Because He Said He Would

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19)

Every four years, the major political parties in the United States come together to announce their candidates for President. Like many others before them who contest for elective political offices, they make unrealistic promises they know they cannot fulfil. Living up to what one has promised often becomes difficult, yet there are some who take it very seriously.   When Bill McCartney retired as the head coach of the University of Colorado Boulder football team in 1994, his reason was not because he was unsuccessful as a coach. His teams had won the national championship, and they had been in the top ten many times. McCartney said that he was retiring because he wanted to reconsider what was important. He said, “I’m leaving coaching, and I’m going to take a whole year to re-evaluate my priorities. Is God first? Is my family second? Is my work third?” And when that year was over, Bill McCartney had dedicated his life and talents to Christ, giving importance to “Promise Keepers” – a Christian men’s group which he had founded. The organization places particular emphasis on marital fidelity and fatherhood, promoting efforts to “help men keep their promises.”

In Jesus day, keeping vows and promises were not always taken seriously. The religious leaders advocated keeping a vow if it was a public vow using God’s name. However, if the vow was made in the course of everyday conversation, referencing only “heaven” or “earth” or “Jerusalem” – it was not really binding. Therefore, people could lie or exaggerate in their conversations and lend themselves an air of credibility by saying, “I swear by heaven that this is true!”  While they could not be held to account because they did not specifically swear by God’s name, Jesus disputed that putting forth the idea that if you swear something – it had better be true. In fact, Hs stated: “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). Bottom line…your word should be good, because His was. One of His chosen stated it this way: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Alex Sheen strongly believes in keeping the promises he makes. In his case, he proposed to honor his late father for whom ‘keeping one’s word’ was a very important character trait – one that he had instilled in his son. Alex was so moved by how his father used this trait as an inner compass that he began a small movement called “because I said I would.” He began to spread this teaching to others by encouraging writing promises on small cards and posting them in places as reminders to live up to their commitments, just as he had been taught by his father. As one of the world’s foremost experts on accountability and commitment – Alex became a speaker, author, podcast host, internationally recognized humanitarian and founder of the “because I said I would” crusade.  His promise cards have been requested in more than 150 countries. The stories resulting from these “promises made…promises kept” have shared practical life lessons inspiring lives around the world.

Corrie ten Boom, famous for her biography The Hiding Place once wrote, “Let God’s promises shine on your problem.” So just how many promises are there? According to one account, there are over 3500 promises in the Bible. Some of these were limited to certain situations and persons, such as the one to give Abraham and Sarah a son at an old age (Genesis 17:16). However, many more are intended for all believers, like God’s promise to never leave or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). If we claim one of the Lord’s promise with the right spirit and pure motives, we will honor Him, receive what we ask, and grow in intimacy with our loving Father. In a changing world where vows are often broken, it’s reassuring that followers of Christ serve a God who keeps His word . . . because He will always do what He said He would.                                                                                                                                                         

REFLECTION:  What promises are you standing on? Are you seeking this promise with a spirit of submission to the will of God? If you are not holding on to one of God’s promises, ask the Lord to show you particular promises that are relevant to your life. What then will be your next steps in applying them each day?

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