Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

11. Promises in Times of Testing – Part 1

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James 1:17-18

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

As we continue in our series “The Litmus Test for Life” James continues to call us to focus on the Father and His Promises in Times of Testing and not the problems. Because as we walk through the problems of life it is critical that we have a proper perspective. The only way to do that is to view our problems from God’s perspective so that we discover His purpose and live out His plan. Are you going to look at life through the lenses of the Lords promises, or the lens of life’s problems? Because when we focus on the promises we focus on God and His glory, but when we focus on the problems we focus on the garbage and the groaning. Last time as James talked about the problems in times of testing he started with the promise and the price, that for those who patiently endure testing they will receive the crown of life. We need to notice that after James talks about the problems he then continues to talk about the promises in times of testing. What we need to see here is that the problems of life are Sandwiched between the promises of the Lord. This helps me not only to put my problems into perspective, but to start practicing this principle of sandwiching life’s problems between the Lord’s promises in my own life. That means to stop focusing on the buts and start focusing on the blessings. We need to remember that problems are not the food they’re the filler. When you focus on promises they feed your faith where focusing on the problems feeds your fears. Your focus we either feed your worry or your worship? We need to stop protesting the problems and start promoting the promises. So why don’t we focus on the promises? Why are we caught up in the protests instead of the praise? Because we are a people of broken promises. Let me share short story: Two brothers were home alone one day when the older brother pulled an egg carton out of the refrigerator and told his little brother, “I’ll give you $20 if you let me break three of these eggs over your head.” The little brother said, “You promise?” And the older brother said, “I promise.” Then he pulled out an egg and broke it over his brother’s head. It oozed down through his hair and ran down his face. Then he pulled out the second egg and broke it over his brother’s head. This one slid down the back of his neck and inside his shirt collar. After the second one, the little brother really braced himself. He knew the third egg was going to be really nasty. And he waited. And waited, but the third egg never came. Finally, he spoke up. “Hey, when’s the third egg coming?” To which the older brother said, “It’s not—if I broke that one over your head, it would cost $20.” I can’t even imagine what happened next. This story reminds us of a powerful point, that when we are young, we are innocent enough to believe the promises we heard. When someone promises us something, we believe it. Some people call that naïve. I call it trusting. But what happens to that innocent child like faith when that trust gets broken by people who go back on their promises? It starts to go away, as trust gets trashed our faith in people and promises gets flushed. It leads to calloused hearts and cynical heads. We start saying things like, I will never fall for that again.” But the very mechanism we used to protect our hearts actually poisons our hearts. It’s a lot like the castles that people built for protect back in medieval times. They were great until the army that surrounded them chose to stay and lay siege. The very mechanism they build to protect them became their problem. Sure, it kept out the pain, but it also kept out the provisions, the food and water they needed to do life. Soon famine set in followed by disease and death. The very thing they had built to save them from pain actually sentenced them to death. Like them when we rely on our manmade mechanisms, they imprison our hearts instead of protecting our hearts. Our way of protecting our hearts from broken promises is what is ruining our relationships. Are you being poisoned and imprisoned by our own protection? Trust is the root of relationships, and if you kill the root you kill the tree. How many of us are killing our kids today because instead of cultivating the root we are trashing trust. Dads keep your promises to your kids, because the pattern you set will not only be the pattern they pass on, but the picture that they projected onto God. So how do you break out of the prison of mistrust and put your trust in God’s promises. Recognize that while we live in a world where people break their promises, God doesn’t. We need to stop projecting peoples broken promises onto God. From the first page of scripture to the last God not only makes promises but has the power to back them up and bring them to fruition. Many of us instead of promoting the promises feel like we need to protect ourselves from the promises, and the best way to protect your heart from the pain of broken promises is to dismiss them. Which is exactly what satan wants you to do. But my prayer is that as His people we would not only hear God’s promises but would head them and hold onto them. Is there a promise you need to start believing and proclaiming?

 

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