always.
There are many more promises of God that could be listed. All of them find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ, “the radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3). “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20). That is, Jesus is the focus and centre of all God’s promises. They centre around him; they depend on his saving work and are all fulfilled in and through him.
The only promise of God yet to be fulfilled is his promise that one day Jesus will return. But as all his other promises have been kept, we can be sure this one will also be fulfilled.
DAY 3: Read Psalm 119:105
So the question we are addressing this week is “how can I trust your promises?”
Let’s take a step back and ask – why would someone find it hard to trust God’s promises? Perhaps because they feel God has failed in some way to keep a promise. Perhaps they feel let down by God in a certain circumstance. It might be because they’ve claimed a promise that wasn’t actually made to them directly.
How can we trust God’s promises? By returning to the Word of God. When we read in Psalm 119:105, that God’s word is lamp for our feet and a light to our path, the Psalmist is reminding us that it is the Word of God which illumines the way for us. It is as we read God’s word and see how he keeps his promises, that we will in turn, be helped to trust his promises made to and for us. When we read God’s word, we are enlightened to the trustworthy character of God. We get to know him, and we trust that he is for us and not against us.
How do you trust that your spouse will keep their promises – or your good friend or dear sister or brother? It is as they reveal themselves to you over time as a promise keeping, faithful, loyal person who would never let you down! That’s exactly how it is with God, and the way we get to know God’s character is through by his Word. May the Lord in his kindness, grant you such an insight into his character, that you come to a place when you never doubt his promises again, but rather, rest in them deeply.
DAY 4: Read Psalm 46
Here is a wonderful promise from God – that he is our “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”. A refuge is a haven and shelter – a place of safety and calm throughout whatever storm you’re facing. Do you run to God as your refuge when facing trouble? God is also a great source of strength for any challenge. Do you turn to God for strength when everything is difficult? And to know that God is present with us no matter what we face, is a great comfort.
What difference does God as our refuge and strength make? What difference does it make that he is right with us? Have another look at verse 2. As far as the Psalmist is concerned, this is so significant that it will result in us having no fear! No fear even ‘though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea’! To have no fear in the midst of cataclysmic circumstances, because you run to God as your refuge, draw strength from his strength and palpably feel his presence, is a very wonderful thing! Be still, and know that I am God and trust in God’s many precious promises.