If you are a follower of Jesus, you have full access to the promises of God. Good news, right?
It’s true, but many of us struggle with God coming through based on our bad experiences with past broken promises. It could have been unfulfilled promises from childhood. Maybe you had a bad experience in a romantic relationship. It might have been a trusted friend who let you down when you most needed her.
You’ve been let down by real, tangible people. Can you really trust an unseen God with His promises?
You are not alone. Scripture is full of men and women who struggled with trusting God with His promises. History is littered with people of faith tripped up with believing in God’s promises. I’ve stepped out on my own, ignoring God’s promises to me.
And before I go any further, let me be clear on two different aspects of God’s promises. First, there are promises for everyone. There are hundreds of promises listed in scripture. One person counted over 7,000 promises found in the Bible! Here is a list of 160 promises found in the Bible. These promises range from God’s faithfulness in general to healing and provision. Second, there are promises specifically for you. This could be one of those scriptures listed that God highlights with neon flashing lights specifically for you, or it could be a promise spoken to you (usually in the still, small voice of God).
Whether it is a promise for everyone or a promise just for you, there are four truths you need to know about God’s promises:
1. God converts our trust in his promises to righteousness.
Thousands of years ago, Abraham became the father of our faith because he took God at His word. God made a series of unbelievable promises, and Abraham trusted God would come through in those promises.
“Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” -Genesis 15:1-6 NLT
Abraham wasn’t perfect, but he believed. God honored Abraham because of his faith. This honor manifested itself as righteousness. Not everything Abraham did was righteous. In fact, Abraham made a lot of (deliberate) mistakes. Yet, Abraham is the father of our faith.
This isn’t an excuse to sin, but God does the same thing for you. When you trust God with his promises to you, he will honor you too. You will be made righteous. It’s the same principle God uses to call you a child of God. You put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and you are made righteous based on God’s goodness…not yours.
2. A bit of trust in God’s promises exponentially grows over time.
We moved into our current home almost 10 years ago. Early on, our front yard was professionally landscaped. One of the bushes planted was less than knee-high all those years ago. Just this week, while doing some maintenance on the yard, I noted how that bush is now over 6 feet tall and nearly as wide. It reminded me of this parable of Jesus:
“Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”” -Matthew 13:31-32 NLT
The little bit of trust Abraham put in God’s promises grew over the years. It was a seed that grew and grew. That seed became a firm and fruitful tree. It changed Abraham’s life, and it changed everyone who he came into contact with.
That is how the Kingdom of God works. When you choose to trust that God – even the most fleeting bit of trust – God will grow that seed of faith. This true with our life as believers, and it is true with God’s promises. You will see God come through on that promise, and your faith will grow. Then God fulfills the next, and that seed has quickly become a mature tree.
Faith always starts small and grows. Be okay with your small beginning.
3. My faith in God’s promises reaps Abraham’s blessings.
When I trust in God, I share in the blessing given to Abraham. Abraham’s blessing was more than a son or family. It was wealth, influence, security, grace and a home. Most importantly, though, the blessing Abraham received was a transformational faith. And it is a blessing to be shared with others. Abraham’s blessing was legacy.
The Apostle Paul put it like this:
“I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.” -Galatians 3:5-9 NLT
Transformation begins inwardly, but it expands to all parts of our life. It is our health. The blessing is financial. Transformation is breaking habits. It is hope where there once was complete hopelessness.
All of this is yours to both experience and share with others. The legacy Abraham left to you is yours to pass on to others.
4. There is a purpose to my struggle to trust God.
I grow more through struggle than I do when things flow smooth and easy. The fight I wage with myself to trust God will come through with his promises will grow me.
“I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” -Colossians 1:24-29 NLT
To be clear, the struggle and suffering Paul refers to here is true pain – beatings, imprisonment, rejection by countrymen and family. But again, the principle is true. When I struggle, I grow.
What growth in the Promises of God looks like
It’s the promise of provision I struggle with. It manifests itself in me through fear and a lack of generosity. Yet, I when choose to trust God with his promise in my life, he continues to provide. It’s a struggle, but I grow when I trust in God.
More than that, but I become a blessing to others with my resources – I participate in Abraham’s legacy. When I see God continue to provide for me, my faith grows, so I continue to be generous and witness God’s provision. And finally, my faith in God returns to me as righteousness. I’m still a sinner who makes mistakes, but God converts my faith into His goodness.
All of the truths about the promises of God are revealed in my life.
What has God promised you? Are you ready to trust God will fulfill that promise?