Summary: We love to say, "God, you promised this," or, "God, I expect this from you," or, "God, you are the giver of every good & perfect gift." And God is. But we need to realize that God’s promises have strings attached. (Powerpoints Available - #312)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(The Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #312.)
ILL. I wish you could have known Bessie Hanna. She was a long-time member of Central Christian in Brownsville, & was 95 years old when she died.
Bessie was a lovely person. And for the last 22 years of her life she taught the Loyal Women's class. Do you realize that means she was 73 years old when she began teaching that class?
Anyway, I was visiting her in the hospital during her last illness, & she was trying to find a particular verse of Scripture. The passage she wanted me to find & read contains these words, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" ? a promise of our Lord to His people.
That is a wonderful promise, & it is found in Hebrews 13:5, plus in 2 other places in the O.T. But it is just part of a much longer passage, & I want you to hear more of it.
A. Listen to Hebrews 13:1-5. "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels without knowing it.
“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, & those who are mistreated… Marriage should be honored by all, & the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer & all the sexually immoral.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money & be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"
Beautiful, isn't it? But that promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" is just part of what God was saying: "Keep on loving each other . . . don't neglect to show hospitality . . . be concerned about prisoners . . . be faithful to your wife or husband, keep yourself sexually pure . . . be free from the love of money."
Then, if all these things are true in your life, He promises, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
SUM: May I suggest that not only this promise, but all of God's promises have strings attached. I'm afraid that for many this is a disturbing thought.
We love to say, "God, you promised this," or, "God, I expect this from you," or, "God, you are the giver of every good & perfect gift." And God is. But we need to realize that God's promises have strings attached.
B. A similar passage says, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) Those are the last words in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus is saying "goodbye" to His apostles.
But just before making that promise He told them, "Go ye therefore & make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..."
And that's when He made this promise, "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV)
You see, the promise to be "with them" was "if you are doing what I asked, if you're making known the message I entrusted to you."
C. How about this promise? "We know that God causes all things to work together for good" But what is the rest of that verse? "to those who love God, & who are called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28)
He is not saying that all things are good. He is saying that even in the worst of times, if you love God & let Him lead, then He will bring about results that will be a blessing in your life.
SUM: Do you get my point? There are many wonderful promises in God's Word. In fact, Peter says, "Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises." (2 Peter 1:4)
ILL. When the children of Israel were preparing to go into the promised land, God told Joshua, "As I was with Moses, I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)
There is that promise again, but God also told Joshua, “Be strong & very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you…” (Joshua 1:7). Did you notice? God set some conditions.
He said, "There are 3 things I expect of you. #1 ? Be strong, #2 – Be very courageous, & #3 - Obey My law. If you do this," God said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." And God kept His promise.