Posts Tagged ‘Promise’

As a parent, I have at times told my children “no” when they made a request. Sometimes, they would continue to ask for the same thing, as if thinking I might change my answer. As their father, I have always tried to answer “yes” but occasionally “no” is the answer that is for their best benefit.

Occasionally, I would feel the need to say: “‘No’ is a perfectly acceptable answer.” They understood that my “no” was not changing and it was time to stop asking.

Our Heavenly Father, in much the same way, may tell us “no” when we pray our requests to Him. Unfortunately, I don’t always readily accept that “‘NO’ is a perfectly acceptable answer” when I pray. I’m guessing I am probably not alone in this regard.

We do not always like it when God tells us NO.  It can help to realize a couple things.

We are in good company:

Job: Job was a Godly, faithful man. He refused to curse God. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health. He was covered with boils and sores. All he asked God for was some relief from his suffering. Job’s comments on God’s answer, (Job 30:20) “I cry out to You, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You regard me.”

King David: David was a man after God’s own heart. David is an ancestor to Jesus Christ. He was the King of Israel and a writer of Psalms. When his son was sick, David fasted and prayed for seven days. He was so intense in his prayer, his servants feared for the King’s life. But, God said NO and his baby died. (2 Samuel 12:16-23)

The Apostle Paul: Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He experienced miracles from God and was able to perform miracles. On many occasions God saved Paul from death. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul writes about his “thorn in the flesh.” We know the thorn was painful, evil, chronic and frequent. Paul was desperate for relief. But, God said NO. When God tells him why, Paul was able to handle it.

When God tells us NO, we have His promise of Grace.  It is reassuring to realize we are in good company, with people like Job, David and Paul.

God knows what is best for us:

God has promised that he has a plan for us. His plan is for our good, not our harm. God’s answer to our prayers will always be in agreement with His plan for us.

Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God knows the results of both His “yes” and “no” to our requests. God only desires the best for us. His answer to our prayers will always lead to His best for us.

This morning, I’m thanking God for some of the “NO” answers. Because, I can now see in hindsight what He knew in foresight. His “no” really is for my good.

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Does God Really Keep His Promises?

Posted: September 16, 2015 in Christian
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The church I attend recently began a chronological reading through the Scriptures. This week, the reading included the fifteenth chapter of Genesis. In Genesis 15, we find one of the oldest recorded promises God personally makes to any man.

Chapter 15 of Genesis ends with God making a personal promise to Abram (Abraham). God promises a certain parcel of land to Abram and his descendants. Here is the promise in Genesis 15:18-21.

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—  the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,  the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

That is a very specific description of the land mass promised to Abram’s descendants by God. The “river of Egypt” is the Nile River, near current day Cairo. The great river Euphrates is just east of current day Bagdad, Iraq. If we look to the beginning and end of each of these rivers, we can define the boundaries of the land God promises to Abram and his descendants.

I started thinking; exactly what does the land mass of this promise look like? I googled a map of the Middle Eastern region and marked out the boundaries described in Genesis 15.

The land mass described has the Nile River as its Western boundary, the Euphrates River and Persian Gulf as its East boundary, the Great Sea (current day Mediterranean Sea) to the North and the Arabian Sea to the South. All of this land is promised to Abram’s descendants for as long as Abram has descendants.

This is a tremendous amount of land included in this promise. Today, in 2015, that land mass includes:

  • Part of Egypt
  • Part of Sudan
  • All of Yemen
  • All of Oman
  • Part of Iraq
  • All of Saudi Arabia
  • All of Jordan
  • All of Israel
  • All of Lebanon
  • Part of Syria
  • All of Kuwait
  • All of Qatar
  • All of the United Arab Emirates
  • Part of Turkey
  • All of Eritrea
  • Part of Ethiopia
  • The West Bank
  • The Gaza Strip

That is all or part of sixteen different modern day countries plus two recognized treaty regions.

Looking at this map, with a current day geo-political mindset, we may conclude that these are eighteen different distinct boundaries, with eighteen distinct peoples and cultures.

What about my original question? Does God really keep His promises?

Here is the interesting part of this entire geographic region of the Earth. Each of the people groups, who refer to one of these sixteen countries or two treaty regions as home, traces their ancestry back to one of two people… Ishmael or Isaac, the two sons of Abram.

Does God really keep His promises??? God is still faithfully keeping His promise made to Abram, thousands of years later in modern day 2015.

Does God really keep His promises? Absolutely, He does.

Abram trusted God to keep His promise. We can see, today, God is still keeping His promise.

We can trust Him to keep the promises He has made for us.

Yes!  God really does keep His promises.

I believe every word in Scripture has a purpose.  I also find it interesting that when we look at a verse and break it down to its component words, the meaning sometimes comes even more alive.  So, today let’s break down one of my favorite promises in Scripture.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

  • “And…” – It is a connecting word.  The promise of verse 28 is connected to something in verse 27, the reason this promise is true. (Romans 8:27 – “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”) – Jesus, Himself is praying for us.  Therefore…
  • “…we…” – You, me, all of us.
  • “…know…” – Absolute truth, we can rely upon.
  • “…that all…” – Any and every.
  • “…things…” – Events, occurrences, situations.
  • “…work…” – Specific action of God.
  • “…together…” – Everything is part of God’s plan for you.
  • “…for good…” – God desires the absolute best for you. May I remind you of Jeremiah 29:11?
  • “…to those…” – This is a specific promise with specific recipients.
  • “…who love…” – Our primary responsibility.
  • “…God…” – The One, the Only, the Creator.
  • “… , …” – Just like that connecting word at the beginning.
  • “…to those…” – Reminder, this is a specific promise with specific recipients.
  • “…who are the called…” – The specific recipients.
  • “…according to…” – The specific recipients are those who are following after…
  • “…His purpose.” – Our purpose belongs to God.

So, what do we have? We have a promise from God, Himself, secured by our perfect intercessor, Jesus Christ, that guarantees every event, occurrence and situation in our life is part of God’s plan for us and for our good in fulfilling His purpose for us.

No event, no occurrence, no situation in our individual lives distracts God from His purposeful calling for us, nor from His desire to provide His absolutely best for us.  We may not always feel this is the case.  It is best for us to remember, our perspective on our circumstances is different than God’s.

God defines “for good” from the perspective of our eternity.  Our perspective is often limited to the present moment.

It is all things working together for our good that refines our calling according to His purpose.  It is our calling according to His purpose that defines all things working together for our good.  There is the paradox of the promise.

Created for a Purpose

Posted: September 17, 2014 in Christian, Woodworking
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Four friends, each a craftsman, stand admiring a piece displayed in the gallery.

The first steps forward and says: “Gentlemen, this is a beautiful example of my craft of woodworking. Notice the choice of mahogany, maple and ebony expertly jointed and finished.  Look at the subtle curves and lustrous finish of this fine hollow form.  It is a talented woodworker that can make such an exquisite box.  This is truly a masterpiece.”

The second friend says: “I agree the woodwork is good, but what really makes this piece so grand is when the maker employed my craft of sculpting. Notice on this end the graceful scroll work and carving to form the handle.  The expert sculpting is what really makes this piece so special.  This is truly a masterpiece.”

The third speaks up: “Guys, the woodworking and sculpting are nice. But, the thing that really sets this piece apart from all the rest is the way the maker employed my craft of symmography.  Notice how the string work wraps around and beautifully completes the presentation by combining the woodworking and sculpting elements together to make a very beautiful display.  This is truly a masterpiece.”

The fourth man, a luthier by craft, says nothing. He steps forward, picks up the piece and admires it, as he caresses the beautiful finish with his hands.  Then, he nuzzles the beautifully exquisite sculpted stringed box to his cheek, takes another piece from the display and draws it across the strings producing a melodious sound.  After playing a beautiful concerto, the craftsman carefully places the creation back in its display.  He then turns to his companions: “Friends, I created this violin for the purpose of making beautiful music.  I placed that purpose within its design.  And, so it was waiting for my hands to fulfill.”

Three friends had looked on the same display, each through the bias of his experience. The creator knew the purpose and how to cause his creation to respond with that purpose.

A violin is basically a wood box with four strings. It requires the master’s touch to produce beautiful music.

My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.Psalm 139:15-16

God created each of us for a purpose. People may look at us through the bias of their own lives.  Yet, God knows the purpose for which He created us.  God placed our purpose within our design to be used by Him.  It is when we submit to the Master that we can truly become the masterpiece of His design.

This month, my wife and I are celebrating our twenty-third wedding anniversary.  In the nearly twenty-four years since I first asked Susan to marry me, I have from time to time voiced the same simple and profoundly challenging question.

“Will you marry me?”

Regardless of what life is throwing at us at the moment, her answer is always the same: “Yes.”

All these years later, we have a clearer picture of just what that question and answer really mean.  Yet, we are still learning.  We have learned that after the initial “Will you marry me?” a whole lot of effort goes into making a successful marriage.  We have learned our marriage is worth the effort.  We have also learned there are some amazing benefits to my continuing to RE-ask and Susan continuing to RE-answer that same question.

RE-asking and RE-answering:

  1. Reminds me to keep our relationship center focused.
  2. Reassures her I’m fully invested in her.
  3. Rekindles the excitement of the first time she answered.
  4. Reconciles us as one, TOGETHER.
  5. Reanchors us during life’s storms.
  6. Refreshes our memories of God’s faithfulness in our marriage.
  7. Refocuses our priorities within our relationship.
  8. Reconfirms our commitment to and with each other.
  9. Resets our focus on the best for our marriage.
  10. Reclarifies the value of our relationship.

What’s the most amazing and exciting thing after twenty-three years of marriage?

That’s easy…

She still says: “YES!!

My daughter is the Valedictorian of her graduating class for 2014.  During her Graduation Address, she gave some great advice for her classmates. I asked her permission to include the transcript of her speech as a guest blog.


Family, Friends, Faculty, Staff, board members, and Mr. John David Phillips, thank you on behalf of the class of 2014 for coming and celebrating with us on all of our accomplishments.  Thank you, Mr. Phillips, for your inspirational message.  If it were not for all of your love, encouragement, and support through the years, we probably would not be at this point in our lives.  To the Class of 2014, it is my honor and privilege to be among the first to address you as GRADUATES of Faith Christian School.

Now, classmates, over the years we have experienced many changes through teachers, staff, and classmates that have come and gone.  We have also seen the school grow and the campus change.  When we were in elementary school, we played on a playground which is now a parking lot and were picked up by our moms where the office is now.  We have seen our long hope of finally eating lunch in a lunchroom be fulfilled.  We have adapted through all of the changes and have become closer together.  Especially in the last few weeks, we have begun to notice that “Sometimes we are all too quick to count down the days that we forget to make the days count.”  But now this is the night we have dreamed about and thought would never come.  It is here we complete our mission at Faith Christian and must head on to become doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, military leaders, or whatever career we choose.

Like a jigsaw puzzle contains many pieces and is not complete unless all pieces are put together.  We are a class and when one is absent; it is like a piece is missing from our class.  In a puzzle all of the pieces must be arranged correctly to reveal the picture which is its sole purpose.  Looking at you I see athletes, artists, some who are laid-back, some who are highly motivated, friends, and most important of all; I see family.  All of us are unique individuals –or puzzle pieces– that have come together to form our small, unique class of twenty three.   Our entire life and career at Faith has had one goal which was to prepare us to go on to adulthood.

I know that everyone is trying to give us advice and it is probably confusing us more than helping, if most of us have even listened to it at all.  We have been like a chain where each link represents every one of us, classmates, our teachers, family, and administration.   A chain can be used for many purposes, but all the links must work together to be successful. Our ‘chain’s’ purpose has been to prepare us for tonight, High School Graduation.

But I have one thing to tell you before we complete our journey at Faith.   Just like we have been like a chain for all these years, we are still a link even as we go our separate ways.   Even though the chances of all of us being together again are slim, we are still a link in that chain.  The chain is our high school career and each of us is still a link in it.  Tonight seniors, I have a gift for you to help you remember what I am telling you.  This is the surprise I have promised you.  I have a set of carabineer clips for you and your parents, like the chain has many purposes.   It can be used for hiking, holding your keys, hooking ropes together, and many other purposes as well. These clips can be linked together to form a chain.

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You are probably wondering how this clip relates to me.   Well, like a carabineer clip has many purposes, we each have a purpose that is unique to each of us.  In Proverbs 16: 9, the Bible says, “In their hearts humans plan their course but the Lord establishes their steps.”  God has created us with a special plan and purpose for each of us.  But it is up to us to discover our purpose and to follow it.  Most of us have an idea of where we would like to be whether it is owning a business, working in a hospital, or working for a great company far away. That may be our plan, but God may also have another idea which will be greater than any of our selfish wants or desires for our lives.  We must remember what we have been taught for the many years here at Faith, and follow God’s plan for us. Like Mr. McDaniel said Tuesday at Baccalaureate, Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “   Each of our plans is unique.    I have given each of you seniors a carabineer clip so that you can remember not only our special class, but also to fulfill your purpose.  You can use this clip however you choose, even though I do not suggest using this one to climb with it.  I challenge each of you that every time you see this that it will remind you of our class and to follow your purpose.  Always remember you are a link in the chain.

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Now, classmates, we have spent most of our lives in one place.  If nothing else, we have learned this year that time flies by quickly.  This past week as we were hanging out at the lake and working around school we all realized that we could not spend enough time together.  Do not take time for granted.  Do not miss an opportunity to fulfill your purpose.  I am not saying it will be easy all the time, but as E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”  We cannot fulfill our purpose on our own.  We must rely on God for help, but that also requires work from us.  We must always strive to do our best at everything.  As one of the fastest runners to ever live, Steve Prefontaine, said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”  Do not sacrifice the opportunity to fulfill your purpose, you may not have another chance.

Now, classmates, we have spent the many hours of studying and preparing ourselves for the next stage of life. We have turned in our final tests, quizzes, papers, and assignments to Faith.  We have spent the countless hours together in class, sports practices, athletic games, club meetings, choir concerts, and the many other afterschool events.  I urge you to not forget the great times together and all of the sweet memories this school has brought to us, like singing and jamming out with all of the teachers.  We are off to continue our lives and fulfill our perfect purpose planned by God.  Remember to rely on Him and He will reveal the way to go.  Classmates, Dr. Seuss says it best

“You’re off to great places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So… get on your way!”

Classmates, let’s get on our way to finding our purpose and living the rest of our lives. Do not forget that our chain does not break tonight because we are all going our own ways, but instead each link is fulfilling its purpose. Remember you are a link in this chain and now, we must get on our way.


Now it is your turn. What words of wisdom and great advice do you have for the Class of 2014?

Recorded at Greenbrier Road Baptist Church – February 26, 2014

Printable Note Page Attached:  A Tale of Two Kings – 1 Samuel 17 – Handout