July 28, 2017

Exceeding Great And Precious Promises

By Daniel H. King

We often take for granted the good things which we enjoy.

We as Americans are blessed exceedingly, savoring a political and economic system which encourages independence, self-reliance and a capitalistic entrepreneurial spirit. The resultant structure of both government and society has led to our knowing such freedom as few have ever known before us. We enjoy a level of prosperity that is seldom experienced by those of other modern nations.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have been born into a family with good reputation for virtue and hard work. We have done nothing whatsoever to deserve it, but we are nevertheless favored by this fortuitous circumstance also. The quality of our lives is the better for it, and the ambition and work-ethic which we have inherited gives us both satisfaction from our labors and success from our efforts at useful enterprises.

But those of us who are Christians are blessed most of all. Like those who dwell in a rich land, endowed by God with all the good things of life, we are pleased to know a level of spiritual blessing which few others can even imagine. This is what Peter declares of our estate in his second epistle:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. 1:4).

Peter does not address the issue of the Christian’s blessed condition with an inappropriate modesty. Instead, he speaks palpably and conspicuously of the “exceeding great and precious promises” of God which are ours to enjoy. This conveys a picture of lavish profusion, of opulent richness, even of superabundant blessing.

And, when one investigates the Word of God in search of the regal blessings which are bestowed upon the child of God in a proper relationship with the Father through his Son Jesus Christ, he is impressed with the extravagant bountifulness of those gifts. Let us make note of but a few of those “exceeding great and precious promises”:

1.There Is The Promise of Safe Retreat. Christians hymn the glory of this wonderful blessing in the beautiful song Rock of Ages: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.” All of us experience times in our lives when we feel that the world is closing in around us and it appears that there is no one to go to for help, no place to retreat. Another line from one of the famous hymns comes to mind here: “Where could I go? Oh, where could I go? Seeking a refuge for my soul?”

The crushing problems, turbulent storms, and daunting tasks of life cause us to long for a spiritual retreat from it all. The Lord offers this to his faithful children: “And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as streams of water in a dry place, as the shade of a great rock in a weary land” (Isa. 32:2). In God there is promise of a safe retreat. In the world there may not seem to be such a place, or such a condition. But for the child of the King, the resplendent promise provides confidence that there will never be a time or place or circumstance where he cannot withdraw into the Everlasting Arms and feel the spiritual comfort of God’s enfolding embrace.

2. There Is Promise of Deliverance. God wanted the  people of old Israel to call upon him in their day of adversity: “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 50:15). Why would it be any different today? We need God in every trying circumstance of life, so it is only appropriate that we admit it and call out to him for help. The Bible says that God will respond in the day of adversity: “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment” (2 Pet. 2:9).

Yet how often have we endured the difficulties and turmoil of our lives without calling out for God’s help? Too often we attempt by our own enterprise or imagination to come up with a way out without contemplating our need for God’s help. We fancy ourselves intelligent enough, or inventive enough, or courageous enough, or even strong enough to escape the clutches of disaster by our own means. We forget that God has taught us to “call upon me in the day of trouble,” not only in order that he might deliver us, but also because it is evidence of our faith and dependence upon him as our Father and our God. Can you imagine an earthly father standing helplessly by as his child struggles and suffers with a problem which he could and would be willing to solve for him, if only he would ask? He does not want to barge in or intrude where he is not wanted, but stands by frustrated that he is not asked for help. Surely this is how God must view our occasional problems which he is ready and willing to alleviate, if only we would ask!

3. There Is Promise That He Will Never Forsake Us. We read in Hebrews 13:5, “I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. ”W. Herschel Ford comments on this passage as follows: “Paul had enough troubles to break anyone’s heart. Now he was in jail, and he realized that false teachers were arising. Many of his comrades had forsaken and left him. He was old and feeble and knew he would soon die. He said, “No man stood with me, all men forsook me.” Note that he said, “No man.” What else do you have to say, Paul? He says, “Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” There’s the secret right there.

The troubles may come, the clouds may be dark and heavy, but “If the Lord be for us, who can be against us?” (Sermons 209). God has promised us that he will never forsake us. If all of our friends have forsaken us, God says he never will. If our family forsakes us, God promises that he never will. If even our brothers and sisters in Christ were to forsake us on some mistaken or perverse ground, God yet will stand by us. Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).

4. There Is The Promise of Strength To Endure. This is a common theme in the book of Psalms, as is evident by the following quotations: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (27:1); “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart hath trusted in him, and I am helped: Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; And with my song will I praise him” (28:7); “The Lord will give strength unto his people; Jehovah will bless his people with peace” (29:11).

On your own strength you may not be able to make it, but remember that there is Another upon whom you may lean! Putting one foot ahead of the other in life is often the answer to most every problem. Facing one more day, just one day at a time, is the only solution that we may be able to come up with in many circumstances. But where do we gather the strength to take that next step or face that new day. The Psalmist concludes that “the Lord is the strength of my life,” and we ought to do likewise.

5. There Is The Promise of Everlasting Love. In the Old Testament God made this promise to his children: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). Their comprehension of God’s love was nothing in comparison to that which is enjoyed by the children of God through Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We have the additional revelation of God’s love in and through his Son. Such love is never-ending!

Prisoners of war have told interviewers after their return home that the only thing they had to hold on to during captivity was the knowledge that their families loved them and were praying for them daily. They endured the seemingly unendurable because love sustained them. But, dear friend, you need to know that the love of God is able to sustain you through every trial and test of life. If you can only come to believe that your Father loves you beyond measure, and that he is longing to enjoy your company in the heavenly spheres someday, world without end, then you will be able to finish your earthly course without fail.

6. There Is The Promise That God Will Give Us The De- sires of Our Hearts. The truly important spiritual requests which we ask of our Father will not be denied, when they are asked according to his will: “Delight thyself also in Jehovah; And he will give thee the desires of thy heart” (Ps. 37:4); “And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Too often we concentrate our thoughts upon the occasional “wait a while yet” or “that is what you want but not what you need” answer to our prayers. And that is most unfortunate. For God does most often give us the desires of our hearts, if we are careful about asking for the right things, and are concerned to ask according to his will. Very seldom do we count our blessings, and too infrequently do we number the prayers which he has answered in the affirmative — or even answered without our asking!

7. There Is The Promise That Someday Our Sorrows Shall End. We all recognize that this sin-scarred and sorrow-plagued world is sometimes a miserable place in which to live. Evil and wickedness, war and bloodshed, crime and injustice have be speckled human history and left their stains upon the face of the very earth itself. One might gain the impression that evil is greater than good and that ultimately it may triumph over God. These are only temporary victories that we occasionally witness, however, and the end is predetermined and unalterable. It is as sure as the Word of God.

The plain promise of God is that there will come a time when our Father will pull down the curtain upon all human misery and wipe all of our earthly tears away: “And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4). God’s children must take heart and have courage through all of the bad times, for we know that better times are coming! God has promised us that someday all of our sorrows will end.

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