The promise is received by faith ...
Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. ... So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. -Romans 4:13,14,16 NLT
When I ponder the word 'promise' I recall that there are two types of promises - conditional and unconditional. Many times in the bible the word "if" precedes a promise. Today's passage embodies both forms of promise. On one hand Paul states that God's promise is not received by obeying God's law. On the other hand he says that faith is required. He plainly states that it is not a quid pro quo proposition but one where the promisee simply trusts the Promiser.
I think that this can be a confusing concept at times. The temptation is to see God's promises in a formulaic way and not understand that our role is to simply trust the Promiser and not just work the promise. Yet the tension remains. On one hand our brain reads the promise and wants to do everything to bring it to pass. We want promised healings, miracles and answers to prayers. In contrast our heart speaks to us about trusting the Promiser and not the promise.
You are worthy of our trust Lord. Help our lives to be a testimony to the faithfulness of your promises.