Have you ever made a promise? A promise is a commitment to perform in a certain way. Most people have been exposed to promises in one way or another. Marriages succeed or fail on the quality of a promise between a man and his wife. Business relationships are advanced in direct relationship to the ability of partners to keep promises. Sometimes promises are not fulfilled. When we fail to perform as we promised, our action is described as a broken promise.
In effect, we said we would do it and we didn't. Sometimes there are forces that come into play that are beyond our control that force us to break promises. While a broken promise is a promise interrupted, an Empty promise is an altogether different situation. An empty promise is one made in which the person making the commitment has no power to make it good. The slick smoothe talking salesman that tries to sell us the
A broken promise disappoints, but an empty promise hurts deeply. As Christians, we have received the promise of God. He has promised us a Savior! He has promised us life and life more abundantly! He has promised peace and joy in the
Our text first considers an important promise made, but gives us a lesson in observing the source of promises, no matter how good the words may seem when we hear them. The text reads: Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." In other words, in return for worship, anything that a person wants or needs is being offered. It’s a lofty sounding proposal until we consider who’s making the promise! This promise is not from God but it is being made by the devil to God's son. It’s like the thief trying to sell the stolen car to its owner. We can neither sell nor give away anything that we do not own and a promise to deliver something that is not in our control or possession is an empty promise.
The circumstance of this text finds Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights of prayer and fasting. The Devil appears to him with three fascinating conditional promises. Jesus was promised self fulfillment and nourishment, world power and dominion and the wishes of his heart if he would simply worship the devil. All three were quickly dismissed by the master. The devil went away but verse 13 notes that he departed from him until an opportune time.Today he returns to make those same empty promises to the followers of Christ and to a world that is consumed with the idea of conspicuous consumption. The devil simply promises to ingratiate us by promising the world if we worship him.
Many today have fallen for the empty promises of Satan, some more visibly than others. Satan’s promise rings in the ears of those who not only have openly turned to Satan worship, but when we listen to warped messages of misogynistic violence and glorification of criminality in some of the music that we allow ourselves to listen to. Increasingly, young people are getting caught in the fascination to praise as heroes, the characters that kill, murder, destroy, and defame.
Satan's promise rings in our ears as the guardians of capitalist consumerism scream in the sound bytes over the airways: "elevate me, promote me, symbolize me, and I will give you prosperity beyond your dreams." Satan is promising us something he cannot deliver! He’s promising us the
While we consciously reject activities that are visibly Satanic there are other ways that we secretly buy Satan’s empty promises. The promise of something for nothing is an empty promise from Satan. There are many today who are victims of pigeon drop schemes and entangle themselves legally when they buy stolen hot merchandise, on the premise that we can get something for nothing. The promise that we can do wrong and get away is an empty promise. The Word of God is true when it declares that everything done in the dark will come to the light. Those who occasionally cheat on their taxes, falsify their educational credentials and embezzle merchandise from their employers have been convinced that crime pays. It is an empty promise.
Satan promised Christ that which he could not deliver. But it was not the first time that he had made empty promises! Let’s take a stroll through scripture- From a serpent he promised Eve that she would not die! Through Nimrod he promised
The object of Satan’s promise was to get Christ to worship him. And the object of his appeals to men today is the same: to get the world to worship him instead of the Lord! Of interest to every Christian should be the response of Christ: Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Inherent in Christ's response is the reason we should serve the Lord: His promises are never broken and he is able to deliver.
We stand on the same promise that Abraham stood when he was promised a child in his old age. I hear Abraham ask, "Is there anything too hard for God?" We stand on the same promise on which the Hebrew boys stood as they faced the licking flames of the fiery furnace and declared "Our God is able to deliver us." We stand on the same promises that our grandparents stood on when the dared to believe through the dark days of slavery and segregation that with God, all things are possible!
Today the world is filled with disillusionment. There is trouble in every corner! World peace always seems to be just beyond our grasp, only a summit away! The world echoes the spine chilling cries of the hopeless and they bemoan the characterization of our times! The helpless cry out for hand up! The homeless cry out for a roof over their heads! The lonely cry out for a comforting voice! The afflicted cry out for medical care! The orphan cries out for the warm touch of a mother's hand! Those who have stumbled cry out to stand! Those who wander cry out to find their way! Those who are confused cry out for comfort! Those who are disgraced cry out for dignity!
But despite the gloomy characterization of our times, I came to declare that we ought to stand on the promises of God! I hear Isaiah reminding us of the promise of God, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel" The government shall be on his shoulders! They shall call him Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting father, Prince of Peace!
I thought I ought to remind you this first Sunday in Lent that when things get rough for you, stand on the promises of the Lord! When mountains get too high, he promises that every mountain shall be made low! When valleys get too deep, he promises that every valley shall be exalted When rough places get too rough, he promises that rough places shall be made plain! When crookedness and evil abide every where, he promises that the crooked places shall be made straight! I heard a song writer declare, "Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God."
I'm Standing! Sometimes rising and falling, but I'm Standing! Sometimes through disappointments and failure, but I'm standing! Standing on the promises of God!