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When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. Genesis 15:17

All of us, at one time or another have suffered from broken promises. It started when we were young with the promises of parents and other ‘trusted adults’ who promised to play with us, take us to the zoo, or go on that fishing trip.

As we grew older the promises became more complex, but no more secure.

“I’ll be your best friend forever.”

“I promise I won’t tell anyone your secret. You can trust me.”

“I promise I will never leave you. I will always be here for you.”

Broken promises break our hearts, wound our souls and cause us to doubt others as well as ourselves.

The problem with promises is that they are only as strong as the person making them. A common misconception we have is that some promises are conditional.

“I promise I’ll go to the dance with you if…”

“We’ll watch the ball game together if you promise you’ll clean your room.”

But promises are unconditional. Once you add a condition to a promise the promise and it’s accompanying obedience becomes a rule/wage situation. None of this is more true than with the story of Abram and Jehovah God.

Abram bursts onto the Old Testament scene rather abruptly and from out of nowhere. For no apparent reason, God promises him tremendous blessing both in wealth in this life and in a legacy that will last throughout history.

In Abram’s day, promises were covenants that were sealed with sacrifice. The ceremony involved cutting animals in half and laying them end to end. The participants in the sacrifice would walk together through the carcasses as a sign of their allegiance to the sacrifice. In a sense it would be like saying, ‘may I be like one of these animals if I break this promise.’

The interesting thing is, Abram didn’t walk down the path, only God did. The meaning is amazing. The promise of God’s love and blessing is entirely dependent on him alone, not Abram. The blazing torch symbolizes the Shekinah Glory, God himself in all his power and majesty. The smoking fire pot may symbolize despair and pain. To me, it symbolizes the pain Jesus bore on the cross for me.

God’s promise is not dependent on us in the least. There is nothing we can do to tear us away from his love and power and forgiveness. Without God’s love, our lives are full of pain and broken promises. With him we shine as lights in the darkness.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for your promise of salvation. Thank you that there is nothing I can do to invalidate the covenant because it all rides on you. And thank you for the forgiveness that only comes through Jesus. Amen.

My God, I trust you. Do not let me be disgraced; do not let my enemies laugh at me. Psalm 25:2

People let us down.

That’s not by any means an earth-shattering statement. Sometimes they let us down unintentionally. They have every intention of fulfilling their promise but are unable to do so because of some unexpected circumstance.

Other times they are unable to fulfill their promise because they underestimated their ability to carry out the work they said they would do.

Sometimes, they just forget the obligation they made to you.

And, there are those who, much as we hate to admit it, make a promise that they had no intention of keeping. They quite simply intended on deceiving you.

When promises are broken they cause wounds. The wounds broken promises cause are directly proportional to the importance of the thing promised to us. As an adult, the broken promise of a friend to meet us for coffee is relatively small and easily handled. The broken promise of a parent to be at a child’s ball game may seem small to the parent, but is very painful to the child.

The worst part about a broken promise is the destruction of trust. You trusted your spouse to stay true to the vows they spoke. Now you find out they’ve been cheating on you and you can never trust them again. Your boss promised you the promotion but filled the position from outside, and now your confidence in your job (and yourself) has been dashed. Your parents promised you a family heirloom when they died and you discover they’ve given it to someone else.

Broken trust wounds the soul. Broken trust makes you feel like a fool. Broken trust makes you feel like you are the object of ridicule to all those around you.

“You should have known better.” they say.

“Don’t know why you didn’t see that coming.”

“What did you expect?”

The arrows hit home. They lodge deep in the soul. As a child you may think, I can never trust my mom and dad. God promised me things too. If my parents don’t keep their promises, God won’t keep his either.

As an adult you resolve that you will never be hurt again. You will never take the chance on love. You will never let anyone control you to that extent again. You will never allow yourself to feel this pain.

It’s with this in mind that David pens the words of Psalm 25. David knew about broken promises. David knew the hearts of men could not be trusted. His prayer to his God is that he would not be let down, not embarrassed, not disgraced or laughed at or ridiculed for his faith in a God who was unseen and at times unpredictable.

We serve a God we can trust. Unlike humans, there is never a promise he was unable to keep. Sometimes we need to look back to see how he fulfilled his promises. Sometimes he fulfills them in ways we don’t expect. But you can trust him. He is willing and able to do just as he said he’d do…in his way…in his time. You can count on it. He promised.

PRAYER: Father there have been many times I’ve broken promises to others. I confess sometimes those promises were broken intentionally. Other times I was unable to fulfill my obligation. I thank you for never, ever letting us down. Thank you that I can trust you to do just as you say. Amen.

They do not respect hateful people but honor those who honor the Lord. They keep their promises to their neighbors, even when it hurts. (NCV)

All of us regret decisions we have made from time to time. Sometimes those decisions involve finances. Sometimes they involve decisions based on passion. They almost always affect relationships either negatively or positively.

A friend of mine tells the story of a vision he had for a business. He prayed about the idea and felt in his heart that he had the go ahead to pursue the venture. The one stumbling point was money. He approached his father with the idea and they both prayed and contemplated the idea. It seemed good to them so his father put up money from the equity in his house as well as some retirement account to join in the venture.

Then, the inevitable happened. The economy crashed and my friend lost his business. That, however, wasn’t the worst of it. As a result of his business failure, both he and his father lost their homes as well as the small amount his father had in a retirement account.

“Looking back,” my friend tells me, “We both had some apprehension about the idea but for some reason we decided to go ahead with the plan.”

The situation caused some real strains on the relationship my friend had with his father for several weeks. However, in the course of that difficult time financially, his Dad never once placed all the blame on my friend.

“In the course of our conversations we forgave each other for not listening a little closer to the Spirit. We both admitted to each other, and our God, that our ‘answer to prayer’ may have been our own human voice and not the voice of God and reason. Still, Dad and I maintained a good relationship even during the strained times.”

That story, difficult as it is, reminds me of the verse in Psalm 15. A man of God keeps his promises even when the results cause him hurt. He doesn’t keep them because they benefit him; he keeps them because they honor the Lord.

That principle should guide each of us in our financial dealings, our dealings in our jobs, and in all our relationships. My friend learned a painful and valuable lesson to listen carefully to the Spirit’s voice. But he learned another valuable lesson from his earthly father.

A promise is a promise. Period. If we think about it, isn’t that what our Heavenly Father does for us every day? We get up in the morning and promise not to engage in road rage…until we are cut off in traffic. We promise not to listen to the vulgar jokes at work…until we enter the break room. We promise not to snap at our family…until we can’t find the remote. We promise God that we’ll get up early in the morning to spend time with him…until the alarm rings.

Regardless of how many promises we break, our Heavenly Father keeps his promises to us. Even when it hurts him. He promises to love us, to walk by our side, to forgive us and a whole list of other promises. His promises are based on his ability to keep them, not on our ability to keep ours.

PRAYER: Father I praise you for your patience with me. I praise you for the fact that even though I can’t keep my promises, you always keep yours. Help me to show that kind of faith and patience with those around me that continually break their promises so that your name will be glorified. Amen.

As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”Romans 9:25 (NIV)

“I can’t love them after what they did to me. This was too much. How can I love someone I can’t trust anymore? I can forgive anything, but infidelity? Not this time. It’s over”

These words are said time and time again. Not word for word of course but in essence one of the hardest things to forgive is when someone cheats us, lies to us or breaks a vow to us. It attacks the very foundation of any relationship.

That’s why grace is so amazing to me. None of us would find it easy to love someone who we knew to be unfaithful. In fact few are able to do that. Yet that is exactly what God did for us.

The prophet Hosea was called by God to bring the word of restoration toIsrael. God often used life examples to bring others to himself. The Old Testament prophets were known to do some pretty outlandish things to draw attention to them so that they could draw attention to the message God had for them.

Hosea was no exception. Hosea was married to a woman who left him to openly live with other men. God sent him to find her and bring her back to him as his beloved. A tall order for anyone in any time, to love someone who you know will scoff at that love and go back to a life of adultery.

The family life of Hosea is a startling reminder to us that God’s relationship with us is based on his love for us and not on our ability to ‘love him back’. He knew when he chose us that we’d fail him, but he loved us anyway.

Human love can’t comprehend that. Our concept of love is built on the ability of the loved one to be able to return that love to the giver of love. We, in our human condition are unable to do that. But, as the Apostle Paul writes, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” The free gift of salvation is given us with full knowledge what we are unable to return that love and are completely undeserving of it.

Regardless of where you are in life, no matter how many times you’ve failed him. Your Father loves you and wants you to return to him.

PRAYER: Father there are so many times I’ve failed you. So many times I’ve sought after other gods, other things to satisfy this longing in my soul. Forgive me for my waywardness. Thank you for your unselfish love for me in spite of my ability to return that love. Amen.

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September 2022
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