Are God’s Promises Too Good to Be True?

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’”—Hebrews 13:5 (NIV).

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Telemarketers are annoying. If the salesperson is the persistent kind, he usually won’t take “no” for an answer easily. Even the nicer ones can grate on the nerves, especially if the promises seem too good to be true.

Since I signed up for the Do Not Call list over two decades ago, the number of phone calls I receive from telemarketers has declined. Another reason could be attributed to my lack of a home phone. I finally cut the cord about six years ago, depending on my cell phone—which is also on the list—for verbal communication. However, I occasionally still receive unwanted calls, including those I know are scams.

I’m always amazed at the proliferation of different scams as well as those who fall for them. In spite of repeated warnings from different news sources, people hang onto hope that they’ve won large amounts of money, vacations or other goods.

Criminals will go to any lengths to steal our money and identity. It never seems to end. While the elderly are the most vulnerable, I’ve read of those who’ve been scammed out of money through dating websites.

Listening to a radio program recently, I was amazed to learn that the number one Internet google search is “What is love?” As the commentator and his guest discussed this trend, I thought about the lyrics to a 1980 country song, “Lookin’ for Love.”  Part of the lyrics follow: “Searching for love in all the wrong places.”

Keeping Our Eyes on the Lord

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken”—Psalm 16:8 (NIV).

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Do you find it difficult sometimes to keep your eyes on the Lord? I know I do. When we find our lives spiraling out-of-control with unexpected illnesses, the death of a loved one, family dysfunction or worldwide uncertainty, it’s often easier to wring our hands in despair than to turn to the One who gave His life for us.

Jesus never promised us a life of luxury or one without pain and heartache. Look at His life, lived simply and ending in an agonizing death. But He did promise to be with us during our trials.

Recently, I was blessed to have lunch at an assisted living facility with a friend who will turn 90 later this year. As each of her table companions joined us to eat, Josie introduced me. I’m certain my friend is the oldest of the five women, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by her actions.

Before the others arrived and I could assist her, Josie had parked her walker and moved a chair from a nearby table and placed it next to hers—for me. When I realized her intent, I admonished her and said, “Josie, you should let me do that.”

Then, when the last of our table mates joined us, Josie rose to help maneuver her friend’s walker and pull back her dining room chair so she could be seated. When she returned to her seat, I said, “Josie, you have a servant’s heart.” She just smiled.

Don’t live life looking in a mirror

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”—Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV).

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Trying to back out of my friend’s curved driveway, I had to make several attempts to keep from running over several bushes. Even with a dashboard back-up camera, it was a challenge to maneuver my car safely onto the street without doing any damage.

My friend, seated on the passenger side, admitted she wasn’t very good at backing up either. Her solution was to turn her vehicle around in the wide drive so she could leave the premises facing forward.

How often do we navigate life’s challenges, clinging to our mistakes, regretting our choices and failing to move forward because we haven’t released our past to the One who loves us more than life itself? God never meant for us carry that weight.

Holding onto the past

Letting go is one of the hardest things we face. It’s easier for us to hold onto regrets, mistakes, guilt, failures, hurt, fear, anger and worry than to allow God to use them for His glory.

British author C.S. Lewis once said, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”

Paid in Full with One Glass of Milk

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”— Colossians 3:12 (NIV).

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On a spring day in Pennsylvania, a poor boy was selling goods to pay his way through school. The year was 1863, and the boy was going door-to-door to meet his goal. While traveling through the countryside, he became hungry. He only had a dime left, so he decided to ask for food at the next house.

However, he lost his nerve to ask the young woman who answered the door for a meal. Instead, he asked for a drink of water. Thinking he looked hungry, the woman brought him a large glass of milk.  After he slowly savored the nourishment, he asked her, “How much do I owe you?”

The young woman replied, “You don’t owe me anything. Our mother taught us never to accept payment for a kindness.”

The boy said, “Then, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

As the young man walked away, he not only felt physically stronger, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up.

Living in Anticipation and Hope at Christmas

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”—Isaiah 7:14 (ESV).

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Anticipation, according to the dictionary, means “realization in advance; foretaste; expectation or hope.”

Hope is a four-letter word loaded with meaning. While the dictionary offers several definitions, the one fitting to Christ’s birth is “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.”

Approximately 700 years passed between the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and the birth of the Christ child. Another word closely associated with anticipation and hope is the word, “wait.”

Does anyone like waiting?

Does anyone like waiting? We wait for the traffic light to turn green. In our rush, we sigh as we wait in the long check-out lines, especially at this time of year. We wait in frustration when we are put on hold and have to listen to elevator music.

The waiting time continues while we anticipate the arrival of a beloved family member or an important package in the mail. We count the days until a milestone birthday or other event.

Disliking the cold and darker days of winter, many count off the months until the arrival of spring and more daylight hours. We wait and wait and wonder.

Living a Life of Extravagant Love

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Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that”—Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)

Dressing for a doctor’s appointment, I felt led to slip on a seldom-worn bracelet, a gift from a dear friend. The sparkling jewelry was adorned with the symbol for breast cancer awareness. As I drove to my appointment, the charm dangled from my wrist, reminding me of how blessed I am. My cancer was caught early and my treatment was minimal.

Before entering the doors of the cancer center that hot July morning, I glanced again at the bracelet. A still, small voice said, “Give it away.”

Walking through the center, I searched the faces of those who were there for treatment. I was there for my yearly follow-up exam. Again, I was declared cancer-free.

The comfort of faith

Others were just beginning their journey. Some of their faces reflected fear while a peace surrounded those who, like me, had been declared cancer-free or understood the comfort of their faith. My heart ached for those who appeared lost. I prayed, “God, you want me to give this bracelet away. Show me who needs it the most.”

I searched the faces, praying for the right person to receive the bracelet. I’d almost given up hope, thinking I’d misunderstood God’s direction, when I recognized an older couple seated in the hallway outside one of the exam rooms. I feared one of them had been diagnosed with cancer.

After hugging both, I asked, “Are you okay?”

What If You Could Have a New Beginning?

“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!”—2 Corinthians 5:17 (TLB).

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As I clipped and then filed her fingernails, I listened as my soon-to-be 89-year-old friend relived her past. Josie has been hospitalized or in rehab since May of this year. She was injured in an automobile accident, killing the driver, her husband Dave.

I’ve known Josie since 2001 when we became neighbors. However, there was much of her past I did not know, like the fact her only daughter is adopted. As my friend shared her journey from her first marriage and the adoption of Monica, I asked more questions. She readily shared, including the circumstances of her first husband’s death.

I held back tears as she described in details the adoption process and her fears of someone returning to claim her daughter, not born of her body, but of her heart.

“I was so afraid,” she said. “I wanted to hold her close and never put her down.”