Apricot buds in spring - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Psalm 105

God keeps His promises. He made promises to people in the Old Testament, and though many of them died before they saw the realization of the larger promises, God never failed them in any way. And now, in heaven with Him, they can understand that better than they ever could down here.

I needed this today, a reminder that God keeps His promises. I know that He does, but it’s easy to forget when it feels like nothing is going right. But even when things go wrong, God is still working out His plan for all of us.

Apricot buds in spring - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Apricot buds in spring – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Psalm 105

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
you children of his servant Abraham,
    you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.

He is the Lord our God.
    His justice is seen throughout the land.
He always stands by his covenant—
    the commitment he made to a thousand generations.
This is the covenant he made with Abraham
    and the oath he swore to Isaac.
He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
    and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant:
“I will give you the land of Canaan
    as your special possession.”

He said this when they were few in number,
    a tiny group of strangers in Canaan.
They wandered from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another.
Yet he did not let anyone oppress them.
    He warned kings on their behalf:
“Do not touch my chosen people,
    and do not hurt my prophets.”

He called for a famine on the land of Canaan,
    cutting off its food supply.
Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—
    Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
They bruised his feet with fetters
    and placed his neck in an iron collar.
Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,
    the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free;
    the ruler of the nation opened his prison door.
Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household;
    he became ruler over all the king’s possessions.
He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased
    and teach the king’s advisers.

Then Israel arrived in Egypt;
    Jacob lived as a foreigner in the land of Ham.
And the Lord multiplied the people of Israel
    until they became too mighty for their enemies.
Then he turned the Egyptians against the Israelites,
    and they plotted against the Lord’s servants.

But the Lord sent his servant Moses,
    along with Aaron, whom he had chosen.
They performed miraculous signs among the Egyptians,
    and wonders in the land of Ham.
The Lord blanketed Egypt in darkness,
    for they had defied his commands to let his people go.
He turned their water into blood,
    poisoning all the fish.
Then frogs overran the land
    and even invaded the king’s bedrooms.
When the Lord spoke, flies descended on the Egyptians,
    and gnats swarmed across Egypt.
He sent them hail instead of rain,
    and lightning flashed over the land.
He ruined their grapevines and fig trees
    and shattered all the trees.
He spoke, and hordes of locusts came—
    young locusts beyond number.
They ate up everything green in the land,
    destroying all the crops in their fields.
Then he killed the oldest son in each Egyptian home,
    the pride and joy of each family.

The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold;
    and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they were gone,
    for they feared them greatly.
The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering
    and gave them a great fire to light the darkness.
They asked for meat, and he sent them quail;
    he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven.
He split open a rock, and water gushed out
    to form a river through the dry wasteland.
For he remembered his sacred promise
    to his servant Abraham.
So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy,
    his chosen ones with rejoicing.
He gave his people the lands of pagan nations,
    and they harvested crops that others had planted.
All this happened so they would follow his decrees
    and obey his instructions.

Praise the Lord!

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God always keeps His promises

Today’s verse is Romans 11:33.

33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

I wonder how many times verses like this are in the Bible. So many verses tell us it’s impossible for us to understand God, but we try anyway. And half the time we think we succeed.

Since this is such a common theme throughout Scripture, I thought I’d expand a little bit and see specifically what Paul was talking about in this particular verse. And it sort of surprised me. Not that I’m saying I know so much about Scripture, but I don’t remember reading this bit in Romans 11 before. I reviewed it in the King James Version, and then I remembered reading it but it really never made a whole lot of sense to me. I mean — it did. But it didn’t strike me as totally awesome until I read it this morning in actual modern English.

Romans 11:28-32

28 Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. 30 Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. 31 Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share[k] in God’s mercy. 32For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.

These verses just before the verse of the day go into a little bit of background behind the Church Age. God chose the Jews, the people of Israel, to be His people, but they turned away from Him enough that He finally left them to their own devices. He did this so that He could allow His Word to come to the rest of the world. The Gentiles. Everyone who isn’t Jewish. That means me and just about everyone I know.

The Old Testament was all about the nation of Israel. The New Testament, after Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension, is about Gentiles. The Church Age. And we’ll be in the Church Age until Christ comes back for us.

It’s complicated. It’s like the plot of a good novel, plenty of twists and turns that don’t make sense until you read the whole story. Because I’m sure if you had talked to many of the people alive during this time, none of it would have made sense to them. I mean, now, we can look back and understand that God shifted His focus away from the people of Israel to pursue those of us who weren’t Jewish. If He hadn’t done that, the U.S. wouldn’t exist. (I know a lot of people don’t believe the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, and I’m not going to get into that debate now. But even you who don’t believe we were founded as a Christian nation can’t argue that Christians didn’t participate in the foundation of this country, that people didn’t come here for freedom to practice true Christianity.) In any case, if God hadn’t shifted His attention to allow Gentiles to come to Christ, I wouldn’t be here. And that’s a fact.

Of course, part of the covenant God made with Abraham was that the whole world would be blessed through him. So God turning His focus to Gentiles was partly to fulfill that promise. But think about the Jews at that time. Not all of them had turned away from God. Not all of them had wanted Christ crucified. Not all of them had been rebellious. But their whole nation was punished. Their whole nation was enslaved and broken apart.

I’m sure at the time it must have felt like the world was falling apart. But God had a plan. It was all part of the story He was creating. The people of Israel needed to be left on their own to realize what God had done for them. The Gentiles needed to be told about God period; they’d never heard about Him before. And when the Church Age is over, God will shift His focus again to the nation of Israel and bring them back to Him as He always has because no matter how much they screw up, they are still His chosen people. And God made a promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and God always keeps His promises.

Isn’t that incredible? Thousands and thousands of years after God made a promise to one man, He will keep His promise to rescue that man’s millions of descendants. How awesome is that?

I can’t really understand how God’s mind works. He knows all the knowledge in the universe. Shoot, He created all knowledge in the universe. But He isn’t just knowledgeable; He’s wise. And there really is a difference. And God is on a level that nobody can comprehend. He can see the whole picture. He can undertand every in and out of every situation. He can see every reprecussion, every consequence, every action, every choice we have ever and will ever make. So there’s no way I can understand why He does the things He does.

But what I can understand is what really matters. God keeps His promises.

It doesn’t matter that Abraham screwed up time after time. It doesn’t matter that his kids were screwed up. It doesn’t matter that his family became a nation of people who were disobediant and rebellious. It doesn’t matter that they all turned away from God more times than anyone can keep track of. God made a promise to Abraham, and God is going to keep that promise. (Note: Please don’t think I’m hounding on the Jews. I’m just trying to make a point. If we’re having a contest between the U.S. and Israel about which one has flipped God off more, I actually think the U.S. is in the lead . . . )

So when God makes a promise to me, I know I can trust Him. And that’s really all we need to know. Anything else would be too much for us. Anything more would terrify us.

God never makes mistakes. And He always keeps His promises, no matter what.

That’s good enough for me.