Home Chapel Content - July 2016

Promises Made Promises Kept

Text: 2 Corinthians 1:18 - 22 & Matthew 5: 33 - 37

Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians1:20 (NLT) “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!”.....”

Introduction: How often have you heard someone say, or even a business promise, that we "do what we say we will do."  Not once have I ever heard anyone say, "we don't keep our commitments." Sometimes, life experience leads us to observe that far fewer promises are being kept than made. 

Here’s a contrary example: President John F. Kennedy told Houston and the world on Sept. 12, 1962, that America would land American astronauts on the moon within the decade. America believed him. Half a century after President John F. Kennedy famous Moon Speech at Rice University, what's perhaps most remarkable is that people took him at his word. "We choose to go to the moon," Kennedy said. "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.'' And America did just what Kennedy said the country could do - put men on the moon before the end of the 1960s. That’s a promise kept.

A promise made is a promise kept. A promise that one makes should be or can be considered a promise that one will certainly honour. One of the marks of a deep friendship is that we keep our promises. Jesus has promised us many things and he keeps every one. This study outline will help us reflect upon how we make and keep promises and Jesus’ example to us.

1. Published Research findings: Book - The Day America Told the Truth
a. Thousands of people were interviewed about lying
  • Of those surveyed, 91% said that they lie on a regular basis
  • 86% said they lie to their parents regularly
  • 75% said they lie to their friends
  • 69% said they lie to their spouses
  • 50% said they regularly called in to work sick when they weren’t

b. Comparison: The ethics of Christian and non-Christian adults. 
  • They found that almost as many Christians steal from work as non-Christians
  • Almost as many Christians use company phones for personal and long distance calls as non-Christians 
  • And they found that Christians are just as likely to falsify income taxes, commit plagiarism, give bribes to obtain a building permit, ignore construction specs, illegally copy computer programs, steal time from work, exaggerate our products and selectively obey the law. 

2. What does the bible say?
Matthew 5.33-37“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

This passage reveals some important reasons why we must live truthfully:
a. First, dishonesty undermines our relationships
  • When we lie and don’t keep our promises it destroys trust and trust is what healthy relationships are built upon.
  • Honesty helps us grow in our relationships with Christ and with others. Eph. 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

b. Second, dishonesty is contrary to the character of God
  • God is a commitment-keeper: Num. 23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” 
  • Satan, however, is the father of lies - Jn. 8:44b. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

c. “Don’t fudge now.”
  • The slang term “fudge” in reference to stretching the truth comes from a sea captain named Fudge.
  • He became notorious for telling all kinds of lies, tall tales and exaggerations about his improbable adventures at sea. 
  • It was said of this Captain Fudge that he “always brought home his owners a good cargo of lies.”
  • By the mid-1800’s the expression “no fudging” was being used in America by children to dissuade friends from cheating at games.
  • Therefore, ‘No fudging’ please!

3. God takes lying very seriously
  • Prov. 12:22 “The Lord hates liars, but is pleased with those who keep their word”.
  • Rev. 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

4. How do I get better at keeping my promises?
  • Admit your struggle - At one time or another, we’ve all struggled with the truth. Sometimes it’s just easier to fib.
  • - The down side is that our culture despises dishonesty coming from people who claim to be 
  • Christians.
  • - We can do some terrible damage to our witness and even the cause of Christ when we’re not people of our word.
  • People are looking for authenticity wherever they can find it.
  • Admit that truthfulness can be a struggle - But recognise that Jesus says, “No matter what, tell the truth!”

5. Monitor your promises
  • Reliability builds credibility - Can other people count on you to follow through and do what you say you will do?
  • Do you ever say, “I’ll pray for you,” just because it sounds like the right thing to say? Do you ever actually pray for that person?
  • What about in business? Is what you advertise what you deliver?
  • Eugene Peterson, The Message paraphrase of our text: ‘And don’t say anything you don’t mean’. 

6. Jesus faced the gut-wrenching choice of keeping a costly promise. 
  • God had been promising for thousands of years to send His Son to save the world through His death and resurrection. 
  • However, when the moment of truth came in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus felt the weight of the difficulty of keeping this promise.
  • In fact, He asked His Father, “If there is any other way, please let this cup pass from me.” Jesus knows what it’s like to face a promise you don’t want to keep.
  • However, in that moment of truth, when He realised there was no other way to save us, Jesus became the ultimate promise-keeper.
  • Jesus kept His word to die in our place, to absorb all of our sin, to be cut off from the Father, so that we could live and be forgiven and be reconciled to the Father.

Living a honest life and keeping our promises can be challenging
  • Did you know that several of the Bible’s greatest “heroes of the faith” were liars?
  • Abraham lied to the Egyptian Pharaoh saying that his wife Sarah was actually his sister. 
  • Jacob lied to his father Isaac pretending to be his brother Esau, so he could receive his blessing
  • Peter lied to the servants and soldiers during the trial of Jesus saying “I tell you I never knew the man!” 
  • However, the Holy Spirit can work miracles and change a liar into a person of integrity.
  • Abraham came to a point and place in his life when he was able to trust God for everything. 
  • Jacob, after a night of wrestling with God, was able to trust God with everything he had, and so he returned to face his brother Esau whom he had cheated and betrayed. 
  • Peter was able to trust God before the same crowd that had called for Jesus’ crucifixion when he stood up at Pentecost to proclaim the same name he had denied a mere 50 days before.

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