So the challenge of the Christian life — and at 66, I am deeply desirous to learn how to do this. Paul did say, “I’ve learned the secret” as though it took some time (see Philippians 4:12 NASB). How many times do I come to the end of a day and I shake my head and say, “It’s been eight hours since I thought about trusting a promise.” I haven’t even thought about it. But do you know what else I’ve had in those eight hours? Anxiety. Murmuring. Where do they come from? Not trusting promises.
This takes some of us a lifetime to learn. O you young people, get this now. That’s why I prayed at the beginning, “O God, build habits into our lives.” Habits of trusting promises, habits of hourly going to the Lord and saying, “I need you. I need you. I need you.” And then don’t just go away saying, “Yeah, I need him,” and feeling as depressed as when you came.
But rather, take a promise, believe it, and don’t let it go until it has an effect on you. And then turn your resolve, by that power, into a deed. Here are six examples:
1. Grace to Give
If you set your heart, give money sacrificially and generously. I’m not even thinking necessarily the church, but just whoever has needs — the church, the poor, ministries, wherever there are needs. You’re going to make a resolve to give and have a sacrificially generous life. The power of God to fulfill that resolve will come to you as you trust in the future grace of God in the promises,
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6)
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
If you believe those three promises, you’re going to be a generous, sacrificial person. Power will come into your life as you believe those promises.
2. Grace to Return Good for Evil
If you set your heart to return good for evil, at work or in the family, or wherever, the power of God to fulfill that will come to you as you trust in the future grace that comes through the promise,
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11–12)
Do you believe that? Then you will bless those who curse you. You will be so free. There’s a blessing upon my returning good for evil. There’s a reward in heaven ten thousand times better than getting the last word in this conversation. But do we believe it? This is a faith issue.
3. Grace to Flee Sexual Immorality
If you set your heart to renounce pornography — “I’m not clicking” — the power of God to fulfill this resolve and turn it into an act of obedience that glorifies God will come to you through your trusting in the future grace of the promise,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Do you believe that? Is he satisfying to you in that promise? Is faith for you to assent to a promise intellectually, or is faith also for you to embrace the Christ of the promise as a satisfaction of your aching soul? Or the promise,
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)
Oh yes, it is better. It is wonderfully better. It is all-satisfyingly better to tear your eye out. It is so much better. Do you believe that? This is a belief issue.
4. Grace to Witness
If you set your heart to speak for Christ, when the opportunity comes — you can bear public witness — the power of God will come to you to fulfill that resolve when you believe in future grace that is flowing to you through the promise,
“Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” (Matthew 10:19)
Do you believe it?
5. Grace to Risk Your Life
If you set your heart to risk your life by ministering to the needy in some dangerous place around the world, and you set your heart to be that kind of servant of God who goes to a dangerous place to serve people without the gospel, the power of God will flow to you to turn that resolve into an act of faith, if you trust the future grace that is flowing to you through the promises,
To live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. . . . Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:28–30)
Do you believe it? God, you care for me that closely. Every little hair, you count them. That’s how intimately concerned you are for my welfare as I walk into this very dangerous place. “Yes, that’s how intimately I care for you. That’s how I attend to my children.”
6. Grace to Await Repayment
If you set your heart to invite someone to Thanksgiving dinner who cannot pay you back, the power of God will flow into that resolve and turn it into an action, if you trust in the future grace that is flowing to you through the promise:
“You will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:14)
Do you believe it? It’s a wonderful thing to live by faith in future grace. It’s radical. It’s freeing. It’s satisfying to live by faith in future grace.
May God increase our daily faith in this inexhaustible, blood-bought, Christ-exalting future grace.