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.

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