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The Promise MakerDo you truly believe that God is capable of meeting your needs and that He desires to meet all of your needs?
Some people ask, “If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and if He loves me with an infinite and unconditional love—and therefore, He not only is capable of meeting all my needs but also desires to meet my needs—why doesn’t God just meet all my needs right now? Why do I still have needs? When the apostle Paul wrote from a prison cell, ‘My God will supply all your needs’ why do I still have a lack of supply?” (Phil. 4:19).
Others say, “I know God is capable of meeting my needs, but since I still have needs, God must not want to meet them.” Still others question sincerely, “Why didn’t God meet all my needs the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior?” These are excellent questions, worthy of close examination.
At the outset of our discussion about these questions, let me assure you again that God is committed to meeting all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. A commitment is a pledge, a statement of a sure promise. The value of any commitment is based upon two things:
1.The ability of the promise maker to fulfill the promise.
2.The integrity of the promise maker, which might also be stated as the character to follow through on what has been said and do what has been promised.
God certainly qualifies as One who will stand behind His commitments on both accounts. He has all the wisdom, power, and ability necessary to fulfill His promises to us. He also has proven integrity—God has always done what He has said He would do. God is utterly faithful to His Word. He is holy and immutable; He is unchanging. His character is impeccable.
There are those who say, “Well, the Bible’s promises are fine for the people back then, but Paul was writing to the Philippians, not to me. Times are different now. Things have changed.”
Friend, all of God’s Word is for you, right now, right where you are. It all applies to you. Why is this so? Because the Author of the Bible hasn’t changed. The Scriptures are true today because the Author still stands by His Word! His commandments, statutes, and promises have not changed; they reflect our unchanging God. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8 nkjv). The only times in God’s Word in which God has not done what He said He was going to do are times when God’s promises were conditional and man’s behavior was an intervening factor.
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE PROMISE?The better we know God—the more intimate our fellowship is with Him—the more we will trust God to do what He has said He will do. And the more we know about a promise in the Bible, the more we understand our role in bringing a promise to fulfillment. As we study the Bible, we must ask several questions anytime we come to a promise in the Scriptures: •To whom is the promise given? •Who is making the promise? •What is God really saying? •What does God desire for me to do? •How does God desire to act on my behalf? •What is the end goal or the purpose for the promise? •What is God’s motivation in making this promise? The more we know about the promise, the more we understand whether it is a conditional or unconditional promise. Two Categories of Promises All of God’s promises fall into one of two categories: unconditional or conditional. As we read, memorize, and quote God’s Word, we must be very careful to discern clearly the difference between these two categories. Unconditional promises. In an unconditional promise, God states that He will do something regardless of man’s behavior. In other words, God is going to do what He desires to do with or without any input or response from mankind. Nothing will interfere with or keep God from doing what He has said He will do.
An example is the promise of Jesus to His disciples that He is going to return one day. Absolutely nothing that man does or does not do can keep Jesus from fulfilling this promise in the fullness of God’s timing and according to God’s plans and purposes. Christ will come again.
Another unconditional promise is the promise of Jesus that He would never leave or forsake His disciples. Regardless of what people do or don’t do, regardless of circumstances or situations that may arise, regardless of any mediating or intervening factors, Jesus will not forsake those who have put their trust in Him. That unconditional promise stands for all disciples at all times in all places and in all situations.
Conditional promises. In a conditional promise, God’s actions are based in part on man’s responses to God’s commands. What man does, therefore, influences God’s fulfillment of a promise.
Too often, people take some of God’s conditional promises as being unconditional. That is a very dangerous error to make, and it can lead to frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, and even doubt about the goodness of God. How so? Well, if a person regards a promise of God as being unconditional when it is actually a conditional promise, he may very well fail to meet the conditions associated with the promise because he isn’t looking for any conditions. He assumes that God is going to do everything and he is required to do nothing. In his failure to meet the conditions, of course, he negates the promise. Not realizing this, however, he begins to wonder why God is taking so long to meet his need. He begins to doubt whether God really meant what He said. Soon he doubts whether God cares or whether God is truly to be trusted on any matter.
Consider a situation in which a father says to his son, “I will buy you a new car when you finish college.” The son is very excited—so excited that he fails to hear the full meaning of his father’s statement. The boy goes to college for two years and decides that he has had enough of college. He gets a job and starts wondering when Dad is going to provide the new car he promised. The fact is, the boy did not finish college in the sense of completing a college degree. He just finished college from the standpoint that he stopped attending classes! The promise was a conditional one, and the error occurred because the son defined the conditions in a way the father had not defined them.
Too many people make this same mistake when it comes to our heavenly Father. They decide when the conditions are met rather than trust God with that determination. The results are failure and disappointment. We must be very careful in reading God’s promises to determine precisely what the conditions of a conditional promise may be.
Look again at Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (nkjv).
Ask yourself, Is this a conditional promise of God, or is this an unconditional promise? This passage happens to be a conditional promise. How is it conditional?
First, Paul said, “My God.” If a person cannot say, “My God”—in other words, if a personal relationship has not been established with Jesus as Savior—then this promise is not in effect. Second, Paul said that needs will be met “by Christ Jesus.” If a person looks to any other person or source to meet his needs, the promise is not in effect.
This promise is based upon a relationship between Christ Jesus and those who follow Him. We might call this a family promise. It is in effect only for the family of God. It is not a promise for the unbeliever or the person who does not trust Jesus as Lord of his life.
Note that I did not say that this promise is limited to a particular church, denomination, or group of believers within the body of Christ. God has only one family—people who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and seek to follow Jesus as Lord.
What about the Christian who doesn’t have all his needs met?
The first place you need to look when a need is not being met is not at God or at His Son, Christ Jesus, but at yourself. You err greatly when you ask, Why hasn’t God lived up to His promise? You are wise to ask instead, What am I doing that is keeping God from fulfilling this promise in my life?
You may respond, “Well, I’m not doing anything to keep this promise from being fulfilled! If you knew my circumstances or my situation. . . .” Let me assure you that no circumstance or situation is going to keep God from acting on your behalf. Nothing is too great or too powerful to stand in the way if God chooses to act. The real question remains, What are you doing in the midst of your circumstances or situation?
Do you already have a preconceived idea about how God should act to meet your needs or whom God may use to meet your needs?
I have encountered a number of people who have said to me, “Well, if he would just do such and such and she would agree to do so-and-so, then my need would be met.” Or they have said, “Well, I did such and such and therefore God must do this and that.”
Those who make such statements are not trusting God to be their Need Meeter. Rather, they are asking God to exert His power on behalf of their wishes and commands. We are called by God to trust Him, and Him alone, to meet our needs and to be our total source of supply. Furthermore, God requires that we obey Him as a part of our trusting Him. We have the situation completely backward any time we start expecting God to trust us to know what is right and to obey our commands so that He might prove His love for us.
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