Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Devotional - What Are The Promises of Man Compared To Those Of Jesus?

Good morning my friends. Incredible that it is August the 5th already. By the sound of all the "Back To School" commercials summer is already over. If the students only knew how we long to stretch summer out as well. I actually enjoy the time with my children so I don't understand these commercials showing parents rejoicing over the start of school. Anyway, this has nothing to do with this morning's topic as we continue to look at 2 Corinthians 1.

It must have been hard for a man like Paul to have to change his plans. As he questioned:

When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, "Yes, yes" and "No, no"? v. 17

Paul had planned to visit Corinth twice on this trip and we know he was a determined man but he was a man nonetheless. His plans were not made with the foreknowledge of God. This is the reason it is impossible to expect from each other what we expect from Jesus, because things in life are unexpected by us but not by God. The one thing that Paul always bowed down to was the will of God. Often the Spirit changed Paul's plans. He wanted to go into Asia Minor but the Spirit blocked him and directed him to Macedonia. Paul wanted to go to Rome but his path was always blocked. Then, when he planned to go to Spain the Spirit directed him to Rome. This did not seem to upset Paul because he knew his plans were sometimes made in the flesh and was open to correction by the Spirit.

However, Paul points out that the plans and promises of Jesus are not like those of a man:

But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No." For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. vv. 18-20

I do not like it when this gets misquoted. There are times I have heard people speak on this as if it is us who say yes and it is God who comes into agreement. It is like in the days long past when we thought we were the center of the universe and everything revolved around us. It is not our will and agreement that matters but instead it is the Father's.

Then there is the fact that many of us pray about things that have already been promised. The "yes" has already been proclaimed, it is left to us to simply come into agreement with that promise, to say "Amen", to receive it. Read it again:

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.

We have been promised our daily bread. Then we start everyday with, "I thank you Father for the provision you have already put in place for me today. I accept in from you with thanksgiving." The reason we miss out so often is because we do not know the promises and we do not understand the importance of us believing and coming into agreement, the "Amen". The yeses have all been pronounced. We need to grasp a better understanding of this relationship:

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

So many of us have been done in by fear. I think eventually we are able to overcome this fear through him who gives us strength, but why should fear even touch us? It shouldn't. The promises the Father gave us are ours through Jesus. They are ours. It is left to us only to pronounce the "amen". It would be great to see us all reach the maturity of faith where we turn away from fear with laughter because our assurance of the promises are so strong in us.

Don't feel you can do it? Don't believe that you have the ability to trust to that level? Then do not miss the significance of this:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. vv. 21-22

There is much in these two little verses. Even when we are weak in trust it is God who makes us stand. What a great Dad we have. Look, he anointed us, he put his seal on us, and he also put his Spirit in us as a deposit. He has given us all of this to guarantee that his promises are true and are being fulfilled. They are "Yes" and we only have to come into agreement to receive them.

Living this knowledge allows us to live boldly in our faith. It means that we know we can pray over the sick and they will be healed. It means that we know we can exhort the Word of God and lives will be changed. It means that we can fearlessly love our enemies and God will use it for his glory. It means that we can be calm and clear thinking in adversity because God is working it out.

It is time for us to stop struggling for months before we submit ourselves to faith. Trust from the beginning and save yourself a lot of heartache. Let go of those things that are not allowing you to walk in faith, the things you are afraid to lose. Let them go. Lose them and see if you do not gain those and even more in return. Jesus has pronounced the "yes", will you not join us in the "amen"?

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