“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”
Romans 4:20-21 NLT
Do we believe that God is able to do anything? After all, He created the universe. He put into place the physical laws that hold our planet in just the right place, near to the right sun, with all the right resources that human belongs need for life. He is truly an amazing God.
But there are some things that God just cannot do. For example, God cannot tell a lie. God cannot violate the commandments He has issued. God cannot stop loving us. God cannot break the covenant He gave us through Jesus. God cannot break His promises. He is constant and unchanging in His absolute being.
Paul wrote that Abraham “never wavered in believing God’s promise”. But we read that in his lifetime Abraham never saw descendants as numerous as the stars. In Genesis 25 we read about Abraham’s life coming to an end. Genesis 25:7-8, “Abraham lived for 175 years, and he died at a ripe old age, having lived a long and satisfying life. He breathed his last and joined his ancestors in death”. In the preceding verses we see that after Sarah’s death he took other wives, and had children, but nowhere near as numerous as God promised. However, he had faith that God’s promise would happen. And happen through his son with Sarah, Isaac.
Paul wrote that Abraham was “fully convinced”. Now that takes faith, to be that certain about something that wouldn’t be realised in his lifetime. For us pilgrims, one of God’s promises is contained in John 3:16. Eternal life. We read, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”. By its very definition, this is a promise that we are not going to see the fruit of in our natural lifetimes. We need to have faith that it will happen. We need, like Abraham, to be “fully convinced”. Or are we not sure?
There is a promise commonly seen on UK bank notes. I look at the wording on my £10 note – “The Royal Bank of Scotland plc promises to pay the bearer on demand…”. Many years ago the value of a banknote in the UK was pegged to the price of gold, so the owner of a banknote could, at least in theory, exchange it for the equivalent sum in gold coins. Today this is an empty promise, because no bank will hand over gold coins if we asked them. But eternal life is a promise far beyond the writing on a UK bank note. Though there have been claims to the contrary, no-one has indisputably returned from Heaven after they have died to tell us what it will be like. And would we believe them if they did? Jesus used the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man to illustrate the point. We can read the story in Luke 16. A rich man in hell (literally Hades, the place of the dead) has a dialogue with Abraham about sending the poor man Lazarus, who is in Heaven, back to the rich man’s brothers who are still alive, to warn them about the horrors of living in hell. And the story ends with this chilling statement from Abraham, ” … If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
At the present time, at least in the UK, there are many struggling to make ends meet, because the cost of living, and inflation, has rocketed skywards. But in response, another promise from God is found in Philippians 4:19, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus“. It’s all very well having faith in something that will happen after when we die, but what about having faith that God will meet all our needs now. Today.
So what promises has God given to us pilgrims? We have many, like the promise of eternal life, in the Bible. A common item in years gone by was a “promise box”, containing rolled up pieces of paper, and on each was written a Bible verse containing a promise. These are general promises applicable to all God’s people. But has God given us, like Abraham, a specific promise for us to have faith in, and be “fully convinced” about? If not, perhaps it’s worth asking Him.
Father God. You are the One who had given us many promises about all the things we need in this life. We thank You for Your provision. Amen.