Charles Stanley - The Promise
Our Heavenly Father is a God of promise. All through the scripture He's making promises. Some of them I understand at first and some it takes me a while to understand. Sometimes I love all those promises, and every once in a while I don't like one, probably because I may have stepped out of His will for some reason. But He's a God of awesome promises. And one thing about it, He has never forgotten a single promise, not one. If He makes a promise, He's going to keep it.
Now, some promises are unconditional, no change. Some promises are conditioned upon our response, our conduct; or conditioned upon something He requires of us. For example, we think about our promises in scripture about prayer. Well, we can't just ask any old thing any old time and live any old way and expect God to hear and answer our prayer. So there are conditional promises and unconditional promises. And when I think about what He says in the scripture, in Second Peter three, nine, He says, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us". That is, we may think He's not on time. He's always on time to meet every single promise that He promises to us, whatever the subject may be.
And when I think about that, I think about how many promises I could count in the scripture. And what are my favorite promises in the Bible? If I should ask you, What are your favorite ones? How many of you would say prayer or His forgiveness or whatever it might be? We all have favorite promises. And so, He's a God of promise. But the question is, How do I know, why should I expect Him every single time to answer my prayer? Every single time, either yes, no or wait, but He's still being faithful to His Word. And I think about that, I think about what a divine promise is, not just any kind of promise, but a divine promise. A divine promise is the assurance that God gives us that what? He will or will not perform the act that I'm requesting of it. Always, He will or He will not.
So ask yourself the question, How many times do you pray about the same subject and wonder if He's going to answer? Oh well, how many times do you ask about the same thing and then wonder why it doesn't happen when you want it to happen. God is a God of promise. But when He delays the answer, it's always for a good reason. And when I think about that, I think about the fact that His attributes are very essential for me to be sure that I am going to have an answer to prayer. What are the attributes of God? These are the characteristics of God that I can always depend upon no matter what. Because just to talk about God answering prayer, what's the basis of that? And two people can ask the same request and one of them receives it and one of them does not.
So when I think about His attributes, that is His characteristics, I think about them in this light. How can I trust Him? Why should I trust Him? First of all, He's a trustworthy God. Nowhere in the Bible does God make a mistake. And nowhere do we find Him forgetting anything that we talked about. God is a trustworthy God and He keeps His promise. And so when we think about being trustworthy, that means not about somethings but about everything. Then also, it's His ability. In other words, it's one thing to make a promise, but can you deliver it? when God makes an unconditional promise, nothing on the face of this earth or anywhere else can change that. And unconditional promise is a declaration of Almighty God that will not change. If it's conditioned, it depends upon what the conditions are.
And the Bible is full of "ifs," if I do this or if I do that. If I want my needs met, I talk to God. And so you can go through many promises in the Word are conditioned. They're conditioned upon certain things. That's who He is. That's why I know that He's a God who keeps His promise. Some of them are conditioned; some of them are not conditioned at all. And then, for example, His immutability which is God's character being changeless. That is God doesn't change. So if God doesn't change, I know that whatever He's promised to do, He's going to do it because He doesn't change His mind. God doesn't come up against situations and circumstances and not understand what to do next. He always knows what to do. He always keeps His Word. He never finds Himself asking, Oh, what shall I do now? Or what about this; or what about that? He is a God who has the grasp of the world and every single one of us in His grasp. He knows everything we need before we know it. It's His character that makes me trust Him, that I know that He will do what He says He will do.
And I think one of the reasons our prayer life is so weak oftentimes is we don't really believe what He says. And He gives us so many promises in the Word of God. And yet we wonder why God doesn't answer our prayer. It isn't wondering why He doesn't answer our prayer, it's wondering why I don't believe Him in spite of the circumstances. I think all of us would agree that our schedule and His schedule is usually a little bit or way off. But the reason is what's He doing? He's keeping His promise. He's a God who has promised to always work in our behalf. And so, with that in mind, He's going to do what's best for you and me, whether we like it or not or whether we agree with Him or not.
Do you want God to always agree with you? Not really, I don't. He's a God who keeps His promises. And He keeps His promises because that's who He is; and He always has kept every single promise. Not one instance in all the Word of God did God have to say, Oops! I forgot. I didn't remember that. He's a God who has perfect memory in every area. Now if you're living in sin, you don't want a God like that. If you're in trouble, you want a God like that. Whether you want it or not, that's who He is. He's an awesome loving God who knows everything about everybody and who knows what's best for us no matter what that might be.
Now when I think about that, I think about The Scriptures and I think about from Genesis to Revelation, He's a God who's always keeping His promises, all the way through the Bible. That's why I say this is a promise book. From Genesis to Revelation, it's a promise book. And when I think about that, I think about it in this light. He promised Abraham, for example, that through Him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. I think about, for example, what He says, in the Psalms and the Proverbs. He gives promise after promise after promise. He says, "I will teach you in the way which you should go". He has many promises about prayer; gives us many words of instruction about every situation in life. And without the Psalms and the Proverbs, we would be lacking in our love and understanding of who God is.
I think about also what He says in Isaiah. Remember in Isaiah what He promised. He said to Isaiah, A child will be born. And He spoke of the coming virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. He kept that promise. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years went by and finally we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, God keeping His promise of giving us a Savior. And then I think about the Gospels, think about all the promises that God has made in the Gospels. The promise of eternal life; the forgiveness of our sin; the promise of heaven; promises that God makes, what He will do when we treat each other a certain way. He promises to give us guidance and direction. God is a God of promise. And behind that promise is His awesome unlimited power and wisdom and knowledge and trustworthiness. That's who He is.
And if, when you think about the Gospels and you think about all the promises our Lord's made to us, we'll never exhaust the wisdom of God. We won't exhaust the jewels that God has given us if we will just stop and read and wonder and ponder, God, what are You saying to me about this? And one of the most important promises He's ever made, He made in one of the most known and well-known verses in all the scripture. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life, eternal life. The awesome promises that Jesus gave to us through His disciples and those who followed Him.
Then I think, for example, about the book of Acts. What promise did God make those early believers? Well He said, for example in Luke, He promised them, He said, Behold, I'm sending forth the promise of My Father upon you, but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. He was referring to the Holy Spirit. And He says, I want you to wait there. I'm sending you the promise of My Father. Now how do we know what that was? Because He promised them that the Holy Spirit would be there to not only speak to their hearts and give them understanding, but to empower them and to enable them to do everything that God had called them to do. But He says, Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until. That is, I want you to sit down and wait.
Now I think there are times when God says the same thing to us. I what you've asked for is the right thing. I'm going to answer the prayer but you must be willing to wait. And the willingness to wait, the ability to wait, to trust Him. If I'm not willing to wait, it says I don't trust Him. And if God is omniscient and knows everything, watch this, He knows exactly the right time, the best time to answer my prayer. He has never forgotten anything but all of our sins which we confessed and repented of and He's separated as far as the East is from the West. God is not a God who forgets. He's a God who does what He promises to do.
And so, in the Book of Acts, of all the promises the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The awesome power that would be upon them and the awesome power that would be in your life and my life for us not only to live a godly life, but to serve Him in some fashion. Then I think about in the epistles, think about Romans and Corinthians. Think about the promises in all those epistles. The promise, for example, of a resurrection body; the promise of the presence of God for every single thing we face in life; the promise of spiritual gifts so that you and I can live a godly life and we can serve Him in an effective way. I think about the promises He makes when it comes to our relationships to be the promises about healing and so forth. We could go on and on and on about the promises of God. And remember this. He never fails to keep a promise.
Remember this, some promises, many promises are conditioned upon our obedience, our faith and walking a godly life. And I think one of the reasons so many people lose their faith to some degree, is that as they start out and because God doesn't answer their prayer immediately; because He doesn't work things out the way they expect. And they forget the promise of God, that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. God knows the perfect time to answer your prayer. He knows the perfect time to let you know that He's working in your life. Because you and I could ask most anything, but God is only going to give us what fits His perfect will for our life. So you can go through the epistles and see promise after promise of God.
And then you come to the Book of the Revelation and what is He promising us? He warns us about many things. He promises us not only eternal life, He promises us a place in heaven. He promises us the capacity to serve Him. He promises us the gift of eternal life and eternal life lived with Him. And I wonder if you have that promise in your life? Has there ever been a time in your life when you surrendered your life to Christ, when you surrendered your will to Him, when you confessed your sin to Him, repented of your sin, yielded your life to Him and said, God, I want to serve You all the days of my life. Or have you just been praying for things that you want and expecting God to answer your prayers? Not asking the question, God, how do You want to use me? How do You want to speak to my life? How do You want to work in my life?
So it brings us up to right now, that's Christmas. What is this Christmas all about? It's not all about parties and presents. It's all about pardon. Christmas is all about Jesus. Now we have allowed other things to intrude into our thinking and our faith. And for many people, it's just a holiday. But Christmas is far more than that. And when I think about what happened the night Jesus Christ came into this world, virgin-born; and all the things that transpired by the grace of God to protect Him; and to grow Him up as a young man, sinless and perfect. Sinless and perfect because that was necessary to fit His purpose for being here which was to die on the cross and bear your sin debt and mine forever and ever; we belong to our Heavenly Father. It's the work of God through His Son, Jesus, a promise He made.
And then He said, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, at the cross, that whoever believes in Him, not believes about Him, surrenders their life to Him, would have the gift of eternal life. So we think about on the cross what was He doing? He was paying your sin debt and mine and He was erasing the judgment from us so that even though we falter and fall; and even though we don't live up to our own standard, what is He doing? He's forgiving us as a gift of love. In His wisdom, God always responds to us in love and only in love.
And when I think about all the promises He's made and how He's worked in our lives, think about it in your own life. How many times you have come to the end of yourself and you've cried out to God, Lord, I need You. You're the only One that I have. How did He respond? If you cried out to God for His mercy and His grace and His love, and you did so in a spirit of humility and surrender to Him, He began to answer your prayer. And there are multitudes of people who will wonder where God is. He's where He's always been, right before us, not only in the heavens, but right before us, living within us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. A God who keeps every single promise He has ever made.
So at this Christmas season when other people are thinking about many things, you and I should be thinking about praising and worshipping and expressing our love and devotion to our Heavenly Father for keeping His awesome, eternal promise to send the Lord Jesus Christ into the world for the purpose of dying on the cross. For the purpose of paying our sin debt in full so that we might have the gift of eternal life. So when I think about all this and think about Christmas, I could probably sum it up in one statement; and that's this. Christmas is the celebration of that moment in time when God in His redeeming love; when God in His redeeming love stepped out of heaven onto earth, that's what He did, in order that we might step out of earth into heaven with the gift of eternal life. That's why He came. That's the promise He made as you and I receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Think about this. His promise of eternal life cannot be lost; cannot be tampered with in any fashion. It is the awesome gift of a trustworthy, omnipotent, omniscient loving God. And I wonder if you've ever taken advantage of that. Maybe you've thought in your life that you weren't good enough and God would agree with you, You're not. You might think that you've made God promises and you didn't keep them, everybody has. You see, it's not what you and I do. It's who we respond to. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the central figure in all of our life, if we allow Him there. And when we do, life will never be the same again.
He keeps His promise so that no matter what you've done, no matter how far from God you've lived, listen to what He says. If you confess with your mouth Jesus as the Lord of your life, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead having been to the cross, you will have the gift of eternal life. And He says, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Will you do that? Will you make this Christmas season not just a time for celebration, but for time of surrender and commitment and confidence and assurance that upon that confession of faith our Heavenly Father writes your name in the Lamb's Book of Life and forever and ever you are a child of God. I trust this will be the best Christmas you've ever had.