This evening was our ‘Little Big Church’ service and Garry reminded us of God’s promises to Abraham: ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be”.’ (Gen 15:5) and ‘I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.’ (Gen 22:17) He encouraged the children to count saucers of sugar – a task that was not easy since there were so many granules! We had lots of maths to do (thankfully with the aid of a calculator) and had to acknowledge that God’s promise to Abraham would result in huge numbers!
Yet Abraham had no descendants at all when God gave him this promise, and could certainly count the two that came his way – Ishmael and Isaac. Sometimes we have to wait a long time to see God’s promises fulfilled, and in fact, Abraham died before he saw the fulfilment of the promise. He lived by faith, however, believing that God would do what He had promised (see Romans 4, Hebrews 11.)
God is a God who makes promises. Sometimes these are unconditional (e.g. Gen 8:22) and sometimes these are conditional on what we do (e.g. 2 Chron 7:14) Often, we have a part to play in the fulfilment of promises, generally through repentance and confession and turning back to God. One of the many promises God gives to us is His peace. In Is 26:3-4, we see that a condition of receiving this ‘perfect peace’ is to have minds that are steadfast, rooted in God. It’s so easy to fill our minds with things other than God, but we need to be determined to fix our hearts and minds on Him. How we approach problems matters. We should not be ostriches (pretending nothing is happening or ignoring our problems) nor optimistic without foundation; instead, we should trust God to help us through every problem. Phil 4:6-7 promises us a peace that transcends understanding, but we need to understand the link between prayer, faith and the fulfilment of God’s promises. We must not forget His promises (these are ‘Yes’ in Christ Jesus, as 2 Cor 1:20 reminds us), but must soak these in prayer and faith, trusting the Promise Maker is also the Promise Keeper. If God makes a promise to us, it is attainable; He gives us the faith to believe Him!