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"Burning Hearts" Conclusion

[Sing: Standing On The Promises, 452, vs. 1 and 4]

How wonderful it is to stand before you ladies this morning and speak about the promises of God to His faithful followers. My heart has been burning within me throughout this study of Christ in Prophecy. God has given me a greater measure of wisdom and understanding while working the lessons this quarter and thus a greater measure of faith in Him and His beloved Son. The lessons that I once thought were so difficult are now merely just "challenging." I thank Him for His patience and willingness to be my Teacher, and for each of you, that the encouragement your presence brings me and the devotion you hold for Him as well. Our God is the only true God and He proves it over and over again throughout our studies together.

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." (2 Peter 1:2-4.)

When I read that passage Peter wrote so long ago, it thrills my soul. He said that the promises God made to His own are both precious and magnificent! According to Webster, the adjective precious is defined as: of such great value that a suitable price is hard to estimate. Wow! When looking at the adjective magnificent in the thesaurus I see synonyms such as: grand, noble, princely, stately, glorious, majestic, splendid, sublime, luxurious, opulent, gorgeous, proud, superb, and outstanding. (And those are just the words that I can pronounce correctly---there are many others!)

The first thing that may cross one’s mind is, "How can I be sure that I am on the receiving end of these incredible promises?" A careful study of God’s word reveals that Jesus calls us by the Gospel. Listen carefully as I read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." Other passages that mention being called by the gospel are Hebrews 9:15 and Romans 8:30.

This calling can be compared to a parent who is searching for a lost child. The parent desperately misses the bond that was a part of the relationship shared with the child when the two were united. Being separated is agonizing. The parent goes to great lengths to find and reach the lost child. Others are brought in to try and reconcile the child to the parent. You know this scenario, it is all too often played out in our world today. A child is lost and the parent wants to find him. We see pictures of the lost on milk cartons, on the walls of the post office, flyers hung around town, and bumper stickers on cars. When we hear these sad stories, we grasp the hands of our own children a little tighter and pray that it does not happen to one of our own. However, the truth of the matter is that this situation has happened to our family. In contrast, we are the lost children and God is the searching Father. Our sin has separated us from Him and the bond we once held with Him has been severed. The separation is agonizing for Him. He has gone to great lengths to find us, if only we would heed His calling. The Bible is the greatest "want ad" advertising for our return, and Jesus is the one who reconciles us to our beloved Daddy.

If we heed this great calling there are facts that must be believed and commandments to be obeyed in order to be a recipient of these precious and magnificent promises of God. I must believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I must believe that He lived a perfect, sinless life and that He was the spotless, blameless, sacrificial lamb that died in my stead. I must believe that He died and rose again, never to die anymore, and that He is seated at the right hand of God reigning over His eternal kingdom. If I believe these facts, of course, I will want to be obedient to God and change my heart and life by repenting of my sinful ways, confess the good name of Jesus and be buried with Him in baptism. I then must continue to walk in the light and live by faith until I take my last breath. If I believe these facts and if I obey these commandments, then I will receive God’s promises.

Did anyone notice how many times I used the word "if" in the last paragraph? God does not make us do any of these things. He is the ultimate gentleman. He calls to us and all He wants in reply is our hearts. He wants our absolute devotion. I have a book, given to me by a former student. It is entitled Children’s Letters To God. It is an endearing little book, that many of you may have seen or own yourselves. In it a little girl named Jane writes: "Dear God, What does it mean you are a jealous God. I thought you had everything." Upon first glance that may seem to be true. Doesn’t the Bible tell us that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it? However, after careful examination one may see that He doesn’t have everything He desires. He tells, begs, pleads with us repeatedly throughout the Bible to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." What He really wants is our hearts and our devotion to only Him. If you give Him your heart, He will make you His adopted child and give you every right to His inheritance.

God is faithful and we know from the Hebrews writer that it is impossible for Him to lie. Therefore, we know that ALL of the promises He’s made regarding His chosen children WILL come true. What a hope we have! We have so much to cling to now and anticipate in our glorious future. We have the promise of the forgiveness of all our sin. Yesterday’s sin; today’s sin; and tomorrow’s sin are all taken care of. They are washed away and you are purified by the blood of the Lamb. When we are clothed with Christ in baptism our garments are His sinless life and His precious atoning blood. We have confidence that we can approach God dressed in Christ’s righteousness alone, spotless to stand before the throne. When we do stand before that throne we will not be judged guilty, but declared innocent and belonging to God by Jesus. What a magnificent, precious promise! But there is more---

We also have the promise of the Holy Spirit. He is the Comforter, the Helper, Intercessor. When we don’t know how to pray, He intercedes on our behalf. When our groanings are too deep for words , He puts them into words that the Father can understand. Because the Spirit resides within the Christian, we never have to worry about being alone or unprotected. We are sealed by His Spirit and The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, we are heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

When I read those verses from Romans 8:16-17, I can hardly believe what it says. Are you sure that it says we are fellow heirs with Christ? That can’t be true! I don’t deserve it! Christ, well, He’s Christ. He deserves His inheritance, but me ... I’m so unworthy. Eternal life! Glorious, heavenly riches! A home prepared for me in heaven by God! Rewards! Treasures! A purse that doesn’t wear out! I can not fathom it. I don’t deserve it, but I sure do want it. Just let me in the gate and I’ll be happy, but to share in Christ’s inheritance, it’s too much for me to comprehend.

And God does tell us that it is too much for us to comprehend. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 2: 9. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him."

We know that our eternal life with God will hold lots of pleasant surprises for us. We don’t know much about the details, except that it will be wonderful! What do we know about our eternal life with God? We do know that there is no night. He is the Light that illuminates heaven. We do know that we will see Him as He is. We will worship Him face to face. There will be no tears in heaven. God will wipe them away. There will no longer be any death, sorrow, or pain. The former things have passed away. His words boldly ring in my ear, "Behold, I am making all things new!"

It is amazing! God is amazing! The promises are real, and they are ours to receive. God will do His part, all we have to do is give Him our hearts and entrust our souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. I would like to close with a passage from Hebrews that has just recently become one of my very favorites. I believe that it serves as a perfect summation to this series of lessons. When I read this passage, it encourages me to do what is right; it prods me to continue in my Christian walk and not to grow weary of doing good; it strengthens my faith; it excites me about God’s promises; but most of all, it makes me stand in even greater amazement of Jesus the Nazarene—the foretold, the fulfilled, and the forthcoming.

"Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10-:19-23.)

[Sing: Blessed Assurance, 480, all stanzas]

Christy Hesslen

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Ladies Bible Class, 9 March 1999

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