Do you have a promise you feel God has given you that remains unfulfilled?
What do we do with those unfulfilled promises from a God who always comes through? Partner in God’s promise.
The seeds of this blog came from a sermon from my pastor, whose words brought together unrelated ideas floating in my head for awhile. Where this blog brings life, thank him. I’ll take the weight for what is unclear!
Part of the change from Old Testament to New Testament is that God releases all His people to be a prophetic people (Acts 2:17-18). However, earlier in my Christian life, I was cautious around prophecy. I had heard destructive prophesies. And their delivery gave me long pause. I missed out on a portion of what God provides for our life and ministry.
Part of the problem was forgetting that we partner in God’s promise. I had friends who quoted a prophetic word prayed over them in the past. I asked “what are you doing about that today?” Their response was: “Waiting for the Lord.” I was new to this, yet still something seemed out of alignment with God’s plan.
On that Sunday night, our pastor stated that most of us are bad at stewarding the words we have received. God designed us to partner in God’s promise, so we cannot just wait passively (and neither can we act on our own to fulfill it). We must learn to steward God’s promises since God created us in Genesis 1:26-28 to partner with Him. God gives promises and invites participation to stir the promise within.
God’s Part & our Part.
Jesus informs His disciples that the Father will fulfill His promise to send the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). The disciples partner in God’s promise by remaining in the city until clothed with power from on high.
Jesus reiterated this in Acts 1:4-5. The gift His Father promised would come if they did not leave Jerusalem until it came. They partner in God’s promise by remaining. Again,
“But you will receive power when the Holy spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
At Pentecost in Acts 2, the Spirit was poured out upon all God’s people.This outpouring inaugurated a new relationship with His people. So for all who obeyed the part of the promise they were aware of (wait in Jerusalem), they received the promise because they chose to partner in God’s promise. God fulfilled His promise for all who waited in Jerusalem. And fresh outpourings occurred in Acts 4 in Jerusalem, Acts 8 in Samaria, and Acts 10 to the “ends of the earth” to the Gentiles.
The followers of Jesus needed to remain in Jerusalem until the promise was fulfilled. Once it was fulfilled, Acts 1:8 sends them to the ends of the earth in ever increasing ripples.
Note, though, that the disciples still remained in Jerusalem until after the persecution that broke out with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1-3). They stewarded part one of the prophecy by remaining in Jerusalem, yet failed to actively pursue the second part, mission to the ends of the earth. God initiated to remind them of the purpose behind the promise by sovereignly sending them out. God initiates, and we respond.
Do you or I have any promises from God that have only been partially realized?
If so, what are we doing to actively steward God’s promises?
Through faith and patience we realize the promise (Hebrews 6:12). Process and promise are fused together.
In order to fulfill the vast reaches of God’s promise, the journey must continue. The disciples moved out into Judea and Samaria in Acts 8. Then to the Gentiles in Acts 10 before they could fully realize the breadth of the promise.
What must you and I do to partner in God’s promise?
And promises attract problems. As God pours out His provision, God’s generosity to His people attracts problems. Count on it.
And the Father uses our enemies to push us back. They keep pushing us back, again and again. Discouragement tends to overwhelm us. Don’t go there! Our enemies push us back into the Father’s catapult. He then launches us forward far beyond what we could do with out the push back, or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Are you broken and failing? Perfect! Now God can use you. Whatever has come into our lives, the Father can use this to launch us forward.
“Do it again, Lord, what you have done before!”
Abraham’s journey to partner in God’s promise.
Another illustration is Abraham. He is a fascinating study on how God progressively unveils His prophetic call on a life, any life. God expanded promise to Abraham (God changed name from Abram).
Abe carried an unfulfilled promise for decades. And he chose to actively partner in God’s promise with Him. God did not chasten Abe for stepping out with the light he had. Instead, God used that opportunity to further clarify His promise. Let’s take a big-picture look at Abe’s life together. How did he choose to partner in God’s promise, albeit sometimes poorly and sometimes well.
First, God called Abram from Ur to a land He would show him (Acts 7:23).
This clear call was partially obeyed by Terah, his dad as they settled in Haran. As we steward God’s promises, the first danger is to settle short of its fullness. We can speculate WHY? Instead, let’s not allow any of our own excuses hinder us from leaning into God for all He has for us. Settling is a huge danger in the Christian life.
Second, the Lord repeated His word, clarifying as He added detail (Genesis 12:1-3).
After the death of Terah, He called Abram to leave his relatives from his father’s house. I wonder if his family could not understand Abram’s call, and this lead to settling. Jesus experienced the same temptation with a different result (Mark 3:21 with 3:31-35). God expands His promise with a series of “I will” statements promising that Abram will be a great nation.
Abraham immediately went forth from Haran to Canaan where the Lord appeared a third time.
However, this time the Lord clarified that this was the land. Abram then began exploring the land until a famine frightened Abram to go to Egypt. And God still blessed him abundantly. God remains faithful to His promise, even when we are not faithful.
Fourth, the Lord came to Abram in a vision (Genesis 15:1).
He sought to remove Abram’s fear and reiterate his great reward. Abram took this opportunity to dialog with the Lord about his barren wife, and to suggest Eliezer as the solution to the problem (Genesis 15:2), a common culture of the times. For decades, I saw this as Abram’s self-will, trying to fulfill the prophetic calling in his own strength and way. No longer!
In their culture, this would not violate anything God had promised. I think the Lord was pleased how Abram chose to partner in God’s promise. Abram is not passively waiting. Also, he is not recklessly running ahead of God, but dialoging. This was such a pattern that this friend of God later negotiated with the Lord for the safety of a city (see Genesis 18:23-33).
Fifth, Sarai has an idea to fulfill the promise, and Abraham takes her up on it (Genesis 16:1-3),
He followed Sarai’s advice and had a son with her maid-servant. This aligned with the culture of their day, although to me it seems that Abram was impatient. But not disobedient as he stewarded the promise. Certainly Abram did not have a direct word from the Lord, but this aligned with what the Lord had previously said He said previously said (from your own loins, Genesis 15:4).
Sixth, the Lord appeared to Abram and changed their names to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:1-16).
Finally, God’s progressive revelation of His prophetic call for Abraham is specific. “I will give you a son by Sarah,” even though she is 99 years old (Genesis 17:16). Enjoy the other expansion of the promise. The original promise was like a seed and this is like the full grown flower, even revealing that this is an everlasting covenant. Abraham, the friend of God, doubts and again asks that Ishmael will fulfill the promise (17:18-22). God leaves space in any deep friendship for doubt and questioning. God is after full-fledged friends who partner in God’s promises. This idea of stewarding God’s promises broadens are view of what it means to be God’s people, releasing a boldness to come to Him with our requests.
Seventh, the Lord specifies when Sarah will have a child called Isaac (Genesis 18:14 + 17:19-21).
I see initial aspects to any word of prophecy, the word itself, the interpretation and the application. You are the gatekeeper of your own heart, so make choices to partner in God’s promise without being pushed by others. This stewarding of God’s promise is the ongoing process of application, at times as God further expands and/or clarifies.
Embrace the promise. Quickly take whatever specific steps have been given. Then use our “reasoning mind” to prepare ourselves in other areas so we are ready when God says “now.” If we simply wait passively, we will not be prepared when the time for fulfillment comes.
For more approaches to practically implement our Christian life into daily life, see the partnering247 blog.
The farther back we go, the further forward we see. So then I begin my thinking with the relational Trinity and our design in His image. This fries my mental circuits, yet ravishes my heart. If you have interest, the blog Beholding the Trinity focuses on the relational Trinity and His impact on our everyday lives.