Our heavenly Father has made many promises in the Bible. But there is confusion about which verses we can claim as a definite commitment from God. Three questions are useful in evaluating whether divine promises apply to our own situation:
1. Is this promise limited to a specific person or circumstance, or does it apply to all believers? For example, the pledge made to Abraham and Sarah about giving birth to a child (Gen. 18:10) is restricted to them, whereas Hebrews 13:5 contains a guarantee to all Christians that Jesus will be with them forever.
2. Are we asking the Lord to meet a need or a desire? A need is something that we must have in order for God to complete His work in our lives. A desire is something we want for satisfaction or enjoyment. If we lose our job, then an essential—an incoming wage—is missing. But if we want a new position for personal reasons, it’s a desire.
3. Before fulfilling a promise, does the Lord require some action on our part? Proverbs 3:5-6 is a conditional promise, which pledges God’s direction on the basis of our trust in Him. On the other hand, Jesus’ assurance of His presence with believers is unconditional (Matt. 28:20).
By evaluating Scripture on the basis of these questions, we will know which promises apply to our situation. Think of how much more confidence we’ll have in asking our Lord to fulfill them. For, as 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.”
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