I promise....I promise....How many times as kids did we use those two words? How often was it we heard those words uttered to us when we were told something by a friend or by our parents. I remember I used to use these two words all the time, it was as if the use gave the person enough reassurance that whatever it was I was saying would come to pass. It's unfortunate that many of us, myself included, tend to not hold to what we say we'll do. We "forget" as we sometimes say.
When I was a kid, I remember being told we were going to Disney World. For weeks in advance I would be bouncing up and down, eager to go see the mouse and ride all the awesome rides. There was nothing you could do to me to get me to forget Disney, it was beyond important to me. I was eight years old, however, it's clear that when something is important to you, you don't forget it. Dare I say that the reason why many of us forget our promises is because sometimes we really don't mean them?
Think about the last thing you promised someone that you didn't see through. What was it that caused you to promise it in the first place? Was it some emotional response to a personal conviction? Was it the want to please them and in a sense give them a short-term reassurance of your commitment level, when in reality you never intended to follow through? Was it that everyone else is making promises, so hey why not you? We really need to consider our motives because it is a dangerous game making promises and not keeping them.
How much more horrible is it to make a promise to God and not keep it. This morning I woke up with very little time to think due to my waking up late, however, I can always find time to get my fill of the Word, even if it is just a verse. God tends to use anything and everything.
Psalm 61:5 For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name. 8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may daily perform my vows.
Two things stick out to me about verse 5. First off, God hears our vows. He hears us when we cry out to Him and He hears what it is we are saying. The bible is clear that God hears the prayers of His people and He tends to respond. Even in Judges 10, when we witness a scary part of scripture, God in the end relents and still hears the cries of His people. Just a testament to how His mercies endure forever and are new every morning. Something strikes me though, just how merciful is God. Well consider this without getting to lost in thought. God knows which promises you are going to keep and which ones you are going to break, yet He is still willing to listen to us in either case and in either case He is still willing to provide for us what we need so that we might be able to see them through. Whether you want to think so or not, God has given us or will give us just what we need to be pleasing and honorable to Him.
It may not always be the giant letter in the sky, sometimes it is a subtle thing. Even the very breath coming forth from your mouth right now, is God giving you what you need to fulfill whatever promise you have made to Him. It is when we pay attention to the little things that we realize just how forgiven we are, just how merciful He is, and just how much we needs Him. Why do I say that? Because it's clear this is the mindset we ought have. In Luke 7 when the woman comes and anoints Christ with oil and the pharisees are appalled that He would allow her to even touch Him, He responds to them and says "47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” This woman knew just how much she needed forgiveness, she understood just how blessed she was, she understood that despite the fact she lived the life of a harlot, the mere fact she was even breathing was by His mercy, and that every day she stood was one more day to please her Lord. That's where we need to be. We need to make the first step in our lives that of becoming broken. Like the sermon on the mount (which starts with blessed are the poor in spirit, i.e. the broken [Matt 5:3]), it all starts with the broken admission of inadequacy. It begins with God, who pierces our hearts, we respond, then He floods us, then He rebuilds. (Psalm 51:16-19)
When He makes promises to us, He is always good to provide us exactly what we need to go about fulfilling them. How do I know that? Look at the second half of verse 5, the word heritage in the hebrew means "to possess" and it's root word comes from the hebrew word for "to inherit." As Christians, I am sure we all make plenty of promises to God. We vow to Him we'll do a thing, whether it be waking up in the morning to meet Him in our room for some alone time or it be vowing our lives to purity, vowing our lives to waiting, vowing our lives to a ministry, vowing our lives to a person whom God has given us, vowing our lives to a ministry, whatever the case may be, we make vows to the Lord. In fact upon salvation, we made a vow to die to self, so if nothing else you have, as a Christian, made a vow to the Lord. The part that blows my mind is that He knows there will be days we won't die to ourselves, there will be days we won't listen, there will be days we will forget, and yet His promises remain true. It's these promises He floods us with, it's these promises we inherit once we become His children. His promises are many, and I can't list them all, but here's a few of my fav that in these days have held me up:
Lam 3:22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Isaiah 44:21 “ Remember these, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! 22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Isaiah 59:21 “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Numbers 14:8 If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Hebrews 13:5b For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “ The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
So I may have gone over, however, I have always been the kind of person that needs those reminders. I tend to forget what He has shown me, what He has told me. Putting question marks where He puts periods, I tend forget His promises. How faithful is our Lord though, that despite our faithlessness, He remains faithful (2 Tim 2:13)
So now what? Well verse 8, now we praise His name, because I mean look at these promises, and given the fact that He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow, we can rest assured while we may fail, He won't. We praise His name knowing just how much we have been forgiven, knowing He won't deny our broken hearts, knowing He will forget our sin, knowing He will draw near to us, knowing He will give us the desires of our hearts, knowing he works all things for our good, knowing He has major plans for us (yeah add Jer 29:11-13 and Romans 8:28 to the above list). We praise Him, and in our praise, in our acknowledgement of His awesomeness we see our promises through, from the promise of death to self, to the vow you may very well make today.
One last word from an old friend of mine, may it be a daily reminder to how we must be when it comes to our words, both in our vertical relationship and in our horizontal ones:
James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.
Keep all eyes on the cross. It is this alone that will keep that state of brokenness in your heart. The cross will break us, redeem us, restore us, renew us, rebuild us, replenish us, and ultimately deliver us into His hands on that day.
He created us, we rebelled, He flooded our hearts, gave us a promise, brought us out of Egpyt, scorched the unnecessary in the wilderness, destroyed the walls, built us a sanctuary in our hearts, gave us a King, gave us the wisdom, gave us His Word, redeemed us as harlots and made us royal diadems, took our filthy garments, gave us his robes of righteousness, gave us our Savior, then called us to be living letters....don't ever forget it....