One of the truly amazing things about God is that God is a promise making and a promise keeping God. God literally makes hundreds of promises in the Bible, which is wonderful in its self, but the really wonderful thing is that the same Bible tells us that God is faithful to keep his promises. We all have experience with promises. We’ve all made promises and promises have been made to us. But the reality is that we don’t always keep our promises, nor does anyone else. We all know the shame and disappointment of a broken promise, whether our own broken promise or a broken promise made to us. God never breaks his promise. We can depend on him. He is faithful.
The promises of God are of two kinds. In the Bible we find conditional and unconditional promises. Unconditional promises, like the name implies, have no conditions that must be met for the promise to be fulfilled. A couple of examples are the promise God made to Noah and the world that he would never destroy the world by flood again, and another is that he will never leave nor forsake the believer in all the ups and downs of life. God will surely keep both these promises, and all unconditional promises, whether people are faithful to him or not. These promises are beautifully unconditional.
Conditional promises, on the other hand, have conditions that must be met before God will fulfill his promise. Conditional promises often, but not always, have an “if – then” statement either explicitly or implicitly stated in the promise. One such promise is found in 1 John 1:9. That verse gives the conditional promise, “If we confess our sins, [then] he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The “then” part of the promise is implied and must be inserted. The condition for forgiveness and cleansing is confessing our sins. If we don’t confess our sins, there will be no forgiveness. Not all conditional promises are so easy to detect. In Isaiah 40:28-31 God promises his people strength when they are weak and weary. But the condition to receiving the strength of God is waiting upon the Lord. So, when claiming the promises it is important to know whether the promise is conditional or unconditional, and if conditional what is the condition. It’s also important to know exactly what God is promising.
The promises of God are very important in the blessing and growth of the Christian life. The apostle Peter relates to us the nature and power of God’s promises in 2 Peter 1:4, “By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires.” Peter calls the promises of God precious and very great. He further instructs us that through the promises of God we become partakers of the divine nature (spiritual growth) and escape the corruption in the world. So we see that knowing and claiming the promises of God are a high priority for every believer in Jesus Christ. I’ve found that one of the best ways to really know and claim the promises of God are to meditate on them.
God encourages believers to meditate on his word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-2; 119:148). Biblical meditation is different from other forms of meditation. Biblical meditation fills the mind with God and his word. It is an intense focus on a portion of Scripture. Biblical meditation seeks to throughly understand the promise of God and claim it in a dynamic way. It is done in various ways. I find the best way to meditate on the word of God is a three step process. The first is to read the promise a few times. Second, it is important to note the context that may inform the meaning of the promise in any way. And finally, the promise must be read slowly focusing on what each word or phrase can mean in the promise. Don’t skip over small words, but think deeply about them all. This final step can be done several times or more. This is where God begins to speak deeply to us from his word. The more we can extract from the promise the more meaningful it will be. At this point we can verbalize a prayer to God based on our meditation of his word.
A simple example of biblical meditation is the well known and much loved verse, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” After reading the verse a few times and noting the context, the first thing to do is to decide if the promise is conditional or unconditional and exactly what God is promising. The promise God is making here is the promise of eternal life. This promise of eternal life is only fulfilled through the condition of faith. As one meditates on this verse it is very beneficial to think deeply on each and every word. Not every word will yield as much insight, but many will reveal more than anticipated. Small words like so, that (used twice), only, whoever, not and in, have great meaning. Then there are the big words that provide rich and deep insight like God, loved, world, gave, Son, believes, perish, eternal and life. One can easily meditate on this single verse for 15-30 minutes. As we work our way through the verse a deeper and fuller appreciation for the promise and the promiser will emerge. This will lead to prayer, faith and worship.
This type of meditation can greatly benefit us in knowing the Bible better, receiving a blessing we need, battling against sin or an emotional struggle and experiencing intimate fellowship with God. I must admit it can be addictive. I cannot live without biblical meditation. The promises of God come sweet and powerful during times of intense meditation. And it is something every believer can do successfully. The more we practice it the more we get out of it. We grow in our meditation skills. It is also important to be sure we’re walking by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is indispensable in biblical meditation.
Here are some of the best known promises of God for your meditation (Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:13; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Isaiah 41:10; Hebrews 13:5-6; Psalm 16:11; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Matthew 6:33; Proverbs 3:5-6; ; Philippians 4:6-7; Psalm 56:3-4). Here are some longer passages for meditation (Psalm 23; Matthew 6:9-15; Romans 8:31-39; 1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 5:3-10).
Nothing is more precious or powerful than being in the presence of God. Biblical meditation on the promises of God are an open door into his heart. Step through that door and let him guide you.