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wisemenI had an unfinished conversation with a gentleman yesterday about God’s promises. We began with the simple, in Him I have my breath and being, and that alone is enough, that is the gift. But then to truly bless us we can also have Salvation, redemption, eternal life. We are entitled to nothing, God doesn’t owe us anything at all and just those two gifts, breath and life, are more than enough. That’s a really good foundation, an excellent place to stand in, because it puts you in a state of perpetual gratitude. Perpetual gratitude really is the key to happiness.

Entitled to nothing. When you are in a state of humility like that, you could be in the bottom of a pit praising His name, with this silly grin on your face, an extra spring in your step, because breath, life.  I can be in the most dire circumstances and while the stress will certainly get to me, I can look over and see Jesus and He just lights up my entire being. That alone is enough. That is a priceless gift.

BUT…..and here is the catch. Some of us shrink God down, we make His blessings smaller than they are. “We have not because we ask not.” He is like a good Father who wants nothing more than to bless His children, to lavish us with love. Not to give us everything we want or everything we ask for, but to love us extravagantly just the same. But we must receive it, we must lean into His promises and embrace them.

There are so, so many promises in the bible that God has given us, promises that apply to our lives right now. That is where things can get a bit sticky, because we can misunderstand them, misinterpret them, open ourselves up to potential feelings of betrayal,  run the risk of being vulnerable, subject ourselves to disappointment.

A pastor I admire a great deal said, “it’s going to hurt.” Love, faith, it’s going to hurt. It’s likely to be painful. I so appreciate those words because that’s the truth of it. It’s going to hurt…and into the breech we go.  Jesus says something very similar Himself, not mincing words at all, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…..But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues…”

That always makes me laugh, it has a very Monty Python flavor to it, this is going to be exceedingly painful, they will scourge you in their synagogues, and that’s going to be the easy part. God will never lie to you or deceive you. The truth can be brutal, but God traffics in the Truth, he respects us enough to deliver it as it is. That’s yet another often unrecognized aspect of God’s character, He grants us His respect and perceives us with some dignity. He always speaks the truth to us.“What is man that You magnify him, And that You are concerned about him….”  -Job 7:17

I have spent much of my life wrestling with many of God’s promises, afraid to lean into them fully, so while I appreciate my brother’s point, we truly are entitled to nothing, I must add a caveat to it, a BUT…don’t allow yourself to shrink God, don’t forget all His numerous promises.

God’s promises are totally true, He means what He says, the error is not on His end, not ever, but some of us still struggle to lean into them. A few of His promises that I currently struggle to embrace are, “you reap what you sow.” I have a dysfunctional family that has wasted a great deal of wealth and also a long history of working for companies that go bankrupt or fold or something. Not only do you not reap what you sow, but half the time you don’t get paid for the work you’ve done, either. All in good humor here, but I have gone boldly before the throne of grace more than a few times demanding an explanation…and I am not yet a pillar of salt, so let’s hear it for God’s mercy and grace even when you get angry with Him.

Another promise I often wrestle with,  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31. I so appreciate a pastor recently saying, just lean into it, just receive it. Just walk in it and trust it. Someday you may be in heaven greeting those you thought were your unsaved loved ones and you can go, See, I told you so, My Daddy did say…..

Somewhat ironic and funny Zande, my evangelizing atheist buddy, said a couple things that I just loved, derrogatory things, things designed to mock faith, but hey, in God’s hands even a talking donkey can serve His purpose and render some truth and beauty.

Zande said in essence, to believe in a God who is “mindful of harmony, fond of laughter, pleased by joy, charmed by plenty and delighted by happiness, ” a God who is “a competent and benevolent designer; a good father who is sensitive to prosperity,”and plumb full of “extraordinary compassion……”

“…To suggest such a thing with even a hint of accidental sincerity is bravely ridiculous.”

Oh yeah! Now that’s what I’m talking about right there. Let’s hear it for the bravely ridiculous, for those who walk by faith and not by sight, for those who reach their hands towards heaven and say, Nope, My Daddy did say…….and I stand firmly in His promises, every single last one of them.