Friday, June 26, 2009

Daily Digest #304

I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken. —Psalm 37:25

I wonder how, at such a young age, I can have these moments of emptiness and dryness inside. There are times when I feel old, when I just wish I were in another place and time, when nothing in this world makes sense anymore. But what I learned from this recurring phase is that I can always go to Him and ask Him, even if they were the same questions. And I hear the same answers, which seem to make more sense each time! He always reminds me to focus on the time and blessings He has given me every day, and that the things I worry about have either come to pass, are out of my hands, or are non-existent. And It is also during those times when He persistently reminds me to pray and read more about Him.

Reading today's Bible verse and reflection is a blessing to me. I was down when I woke today (probably because of the films I watched last night, which instilled neither hope nor realism). But this led me to read more on God's promises today, which I am about to share to you (see attached). Here's part of the introduction ("How Does God Keep His Promises", pp.2-5):

What Is A Promise?

The way some people use the term, a promise is nothing more than a good intention -- easily discarded if it gets in the way. They see a promise as something that is made to be broken. But when God makes a promise, He's doing more than just expressing wishful thinking. He is giving His absolutely trustworthy word!

The original language of the Old Testament does not have a specific word for the concept of promise, but that doesn't mean the idea isn't there. The Hebrew words (amar, dabar) that are translated by the English word promise have the meaning of "to say" or "to speak". When God and others in the Bible speak about what they will do in the future, the word promise fits well. In each case, the speaker's word, honor, and integrity are at stake.

The New Testament follows the same pattern as the Old. God stands behind what He says. Therefore the idea comes naturally from the Greek word angelia, which means "an announcement" or "a message".

The promises of God are the heart of the Bible. Everything God has spoken, every announcement, every message, is really a promise based on God's perfect, good, and trustworthy character.

Why is there confusion about the way God keeps His promises?

At times, a gap develops between what we think God has said He would do and what we see happening in our everyday experience. This gap, however, says more about our failure to understand than about God's ability to remain true. Our confusion can be due to any one (or several) of the following factors.

1. Faulty expectations. At times we may fall into the trap of thinking that God will keep His promises in the way we expect. We might assume that He will do it in ways that are immediately obvious rather than in a manner that becomes apparent only in time. We may expect Him to change our external circumstances and environment when what He really wants us to see is that His promises can be fullfilles through inner changes in us.

We tend to be shortsighted. God is into long-range planning. We see only the surface, here-and-now events, and we do not know how God is working behind the scenes to fit the pieces together to form an overall pattern. The ways God has acted in the past, though, show that He fullfills some promises in stages or in unexpected ways.

2. Faulty interpretations and applications. We may simply miss the point of what God has said. Or we may understand a Biblical promise accurately but fail to see that God gave the promise to someone else in a particular situation.

A small book of collected Biblical promises states in the introduction: "Take each promise to mean just exactly what it says. Don't try to interpret it or add to it or read between the lines." That may sound goog. We certainly must avoid reading "between the lines" of Scripture, but it is dangerous to say that we should not try to interpret the promises. That can be a huge mistake. Failure to understand a promise in its context can lead to some very bad conclusions. Too many people go around quoting Bible verses as promises to them as individuals when in fact the promises were given to specific Biblical characters, a nation, or only to people of a certain time period.

3. Faulty feelings. Our emotions have a way of taking over the driver's seat of our lives. Wrong emotions can overrule right thinking. As a result, if we have been hurt, we blame God for not doing what we think He promised. The death of a loved one can cause us to lose perspective if we allow our feelings to override the truth about God. A failed romance or a marriage on the rocks can trigger doubts. Personal rejection, failure, loss of a job, physical pain, or injustice can stir up feelings against God that become stronger than any force of reason.

4. Faulty memory. When it comes to remembering, we can all be like an absent-minded professor who forgets how to get home. We can get so wrapped up in the details of everyday life that we forget more than just anniversaries, birthdays, phone calls, groceries, and appointments. We even forget what should mean the most to us -- the evidence of God's faithfulness in our lives and how He has fullfilled His promises to us in the past. As a result, we lose confidence in His ability to be faithful in the future.

So now what do we do? How do we bring our expectations and feelings in line with God's plans and truths? How do we live a fullfilling life by faith in God's promises? That's what the following pages will try to resolve....

I hope we all make time to read on. I guess the whole point is for us to build a deeper relationship with the Lord so we ourselves can understand His promises and purpose for us. He is clearly encouraging us to learn more about Him, and to develop a regular communication with Him so we may practice trusting His will and time.

For this, let us pray... Lord, thank You for your deep love and concern for each of us. Thank You for reminding us in many ways to pray to You and trust You. Lord, forgive us in moments of unbelief and distrust. We pray that You strengthen the little faith that we have. Help us overcome our unbelief. We ask these through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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