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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

A Right Way And A Wrong Way To Use The Promises Of God

Pointer from Microsoft Publisher

The Promises Of God

Sunday I preached from Hebrews 13:5 —

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Here God calls us to be content with whatever money and possessions we have.

But this is not easy, and so to help us God gives us a promise — “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So, when we struggle to be content, God wants us to use this promise.  But how does he want us to use it?

There are two very different ways.

God’s Promises As Prods

Let’s say you hear the command of Hebrews 13:5 — “be content with what you have.”

But as you search your heart, you can see that you are not content, because you believe you won’t be happy without new golf clubs.

But you want to obey God, and be content without the golf clubs.  And you know that God’s promise to never leave or forsake you is supposed to help you be content.

But what you do is use the promise to prod you to be content —

Since God will never leave me or forsake me, I really should feel content.  It’s wrong that I’m not content, because after all, God is with me.

And so because of that promise, you try hard to make yourself feel content, maybe by not thinking about the new golf clubs, or by telling yourself that your present golf clubs are OK.

You are using the promise to prod you– to push you — to guilt you into trying trying to feel content.

But there’s another way to use God’s promises — a way that I believe is how God intends them to be used.

God’s Promises As Pointers

In this case, you know God wants you to be content.  You see that you are not content, because you think you won’t be happy without new golf clubs.  And you know God’s promise will help you be content.

But instead of using that promise as a prod, to push you to try and feel content — you use it as a pointer, to point you to God.

God promises to always be with me.  And God’s presence brings fulness of joy (Psalm 16:11).  

So if I’m not content without golf clubs, that’s because I’m looking to golf clubs more than to God.

So I’m going to let this promise point me to God Himself — and pray over this promise until the Holy Spirit helps me see and feel that God’s all-satisfying presence is here with me now.

And so you turn your heart from the golf clubs to God.  You confess that you have been looking to golf clubs more than to God, and you are assured of forgiveness through Christ.

You ask for more of the Spirit’s work to strengthen your faith so you can see God more than the golf clubs.

And you pray over the promise —

Thank you, Father, that because of Jesus you are always with me.  You are always available to me.  

And thank you that you will never forsake me.  You will always fulfill all your promises to me, including your promise to satisfy me completely in yourself.

As you pray over that promise, God uses His Word to strengthen your faith (Romans 10:17).  As you hear His Word with faith, God provides more of the Spirit’s work (Galatians 3:5).

And as the Spirit works, you once again start to see God as your all-satisfying Treasure — and feel God as your heart-satisfying Treasure.

And as your heart is filled with God, you are content.  You no longer think you need new golf clubs to be satisfied, because you are overflowingly satisfied with God Himself.

With this approach, we use the promise to point us to God so that who He is transforms our hearts.

Huge difference.

Comments?  Feedback?

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Category: God's Promises

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11 Responses

  1. Kathie says:

    Just a little shift in emphasis but what a difference it makes. I’m sure I’ve used promises as prods and never even been aware that I was doing so. I’ll keep this in mind. Thanks Steve.

  2. Paul Walton says:

    Steve,

    Promises are needed for motivation to cause us to act, first to believe, but once our eyes are opened to the glory of God, to go even deeper. So they are prods and pointers as I see it.

    “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 A prod? If we receive (trust in) Christ, the promise is that we will be saved, which is good news, but is it the best news?

    We are saved from guilt, saved from condemnation, saved from the wrath of God, saved from hell, saved from sinning. These are precious riches beyond all measure. But they are all leaving something behind, not gaining something.

    “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” A pointer? The promise in verse 12 is very much a positive, God’s riches are the riches of seeing him and knowing him admiring him and enjoying him forever. He himself is the sum of the riches that we have in Christ.

    Just some random thoughts!

    • Paul Walton says:

      One last thought, a Shepherd’s staff has two ends, and he uses them both. love you brother,
      Paul

      • Steve Fuller says:

        I always appreciate your thoughts, Paul.

        I totally agree that promises can be prods to faith. But that’s what I meant by promises being a pointer — since they point us to Christ and urge us to trust him.

        When I talk about using promises as prods I’m not talking about them prodding us to faith. I’m talking about them prodding us to use our will power to change our hearts.

        So — we should use promises as pointers — pointing us to have faith in the One making the promise. And we should not use promises as prods — prodding us to try to change our hearts by our own power.

        I hope that distinction makes sense.

        Onward!

        Steve

        • Paul Walton says:

          Steve,

          I hear what you are saying, I wish all my motivation was based on pure faith, but in reality the line gets a bit blurry between pure faith, and just getting my rear end in gear.

          Thanks for being faithful.

  3. Hi Steve

    take a question for a foolish young fellow biblestudent.

    Your flawless manuel to treasuring God over everything i want, which only demands the one word (Faith), seem to forget to describe the “If not” side. What if you through continuous prayer and surrendering and praise of your father in heaven still feel the urge to get, new clothed/golf clubs.

    you probably do not believe that i then have a “lack of faith”, do you? how would you explain this for people who is in deep sorrow and pain over worldly things?

    Thank you for your blog

    kasper

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Kasper,

      Thanks so much for your question.

      I often experience exactly what you describe. So what’s going on when I’ve been praying and meditating on God’s Word — but am still feeling more drawn to something other than Jesus Christ?

      I do think the problem is that I need stronger faith. Because, if I was trusting Jesus as my all-satisfying treasure, then I would be feeling the greatest desire for him.

      So what should I do? I should continue to pray for more of the Spirit’s work in my heart. I should also continue to meditate on God’s Word, because “faith comes from hearing the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

      It’s also important to be sure I am coming to God in Jesus’ name (not in the name of my own goodness or righteousness), that I am coming humbly (understanding that what I need is his mercy), and that I am truly confessing and repenting of the sin of loving something else more than God.

      As I do that, in time, God promises to strengthen my faith so I once again see and feel Jesus Christ as my greatest joy. I see that promise in John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-39; Eph 6:16; Psalm 40:1-3; and many other passages.

      I hope that makes more clear what I believe God’s Word teachers.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

      • It does, it does… It’s just…

        I can go from a worship meeting, where ive seen miracles, felt God spoke to me, parts of my life and feel so encouraged to live my life for him. And go right back to my apartment and turn on pc or television and drown my own motivation.

        The simple answer is that i should obvious stop doing it and pray/go to bed/ speak with someone. But the only motivation I have when I enter my home is my own habit-based life.

        I don’t know why time after time the promises i feel i see i hear so clearly from God, just do not stick to my heart. i feel so hypocritical 🙁

        • Steve Fuller says:

          Hi Kasper,

          I experience the same thing.

          The fact that you go home and drown God out with television doesn’t mean God wasn’t working powerfully at the meeting, or that you weren’t really trusting God’s promises earlier.

          It just means that you stopped looking to him and started trusting something else to satisfy you.

          So turn back to him, confess your sin, trust Christ’s death to forgive you, pray for more of the Spirit’s work, and start praying over God’s Word once again. He will meet you again — and again — and again.

          It’s a day by day, moment by moment battle. And he is worth it all.

          Steve Fuller

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