Monday, June 18, 2007

Promises - Shepherd

When I was a young mother many people offered advice on how to raise my children. Some suggestions were more helpful than others. One helpful one was not to make promises to my children I was not certain I could keep. If I did, my credibility with my children would be in threatened. Promises are so valuable.

In the Scriptures the Lord offers us many promises. His credibility is such we know that He will always honour them.

What are these promises of Jesus? They can probably be summarized under two categories. There are promises that offer us security, a sense of place and there promises that offer us significance, a sense of purpose.

In John 14, is an example of a promise of a place Jesus offers. He is preparing us a place in His presence. We have the promise from Jesus in John 16 that His Spirit comes, not only to be with us, but to live in us. Since we have the presence of Jesus in us now, like Paul and many others we can say, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Wherever we are, we can depend upon Him. There is nothing that we cannot handle in relying upon the strength of the One who indwells us. That is security.

The promise of John 14 also gives us a sense of purpose. Living with Jesus gives our lives meaning. As His followers, He entrusts us, with His help, to do His work. He has promised not only to be with us, but also to do whatever we ask Him to do, bringing glory to God.

We all have a deep seated need for something meaningful to do. In a management course I studied, the facilitator reminded us that young people today would rather have jobs that provide them with something meaningful to do that to have a lot of benefits. God knows that is what we need.

The promises of Jesus offer us both security that enables us to face whatever comes our way, and significance so our lives have meaning.

Many Christians have what we call a life verse. It is often a promise from the Bible that seems to have a particular significance for us. My life verse is Joshua 1: 9. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go."

This verse came to my attention when I was twelve years old. I was reading my Bible through, a chapter every evening. When I read the verse, it spoke to me in a special way. It seemed tailor made for my temperament.

It took into account how I responded to God. At that age, I had discovered personally that God answered prayer. At times when I found myself in difficulty, I would pray and I knew that the solution came from Him. However, my basic attitude to God was fear. In fact, my basic response to life was fear.

Then the Lord came to me in this verse and said, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified..." He promised, "The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." As I learned to put my trust and confidence in Him, my fears ceased to control me. I found the security He promises.

Another emotion with which I struggled was discouragement. One incident where this came to a head for me, occurred in my mid twenties. The charismatic movement was at its height. I was reading all kinds of books on the subject of tongues. Not only that, I tried to put into practice all the formulas suggested for receiving this gift. I felt I was a second class Christian without the gift of tongues. Despite my best efforts, I did not receive the gift. The result for me was discouragement.

Finally, I heard advice coming to me from several sources. Stop thinking so much about what you do not have and rejoice in what you have. That was the key for me, in overcoming discouragement. What did my life verse say? " not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." If I had Him, what else did I need? He knew my deepest needs. If the gift of tongues was necessary to meet them, He would give it to me. He fulfilled His promise to me. He was with me. Knowing that He would always supply my needs, as He promised, gave me security to trust Him, whether or not I ever spoke in tongues.

This verse had greater fulfillment in my life, when we served in France for four years. There we operated in a different language, in a different culture. My first months, before I learned the language, were very lonely ones for me. Yet I remembered again the promise of Jesus to me, "The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

In France or Canada, or anywhere else in the world, I could depend on His word that He would be with me. His promise was my security. This promise of Jesus sustains me wherever I am, not only anywhere on this globe, but both in this world and the next.

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