What “the promises of God” really are…and how they change our lives

Why does it matter? What difference does it make to my life that we have words from God about the future? These “promises”—what are they, really?

My life is described in Peter’s words—once, I was no one, stumbling along in the darkness. Now, I’m a chosen child of God. (Oh, my!) I had no purpose; now, I’m part of a living Temple, where God dwells. Once I lived outside God’s grace and mercy; now my life is privileged, full of God’s grace and mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

His Word gives us an identity and a purpose. What we have come to call “His promises” are the Father’s loving instructions to us, showing us how to move through this earthly life and on into the next and letting us know what to expect—in the next hour, tomorrow, and in the age to come.

Because, the thing is—we’re already living that life. We already have tastes of what will eventually come to complete fullness.

Three close friends of Jesus were given actual glimpses into heavenly realms and eternal dimensions. Peter, James, and John were invited to go with Jesus to a mountain for prayer, and there they had a taste of the power of the age to come. They witnessed a scene only visible to heavenly eyes. Later, John had another vision of heaven. He wrote an entire book about what he saw.

From James, we hear nothing about that glimpse into eternal realms. But Peter and John both wrote about their experiences. Both said, We’ve seen the glory of Christ and His Kingdom.

Wow, we think. What would that be like?

We can’t imagine. And yet, Scriptures say, we are even now being given tastes of what is to come.

God has named us His children. He’s given us His Word to guide us through this life. His mercy and grace give us glimpses of the glory to come…tastes today that whet our appetite for tomorrow.

Doesn’t all of that cast a new perspective on your life, child of God?

I think it’s safe to assume that whatever Peter and John wrote to believers was affected by that experience they were given in the realm of the eternal. What did they have to say about how these glimpses should affect our lives?

In the second letter Peter wrote, he begins and ends the letter by stressing the importance of growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus. This is what enables us to live peaceful, pure, blameless lives. This is what brings peace and grace to our lives. This is what keeps us from being deceived by the lies around us. Grow in your knowledge of Jesus. It changes everything.

John, after the revelations he was given, wrote that God blesses all who listen to the message of the prophecy and obey what it says… (Revelation 1:3).

The prophecies, the promises, the Word of God, His revealing Himself to us through Jesus—what He has given us, sisters and brothers, is a map of how to get from today to the glory of the age to come.

His mercy and grace give us a taste. The power of it all gives us our identity, our purpose, and our perseverance.

 

 

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
(from Psalm 31:14-15)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The future today

For the rest of this year, we will be looking ahead – looking ahead to what God has promised about the future.

But we do not want to forget that the “future” also includes the very next hour we are living on this earth. It’s this evening, and tomorrow morning. The future stretches ahead of us, beginning today and on into eternity.

And God’s promises—our bridges of hope—hold sure, from now until we live on a new earth, with new bodies and natures, under a new rule.

So I will try each week to remind you that we do not only look forward to a new life and new world someday, but we are living this new life now. God’s plan is unfolding now.

We’re right with God.

We have peace with God.

We’re standing in a place of undeserved privilege.

We can look ahead — and rest today — in joy and confidence.  
(See Romans 5:1,2)

This sounds like a pretty good place to be! Rejoice in it today, child of God.

Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.(Psalm 40:5)

These are phrases repeated over and over in the Psalms. The Lord is good to those who trust Him. His plans for us are good. He does great things for us. He holds us by the hand and will not abandon us.

Those are promises we hold onto for our earthly future—for tonight, tomorrow, the next day.

We go marching ahead, keeping our eyes on the One who is invisible, because He is working out His plan for us in this very moment.

It’s all so wonderful, even the angels are eagerly watching as His plans unfold.

 

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
(from Psalm 31:14-15)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Captivated angels

Here’s a snippet of Scripture to tuck away in your head and heart. Bring it out and dwell on it, when the day is hard, or when your path appears too crooked and rocky to continue, or when you are just plain bored with the ordinary and common things of life.

First, let’s set the stage.

Peter the apostle is writing to God’s people living in foreign lands. That would be us, too, brothers and sisters.

They’re under fire for following Christ. They need encouragement.

Peter reminds them — and us — of God’s great mercy. That mercy has given us this new life as children of God. There’s an inheritance we can claim, both now and in the future. We can be truly glad, he writes, because there is great joy ahead. Be joyful even through testing and trials. Your faith will turn into something more precious than gold.

The Good News is that trusting Jesus through everything will be the rescue of your soul.

Peter explained that the prophets had talked about this long ago, even though they didn’t understand how or when it was all going to come about. But now, it’s happening! This is the plan God had even before the world began. And God is keeping His promises!

It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen (from 1 Peter 1:12).

And that Good News is for us today, too. God’s promises and plans are being fulfilled. Every day.

He has not forgotten. He is not asleep. He is not uncaring, detached, or dead.

God is working in the world today. He is working in the lives of His children. He is calling people back to Him. His plans for His creation are moving forward, and He’s keeping His promises.

Need a taste of the power of the age that is coming?

Today, think about the angels — captivated, as they watch God’s wonderful plans unfold.

 

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
(from Psalm 31:14-15)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

In the hands of the First and the Last

“It was a good thing at one time. It began because there was a need for it.” He shook his head regretfully. “But look at it now. Too big. Too strong. Too corrupt. Hurting us more than helping us.”

I won’t tell you what we were talking about—you could probably guess. Look around at our world. There’s a long list of projects that we humans have begun for good reasons but that have been poisoned and twisted when the sinful nature gets involved. Doesn’t that seem to be the history of most of our initiatives? Everything big or small, from government to insurance companies to …yes … even our celebration of Christmas.

I began with the best of intentions, too. But things didn’t turn out so well. My old sinful nature sneaked in there and things were poisoned and twisted… What happens across the entire face of the earth also happens in the small sphere I inhabit.

Whether we’re talking about personal history or world history, if everything begins and ends with us, our track record does not bode well for the future.

Ah, but my hope knows this: Our future does not begin and end with us.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17-18).

This is not the only time the Lord refers to himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. Those passages have deep and broad significance as we dwell on the eternal and absolute rule of the Almighty.

But I like this one particular verse, because John is describing coming face to face with Jesus. He is absolutely overcome with awe and humility. And the Lord’s first words? “Don’t be afraid.”

Those words and the seven that follow speak peace to my soul. They tell me that our God holds this world in His hands. He created this world. He has a plan for it.

He holds my life in His hands, too. He gave me a new, eternal life. He began it—and He has great plans for it.

He is the beginning and the end—and He holds everything in between.

And He tells me not to be afraid.

Billy Graham has been quoted as saying that since he has read the last page of the Bible, he knows that everything will turn out all right. For me, reading the entire Bible through chronologically (it’s not as difficult as you might think), has been a huge taste of the power of the age to come—we read about God’s hand in the past, His dealings with us now in the present, and His assurance to His children concerning the future.

God does indeed have a plan for the world He began, and He is always working toward the end He intends to bring about.

And even though my life is just a tiny speck in the history of this world, He is doing the same for me. Imagine that!

He gave me my beginning. He holds my end—what and where I will be when His plans come to completion.

The Beginning and the End has granted His children a taste of heaven and its power

 

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
(from Psalm 31:14-15)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Tasting the power of the age to come

Last week, we vacationed in Maine. Never have we seen such beautiful autumn colors—reds, oranges, and golds blazing in sunshine or glowing like embers in the mist and fog.

Having coffee with a native Mainer one day, I remarked on our delight at having the good fortune to witness this.

“Oh,” she said, “this is nothing compared to what it can be.”

Her words lit a longing in me.

It can be even more beautiful than this?

Someday, I want to see “what it can be.”

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Even more fierce is the longing I feel when reading the Apostle Paul’s words of tasting “the power of the age to come…” (from Hebrews 6:5).

Let that phrase sink into your soul.

I’ve called it glimpses. We have glimpses of the age to come. Paul’s word of tasting is more immediate. It’s in the here and now. We have a sampling.

We have a sampling of heaven? Now?

Yes.

I pulled that phrase from Hebrews out of context because the power of those words grabbed me. If we look at the whole body of what Paul is writing, it is a warning against the terrible condition of someone who has once believed, who has “experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who [has] tasted the goodness of God and the power of the age to come” and then turns his back on God.

It is not the warning we want to focus on today but this fact: we have a taste of heavenly things now.

How?

  • Every time the beauty and intricacies of nature bring me to worship, I hear my Father say, But just wait until you see your new world! I can’t imagine. If this world, under a curse and tainted by Satan’s poison, can be so beautiful—what more does He have in store for us? I think He gives us just a taste now…to whet our appetite.
  • Scriptures say the Holy Spirit working in us is a “first installment” and “guarantee” that God the Creator will bring to completion everything He has promised His children. (see 2 Corinthians 1:22). He’s already begun the work that will end one day in heaven.
  • We are already building our relationship with the One who will someday rule all of the new heaven and earth.
  • Our transformation has begun! God is already changing us into His image, into the image we were first created to bear (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).

We are already tasting the good things of heaven. Tasting the power of the age to come.

And tasting is a better word than glimpsing. Because we do not only see these good things of heaven — we partake!

We do not simply live here on earth, die, and close the book on one life to begin another. Our eternal life in another realm has begun here and now. We live in heavenly places right now. We taste the goodness of God and the life He has planned for us—right now.

We can’t see it all clearly yet … not yet…

But we have a taste of the power of what is to come.

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
(from Psalm 31:14-15)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)