Posts Tagged ‘promise’

The most difficult care conversations are those where people have lost hope.  Hope is an anchor.  Hope keeps us from being lost when the storms of life break over us and threaten to destroy us.  Persons who lose hope are vulnerable to multiple temptations that will only make bad situations worse.  The downward spiral that is hopelessness is difficult to break once the path is set.  This is when the life-giving words of Jesus are so important to hold on to.  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NIV.

Yesterday we prayed with a man whose family has experienced two suicides within the course of a month.  This is the ultimate losing hope.  Two of my friends then shared nuggets of gold which I want to share with you today.  First Doug, a teacher for many years, mentioned an experiment that he has read about.  Laboratory mice were subjected to a stress test that measured the impact of hope.  The mice were placed in a tank filled with enough water that the mice were forced to swim.  For one group of mice the tank was then covered with a box that completely sealed off the light.  The average lifespan of the mice in the dark box was 3 minutes before they drowned.  The second group of mice were treated the same except for a small hole in the box which allowed a small amount of light to enter the box.  The average lifespan of these mice was 36 hours.  Such is the power of hope.

As Doug finished, Greg asked if we had a good definition of hope.  I think I said it was a belief that things would be better in the future.  Greg said hope is H.O.P.E – Holding On to Promises Eternal.  My definition could be true, but it could just as easily be the definition for wishful thinking.  In reality, that’s what a lot of people accept as hope.  But Greg’s definition is tied to something solid… something that has stood the test of time and proven true.

So, I want to share with you some of the Promises Eternal that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true.

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”  God speaks this to several people in the bible.  He spoke it to me in Sept of 1983 in a small chapel at Camp Hartner in the piney woods of central Louisiana.  This is the first and foundational promise of my faith journey.  I pitched my anchor trusting it would hold fast in this promise.  It has for over 34 years.  I am certain it will hold into eternity.

“I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and future.”  Jeremiah 29:11.  The Lord kept this verse in my thoughts the entire week when I was told my job was eliminated in 2007.

‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ‘  Isaiah 41:10.  The Lord clearly gave me this verse as I was about to go to work one morning fully expecting to hear that my team was being downsized.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. ‘  Matthew 6:33.  In this simple admonition, Jesus gave the recipe for prioritizing life which ensures my needs are met.  While there have been a few times that my wants went unsatisfied, I’ve never missed anything of significant value.  One of the things I’ve learned about “wants” is they usually have a great big “I” in the middle of them and they don’t advance God’s purposes in my life or the life of those around me.  Yet with a few unfulfilled wants, there have been numerous times when God’s blessings have absolutely overflowed into my life and the lives of those I know and love.

‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”‘  Matthew 11:28-30.  I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve “limped home” to hear the Father whisper the words “Rest in Me.”  He has always carried the bulk of the load.  At times I’ve attempted to shoulder more than I was supposed to and forge on in my strength.  Yet in His gracious mercy, He has always been right there to step in as soon as I realize my error and lean into Him.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.’  Proverbs 3:5-6.  Again there have been times when I’ve gotten focused upon my plan, my work, my way that I’ve lost track of God’s call and purpose.  But He is faithful to His promise here and when I turn to Him fully committing my heart and ways to Him, He has always, ALWAYS been there to guide and direct me.

‘Delight yourself also in the Lord , And He shall give you the desires of your heart.’ Psalms 37:4.  I’ve learned that deepening my relationship with the Lord – delighting in Him, has been the greatest blessing of life.  At times I can clearly see how martyrs and the persecuted saints through the ages have been able to worship God even in the face of intense personal pain and suffering.  He gives eyes to see things unseen.  He causes our hearts to know of things eternal.  He changes our heart so that His desires become our desires.  He accomplishes those things that will bring about His glory and our joy.

I meant to keep this to a short post, but I have failed again.  Please forgive me.  While I am just getting warmed up, I know it is time to sign off for today.  Before I do, I would be remiss not to emphasize, these are your promises too.  God loves with an overwhelming love.  He has written His love story for you as well as for me.  Every promise of God is true and you can rely on them.  Wherever you are in life, you can pitch your anchor into God’s Promises Eternal and that anchor will hold.  Jesus gave His life for you and He gives His promises to you.  That my friend is HOPE.  That my friend is for you.

Blessings to you today.

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Promises, promises, are you a promise maker?
Promises, promises, don’t be a promise breaker.

I have learned that the only way to not be a promise breaker is to never make promises. I would like to say that extenuating circumstances are the reason promises get broken, but at the best that would only be half-true. Whether we intend to or not, when we make promises we put our reputation on the line and make ourselves vulnerable for failing the trust of others. Yet making promises is a part of our lives. I suspect that most persons make between 1 – 10 promises everyday. Some are small… “Come straight in and do you homework.” “I will Mom.” while others are life altering… “Do you Dan take Lisa to be your lawful wedded wife… to cherish… til death do you part?” “I do”. Every time we sign a credit card slip we are promising we are going to pay the credit card company back (plus interest if we don’t pay back immediately.)

To say that our society functions on a foundation of trust comprised of thousands upon thousands of promises is not a stretch. So how are we doing? A building is only as good as its foundation, so how are we doing? An honest assessment has to say we are not doing very well. With divorce at over 50% of marriages, personal and business bankruptcies skyrocketing, and 40% of all children raised with no Dad in the picture we are not doing very well keeping our promises. So if promises are essential and commonplace, but keeping promises is apparently becoming harder – what are we to do?  What are the consequences? Should we be worried? What can be done about it?

My first comment about never making promises was obviously a bit tongue in check. Promises are essential. Every agreement includes within it a promise usually more than one promise. Lawyers exist to “help” interpret promises and see that promises are adhered to. I was raised in the day when a person’s word was his bond. I still live by this belief and I find many people who would like to, but they have been burned by others to whom a promise is superficial chatter and not a binding agreement. Even though I believe a promise is sacred, honesty demands that I admit I have said things that I fully intended to fulfill which have not come to pass. I want to hike around Mt Ranier with my youngest son and I have told him we would, but time is getting on and we have not made the trip. While technically not a promise broken since there is still time, it is definitely not a promise fulfilled.

I saw a political commercial last night which showed a candidate making many promises in the last election and then it showed him breaking those very promises.  It was obvious that the person made promises that they did not keep. If the most powerful people in the world struggle to keep their promises, then what shape are we really in? Well if our hope, trust, and faith are in them, then we are in pretty dismal shape.

Fortunately there is a higher authority that we can and should look to. And His track record on promises is perfect. He never fails to keep His promises. The bible says that it is impossible for God to lie. A broken promise is at its heart a lie. Since God cannot lie, He cannot break a promise. I have found this to be true as have millions of others throughout history. God is a promise maker AND a promise keeper.

God’s first promise to me was “Dan, I will never leave you or forsake you.” And that has been true. God has always shown up. In the most difficult times of my life He has been tangibly present. Sometimes it is through the extended arms of His children. At others it is through a perfectly timed verse. Sometimes it is a gentle peace within my spirit. The point is for 28 years God has kept His promise and I know He always will.  While this promise was whispered to me when He brought me to Himself, this is a promise He offers to each and every one of us if we but put our trust in Him.

Now it is important to mention something God does not promise.  He does not promise a life free from pain, difficulties, challenges.  No, these are a part of life that we will from time to time have to walk through.  But what we can hold on to are specific promises God has given for us at these times.  From Isaiah 43 we see God promising that when floods threaten to overwhelm His people He will be with them.  When fire is upon them, He will cause them to walk through and not be burned.  It does not say we won’t have times that threaten us and cause us pain, but it does say He will carry us through.

Now I have to say I have learned that “carrying through” includes two important considerations.  First, is a relationship with Him.  God will respect our decision to keep Him at arm’s length, but that makes His help less tangible.  It’s not His decision, but ours that makes this so.  (And people often blame Him for this?)  Second, some of His promises have a complete fulfillment in the eternal perspective.  I have a friend whose son was diagnosed with leukemia.  He fought it bravely and experienced a couple of years of remission.  The disease returned and an auto-marrow transplant was determined to be his best option so this is the path they took.  During the window of time immediately after the transplant the patient is extremely susceptible to any illness.  My friend’s son caught something and went downhill until he finally went into a coma.  For 40 days we prayed for Chase.  Our focus was upon Chase getting better and coming out of the coma.  For 30 days I prayed for this, but as time and prayer continued with little change in Chase, I began to realize that God was speaking something different into my spirit than what I was praying.  I began to see God revealing a bigger perspective – an eternal perspective to my prayer for Chase and his family.  The last days of Chase’s life here were more peaceful for Chase and his family because they recognized that God was walking with them in the working out of His will.  Chase’s life and death led to others being reconciled to God and being inspired to live a life of faith.

We are called to let Christ reign in our lives.  As His Holy Spirit resides in us and we cooperate with His transforming work, we become more and more like Him.  We become promise makers.  I started off by saying that the only way I have found not to break a promise is to not make a promise.  A more accurate statement would be to become so surrendered to God that we only make promises He prompts us to make, and become even more surrendered to Him to allow Him to help us keep them.

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