Becky Spell Vann Contributing columnist
October 4, 2013
How many times have you made promises to the Lord or loved ones that you didn’t keep? Do you habitually repeat “I promise” with little regard for upholding what you promised? Keeping promises is serious business to our heavenly Father, who says it is better never to make a covenant or promise to HIM, than to forget or disregard being and doing what we promised.
God promised that He is a God who keeps covenant, that He is a loving God who will never leave or forsake us, that He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, and that He will have the last word. He promises if we ask, we shall receive, if we knock the door shall be opened, if we accept His Son Jesus and repent of our sins, we shall be cleansed by His blood, saved by His grace, and enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven.
God’s Word is filled with promises He keeps for all His children. We make the choice to live connected to Christ and enjoy a relationship where He promises to protect, bless, and enlarge our territories. Our choice to covenant or disconnect with the Lord and loved ones has consequences that colors our world with peace and joy or turmoil and unrest. Are you living in peace or a pressure cooker? When God’s hedge of protection surrounds you, others notice that you are different in a good way, a glow emulates a love connection with Christ.
Jabez, an Old Testament man whose name means ‘pain’, boldly prayed that prayer. There were those who thought Jabez’s prayer was selfish. His earnest, honest prayers were heard and answered by the Great I Am. God hears our prayers and our promises. What we pray for and what we promise have great impact on our lives.
Being a promise keeper can be most difficult with our human nature, forgetfulness, and failure to embrace faithfulness in situations when the enemy tempts and taunts at every turn. The devil delights when we break promises, especially to our heavenly Father. That’s why we should be careful with the words we say, even with casual remarks, such as ‘I’m tickled to death; oh my God; cross my heart, hope I die; you scared me to death, and any remarks using the Lord’s name in vain or in disrespect. The words we speak have great impact on our lives. Speaking words of life and keeping promises get God’s attention. We become the apple of His eye; we earn respect and admiration from family and friends, even strangers who will take notice and remember the way we act and react.
Do you need to safeguard words that fluently flow from your mouth. People notice what we say and how we say it. My children know my mood by the tone of my voice. When our family faced troubles or times when we needed a family meeting at the kitchen table, Tim told the boys to listen as I kept going around the mountain with lectures and words that I thought were sinking in their precious little hearts and minds. Finally, he would say, ‘that’s enough Becky; they get the message.”
Then, Tim would look his sons straight in their eyes and say only a few words that truly got their attention. He didn’t judge, condemn, or dwell on the subject of discussion. He spoke words of warning, wisdom, and life that promised them we were there for them. When we left that table, it was over and we moved on.
That’s how it is with God. He is always there for us. He desires for us to stop, sit down at the table, and have a talk with Him about what’s going on in our lives. He will listen to our words and hear either: endless concerns and cries of pity of how we’re treated unfairly, our pains and problems, our shame for disobedience, our selfish wants and desires or He will hear our concerns for a world where Satan is running rampant; our cries for people to put Him first, for our nation to turn back to Him; for our families to communicate with one another and Him; for our churches to flow with His Spirit leading services and altars overflowing with people praying and praising, for peace and joy that fills our lives even in such a time as this; for honor to Him - our Father and Friend who is always there.
God hears, never turning a deaf ear to His children, but longing for our prayers and promises to come from hearts in tune with Him and His words of life. He grows tired of hearing selfish pleas and broken promises. Our God is an awesome God, heavenly Father, and faithful friend to His children. He asks us to love, honor, and obey Him…what we ask from our own children. He desires to have a close relationship with us…what we desire with our own loved ones. He promises He will never grow tired of forgiving us…what we know is the right thing (but hard thing) to do, and He promises life eternal in heaven when we accept Jesus in our hearts and stay connected to the Vine…what we want for us and others.
We are human and will not always keep the promises we make to one another or to God. Yet, we are saved by His grace, a God who embraces second chances and forgiveness. When we backslide, sin, forget, become stiff-necked, get stuck in offense or stubborn, worldly ways of living that distance us from our Father and family…let us go to Him with earnest prayers and humbled hearts seeking forgiveness and restoring our close relationship with Him. Then, let us go to anyone whom we have offense against, anyone who has wronged us or we have wronged, anyone who has hurt us or someone we love and we won’t even speak to them, anyone who has caused heartache and hatefulness to creep in our lives because of what they’ve said or done… and seek forgiveness for what we have done to them or forgive them for what they have done to us. With that sincere act of forgiving and forging forward in faith, our hearts can heal and beat in tune with His. Then, we will live in the spirit of love and fellowship with the Lord and loved ones while standing on the promises of Christ our King.
If you haven’t read The Shack, a powerful book that shares the beauty of forgiving, please do. We have several copies in our library at Tim’s Gift. Stop by and check out a copy today. When you read how God works in a man’s life who lives in bitterness after his little girl is murdered on a family camping trip, your heart will be tendered as you cry like a river. This story reminds us to forgive others, even those who turned our world upside down with sorrow. When we forgive, God sends sunshine and blessings galore.
God hears and answers prayers, just as He did for Jabez. Get reconnected to God, with sins forgiven and forgotten…you have God’s Word. And He is a promise keeper!