Over-Promise? Not God!

An angel named Gabriel came with a message for Mary. She would be the mother of the Messiah. This was an amazing statement. Because the Messiah would also be the Son of God. And he would be the Savior of the world. And a King whose kingdom would never end.

Quite the promises! Mary was astonished at the words that fell from the angel’s lips. First, she was troubled in her heart. Then came bewilderment. Had this guy never heard of making promises you can’t keep?

After all the amazing and confusing things that Gabriel told her, there was one phrase that seemed to turn the tables for Mary.

For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37, NIV).

Gabriel’s reminder to Mary was that when God says something, you can bank on it. That’s a reminder we also need, isn’t it? We especially need that reminder when it comes to having a Savior named Jesus.

We hear so many confusing, competing, “promise-the-world” messages in our world today. So we don’t always know what we can bank on and what we can’t. We sometimes feel much the way Mary did — astonished, bewildered and confused.

And let’s face it. A time or two we’ve probably even been guilty of this ourselves. We’ve sent messages that confuse or over-promise.

What Gabriel wanted Mary to know — and you to know — is that God cannot over-promise. No word he speaks to you will ever fail.

You can bank on that. Even better yet, you can bank on him.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, March 14, is Numbers 1:1 – 2:9, Luke 1:26-38 and Psalm 33:12-22.

Father, thank you for giving me your words and promises. I love knowing I can rely on them. I get great peace from having somewhere I can go and be perfectly confident in what’s being said. Most of all, thank you for Jesus. He is the One in whom I confidently find forgiveness and salvation.

Header image based on "Promise?" by Carmella Fernando, CC By 2.0

Wait.

David had learned the value of inaction.

Inaction?! I know. It sounds counter to everything we believe in, doesn’t it? Almost un-American.

But for David, it was creating space for God to work. And he knew that this is often the right thing to do.

Perhaps he had learned it as a young shepherd boy. Then again, he may have discovered this truth as a man pursued by the King of Israel, Saul. David had actually already been anointed as Israel’s next king. But the problem was that Saul hadn’t vacated the throne yet. He was still very much alive. And very much the king.

So David refused to try and usurp Saul’s throne. Instead, he waited. Even when it meant that Saul would try to hunt him down and put him to death, he waited for God to act. There were several occasions when David had the opportunity to kill Saul and rid himself of the threat to his own life.

But he didn’t take action on those clear opportunities. Instead, he patiently yielded to God, confident he would act in his own way and in his own time.

How difficult that can be! But David’s faith told him that God would show his goodness in due time.

And you? Or me? We can be confident of the same thing. God is good. All the time. And he loves to show his goodness.

So… wait for it. Wait for it.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14, NIV).

Lord help me to be patient, and wait for you to act. You are a powerful and loving God. Sometimes I need to not act. I just need to pause and yield to you. I desire to be strong, take heart and just wait. Fill me with your Spirit so that I can know when to do nothing and simply see with the eyes of faith that your goodness is coming.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, February 28, is Leviticus 4:1 – 5:13, Mark 10:13-31 and Psalm 27:7-14.

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We Got ‘Em Right Where We Want ‘Em

The children of Israel were headed out of Egypt. But Pharaoh is set to take one last crack at them. He fervently wants to get them to turn around so he can put them back in chains.

He takes a huge multitude of chariots and battle-hardened, veteran charioteers and foot soldiers — strong men who were each respected leaders in their own right — and chases down the Israelites.

The Israelites find themselves trapped between this vast multitude of Pharaoh’s elite and the Red Sea. They are squeezed with very little hope of victory or escape.

Fight? Not a real option. And with the Red Sea at their backs, neither is flight.

The Bible tells us the children of Israel have the normal human response. First fear — or rather as Moses reports it in Exodus 14 — terror. Then finger-pointing and blame. “What is this you did to us, Moses? We were perfectly safe as slaves in Egypt. Now we’re all going to die!”

But Moses, the Israelites’ leader, thinks differently. He is a classic “man of faith.” He knows the God who has put them in this “impossible” situation. He understands that there is no way God will let them down at this point. And he has given up control to God. He realizes that he’s powerless without him, anyway.

In other words, Moses is confident, “We’ve got the Egyptians right where we want them.”

Or more accurately stated, “God’s got them right where he wants them.”

What a great lesson for us too! Fear and worry is not helpful or productive. When the situation seems dire, our best move is to stand firm and watch for God to act.

While you stand and watch, be still in your heart and believe that God has your situation “right where he wants it.”

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (‭Exodus‬ ‭14‬:‭13-14,‬ NIV).

Our Bible reading for Friday, February 13, is Exodus 13:1 – 14:31, Matthew 27:45-66 and Proverbs 4:20-27.

Lord Jesus, help me to stand firm in the face of dire circumstances. Give me confidence in your promises, and faith in your love for me. Allow me to see clearly that I am powerless without you, and therefore the best thing I can do is give control to you. I want to stand firm, and not be afraid.

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…to this day

Sometimes you get amazing wisdom from children. And sometimes it comes from those who have been around the block a time or two.

Jacob had definitely been around the block a few times. He lived to be 147 years old, and shortly before his death he asked his son Joseph to bring his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to him. He wanted to give them his blessing.

It’s as he’s bestowing a blessing upon Joseph and the two boys that Jacob (by then renamed Israel) says, “Then he blessed Joseph and said, ‘May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm—may he bless these boys'” (Genesis 48:15-16a, NIV).

At the very end of his 147 years of life, Jacob looks back and affirms that God had been with him all the way, had walked with him and shepherded him throughout his life, and had protected him every time something threatened to harm him… to this day.

What was Jacob thinking in that exact moment? Was he contemplating all the sins of deception he had committed? Was he reflecting on his brother Esau’s once murderous intentions toward him? Was he considering his father-in-law Laban’s cheating, conniving ways that cost him 20 years of that life? Was he pondering the time he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord? Or the time when Esau and his 400 men were riding out to meet him as he made his way back to Canaan?

Maybe it was all of the above. But whatever it was from the past, Jacob claimed that the very same shepherding and protecting was still happening in the present!

Jacob saw it all clearly, both the past and the present. He saw God’s providence and protection… to this day. He spied many evidences of God’s love… to this day. He witnessed many instances of God’s guidance and forgiveness… to this day.

How about you? As you look back, do you see in your own life what Jacob saw? Do you see the same shepherding and protecting… to this day?

Lord, give me the eyes of Jacob. I want to see you as he did. I want to have the eyes of faith to know that as I walk through life, I am in your eyesight. You are shepherding me every day. You are delivering and helping me at all times, keeping me from harm… to this day!

Our Bible reading for Saturday, January 24, is Genesis 47:13 – 48:22, Matthew 16:21 – 17:13 and Proverbs 3:1-10.

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Life In a Bubble

Christian, did you know you live in a bubble? Well, at least according to what King David says, you do.

It’s an interesting bubble because we still sometimes feel anxiety and worry, even though the bubble shields us from harm. The bubble may even at times allow some pain in, just to remind us of what life is like without the bubble.

The promise of the bubble is great, however. Even if tens of thousands of people or problems attack us, we have no reason to fear.

The most interesting fact about the bubble is that it is not a thing. It’s not a force, either. It’s a person. And the person’s name is Jesus, the Son of God.

As you’ll see from what David says about him, he’s certainly no ordinary person. And as a result, his protection is no ordinary protection.

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side” (Psalm 3:3-6, NIV).

Thank you, Jesus, for being the “bubble” around me. It’s good to know that I have a constant shield to protect me every day. I can rest easy. And wake with confidence to go about my business each day. No fear. Because I live in the bubble—and that bubble is you, Jesus!

Our reading for Saturday, January 3, 2015 is Genesis 4:17 – 6:22, Matthew 2:19 – 3:17 and Psalm 3:1-8.

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