God’s promises we can live by
By the Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
Last week, we discussed the promises of God found in our Bibles and learned that God has made approximately 7,500 promises to people. That total includes both the Old and New Testaments.
We also learned that God does not and cannot lie to us (Hebrews 6:18) and that God fulfills (makes good on) all of his promises (Joshua 21:45, Psalm 145:13, 2 Peter 1:4-5a).
This week, we are going to look at some of the promises of God that particularly speak to us today. We’ll see what God has to say about discouragement as well as wisdom. We’ll read about perseverance, encouragement and strength. Finally, we will read about the everlasting hope and trust in God that leads to a good outcome.
Throughout the Bible, God is at work teaching us helpful principles to live by. In Psalm 119:68, we read this about God: “You are good and do good. Teach me your statutes.”
In this scripture, the writer recognized the goodness of God and wanted to learn God’s ways so he could be a good person. Psalm 32:8 gives us an answer to the above author’s request: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Although Psalm 32 was written by David and is a Psalm of repentance and forgiveness, it is also a Psalm of rejoicing in the ways of God and in placing all one’s trust in him.
One of my favorite verses of scripture was written by Paul, as he wrote to the believers in Philippi. Let’s take a look at Philippians 4:6-9 and see how it speaks to us and helps us today: “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.”
In this verse (verse 6), Paul was talking to the people about their fears. He was telling us, as well as the Philippi believers, that there is no reason to fear anything when we have God in our lives. We need to remember that God is with us and we can petition him at any time and anywhere for help in “every situation.”
Going onto verse 7, we read, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
This verse is speaking to us about replacing our fears with God’s peace. It is a calmness that settles down mind and body, filling us with a time of rest from our anxiousness. When the writer uses the word transcend, he is speaking about God’s peace (supernatural calmness) that overtakes our fears and anxiousness, replacing them with calm.
As we continue on with verse 8, we find Paul reminding us of the need to keep our thoughts in a good place. He wrote: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
Why does Paul seem to change the subject from finding God’s peace in the midst of fear to thinking about good things in life?
Well, actually Paul wasn’t changing the subject at all. Filling our thoughts with the good things of life fits this whole section together. When we take our minds off our fears, anxieties, problems and troubles of many kinds, we gain a clearer perception in our minds and our bodies relax. A body and mind at peace can hear from God, as we get rid of the negative clutter and the depression that often comes with it.
And by the way, his list is not exhaustive. It is an example of those kinds of things that give us joy without negative connotations. Your own list may include these examples or have others. The main words to focus on in this section is the need to think of those things that fill us with good thoughts.
As Paul completed this section with verse 9, he spoke to the people about how he had learned to conduct his own life: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Here are a few other scriptures that speak to us along these same lines:
Isaiah 41:13 — “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear: I will help you’.”
Psalm 27:1 — “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold (a safe fortress) of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalm 50:15 — “And call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
God wants to help us when we feel weak and discouraged. God offers to us encouragement and strength when we trust in him. Deuteronomy 31:8 offers to us these words of wisdom: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
God does not leave us, but we sometimes leave God. It is important to persevere, to continue to hold onto our faith. Then, as we read in Romans 8:28, “ … we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We can hold close to the words of Paul as he wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of self-control.”
Remember this, from James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” And to Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace so you can trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”