Monday, December 15, 2008

Daily confidence

Those who study Scripture without faith stumble at unfulfilled promises and prophecies. God says Jesus will return and they say, “Yeah, right. The world keeps turning and it is not happening.”

Old Testament promises to Israel are also scorned. It appears that modern Israel is not that interested in God and worse, God is not interested in them. When the Bible makes predictions and promises like those in Isaiah 45:22-25, the skeptics are not convinced. These verses say:
“Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. He shall say, ‘Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him. In the Lord all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.’”
Part of the skeptics’ problem is the superlatives. Notice all 3x, and every 2x. God says every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall take an oath of allegiance to Him, but more people see very few bent knees and more tongues cursing Him instead.

This passage also says that God’s people will credit God for their goodness and power, be confident that all will come to Him, and know that all those who are angry with God will be ashamed. Even that prediction seems to fall short as many Christians lack confidence for the future, some without realizing that God is in charge of the future.

Yet without faith, who can trust the promises of anyone? I remember an alcoholic that I knew. He often said he would quit drinking soon, yet so much of his talk about other things was embellished with lies that no one believed his promises.

Faith and trust in God depend on His truthfulness. When God says something that proves to be true, my trust level goes up. However, my head might tell me (and Scripture says) that He cannot lie, yet when I look at promises like this, like the skeptics, doubt can creep into my thoughts also.

Yesterday I was challenged with this question: “Has God ever lied to you?” I began thinking about the times when I thought He wasn’t listening, but later realized that true to His promises, He hears me. I thought of times I’ve prayed for things that seemed impossible and even stopped praying because of my doubt, yet God surprised me with answers to those prayers.

Some say they trust God because they love Him. For me, it doesn’t work like that. I trust God because He does not lie. He has never lied to me. Sometimes I don’t understand what He is doing, and sometimes I don’t like what He is doing, yet He never tells me one thing then does another. He is true and He is truth.

These verses from Isaiah speak of things that are true and things that have not yet happened. But God never promises to work on my timetable. Eventually every knee will bow and every mouth will confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2). Eventually all who do so will recognize that their righteousness and strength come from Him. Those who are angry with Him now will be ashamed. In Christ, those descended from Israel (not sure if this is literal or those who are children of Abraham by faith), will be justified and glory in Him.

The Bible says that I must walk by faith, not by sight. Sight will show answered prayer and fulfilled prophecies, but faith is based on the faithfulness of a truth-telling God. He never lies.

Knowing this is highly practical. I can live in confidence because I am certain that even though He has not done it yet, if He says that He will, then I know that He will!

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