Promises – Week 1
by Alan Sutton
For the word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4 v 12).
What does that mean? Put most simply, it means the Bible is as relevant today as it was when it was written.
Not for nothing is the Bible often described as The LIVING Word. Even those parts which were written a few thousand years ago have purpose for us today. How do we know that? Because, as that scripture says, they are alive and active, and Timothy adds that they are ‘God-breathed’, or inspired by God.
All Scripture is God–breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 2 v 16/17).
Note that it says ALL Scripture is God-breathed not just some bits of it.
Pastor Sarah began a new series on Promises a couple of weeks ago, and pointed out to us that in the Bible we have a book of fulfilled promises, but unless we engage with them they are useless; the Bible becomes just another book.
She took as an illustration the need for us to switch on the power, in order to heat our rooms; otherwise it doesn’t work.
However, one-liners are not helpful. We need to look at the circumstances surrounding the lives of those to whom the promises were made, what was going on in their lives at the time; what was God doing in the nation? Promises in isolation are of little value.
And it is not enough to just quote scripture and not live by it. Read around the promise. Ask, ‘why did God say that?’ Some issues seem completely illogical to us. Why, for instance are we told to tithe? It seems weird to give away our money when we don’t have much ourselves; and why forgive those who are hurting us? Because there is promise and blessing attached.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear; The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27 v 1).
This beautiful Psalm of David is full of promises. It gives us hope when things are going against us; it reassures us, and it speaks of the writer’s trust in his God.
For me, the blogger, it has great meaning. It was the Psalm my son asked me to read to him shortly before he left this life; and it was a promise he lived by throughout his life.
For the Psalmist, David, at the time of writing, was in grave peril for his life. Read 1 Samuel 19 v 9-10, and 1 Samuel 21 v 12-15 and 22 v 1-2. Saul was trying to kill him, so he fled and lived among his enemies, where he changed his appearance to act like a dribbling lunatic.
In those circumstances he attracted all the other misfits. Be careful about your company. There is a saying ‘misery loves company’ and we have a danger of falling in with others who are disgruntled, maybe about the church, where there is often a small number who are always grumbling.
But David was the anointed of God and he lived by the Promises of God, such that he could pen the words of Psalm 27, including v 4-6: One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion, in the secret place of his tabernacle he shall hide me.
And he concludes with an exuberant declaration of faith: I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
If you want to see what David saw fulfilled in the Promises of God as he fought to stay alive, read Psalm 27 and remind yourself of his circumstances as described in the book of Samuel at the time. But you need to do more than just read it – you must engage with its PROMISE.
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