The Promises and Character of God

September Reading Tips
Sep. 1, 2020
Jason Lapp

The Promises and Character of God

“All the promises of God find their yes in Christ.”  -2 Corinthians 1:20

In God’s providence 2020 “just happened” to be the year BCLR would read through the Bible together.  This has been a year of confusion, chaos, sickness, financial hardship, death, and a spotlight on the depravity of man.  We can sing “Do you feel the world is broken?” and affirm “We do”.  The media has provided us a front row seat to all of it.  I am sure each of us could share some crazy experiences from this year and we still have four months to go!   Reading through the Bible has been a shining light during this year of darkness.  In God’s word we find clarity, order, life, and hope.

As the bride of Christ, we ought to walk by faith, clinging to the promises of our unchanging God.  All throughout Scripture, God speaks his promises to us.  He wants us, as his children, to trust him and hold fast to his words.  He wants us to be confident in him.  As we look ahead to September, I want to encourage you to look for God’s promises and ask God to give you the faith to believe those promises.  I want to highlight a few that stand out to me from reading the Bible in years past.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Sadly, many this year have gone through a job loss and financial hardship.  You may be wondering, “Does God’s word address this type of situation?”  The prophet Habakkuk reminds us that even if everything is taken away from us, we need to turn to God who is our strength.  God “makes my feet like the deer’s.”  Habakkuk means he is sure-footed because his confidence is in God.  When your stuff is stripped away from you, where do you turn?  Is your first response to turn to God or complain?  Ask God to give you the faith to believe his promises.  God is your strength so turn to him.

“The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies.  The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing’.” (Zephaniah 3:15-17)

Will justice ever come?  Is God still active?  Does God care about the troubles of this world?  These are the questions being asked currently.  The prophet Zephaniah addresses these issues.  He reminds us that God alone is God.  He is active.  He will execute justice because he is faithful, righteous, and the good judge of all the earth.  At the end of Zephaniah, he addresses his people by reminding them that Yahweh “has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies…you shall never again fear evil…God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save.”  God is the rescuer of his people.  He rescues us ultimately through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  Justice for sinners is death.  All of us ought to be eternally separated from God.  But God chose to come into the world he created to become a sacrifice for sinners.  Justice was satisfied through the reality of Christ crucified.

God does care about the troubles of this world.  The troubles of this world are brought about through the sin of humanity.  Because of Christ, sinners are reconciled to God.  His justice is satisfied.  Sinners find hope.  Sinners find a holy God rejoicing and singing over them joyfully.  When troubled by the cares of this world may we remember the work of Christ on the cross.  May we, by faith, turn to our mighty God who is able to save.  May we remember that through the cross our greatest enemies, sin and death, have been defeated.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:54-57)

In Christ, we find the promises of God being fulfilled.  We can trust him because he took care of our biggest problem.  He took our sin upon himself at the cross.  Since he took care of our biggest problem, this means we can trust him with every smaller issue that will come our way.  This does not mean circumstances will always be easy or comfortable.  It does mean we have someone we can trust in every circumstance.

As you continue to read through the Bible this year, look for God’s promises and hold tight to them.  I once heard John Piper talk about advice he would give to a young believer reading the Bible: “Find a promise and hold tight to it.”  He was then asked what advice he would give to mature believers reading the Bible: “Find a promise and hold tight to it.”  So much in the world is fighting for our attention and we are tempted to run away from the Scriptures.  We tend to hold on to the fading promises of this world rather than clinging to the promises of our ever-faithful God.  I pray as you read this month, you would choose to trust in the everlasting promises of God.  “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:6-7).
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