It’s As Good As Done

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

When God makes promises, they are as good as done. How is that? Well, obviously, we believe that God is a promise keeping God. He always does what he says. That is our theological theorem. But in a way that we may forget, his promises are good as done because when he makes them, he is already in the future where he has secured their fulfillment. That is why Moses could say to the Israelites, and I can say to you, “when you have conquered it…” Not if, but when. With God and you, it is only a matter of timing.

Going Deep // Focus: Deuteronomy 26:1-2

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored.

Much of Deuteronomy 26 focuses on the tithe and offerings the Israelites were to bring to God once they had taken possession of Canaan and settled into their Promised Land. They were to give these material offerings to the Lord in gratitude and in recognition of his loving lordship over their lives. It is my personal belief that while the New Testament doesn’t specifically mandate this, the spirit of generous giving in response to the generous giving and loving rulership of God is just as important today—and just as blessable.

However, while that is the point of this chapter, I want to focus on a statement that might otherwise be hidden in the overall message of this chapter. It comes in the very first verse, and it is incredibly powerful and encouraging. Notice that Moses said, “when you enter the land” and when “you have conquered it”. Not if, but when. You see, when God makes a promise, it is as good as done.

Toward the end of this chapter, Moses details a few of the other promises God made to Israel, Of course, they were contingent upon the Israelite’s obedience—we would expect no less. But likewise notice these additional good-as-done promises:

Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. You have declared today that the Lord is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.

Those promises, conditioned upon obedience, are promises that your God makes to you, too. And what was true for Israel is true for you: Since God has made them, they are as good as done. How is that? Well, obviously, we believe that God is a promise keeping God. He always does what he says. That is our theological theorem. But in a way that we may forget, his promises are good as done because when he makes them, he is already in the future where he has already secured their fulfillment. That is why Moses could say to the Israelites, and I can say to you, “when you have conquered it…” Not if, but when. With God’s promise and your reality, it is only a matter of timing.

I hope that builds confidence in your heart today. I don’t know if today will be the day you actualize a divine promise—I hope so—but at the very least, you will have taken one more step of faith closer to what God has foreordained. He is already there ahead of you and has secured your victory. So as you walk forward in faith and obedience, you are simply going where God already is.

Now that should build some momentum for you as you head out the door today!

Going Deeper With God: Reflect on the promises God made to Israel. Now claim those for yourself by restating them using your name instead of Israel’s: I am his child, his own special treasure, just as he promised. As I obey him, he will set me high above all others. I will receive praise, honor, and renown. I will be a person who is holy to the Lord my God, just as he promised.

Blessings—With Conditions

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God desperately longs to bless those who desperately long to be blessed. He longs to gather us under his protection, to strengthen us in our pursuit of success, and to even grant us the desires of our heart. But let’s be clear about God’s desperate longing to bless: it is conditional. In every Biblical promise of Divine blessing there is a discernable if-then equation. “Then” I will bless you is the unconditional promise, “if” is the condition to the unconditional, and our obedience is the “if” that catalyzes the release of those unconditional blessings.

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 26:3-9

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword. I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you.

Who doesn’t want Divine blessings poured out in their life? I long for God’s favor in my life and upon everything that concerns me, and you long for the same blessings in your life. And what is really encouraging is that God urgently desires to release those blessings to us as well. In fact, your insatiable desire to be blessed is miniscule compared to God’s desperate longing to bless.

“Desperate longing!” Is that overstating the matter? Can God, by definition, be desperate? Well, consider God the Son’s broken heart over a people that rejected him, and in so doing, forfeited a visitation of Divine favor:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. (Matthew 23:37)

Or consider God’s plaintiff word to King Asa, who had abandoned his utter reliance on the Lord:

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

So yes, God desperately longs to bless those who desperately long to be blessed. He longs to gather us under his protection, to strengthen us in our pursuit of success, and to even grant us the desires of our heart:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. (Psalm 37:4-5)

Notice that Jesus even went so far as to say that God will grant us what we wish for in prayer in response to our abiding in him.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:7-8)

God has made some incredible promises to bless us, hasn’t he? And according to what Jesus said in John 15:8, the blessings that God graciously bestows upon us actually glorifies him. Moreover, those blessings literally witness to a watching world of the loving God who sends the blessings (“you show yourselves to be my disciples”).

But let’s be clear about God’s desperate longing to bless. It is conditional. In each of the verses I have mentioned, and I dare say in every promise of Divine blessing in Scripture, you will discern an if-then equation. “Then” I will bless you is the unconditional promise; “if” is the condition to the unconditional. Sounds like I am babbling, but it is true: If I do this, then God will do this—guaranteed. That is exactly what we are seeing in these verses, as well as in Leviticus 26.

And here is the “if”, the catalyst to the release of unconditional blessing: obedience. “If you are careful to obey my commands, then I will…” (Leviticus 26:3) And in this chapter, along with every other “if-then” promise of blessing in the Bible, you will find what the “then” of blessing is:

  1. God promises the blessing of provision. Leviticus 26: 4-5 says, “The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.” With God’s provision, you are unlimited. Nothing will hamper you.
  2. God promises the blessing of protection. Leviticus 26:6 says, “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.” With God’s protection, you are untouchable. Nothing will harm you.
  3. God promises the blessing of power. Leviticus 26:7-8 says, “you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.” With God’s power, you are unstoppable. Nothing will halt you!
  4. God promises the blessing of his presence. Throughout Leviticus 26:3-9, God repeatedly says, “I will send… I will give… I will rid the land… I will look favorably upon… I will fulfill my covenant…” With God’s presence, you are invincible! Nothing will hinder God’s love for you.

If-then. Knowing the “then” of blessing, who wouldn’t want to offer God the “if” of obedience!

Going Deeper With God: Joshua 1:7 explains the if-then equation this way: “Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.” Is there an area of stubborn disobedience to God in your life? Take it to him in prayer one more time, surrender your tendency to disobedience, and he will even give you the desire to obey him: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13)

Promises

God makes promises. And, thank God, he keeps them, every one of them. He can’t help himself: “Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—and I will not lie to David.” (Psalm 89:35) No, God will not lie to David, nor will God lie to you. Of course this psalm is specifically referring to God’s covenantal promise to King David, but it should be generally applied to God’s covenantal promise to all who are his people by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s me, and that’s you, and that’s a very good thing! Even though the people around your may fail to keep their end of the bargain, and though you may not always follow through with what you have said you would do, you can relax with God—he will always come through for you.

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 89 // Focus: Psalm 89:34

I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.

God makes promises. And he keeps them.

We ought to be grateful for that! You and I are alive today—saved, forgiven, adopted into God’s family, walking daily in an intimate relationship with Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit for good works, destined for an eternity full of unending purpose and indescribable fulfillment—only by virtue of God’s faithfulness to his promise.

The fact that God makes a promise guarantees he will keep that promise.

Yet that has not been our earthly experience, has it? We have been made promises only to have them broken. Parents, friends, teachers, bosses, politicians, preachers, and even our spouses—all have made promises, and chances are, most, if not all, have failed to deliver on their guarantees. In the realm of human relationships, our experience has taught us that a promise made is not necessarily a promise kept.

And we, ourselves, have made promises only to break them before the ink dried on our guarantee.

Not so with God. He makes covenants, and because he is a covenantly faithful God, he will do what he has promised to do. Even though we may fail him—and suffer the consequences of our failure, either through Divine punishment or natural outcomes, or both—God will stay true to his promise. (Psalm 89:30-37) God cannot help himself. Psalm 89:35 reminds us,

Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—
and I will not lie to David-

No, God will not lie to David, nor will God lie to you. Of course this psalm is specifically referring to God’s covenantal promise to King David, but it should be generally applied to God’s covenantal promise to all who are his people by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s me, and that’s you, and that’s a very good thing!

So here’s the deal: Even though the people around your may fail to keep their end of the bargain, and though you may not always follow through with what you have said you would do, you can relax with God—he will always come through for you.

__________________

Making Life Work: When was the last time you offered gratitude to God for his faithfulness to his promises? Maybe now might be a good time to do just that!

Standing On The Promises

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 18
Focus: Psalm 18:30

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”

As you read tPsalm 18, which is a fairly lengthy psalm, your eyes will likely be drawn to verse 30. Initially it will seem that David’s words here are an abrupt, although delightful, departure from the rest of the psalm. At first blush, it seems that David has taken a side-bar to attest to the inspiration and veracity of Scripture. Yet upon further review, this verse is in complete unity with the rest of the psalm, simply and succinctly verifying David’s testimony of God’s faithfulness to him.

The title of the song at first seems to suggest that David penned these words after a Divinely orchestrated deliverance from King Saul’s insane jealousy and murderous rage. However, the internal evidence of the psalm indicates that this is really a retrospective on the faithfulness of God over the course of David’s life in fulfilling the promise to establish David as king over an everlasting dynasty in place of Saul. (See II Samuel 7:8-16)

In looking back, David reflects that even though the road he has travelled to kingship has been rocky, to say the least, and at times, the success of his journey certainly hung in the balance, yet at the end of the day, at the end of each day, God had been faithful to David. God had kept him. God had delivered him. God had exalted him. And now, David offers this wonderful song of praise that recognizes the many qualities of God that has made him worthy of David’s praise.

Then we come to that wonderful verse, verse 30, where David’s worship takes on an increased volume of heartfelt praise as he sings in effect, “Yes, the promises of God have proved to be true and trustworthy. Every word he has spoken over me has been flawlessly fulfilled. I can count on his word; I can stand on his promises. With God, I am on safe and secure ground.”

Of course, what David said of the words of God (see Psalm 12:6, 30:5) is also true of the Word of God. In the next psalm, Psalm 19:7-9, David proclaims,

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

Now here’s the deal: What was true for David is true for you. The Word of God is as true today as it was in David’s day. And out of God’s Word, through your time of prayer and refection upon it, God will speak to you as he did David (remember, it will always be in line with his written Word), and give you a word specific to the circumstances you face. And you can depend on God’s word in those times to be flawless as well. God’s promises to you are certain.

__________________

“God is not silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called ‘The Word.’ (A.W. Tower)

 

Making Life Work: Are you standing on the promises of God? Are you claiming his word? Are you leaning into his Eternal Word? David would say to you, “You can depend on God’s Word—and his word. And of all people, I would know.”

A Promise Made—A Promise Kept

Read Psalm 89

Featured Verse: Psalm 89:34

“I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.”

God makes promises…and he keeps them.

We ought to be grateful for that! You and I are alive today—saved, forgiven, adopted into God’s family, walking daily in an intimate relationship with Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit for good works, destined for an eternity full of unending purpose and indescribable fulfillment—only by virtue of God’s faithfulness to his promise.

The fact that God makes a promise guarantees he will keep that promise.

Yet that has not been true of our earthly experience, has it? We have been made promises only to have them broken. Parents, friends, teachers, bosses, politicians, preachers, and even our spouses—all have made promises, and chances are, most, if not all, have failed to deliver on their guarantees. In the realm of human relationships, our experience has taught us that a promise made is not necessarily a promise kept.

And we, ourselves, have made promises only to break them before the ink dried on our guarantee.

Not so with God. He makes covenants, and because he is a covenantly faithful God, he will do what he has promised to do. Even though we may fail him—and suffer the consequences of our failure, either through Divine punishment or natural outcomes, or both—God will stay true to his promise. (Psalm 89:30-37) God cannot help himself. Psalm 89:35 reminds us,

Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—
and I will not lie to David-

No, God will not lie to David, nor will God lie to you. Of course this psalm is specifically referring to God’s covenantal promise to King David, but it should be generally applied to God’s covenantal promise to all who are his people by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s me, and that’s you, and that’s a very good thing!

So here’s the deal: Even though the people around your may fail to keep their end of the bargain, and though you may not always follow through with what you have said you would do, you can relax with God—he will always come through for you.

Guaranteed!

“God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises; leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself.”
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Standing On The Promises

Read Psalm 18

Featured Verse: Psalm 18:30

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”

As you read the fairly lengthy Psalm 18, your eyes will likely be drawn to verse 30.  Initially it will seem that David’s words here are an abrupt, although delightful, departure from the rest of the psalm.  At first blush, it seems that David has taken a side-bar to attest to the inspiration and veracity of Scripture. Yet upon further review, this verse is in complete unity with the rest of the psalm, simply and succinctly verifying David’s testimony of God’s faithfulness to him.

The title of the song at first seems to suggest that David penned these words after a Divinely orchestrated deliverance from King Saul’s insane jealousy and murderous rage.  However, the internal evidence of the psalm indicates that this is really a retrospective on the faithfulness of God over the course of David’s life in fulfilling the promise to establish David as king over an everlasting dynasty in place of Saul.  (See II Samuel 7:8-16)

In looking back, David reflects that even though the road he has traveled to kingship has been rocky, to say the least, and at times, the success of his journey certainly hung in the balance, yet at the end of the day, at the end of each day, God had been faithful to David. God had kept him.  God had delivered him. God had exalted him.  And now, David offers this wonderful song of praise that recognizes the many qualities of God that has made him worthy of David’s praise.

Then we come to wonderful verse, verse 30, where David’s worship takes on an increased volume of heartfelt praise as he sings in effect, “Yes, the promises of God have proved to be true and trustworthy. Every word he has spoken over me has been flawlessly fulfilled.  I can count on his word; I can stand on his promises.  With God, I am on safe and secure ground.”

Of course, what David said of the words of God (see Psalm 12:6, 119:160) is also true of the Word of God. In the next psalm, Psalm 19:7-9, David proclaims,

  • The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
  • The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
  • The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
  • The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
  • The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
  • The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

Now here’s the deal:  What was true for David is true for you.  The Word of God is as true today as it was in David’s day.  And out of God’s Word, through your time of prayer and refection upon it, God will speak to you as he did David (remember, it will always be in line with his written Word), and give you a word specific to the circumstances you face.  And you can depend on God’s word in those times to be flawless as well. God’s promises to you are certain.

Are you standing on the promises of God?  Are you claiming his word?  Are you leaning into his Eternal Word?  David would say to you, “You can depend on God’s Word—and his word.  And of all people, I would know.”

“God is not silent.  It is the nature of God to speak.
The second person of the Holy Trinity is called ‘The Word.’”
—A.W. Tozer

A Promise Made Is A Promise Kept

Joshua 21:1-24:33

A Promise Made Is A Promise Kept

Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel
was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.
Joshua 21:45

Go Deep: A certain Bible scholar has pointed out that God has made over 6,000 promises to us in the Bible.  Some of those promises are universal in nature—all believers anytime and anywhere who are walking in obedience to his commands can claim them.  Other promises are quite specific to certain people at certain times, and the Holy Spirit reveals them to us through prayer and the study of God’s Word in response to situations that arise in our lives.

Whether God’s promises are universal or personal, what we are taught over and over again in the Bible, including this verse in Joshua, is that God is a promise maker, and more importantly, God is a promise keeper.  The fact is, God has never broken a promise—not even one!  I can’t say that about me, and you probably can’t say that about you, but we can say that with complete certainty about God.  With him, a promise made is a promise kept.

When I was a little kid in Sunday School, we would often sing a song about God’s promises that went something like this:

Every promise in the Book is mine
Every chapter, every verse, every line.
I am standing on his Word Divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine!

Over 6,000 promises—and he will bring every single one of them to pass.  A few of those promises are for you.  Which one are you “standing” on, as the little song goes?

That he will forgive all your sins? (Psalm 103:3)

That he will supply all of your needs? (Philippians 4:19)

That he will never leave you or forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5)

That he will give you Divine wisdom for your lack of human understanding? (James 1:5)

That he will turn all of your circumstances to your good and for his glory? (Romans 8:28)

What is your area of concern?  There is a promise that covers it, so look it up in God’s Word.  Fulfill your end of the promise—that’s the big caveat here—and then rest in God’s proven character.  With him a promise made is a promise kept, so you can expect that “God will perfect everything that concerns you.” (Psalm 138:8, NKJV)

Just Saying… Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was martyred by the Nazis toward the end of World War II, said, “God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises…leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself.”