My mother in law Barbara, her best friend Sandra, my eldest daughter Peyton, and I spent a few days at a fabulous resort in sunny Southern California last week. Peyton and I were familiar with the resort, so she booked our stay on the internet. The pictures of the villas on the internet were sure inviting for a group like ours, of four. Plus, we could lay in the sun just outside our villa on the private patio overlooking the ocean. Who could ask for more?
Some promises are too good to be true.
In many ways, we felt deceived.
Now I'm not saying we didn't enjoy ourselves, we did. But what was promised and what we received were very different. The patio was covered, perched over a street below, and the ocean was in the far distance.
It got me to thinking about God and His Word.
The Bible is chock-full of fabulous promises inviting you and me to come, relax, and rest in the promises of God. Who could ask for more? But some of us feel like they're too good to be true. Maybe we even feel a little deceived. For some reason, God's promises don't seem to activate in our lives like they do in others. And it's discouraging. Where's the reality of what God promises ushering life into our minds and emotions? Perhaps we're even feeling a tad defeated, emotionally downcast, and maybe just a bit cynical. I get it. I’ve struggled at times in a few of these same areas myself.
But here's the deal. From cover to cover, God's Word reveals to us that God is not capable of deception. From Genesis to Revelation God is a good God, a more-than-fair God, and what He promises us He delivers. In fact, Numbers 23:19 says it rather plainly: "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" What you and I must come to an agreement with God on is that every fabulous promise of God is already ours. We received them as heirs—and as an inheritance—on the day we first believed Him to be our Savior. The thing is, you and I have a personal responsibility to set our mind on what God says is already true by rejecting lies and speaking the truth to ourselves. Learning to encourage ourselves in the Lord by actively engaging with God, as well as speaking the His truth over ourselves, is a sheer necessity for any kind of sustained victory in Christ Jesus.
For example, Colossians 3:1a, 2-3 says, "If then you were raised with Christ... Set your mind on things above, not on things of earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Here we see the responsibility falls on us. Another great set of verses is Romans 8:5-9a. "For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in a the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you." And, lastly, Philippians 4:6-9 says this: "Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds a in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, a whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you."
So the questions we must ponder if we're feeling like "what God is promising us" and "what we're really living" don't match are these:
- Am I guarding my mind by not allowing it to roam in deception?
- Am I willfully stimulating my mind to dwell on what is true?
- Am I fervently seeking to match my faith with His word daily?
Goodness gracious, you and I both know our feelings are fickle, and our thoughts can lead us into captivity quicker than any of us care to admit. Taking responsibility for our mental activity is not only vital to seizing God's promises personally but also to walking in the fullness of His promises; promises that are fabulously freeing to the soul.