"99¢ refills forever!" That's what the ad for one restaurant claimed. Seemed like a pretty good deal, so I went ahead and bought one of the special cups from the promotion. Once I had the cup in my hand, I noticed some small letters along the side of the cup: "Promotion may be changed or cancelled at any time." Wait a minute! What happened to "forever"? Apparently forever can be changed or cancelled at any time. Not only with soft drinks, of course. How many pledges to "love forever" fall by the wayside? Does anyone really expect that everyone who claims to be "best friends forever" will remain lifelong friends? When pop singers sing about loving someone "till the end of time," we know that statement is merely poetic license. In today's world, "forever" just isn't what it used to be. At best, forever means "a really long time."

So when does "forever" mean "through all of eternity"? When God is doing the talking. God can speak confidently about eternity because he has always existed and always will. If a human being wants to promise me something "forever," I take it with a grain of salt. That person won't live forever, so they won't be around to make good on their promise.

When God speaks of forever, he can do so because he doesn't change. His essential nature will always be the same. The local restaurant doesn't know what can happen in the future, so they protect their offer with an escape clause. God needs no escape clause. His promises don't carry fine print. He will always be around to fulfill his promises, and he will never change.

When Jesus was on earth, he made the statement: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Matthew 24:35). Centuries before Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote: "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). What God has promised us, we can believe. When he speaks of forever, we don't have to worry about changes or cancellations. The apostle Paul wrote: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). That's a promise we can believe in.

If you're not confident about forever or have doubts about God and his promises, I'd like to talk to you about your relationship with him. Write to me at tim@hopeforlife.org or leave a comment on our blog on www.hopeforlife.org.

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