I cannot remember a time in my lifetime when the American mood has been so . . . pessimistic? sour? negative? fearful? I’m not sure what the right word is, but it’s not healthy.
But let’s stop for a reality check. The picture I just painted is not a pretty one, but it is reality; it’s the way the culture is feeling. But there is a different kind of reality that we, as Christians, are to embrace. And that is the reality that this world is not our home. We are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13) because our “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). But we are on this earth! And therein lies our tension as believers: living in the world while not being of the world.
We have two realities as Christian believers. So how do we keep our focus, our joy, our priorities, and our endurance in a world that seems to be doing everything it can to drag us down instead of lifting us up?
Meet the Promise Keeper
First of all, we know a God who is the promise keeper. He promises to be a faithful Heavenly Father (Romans 8:15), a Loyal Friend (John 15:13-15), and a Trusted Counselor (John 15:26; 16:7)—His presence in our lives gives us the ability to make and keep our promises to others.
Likewise, it is God’s promises to us about our two realities—the failings of this world and our future in heaven—that give us strength and hope to carry on. God does us a favor by telling us that this world can never satisfy the eternal longing in our heart for something more (Ecclesiastes 3:11). And He does us yet another favor by promising to take us to an eternal home where all sorrow is gone and all joy is ours (John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:3-4).
But it is His promises about how He will care for us during our time on this earth that makes the difference between spiritual affluence and spiritual affluenza.
Be a Promise Claimer!
The promises of God represent the very best example of God’s responsibility and man’s responsibility in life: God makes the promises, but we have to claim them. If I promise to help you whenever you call me, but you never call, you never receive the benefit of my promise. God is the Promise Maker; I am the promise claimer.
There is no list of “all the promises of God” in Scripture. Instead, we find them as we read from Genesis to Revelation and discover the character of God. Whether spoken explicitly or revealed implicitly, all of God’s promises are rooted in His character. For instance, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) is an explicit promise to all Christians. But God’s promise directly to the apostle Paul—“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)—is also an implicit promise to all believers. Paul spoke for all of us when he said, “For when I am weak, then I am strong [in Christ]” (verse 10). If the power of Christ was available to Paul, it is likewise available to us.
Therefore, our task is to know the character of God so well that we can take His very being and presence as a promise, a promise made incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. As far back as Abraham, the people of God have been seeking the same thing we seek—“a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). And He has promised a better country and city for us as well. But in the interim, it is His promises about life on planet earth we need to embrace.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.
“I almost lost my faith. But you were sent by God to save us”—are the words of an elderly Jewish man spoken to another Jew, Tuvia Bielski, in the forests of Poland in the early 1940s. Tuvia Bielski was one of four Jewish brothers living in Poland. When their town became a Jewish ghetto under the Nazis in 1941, and their parents were put to death, the Bielski brothers fled to the forests for safety—as did many other neighboring Jews. When the Soviets regained control of the area, 1,200 refugees marched out of the forest to freedom. They were able to find safety in the midst of chaos.Your Role – In the World but Not of It The state of the world today has lines drawn between opposing thoughts regarding freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and much more. Where do followers of Christ belong? In John 17, Jesus said that His followers had been called “out of the world” yet were still “in the world” (verses 6, 11). And He warned them, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). Our response to the animosity we experience in here must be driven by the example God has given to us. When we understand what Jesus has done for us, we can say, “By my actions and attitude, I want to show the love of God.” We are clearly “in the world” with all of its distractions and challenges, but when we demonstrate God’s love, we show we are not “of the world.” Words That Help
The renowned Oxford English Dictionary contains over 171,476 words with more words added every few months—words that are in current, active use by English speakers.
When it comes to the words we speak, which ones do we choose from this huge reservoir of choices? Which combinations of words will bring the most help, hope, and healing to those in need? To answer that question, let’s begin with the words God uses to bring encouragement to us. Let His words be the foundation for building your own vocabulary of words that really help.
True hope and healing are found in God’s Word. And when we fill our mind with Scripture through regular reading and memorization, we build a solid structure from which to encourage others. God’s promises become our first response to those in need of hopeful, healing words.
How do you approach your time in God’s Word? Do you read the Bible from a sense of duty or obligation? Or do you study it because you know that your life will benefit? Dr. David Jeremiah offers some vivid examples of the powerful things the Bible can do in the life of the believer.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah