April 9, 2007

Walking by faith

Because many people fail to keep their word, saying “I promise . . .” has become almost a joke. Politicians who renege, exaggerated retail claims, broken wedding vows, and the like have destroyed the reputation of a promise. Does anyone expect them to be kept?

I wonder if our crumbling expectation concerning promises has anything to do with Satan’s constant attack on our spiritual lives. Are broken promises part of his attempt to stop us from trusting God? Certainly, God makes hundreds of promises. If everyone else fails me, can I still believe He will not?

Personally, my faith in the promises of God is challenged every time I pray. If I’ve been asking the same things for days, or weeks, or months, or even years and years, can I hold on to the promise of God to hear and answer prayer? Especially for those things that I know are in His will? If I really believe God’s promises, how will that affect the way I live?

Hebrews 11 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’”

God promised Abraham that through his son, Isaac, he would become a great nation. The promise was unconditional and the writer of Hebrews concludes that Abraham offered his son only because he believed that God would raise the boy from the dead. Abraham was so convinced of the promise of God that he, by the command of God, would put on an altar the only avenue by which the promise could be fulfilled. Certainly this was a huge test of his faith in God’s promise.

How about me? God makes promises to me as His child. Do I believe them? If so, do I believe them to the point that if He asked me to do something contrary to their fulfilment, would I do it—in total faith that no matter what He asked to the contrary, He would still keep His promise?

His major promise is heaven; because I believe, I will spend eternity with Him. Perhaps that promise is easier to believe than the promises for this life—I’ve never doubted my eternal destiny—yet there are other promises that I have doubted. He says He will never leave me or forsake me, but on occasion I’ve felt entirely abandoned by God, and was convinced that He had left me.

It’s like that with some prayers too. I’ve pleaded for the souls of unsaved loved ones, asking God to touch and change their lives. He promises that whatever I ask for in faith believing, He will do, but nothing. No touch, no changes. Yet.

Do I get discouraged? Yes. Do I think that God will not keep His promise to answer my prayers? I tend to think “no” or “wait” is not what that promise means, so yes, I get discouraged. But every now and then God reminds me that silence from heaven is partly a test for my faith. Will I keep on trusting Him, even if He is not saying or doing anything?

Abraham was asked to give up the very child that would fulfil God’s promise. God is not testing me by putting me into that kind of corner. If Abraham can trust the promises of God as he did, and if I have the same faith in the same God, then I can do it too.

The silence of God asks, Will you trust Me even when I turn my back, when I appear to not keep any of my promises? Or will you be disillusioned by a world full of promise-breakers, and go with what your eyes see, instead of what I say?

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen . . . . Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

“We walk by faith, not by sight”—which means that if I can be confident of a heaven that I’ve never seen just because God promised it to me, I ought to be just as confident in that same promise-giving God for answers that haven’t yet happened.

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