Jesus Can Be Taken at His Word
Mature in your faith, and trust the Father like a child.
by MICHAEL KELLEY
CHILDREN HAVE GREAT memories. It’s wonderful, and sometimes annoying, to behold. Perhaps you’ve experienced the gloriously annoying memory of your grandchildren recently when they came and repeated back to you some promise you made to them off the cuff. You had forgotten, but they had not.
Children’s inconvenient memories might make us a little gun-shy when we make promises. We may refrain from making promises about upcoming events because someone could get sick or some other circumstance could change. So instead of setting up the kids for disappointment and ourselves for frustration, we might choose to use kidunfriendly answers like maybe or we’ll see.
It’s in cases like these when we should remember that God is better. He’s more trustworthy. More generous. More caring. And He’s never had the moment where He had to go to one of His children and say, “I know I said this, but things have changed, and so now I’m going to say that.”
Funny thing about that, though, is the dynamic when it comes to God is the opposite of the dynamic with the children in our lives. Whereas children remind us of the promises we’ve made, it seems God is the One doing the reminding most of the time.
Depending on your translation, there are at least 65 times in the Bible when God tells His people to remember. Remember when you were slaves. Remember My great deeds.
Remember who you once were. Remember. God is like that — He’s the Divine Reminder. And He’s totally comfortable doing so because He is what He was and what He will be. Then, now, and forever. And if He said it once, He means it now.
We, on the other hand, are forgetful people who evidently need to be reminded over and over again. Perhaps we need to be reminded because we are too lazy to think often on His promises. Or maybe it’s because there have been one too many people in our lives who have broken their promises and we transfer that distrust onto God. It seems that having the kind of childlike faith Jesus wants for us is returning to the simplicity intrinsic to children that knows and trusts the promises given to them. Faith, it could be said, is little more than taking God at His Word.
If that is true, then perhaps there are some simple action points to help us be the people who do indeed take God at His Word:
- KNOW HIS PROMISES. It’s really hard to believe God’s promises if you don’t know His promises. And to know His promises, you have to know His Word. But knowing God’s promises goes both ways: Not only does it remind us what He has said He will do, it also helps us know what He did not say He will do. When we know God’s promises, we know that we should not expect ease and comfort as His children. We should not be looking for wealth and prosperity. We know what to look for and what not to look for when we know what God has told us.
- TRUST HIS PROMISES. Because we live in a disappointing world, trusting God is a battle, especially when circumstances tell us He is not to be trusted. It’s on those days when faith becomes a fight — one that is waged many times each day. The question on those days, when you take away everything else, becomes very, very simple: Are you really going to believe what God has said?
- PREACH HIS PROMISES. And I don’t just mean to other people. In fact, preaching the promises of God to others during their time of need can come across half-hearted and unsympathetic. Theological truth should be wielded less like a hammer in those situations and more like a paintbrush. But when it comes to yourself, you can preach — and preach hard. Preach mercilessly. Preach to your own soul repeatedly. And as you do, remember the basis for those promises is not your conduct or your circumstances; it’s the character of God. When we begin to doubt that character, remember the ultimate measure of God’s love and advocacy for you is not your circumstances but the cross of Jesus Christ where He put all questions to rest once and for all. Knowing God’s promises leads to trusting His promises. And trusting them leads to preaching them to our souls, reminding ourselves — hourly, if needed — that God is worthy of our simple, childlike faith.
MICHAEL KELLEY is a husband and father of three who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he serves as the director of groups ministry for Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of the recently released Growing Down: Unlearning Patterns of Adulthood that Keep Us from Jesus, as well as Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.