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Pursuit of a Promise

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

Do you have a big promise you’ve been hanging on to, wondering if you’ll ever see it come to fruition? That thing you’ve been praying for what seems like forever? Maybe it’s a promise the Lord gave you or a dream in your heart.

God cares about our dreams and he delights in our faith to take hold of the promises he’s given us. In Psalm 37:14 it says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” God knows those things in your heart; he most likely is the One who put them there, and because they’re important to you, they’re important to him. That’s the kind of Father He is.

As gracefully and gently, as only the Lord can, He recently convicted my heart of having my eye too much on the promise and not enough on the Promiser. The first indicator for me that I’ve had it the wrong way around is my weary heart. Then my bad attitude follows shortly behind.

I heard a message from Pastor Bill Johnson recently and I pray I never forget it. He said, "Promises from God either lead to trust or entitlement. People who are frustrated with lack of breakthrough in their life are different from those who are overwhelmed and impressed by what God is doing. The difference is when God is your servant you will always be frustrated, but when you live to serve God you will constantly be amazed."

That’s a good heart check - that was a hurts so good kind of ouch for me!

If you know much about Scripture, you’ve probably heard about the Israelites’ 40 years in the desert. They were on a journey to the land God had promised them - free from bondage and into a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:8). In other words, a land with abundant enjoyment! Their trip was supposed to take three days. THREE DAYS! What in the world did they do to turn a three-day trip into 40 years?!

They complained!

God had just rescued the Israelites from Egypt where they were enslaved for hundreds of years. They witnessed God part the Red Sea giving them just enough time to cross into safety before He allowed the waters to swallow up their enemies. They had also seen God bring water from a rock to refresh all 600,000+ of them and faithfully given them manna to eat each day. They had experienced God faithfully lead them with a cloud overhead by day and fire by night keeping them out of harm’s way.

There was evidence of God’s faithfulness all around them, yet instead of praising God, they had their eyes on what they didn’t have. They complained every step of the way. They wanted meat instead of manna, they wanted a different leader instead of Moses, and they wanted the easy way into the promised land without having to fight for it.

Seriously?! They had witnessed with their own eyes God part the Red Sea and save their butts from getting massacred by the Egyptians. But they had no faith that God would help them take out their enemies that were in their promised land.

Oh, how I wish I could say I haven’t lost faith this same way, and after having just seen God do a miracle in my own life. They took it a step further and had the audacity to suggest planning a way to head back to Egypt. Back to slavery. Back to the very place the Lord had just rescued them from. The promise land was in sight and they were giving up.

There were two, however, that were ready to fight for their promised land. Caleb and Joshua. They were confident in God and His promise, and they had no intention of giving up or settling for less. I don’t know about you, but I want to be on their team! Too many times I have sung the desert blues with the others.

So how do we get through the desert to our promised land? How do we get through seasons in life that tempt us to question God’s goodness and faithfulness?

Does the desert feel more like a lifetime than a season? Maybe it was meant to be a season, but that three-day trip now has us wandering in our own 40 years.

Do our prayers contradict our words? Are we praying for blessing, yet cursing our life with our own words? Our own complaints?

Our words are powerful. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose” (Proverbs 18:21 MSG). God gave us that power and he’s not going to take it away just because we’re careless with it.

The thought of my own complaining and ungratefulness keeping me from the promises God has for me is enough motivation for me to take my thoughts captive and shut my mouth!

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5 NASB)

If there’s a thought in my mind that contradicts God’s Word, I need to raise that thing up and make it obedient to Christ. Literally, picture yourself taking that thought in your hand and putting it in front of your face to examine it against God’s Word. If it’s not truth, cast it down and make it obedient to Christ. In other words, find the truth and use it to trump the lie.

If the thought is, “There’s no hope, I’ll never be able to have a baby.” Find the truth. “And by faith even Sarah who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise“ (Hebrews 11:11). If God did it for Sarah, He can do it for you!

If we are going to see the promises God has for us we need to repent for believing the lie and then intentionally turn our grumbling into songs of gratitude. If that’s hard to do, do it anyway.

The only successful way through a desert is when we have our eyes on the Promiser. When our eyes are on the promise itself we lose perspective, we lose hope, and we lose power.

Sometimes we have our hands so tightly gripped to the promise that we aren’t allowing God to bring it to fruition. We’re terrified that if we loosen our grip it’ll fall apart.

Or on the other end, maybe we’ve resided in the desert for so long, we’ve just invested in a camper and plan to stay because it’s less painful than hoping in the promise and being disappointed, again.

Can I tell you that’s a lie. The enemy intends to steal every promise and every gift the Lord has for us and he will be successful if we allow it. Don’t lose hope. Pray when it’s hard to pray, intentionally speak life, choose gratefulness, choose to persevere, and find your rest as you lay your head on the Lord’s chest and lift your chin to look into his kind eyes. Let him still your heart with peace, minister hope, and fill you with joy. There is abundant joy available outside of the promise. He is our joy.

One thing the Lord promised me five years ago was intimacy with him. My past made it hard to trust him and believe in his unconditional love, but I knew I needed him. When our earthly father is not a good representation of our Heavenly Father it absolutely affects our relationship with the Him. If you don’t know the Lord intimately I pray your heart yearns for just that. He loves you more than you can imagine.

The promise of intimacy is yours too. Along with so much more.

What promise/s are you trusting the Lord with? A successful pregnancy, happy marriage, your child’s salvation, successful business, successful ministry, your health, freedom from addiction, a place to call home, your dream home…?

What is the first thing you think about in the morning when you wake up and the last thing you think about when your head hits the pillow at night? Is it the promise or the Promiser? Is it a list of to-dos to get to the promise? Is it worry and fear?

Let me tell you a secret in case you haven’t heard. We have Something the Israelites didn’t - the Holy Spirit. We have direct contact with the Lord because Jesus came and died for our sins so that we could be reconciled with the Father. When Jesus ascended to Heaven the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell inside us.

This was after the Israelites time. They never had the opportunity to have direct contact with God, only Moses did. We don’t have to go through a spiritual leader or pastor, preacher or prophet, anyone or anything to intercede for us. There is value in having a church home and relationship with a spiritual leader to seek wise counsel, to pray with, and have accountability, yes! I agree! But, don’t forget we have direct communication, direct access to the Lord Himself!

And Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He still heals. He still delivers. He still performs miracles. He is still speaking. And He is always keeping his promises! Agree with Him in those promises! I don’t want to get to Heaven and see my promises there in front of me with bows on top with my name on them untouched because I was too busy complaining, envying others’ gifts or chasing after what I thought was better.

No. I want to live in every promise and every gift the gracious Lord has for me and receive them gratefully!

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