Powerless Promises


“Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” (Jeremiah 16:20)

When we hear the word “idolatry,” we have a tendency to think of primitive people in remote areas of the jungle bowing down to sacred cows, stone carvings, special bushes, the sun, moon, and stars. We pity the poor, uneducated heathen who worship a god of stone . . . but we, who consider ourselves sophisticated and superior, bow down in worship to gods of gold! We have become experts at making gods out of everything.

In the 1830’s, Alexis de Tocqueville made this observation regarding the state of America: “There is a strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants . . . in the midst of their abundance.” We live in a cultural context that believes “more” is the key that will unlock the door to happiness and contentment. We yearn for more prosperity . . . more power . . . more possessions . . . more pleasure. The list could fill pages. Our contemporary culture has erected its own “totem poles” and “spiritual shrines.” Yet, none of them will ever satisfy us or meet us in our deepest place of need. All they will ever be able to deliver is a powerless promise.

Here is the simple way of understanding idolatry. There is nothing wrong or idolatrous with prosperity, power, possessions, or pleasure. But when we take these good gifts that God gives us and regard them as ultimate gifts, then they become bad gifts.

What we must keep in view is this: what rules our hearts ultimately shapes our lives. So if we are counting on anything smaller than Jesus to give us meaning, purpose, significance, contentment, or anything else that matters to us in life, we are trusting in a powerless promise. The truth of today’s verse will inevitably come blazing through: They are not gods!

So let me ask you . . . is there anything in your life right now that is more important to you than Jesus? Let me reframe the question this way: Is there anything in your life right now that, if you lost it, you would consider your life as you know it to be ruined?

Remember, we are often blindsided by the good gifts God gives us, such as family, friends, or career; without realizing it we turn them into ultimate gifts. But they simply cannot bear the weight of our expectations; in the end, it all leads to despair. But there is One who will meet and surpass all your expectations: His name is Jesus, He who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Every promise Jesus has made, He will keep. Only Jesus can make good on His promise to meet you in your deepest place of need, regardless of what that need is. Keeping Jesus on the throne of your life will keep you in a perpetual place of promised blessing, whether in seasons of plenty or seasons of want.

Here is a promise with power, given by the only One who will never fail to deliver, the God who will never leave you nor forsake you:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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