Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Promises, Promises

The world is full of broken promises. Husbands and wives break marriage vows, business partners breach contracts, and teenagers break agreed-upon curfews. In fact, we consider it a rare and powerful thing when a promise is kept because we are so jaded by lies and failures. All of us break promises, both intentionally and by mistake, and I myself am no exception. When we get right down to it, there is only one being in the entire cosmos who has a perfect record of keeping promises: God.

Consider a few examples from the Bible:
  • God fulfilled his promise to Abraham by leading the people out of captivity in Egypt and into the Promised Land. "He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered. Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them. He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night. They asked, and he brought them quail and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert. For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham. He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy." (Psalm 105:37–43)
  • When King Solomon was dedicating the first temple, he proclaimed, "Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses." (1 Kings 8:56)
  • Jesus promised that the apostles would receive the Holy Spirit. Sure enough, the Day of Pentecost came and they spoke in tongues as they were filled with the Spirit. Peter explained to the astonished crowd, "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear." (Acts 3:32–33) In fact, Peter told them that the promise of the Holy Spirit was for them, too. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 3:38–39) 
  • Paul also reminded his readers over and again that God's promises of redemption and eternal life through Jesus were for everyone. "He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." (Galatians 3:14) In fact, Paul calls us "children of the promise" (Galatians 9:8). Paul considered God's promises to be sure—in fact they were the only thing upon which a Christian could truly depend.
 It's true that I don't always trust people to keep their promises, but I need to understand that God is different from people. God is going to keep His promises even when other loved ones don't. God will love me and stick with me, and His redemption is not conditional. All I have to do is accept the gifts He gives me—I don't have to earn them. My conduct doesn't change God's promises. He keeps them in His own time, but He always keeps them. In a world of uncertainty, I'm glad I have this one thing to count on.

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