Do you remember your first VCR? It was the greatest, wasn’t it?
You no longer had to be there to watch a program live. You could record it and watch it later. Now, the truth was that you had to have an engineering degree from MIT to set the clock on the thing, and you had to pay hundreds of dollars for this big, huge, bulky box. But it was a VCR—a video cassette recorder! It was the highest pinnacle of technology, and it was sitting in your living room!
Now, let’s be honest. You may not have your VCR anymore. You’ve probably even moved on from your DVR. Regardless, you still have some recording device, and you love it because now you not only can record shows, but when you watch those favorite shows, you can watch them in fast forward, right?
You no longer have to waste away through the commercials. You no longer have to wait to see which house they choose on “Fixer Upper.” You no longer have to hear the phrase, “This is Jake from State Farm.” Now, you can fast forward. You can even go to the end of the game and see who wins!
Wouldn’t it be great if life had a fast forward button?
And more importantly, in our life as Christians, wouldn’t it be great if in our maturation process as followers of Jesus, we could just push a button to see where we were going to be? Wouldn’t it be great to know where God was taking us in our growth with him?
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Well, in 2 Peter, the Apostle Peter wrote a letter to Christians who were looking ahead. They were living in fast forward. In other words, they wanted to peek ahead to the new heaven and the new earth. They wanted to look ahead to the Day of the Lord. Peter knew that, so he talked to them about their future, and he told them they could look forward to their future with confidence, because God had given them wonderful promises to stand upon today.
Here is how he phrases it in 2 Peter 1:4, “God has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in this world caused by evil desires.” In other words, he was saying that people can’t deal with the possibilities of the future until they know the certainties of today, and those certainties can only be found in the promises of God!
Texas Baptists, just as our ancestors in the New Testament needed God’s promises, so we, too, need them today! God’s promises allow us to look into our future with confidence, because we know that God has a stable plan right now.
Write it down …
So here are a couple of things we need to write down:
• When God gives a promise, we can know it’s certain and true!
Thank goodness, because in our world, it seems like promises are made to be broken. How great it is that God’s promises are not fleeting, false or fading. His promises are certain and true.
• When God gives a promise, many times those promises are conditional!
Now, don’t get confused. God’s love is unconditional, but God’s promises are not the same as his love. Many of his promises often contain the important two-lettered word “if.”
Let me offer one example: God answering prayer. We all want our prayers answered, right? In John 15:7, Jesus promises we can “ask whatever we wish, and it will be given us.” That sounds great, but it’s not an open-ended buffet served by God. We can’t have whatever we want, because the first word in the verse is “if.”
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.” It is a conditional promise, and it shows us how it works. Many times, God makes a certain promise, and he will do it “if” we will do our part. His part we cannot do, and our part he will not do.
Now, write down a final thing:
• God’s promises reveal his character!
It’s easy to see this one. I mean, the fact God has never broken a promise reveals he is someone who can be counted on and someone who is faithful.
Let me close with this: In just a few short weeks, the IRS and income tax will be on all of our minds. But did you realize right now the IRS is looking for thousands of people? They aren’t looking because these people owe taxes. They are looking because these people are owed a refund! Since the year 2000, well over $2.5 billion has gone unclaimed, the IRS actually reports.
How tragic it would be for you to have thousands of dollars due to you, yet you never claim it! But how much worse it would be for there to be thousands of promises of God that you never took for your own!
I encourage us as Texas Baptists to take the promises of God and allow them to give us confidence as we fast forward into our tomorrow!
Danny Reeves is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and pastor of First Baptist Church in Corsicana.