God’s Promises

June 14th, 2015
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God’s Promises

Have you ever been lied to?
Have you ever lied to someone?
We’ve all heard this scripture in Numbers 23:19, “God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”
So based on this verse we know that God doesn’t lie.
But how many knows that God swears?
Not like you think. Swearing today has taken on a crass and dirty meaning. God doesn’t have a potty mouth.
Swearing back in the day meant an oath, a binding promise, an unbreakable covenant.
In a court of law today witnesses hold up one hand and place the other on the Bible and swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…so help me God.”
That’s the witness swearing in the highest definition of the word. And there is no higher name to swear by than God Himself.
We can count on God to fulfill all of His promises, because what He says, He means. He thinks about the words He says before He says them. He’s entirely intentional all the time. And then holds to every intentional word after they are said because He keeps His promises.
So in our text today we see in this prayer how God made a covenant promise with His hand lifted up to give them the Promised Land. It says in Nehemiah 9:15b, “…You told them to go in and take possession of the land You had sworn with uplifted hand to give them.”
Nehemiah 9:22-24 continues by saying, “You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers. You made their children as numerous as the stars in the sky, and You brought them into the land that You told their parents to enter and possess. Their children went in and took possession of the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; You gave the Canaanites into their hands, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased.”
This promise harkens back to Deuteronomy 1:8, where Moses, near the end of his life, was reviewing with the Israelites where they had come, up to that point. “See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore He would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”
Fast forward to Deuteronomy 1:19-21, Moses continues by saying, “…And so we reached Kadesh Barnea. Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
From Mt. Horeb where God gave His people the Law, to Kadesh Barnea where they could SEE the Promised Land was an 11 day journey.
11 days. That’s how short of a time it could have taken for the people to enter and possess the Promised Land. Instead, they remained in the desert for almost 40 years until the faithless generation passed away.
What happened? How did the story turn from being on the brink of experiencing God’s promise to it being delayed for almost 40 more years?
Well, it went this way. From Kadesh Barnea they could see the Promised Land. But before they went in they came up with the idea to send out spies to check out the land God had sworn to give them.
Why were the spies sent out? Deut. 1:22 says it was to determine which route to take and the towns they would encounter.
Moses agreed to it, said the idea seemed good to him, even though he didn’t ask God about it, and off they went.
But instead of coming back with which route to take, they came back with fear. And that’s where the story turned to what we know happened, the children of Israel wandering the wilderness for nearly 40 years.
My how things turn on the seemingly smallest of actions.
God didn’t say,”You better go check this out just in case I’ve changed my mind and you’re left to fend for yourselves.”
To God it was a done deal. He had already sworn to give it to them. He didn’t command them to send the spies. That was man’s idea.
When we interfere with God’s plan we always mess it up.
When we question God’s promises we invite doubt to overtake our faith.
We look at the circumstances. We look at the size of the mountain. We look at the size of the giants. We get our eyes off of God and onto the obstacle.
God doesn’t need our input, adjustment, or help. He’s looking for our faith and trust in His already fixed and unbreakable covenant promises to us.
He simply is looking for us to go and possess what He’s already promised for us to have.
What is it God has promised to you? What it is that He has, with an upraised hand, sworn to you? What’s keeping you from going and getting it? Go get it!!!
You may be standing at your Kadesh Barnea today. You can see what God has promised in front of you, but you’re not sure you can trust Him to follow through with it.
Did He change His mind? Did He really say what I thought He said? Will He leave me hanging?
Know this, to Him His promise is an unbreakable, binding covenant. He will NOT walk away from it, shirk His responsibility in it, do it half way, or play like He never said it.
He swears by Himself. What God is saying in swearing by Himself is that it is as unlikely that He will break His word of promise to bless us as it is that He will despise Himself.
He simply will NOT break His word of promise to you.
God is the greatest value in the universe. There is nothing more valuable or wonderful than God. So God swears by God. And in doing that He says: “I mean for you to have as much confidence in Me as it is possible to have.” For if more were possible, the Bible says He would have given us that.
Solomon gave a beautiful speech at the dedication of the newly built Temple to God. In it he said in 1 Kings 8:56, “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.”
This is our God. The God who is reaching as high as He can reach and needs to reach to inspire us to unshakable hope. The God who is calling us to flee to Him for refuge. The God who is reminding us again that He does not lie and can be counted on. The God who is asking us to turn from all the superficial, self-defeating hopes we place in the things of this world and put our hope fully and completely in Him. The God upon whom we can depend that not one word will fail that He has promised us.
If you read the story of the history of Israel’s desert travels, Kadesh Barnea seems to be the place they kept coming back to in their 40 years of wandering. Just like you need to go through Atlanta it seems to get to anywhere else, Kadesh Barnea was the central hub of their desert wanderings.
Listen, today you may have been here at this place before. You can see it, you can smell it, you can almost taste it, that promise from God for your life. But there’s always been a hurdle in front of you. And that hurdle has always been your lack of trust and faith in His promises. So you set out again around the backside of the wilderness until you come back again to the brink of God promise where you can see it again, so close you can touch it but it might as well be a million miles away.
But instead of taking another lap around the back 40, how about today doing something different.
Same actions, same results. Different actions. Different results.
We see how one generation didn’t believe God and didn’t possess the land. But eventually a generation who DID believe God possessed the land. We see the results of that. They became a great and powerful nation, reaching their peak under King Solomon.
But possessing requires faith. Possessing takes work. Possessing takes a fight. Possessing means battle. Possessing is an active, not passive, word.
We can never passively possess just as we could never passively have faith.
To possess we go forward, we reach out, we exert effort, we cause change, we embrace wholeheartedly, we consume, we lean forward.
There’s no complacency in possessing. No shrinking back. No half way.
God’s unbreakable promise is His part. Our possessing it is our part.
I have NO IDEA what God has promised to you. But I do know this, if He said it He meant it and He will fulfill it. Your part is to possess it!!!
But it takes faith. Active, possessing faith. Faith that moves you out of your fears and doubts and embraces God’s unbreakable promises.
Faith without works is dead. Works is active. Works possess. You won’t move forward to possess until you embrace faith and reject doubt in all of God’s good unbreakable, covenant promises.
So it’s your choice today. His promises are unchangeable and unbreakable. He swears by His own Name.
The turn in your story will ALWAYS be whether you’re going to possess it or not.
It takes faith. It takes trust. It takes effort. It takes moving forward. It takes focus. It takes not being distracted. It takes binding up doubt and fear and placing them under your feet.
Kadesh Barnea is like going ’round and ’round on I-485 with the intention of going to downtown Charlotte but never actually going into downtown. At some point you gotta make a turn into town!
Don’t let your Kadesh Barnea be where you turn around and take another tour of duty with your companions doubt and fear. Let it instead be your launching out point for entering into all God has promised in your life.
Nehemiah 9:15b, “…You told them to go in and take possession of the land You had sworn with uplifted hand to give them.” And they eventually did.
Will it be 11 days or 40 years for you? The choice is yours.
God’s promises in your life are only activated by your actively possessing them by faith.

God’s Provision

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Who is God…to me?

That’s the question we’ve been asking the last several weeks. Today, let’s look at God our Provider.

Nehemiah 9:15-25 speaks of God providing for His people’s physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. Now, for every authentic provision God has for us satan always has a counterfeit.

In the physical realm satan offers extremes as deserving, junk dressed up as quality, perversions cloaked as freedoms, and distractions conveyed as worthy causes.

But all these activities provide in the end are an emptiness greater than we had before.

Isaiah 55 says, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

Only Jesus satisfies completely all of our physical needs.

In the spiritual realm the world offers many counterfeit things, but only the Holy Spirit is the authentic spirit of Christ. In Him we can be assured of trustworthy and true guidance for all of life’s decisions.

In the emotional realm the world offers parties and celebrations on a continual basis. The world is one big party!

But the Church has a real reason to celebrate! It’s time for us to revel, delight, rejoice, thrive, PARTY for the cause of Christ! Partying by its very nature is not done quietly in a corner, but loudly for the world to see!

God’s greatest provision for us goes beyond our life here on earth, though. He has provided for us eternal life in Heaven with Him!

God is our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. In Christ we will truly find all we need to satisfy every area of our lives here on earth and for all of eternity!

You Can Count On God’s Word

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This past week we looked at the part of the prayer in Nehemiah 9:13 that talks about how God gave His people His commands, laws, and regulations that were “good and just and right”.

There were three things God showed us from that verse and 2 Timothy 3:16 that helped us see why His Word is something upon which we can depend. I’d like to share with you the third one in this Faith Notes. If you’d like to hear the entire podcast, click on the link below and go to the “media” tab. You can also download our App on your smart phone by going to your App Store and searching “connect at faith” and stay on top of all the events and activities of Faith Assembly.

The third reason we can depend upon God’s Word is the EFFECT.

2 Timothy 3:16 says,, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

What does all of this teaching and rebuking and correcting and training produce?

Righteousness.

What is righteousness? Defined, it means the state of moral perfection that God requires in order for us to see Him.

So, based on that definition, how many are in our own strength and ability righteous?

Just as I thought. None of us.

Well, if that’s the case we are all in a big heap of trouble. None of us will ever get to see God! But wait! There’s a solution!

The Bible says Jesus took our unrighteousness and became sin for us that we might become His righteousness. How can that be? Because Jesus was, and is, perfect, sinless, “morally pure”. He is righteous.

2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who had no sin (was morally pure/righteous) to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

In other words, our righteousness is not our own, but CHRIST in us is our hope of glory. CHRIST in us is our righteousness.

Coming back to our verse in 2 Timothy, the result of God’s Word teaching us, rebuking us, correcting us, and training us, is that we might be more like Christ.

Embracing God’s Word as true and infallible, and allowing it to work in us, challenges the flesh, calls out the rebellion, and confronts the “go for it!” attitude in our heart.

God’s Word demands a response. It doesn’t beat around the bush. It isn’t watered down. It’s not vague. It’s clear, it precise (cuts like a knife to the none and marrow), and it calls us to a higher place than where any of us are today, no matter how far along and advanced you may think you are in your journey.

God’s Word constantly says to us in no uncertain terms, “Choose you this day who you will serve.”

The easy 3×5 card beckons. But listen to what a Jesus warned about that. Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

The people in Nehemiah’s day reflected with gratitude on God’s giving His Word to them. We must do the same by allowing His Word to transform our lives into the image of Christ.

Who is God to me? He is my Father God who has given me His Word, and His Word can be trusted because of It’s AUTHOR, because of It’s CONTENT, and because of It’s EFFECT.

But only if we allow It to.

The Pillar

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Who is God?

That’s what we’ve been asking the last couple of weeks. And the answer isn’t, “He created everything”, or “He’s omnipotent” or any other such general, overarching descriptive, as true as those statements may be.

What we want to know is, “Who is God…to me?” What is it of this wonderful and awesome Creator & Being that I can grab hold of and make personal to my life, my situations, my destiny? Who is God…to me?

As we look at Nehemiah, we come to verse 12 of Chapter 9 and read the part of the prayer where the people reflected on God’s showing up in a grand, yet very personal way. It says, “By day You led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.”

There are 4 very personal things we can take from this and apply to our lives in answering “Who is God…to me?”

I’d like to share with you just the first one in this Faith Notes, and that is “He is the God who guides us”.

Psalm 37:23-24 says, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him. Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”

Listen to this excerpt from a book called, “Silent Giants” –
“Two days after arriving, I departed St. John’s. A low overcast covered the city. As I climbed through the clouds, the ground and sky dissolved into a white glow. All sense of motion, of up and down, were lost. My senses told me I am suspended in an immense milk bottle.

My world shrinks to the single square foot of the control panel as I fly by instruments. The artificial horizon confirms my wings are level. The airspeed indicator is steady at 100 miles per hour. The altimeter shows I have reached 1,000 feet and am climbing. Good.

I pay particularly close attention to the artificial horizon in the middle of the panel. Inside, a tiny gyroscope spins four hundred revolutions a second. Just as a child’s toy gyroscope returns to its original position when nudged, the gyroscope inside this instrument never moves regardless of what the plane around it does. Attached to the gyroscope is the instrument’s face, a symbolic representation of the invisible horizon outside the windows.

As I start a climbing turn to the left, the instrument horizon falls away and drops to the right, just as the real horizon is doing somewhere outside. This tiny instrument has given me a three-inch window into the world outside the clouds.

As I level the wings, my body says the gyroscope is wrong. That it has somehow malfunctioned. I am not level, I am diving to the right. The physical sensation is almost overwhelming. But I believe the instrument, which says all is well. This is vertigo and almost every pilot experiences it at some time.

No pilot can fly by the “seat of the pants” in clouds. Here, your normal senses of feel and balance are useless—and deadly—if believed. You must fly the instruments, not what you feel.”

Our emotional and mental vertigo will tell us that we need to make a correction, adjust course, surely the gyroscope of God’s Word, which never changes and is never impacted by outside circumstances, is off somehow.

But even when things don’t make sense, even when it doesn’t feel right, even when all around us seems like a giant white milk bottle and we’re right in the middle of it, we must rely on the instrument of God’s Word, on the gauge of the Holy Spirit telling us to hold steady, that all is well. Instead of flying by the seat of our pants and taking matters into our own hands which leads to a deadly outcome, we put our faith in God who will lead us along the path of life He has for us, without fail, and with pinpoint accuracy.

We must “fly the instruments”.

If you’d like to hear the rest of this message entitled “The Pillar”, click on the link below and go to the media tab. There you’ll find This and all the messages from Faith by which to be strengthened.

Have a blessed week in Christ and remember to “fly the instruments”. His Word will never fail to guide you with pinpoint accuracy all the days of your life.

Who Is God? Nehemiah 9:9

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I want to share with you an excerpt from this past Sunday’s message, “Who Is God?” We’re looking at the prayer the Isrealites prayed to God in Nehemiah Chapter 9, the longest recorded prayer in the Bible, as they reflect on the nature and character of God. There is an ebb and flow to the history recorded in this prayer. It documents God’s steady and continual faithfulness in spite of the people’s vacillating commitment to God.

As part of my message, I made the following suggestion that I’d like to pass on to you –

“Too often we ask God why. “Why am I going through this? What am I struggling? Why am I lonely? Why am I sick? Why am I unhappy? Why?”
But maybe we shouldn’t ask “why”, but “what”, as in, “What are you trying to show me, Lord, about myself? What are You trying to show me, Lord, about You?” “What do You want me to learn from this?” “What area of my life is this revealing that is not yielded to You, not crucified to You, not submitted to You?” “What can I do in this to trust You more?” “What can I do in this to be more like Christ, to allow His Spirit to govern me and not my flesh?”

Suddenly, our struggles take on a different light, don’t they? Think about it. They go from being a victim who is absorbed in self pity and can’t see the forest for the trees to being someone who sees the spiritual significance in things, where we can grow and learn and mature and be victorious and be more like Christ and through our struggles die more to the flesh and live more in the Spirit.

So don’t ask “why”, but “what”. It’ll change everything in how you look at struggles. And be ready to be blown away by the perspective shift it brings when the Holy Spirit reveals the powerful truths He’ll reveal.”

If you’d like to hear the entirety of this message, click on the link below. The podcast can be quickly and easily downloaded. Or, go to your App Store and search for “Connect At Faith”. You’ll see our Faith logo. Download the App and stay connected to all that is going on at Faith, including hearing the podcasts, getting daily encouraging scriptures, and reading past Faith Notes.

Ask this week “what” When facing a struggle. See what happens.