Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Claiming Promises

The next guarantee many believe and teach that they say is in scripture is: if you claim a promise and have faith, God keeps His Word.

Of course, God always keeps His Word.

Does the problem then lie in how or what we interpret God's Word to be saying?

Haven't you heard some of these stories or testimonies?
  • She said she had a promise from God that she would not die of cancer. She is believing him for healing. But, she died!
  • God told her to just keep believing him and her husband would return to her because God hates divorce and he promised he would restore her marriage. But, he didn't.
  • I have a promise that girl will marry me. But, she didn't.
I could add pages of true stories of people who have become disillusioned because they thought they had a specific promise from God. They believed with all their heart, they prayed faithfully, and trusted Him to keep His Word. But the result as promised didn't happen.

As a pastor's wife, I was called on to talk with many about their problems and struggles in life. There was a time that I was talking to several who were struggling with what I described above. I needed to find some answers.

With that mindset I began reading many familiar scriptures, the usual ones that prompted people to claim promises.

Two truths I think I saw from that special time stand out from these accounts in scripture:
  • Looking at and comparing Peter and Stephen. 
  • The story of James and Peter in Acts 12.
  • The last few verses of Hebrews 11.
In Acts 2 Peter preaches a sermon and thousands believe. A little later Stephen preaches a similar sermon and he's stoned to death.

In Acts 12 Herod went after James and Peter. Peter was imprisoned, but what happened to James? (I love asking this question when I'm presenting this. Everyone knows the story of Peter being miraculously released from prison and all the surrounding circumstances. We love that story.) But, Acts 12:2 says Herod killed James the brother of John with the sword. Everyone conveniently forgets that. Hmmm...

Now come the hard questions:
  • Did God love Peter more than he loved Stephen or James?
  • Why was Peter spared but Stephen was stoned and James was killed?
  • Do you think Peter claimed more promises than Stephen or James?
  • Do you think Peter had more faith than James or Stephen?
Or, could the answers really be, God was glorified and honored in both Stephen's and James' deaths and Peter's deliverance?

Could it be that God has purposes beyond what He reveals to His children?

So, what about claiming promises and having faith? As I read and study and look desperately for guarantees in Scripture, I seem to truly find only two that stand out and are really guaranteed:
  • God loves me as He does each of His children and nothing can separate us from His love. Romans 8:35
  • God will never leave me. Hebrews 13:5
God has definitely promised and guaranteed that He loves me and that He is always with me. What more could I possibly want? With those two guarantees in my heart and soul my real faith shows and my trust in Him is evident because I know that whatever happens I am guaranteed these two absolutes. Yeah!!

To conclude: During the above mentioned study time, I came across an odd scripture in Hebrews 11. This is the chapter that lists all the heroes of faith and what they endured, and verse 39 says: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise. And the reading continues, (of whom the world was not worthy). 

And then early on in that chapter, verse 16, is a phrase that's worthy of meditation, and God was not ashamed to be called their God.

Okay, here's today's reality check. Our true gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth as a human, lived, died, and arose, and returned to the Father. He did this for us. And He guarantees us believers that He will always and forever love us and will never, ever leave us.
 
Fabulous guarantees. With those in heart and hand, I can walk this earth as a stranger and look forward to the heavenly city where all the promises are fulfilled and will be received.

I'll leave you with this final thought that I ask myself: Is God ashamed to be called my God? Do I present Him as a heavenly Santa Claus type that just hands out goodies (claiming promises), or do I know Him and present Him as Who He really is, the Son of God who loves me and is ever with me? My calling is to believe Him and to trust Him in reality.

Then, no matter what happens, these guarantees of His presence and His love carry me through life and enable me to help anyone who has been deceived by believing the name it and claim it false gospel.
MB


9 comments:

Debbie Kaufman said...

Or, could the answers really be, God was glorified and honored in both Stephen's and James' deaths and Peter's deliverance?

I didn't always believe this but it is now the most important truth that I have learned over the past few years. It's allowed me to see God for the Sovereign God He is and when I pray a request, no matter the outcome, I know He has heard and answered and even through the outcome of say injustice occurring,
or an illness not healed, He is glorified, I am sanctified. I can better rest in that. I admit I am not perfect in the resting part yet, but I am sure a lot further in it than I was.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Very well said.

Rex Ray said...

Mary,
Usually, I would say Mrs. Burleson, but a mother of Wade is a friend of mine.
I believe Wade loves you as shown by him marrying a girl that looks like you, or did you use his wife’s picture? (Smile)

Your post is a much needed answer in this world today and that goes for any period of time. Why indeed, do bad things happen to good people?

Once a man told me, “God told me as plain as I’m talking to you right now that I would recover from this cancer.”
He had retired and started a ministry for the Lord, but two weeks later, he was dead.

Once I fell 20 feet and hit on my back, got up and went back to work, but 40 years later, I fell 10 feet, hit on my side, spent 5 weeks in the hospital and the Dr. said I almost lost my life.

Like you said, you could add pages of true stories. Someone said that ‘sadness is God’s door of opportunity.’

God can hit straight licks using crooked sticks. We usually think of this as using us weak mortals, but it also applies to bad things happening.

Does God control bad thinks happening, or does he permit it, and somewhere down the line ‘good’ can come?

You asked, “Why was Peter spared but Stephen was stoned and James was killed?”
Another question: why do some believe only one of the “Sons of thunder” fulfilled the prophesy of Jesus about their deaths?

“Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?
Oh yes, they replied, We are able!
…You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering.” (Mark 10:38-39 New Living)

Someone said, ‘Do not the bold die first?” Upon his brother’s easy death by a sword, did John shake his fist in the King’s face and call fire from heaven? Maybe that’s why history records John being boiled in a large pot of oil.

Did John cry out to God why, or did he glory in knowing Jesus knew his suffering was coming true?

Harper’s Bible Dictionary says James and John were martyred before 70 AD. This history does not contradict the Bible, but it does contradict some traditions.

See, now you know how your son feels when I get a little off the subject.

Rebel4Reality said...

Debbie, TBAR, Rex,
I like to respond to comments as much as possible, and I still work a fulltime job, so I sometimes don't get to answer immediately.

Debbie,
And isn't this truth the most liberating? When I let God "out of the box" I had put him in, He became someone totally different to me than before. Not only did I have freedom, but now God had freedom and response from me like never before. A liberating truth for which I am eternally grateful. MB

TBAR, Thank you. I'm curious about your display name. MB

Rex Ray, Thanks for calling me Mary and for the compliment. Much appreciated. And thanks for your remarks and examples. Your last paragraph reminded me of what I say often, "Oops, I'm chasing a rabbit, but I think it's a juicy one and worth the chase!" Thanks for taking the time to write and sharing your thoughts. Enjoyable. MB

Rex Ray said...

Mary,
Thanks for the nice reply…I see where Wade gets his attitude on treating others pleasantly.

Hearing your “…worth the chase” gives me confidence to continue in speculating John’s thoughts as he faced boiling oil.

Mary, since you have great grand-children, you may recall Digger Odell’s punch line: “What a revolting development this turned out to be.”
Did John think the same as he remembered “Oh yes; we are able”?
Did he complain: I was at the cross while Peter heard the rooster crow?
As he remembed “…baptized with my baptism of suffering”, did John rejoice in knowing he was worthy to share with Jesus?

History records in the same time period of John, another John with the nick name of ‘The Elder’ just as the author of Third John which was written long after 70 AD.

Why would an Apostle sign something as Elder? It would be like Clinton signing ‘Governor’ instead of ‘President.’

We give honor to Peter for asking to be crucified upside down. Why do we not give honor to John?

I believe it’s because some want to make all Bible authors as man would choose regardless of what God did.

Thanks for listening.
BTW, I suppose no comments will be posted on Wade’s blog till he comes back?
My comment did not print to Dave Miller: “Warning! This may give your medicine competition in making you grouchy.” Smile

Chuck Andrews said...

Mary

Reality – excellent blog topic. Being unlocked from a make-believe wonderland prepares us to face the events that reality brings.

It seems that those who want to live in the name it-claim it type of faith think that those of us who choose to live in reality don’t have enough faith. The only reasonable result of their thinking is, if God doesn’t do what they claim He has promised, then either God is a liar or their faith wasn’t great enough. One destroys God, the other destroys people. Neither is healthy.

“It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” If healing is in His pleasure for me I accept His sovereignty with praise. If healing is not in His pleasure for me I accept His sovereignty with praise. I trust that in His sovereignty He will always deal with me, His child, through hands of mercy, love, and grace. Never does He extend His hands to me in abuse, neglect, punishment, or some sadistic gratification.

If my child follows Christ and serves Him is it the results of God’s sovereignty or my ability as a parent? If my marriage is healed is it the result of His sovereignty or my ability as a spouse? Always it is God’s sovereign work in and through us and never of our own ability.

My physical wellbeing, personal comfort, or spiritual understanding is not what’s important. What’s most important is seeing the pleasure of God and praising Him for His work and will being fulfilled in me.

Looking forward to the rest of the “guarantees.”

Chuck

Rebel4Reality said...

Rex Ray, you added more good comments. Thanks. So far I'm not grouchy, but enjoying. MB

Chuck, thanks for your comments. It's not easy to write what you've written facing what you're facing with your health. Thanks for writing. Your comments about sovereignty and responsibility spur my urge to write a separate post. I have many thoughts, but another day. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you will often and stop to comment. Appreciate it. MB

Rex Ray said...

Chuck Andrews,
I was impressed with your conclusion of the ‘name it-claim it type of faith’: “One destroys God, the other destroys people.”

My Baptist niece and a Presbyterian girl took a class where they were to report their views of visiting different denominations. The girl though Baptist were pretty wild. My niece said she hadn’t seen anything like they were visiting next.

The church was in the hills of Arkansas, but they still thought it strange of a sigh: “Check your guns here.”

“We’re here to observe and would like to sit on the back row.”
“Oh no, we sit all visitors on the front row.”

The service was about to close when a man came in and shouted, “America is bombing Hussein!”

The preacher yelled, “This is Armageddon! Lock the doors! No leaves till we’re all saved!”

While going to the front, people were shouting in tongues, going round and round. One woman swooned and almost collapsed on the girl. They asked to leave but were escorted back to the front.

“Get the snakes!”
“Why are they talking snakes?”
My niece explained; “They believe in handling snakes.”
“I’m going through a window!”

Hours had gone by and they begged it was past their curfew and people would be worried, so they let them leave.

My tough niece phoned her mother and bawled telling about it.

Yes Chuck, more than one person has ‘lost their faith’ and were destroyed by a serpent.

Chuck Andrews said...

Rex Ray

What an incredible story. I’d go out a window, too.

Handling real snakes and an overly public extreme expression of worship is a little like a rattlesnake – easily identified by sound and sight. The subtle guarantees Mary is identifying are a little more like a copperhead. Silent, still, and sensible, nevertheless, venomous and responsible for the most venomous snake bites in the USA.

But, I guess it doesn’t really matter which lie bites, they’re all about stealing, killing, and destroying.

May Mary’s tribe increase in identifying these false teachings.

Chuck