Series: Don’t waste your waiting

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving to all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:13). 

Unlike us, God never makes a promise that He doesn’t keep. His promises are always dependable and true, because they are founded on his unchangeable character, moral perfection and sovereign power. God cannot lie. His promises are like a secure anchor for believers, providing security and stability even when circumstances are hard and hopeless. In contrast, false promises are disappointing no matter how firmly one believes them. They are like eating soup with a fork. You get a taste but no satisfaction.

False promises.

It makes me sad when sincere Christians cling for dear life to ‘promises’ that God has not made to them, instead of clinging to God’s Word which is always trustworthy. One woman told me that thirty years ago a man of God had prophesied over her and her husband. According to this alleged prophet, God had promised them that her husband would rise to become a prominent businessman, “a king among men,” a “leader in Christ’s kingdom.” He would have a mighty ministry.

In reality, the man spent his working life earning a modest salary before being retrenched in his late fifties. He struggled just to make ends meet. He was not a successful evangelist or ministry leader by any stretch of the imagination, just a faithful husband, father, and friend. However, he and his wife remained ever hopeful that their “big breakthrough” was just around the corner. Sadly, disappointment set in because they lived their lives based on a false promise.

In Leviticus, God warns his covenant people, “You shall not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.” (Lev 19:12). In their casual promises of healing and success, false teachers are no better than the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day, “prophesying false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds” (Jer 14:14). God takes it seriously when people put words into his mouth, especially false promises.

Many false prophets also claim that they’ve deciphered God’s word in such a way that they can match their Bible with people’s destinies or world affairs. They pluck verses out of context, scattering them like confetti. This causes Christians to put their trust in some other place than Jesus and his Word.

In the New Testament, the word ‘hope’ does not mean a sincere wish, but an absolute certainty. Unlike false promises, God’s promises have a 100% fulfillment rate. There are three distinguishing marks of God’s promises in the Bible.

Three marks of God’s promises.

Firstly, God’s promises bring about hope, perseverance and sanctification in the life of a Christian. God’s promises are never about our earthly glory or greatness, but about our godliness and growth, especially during suffering. God’s promises are not carnal. Like the persecuted Christians of the first century, we need to trust God’s “very great and precious promises” daily, as we seek to live a godly life connected to Christ.

To the scattered Christians all over the Greco-Roman world Peter writes,

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.” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Secondly, God’s promises are all about Him, not us! They are about God’s character and the wonderful things that He has done. They are based on His attributes, power, and glory, shown through mighty acts on behalf of His people. They are God-centric promises, not man-centric.

Thirdly, God’s promises are anchored by the salvation which Jesus achieved for His people in His life, death, and resurrection. Christ is the thread woven through all God’s Old Testament promises (Isa 53; Isa 49:6; Gen 3:15; Gen 12:3). As Psalm 22 records, “They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it!” (Ps 22:31). Jesus is the Promised One of the Old Testament (Luke 24:25-27; 2 Cor 1:20). He is the anchor of all God’s promises to His people.

Applying God’s promises.

How can we go about trusting in God’s promises in our daily lives? There is no shortcut or hotline to heaven. We cannot read little bits of Scripture and take away inspirational promises. We must humbly submit to God’s Word daily and study it in context to understand the big picture of what God has done and is doing in the world. Since Jesus is the fulfilment of all God’s promises, we need to read God’s promises through the lens of the cross and the resurrection.

Having said this, one of the habits that I have cultivated over the years is to write down and personalise God’s promises as I read through Scripture in my quiet time. I keep those promises in a box, to meditate on, memorise, and pray over so that I become an effectual doer of the Word and not a forgetful hearer (James 1:22-25). I want to stake my life on God’s sure promises and preach them to myself often, because I am prone to forget. When the waves of adversity break over my head and I am in the eye of the storm, I want to be anchored by God’s sure promises to His people. Christ and His Word is my only stable anchor.

Memorising Scripture may seem like an overwhelming task, but if the passage is broken down into small sections, it can be memorised fairly easily. The rewards of having a special passage hidden in your heart will be worth the effort. It will be an anchor when your sails are torn.

Every chapter of the Bible is full of God’s promises to all who have repented of their sin and trusted in the Lord Jesus, but Romans 8 is one of my favourites. Next week we will look at ten great and precious promises from Romans 8. Read the chapter on your own and join us next week as we record, personalise, and believe God’s promises together.

Listen to “Eye of the Storm”.


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