“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.” Psalm 65:1-2 (ESV)
These verses remind us of several reasons why God’s people come to Him. Just as His people were used to going to Jerusalem to praise God so we have the same desire and opportunity wherever we are. We can praise Him any time, any place, in our hearts. It does not matter where we are and we don’t have to be at any special place or take any specific posture. There are no required or set words that must be repeated but the words of our prayers should include words of Praise to our God. As we turn to the Lord we remember the promises we have made to Him. We don’t need to go to the temple or to a church building to fulfill our vows for we can renew our promises as we draw near to Him anyplace, with our supplications and thanksgiving. And, of course we know that we can approach God in prayer because He does hear our prayer. What a joy it is to remember just as David did in our verse today that our praise is due to God who promises to hear our prayers of praise.
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20-21 (ESV)
In the fourth chapter of Romans, we learn about righteousness and how we receive it by faith believing. The example is Abraham who was promised a son and a nation of descendants. Even when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah his wife was 90 well past child bearing age, Abraham believed in this promise of a son. This is our example for today, that we continue trusting and not wander into unbelief when a promise of God seems overdue for fulfillment. It is not. God answers and fulfills the promises in His time. Abraham did not understand how God would keep His promise and give them a son but He always believed that God could and would keep all His promises. That was saving faith and God declared Abraham righteous. In this blog we consider many promises and today our promise is that God is a promise keeper. We too need to believe that God is always able to do what He has promised, even when circumstances, such as Abraham and Sarah’s condition make it seem impossible. Be thankful to God each day and affirm that God will fulfill His promises – be fully convinced that He will.
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13–14.(NASB)
What does a pledge mean these days? A pledge might mean any of several things anymore but once it was a solemn promise and a large part of the payment, given in advance as a security that the whole promise will be paid afterwards. In the context of today’s verses; this pledge is made when God’s own Spirit comes to indwell in us and preserves our eternal salvation. Paul refers to an official mark of identification placed on a contract, or other document. Thereby placing that document officially under the authority of the person whose stamp was on the seal. Four primary truths are signified by the seal: 1) security; 2) authenticity; 3) ownership; and 4) authority. The Holy Spirit is given to us by God as His pledge of our future inheritance in glory. Yes, we fail to comprehend fully how God both choses us in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) but seals us with his Spirit after we listen to and believe the message of salvation. It matters not that we do not fully understand but it matters much that we believe His words in Scripture. Believe both, God will sort it out.
“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is* that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” – Ephesians 3:4-5 (ESV)
We have again a promise-packed passage by the Apostle Paul which teaches a most precious truth for our world, especially today. We are in an upheaval between truth and the lies the devil spreads in order to sow chaos in our world. Our enemy’s goal is to discredit by leading astray those who by faith believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and their Savior. Paul declares a mystery about the promise of salvation from Christ. What does ‘mystery’ mean? Many truths were hidden until later revealed in the New Testament that are called mysteries. Here Paul reveals one: Jew and Gentile brought together in one body in the Messiah. The cry against racism may truly exist among the unbelieving but for those who do believe and follow the teachings of Jesus, there is no room for this critical race theory now being bandied about. Paul not only wrote of the mystery that, in Christ, Jew and Gentile become one in God’s sight and in His kingdom and family, but also explained and clarified that truth. He taught us that spiritual knowledge must precede practical application. What is not properly understood cannot be properly applied.**
*The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4
**The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Eph 3:4.
“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.” 1 Kings 8:56 (ESV)
These words of praise were spoken by the King of all Israel, Solomon, son of David at the time of the dedication of the temple which he had built in Jerusalem (10th century B.C.). It reminds us of God’s perfect faithfulness of and that we can trust all of his promises to us. God had given many promises to His people through Moses almost 500 years before Solomon. In Joshua 21:45 Joshua had reminded them “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” Did you note what Solomon said about these promises? He said the same thing Joshua had said, “Not one word has failed.” God had kept his promises in every detail. This is the kind of God we have today. Most days we look at a specific promise to remember and today that promise is that He’ll keep every word of His promises to us. Think of some promise or promises God has given you my friend. He will be faithful to you as he was to Israel then and now.
“…so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:18 (NASB)
“A promise is a promise” we say because just a promise is sometimes not enough to convince others that we are true to our word. We find the need to double down on our promise to tell the truth and not lie. This is because we and humans in general have a history of being untruthful or not fully truthful at least. So our oath when sworn in to testify in court is “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” An oath puts an end to all arguments, so there can be no argument about the expectation of truth. God promised Abraham He would make him a great nation, He then confirmed it with an oath by swearing by Himself. As heirs of the promise we know they are for us as well. When we find the promises from God and trust them – at least we should because God’s promises are underscored by two things. First is it impossible for God to lie; second, His ever truthful Word is supported by His promise sworn on Himself. We have hope in every promise of God. We can know it is real and true.