Monday, October 4, 2010

This is not your promise

Genesis 17.20-21
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

“This is not your promise”

He is seventy-five years old when God tells him to leave his homeland and to go to a place where “I will shew thee.” Now, I fully realize that in those days, seventy-five was not looked on like seventy-five is today, but he was still a man in his old age. He was one hundred seventy-five years old when he died. He is considered the patriarch of the Israelites, the Ishmaelites, and the Edomites.

At seventy-five, he does strike out with nothing more than a promise from God. He finds a promised land and is the founding father of the nation of Israel. He receives a second promise from God in that He would make him a great nation. Genesis 12:2-3 tells us “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

This was the promise of God. The Word tells us that God is not slack concerning His promises as some men count slackness. (2 Peter 3.9) He will perform every good work He begins in us. (Philippians 1.6) the word ‘perform’ here is ‘epiteleo’ which means to ‘fulfill completely’.

If God makes the promise, it will come to pass.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, bore him no children. In order for there to be a nation there had to be an heir. To this end, Abraham and Sarah take matters into hand and Sarah gives her handmaiden, Hagar, to Abraham, to bare him a child. As soon as Hagar conceives, Sarah despises her. She deals hardly with her. Hagar flees into the desert. The angel of the Lord finds her at a fountain in the way of Shur. He entreats her to return to Abraham and Sarah. He tells her that she has a son inside her. He will be the father of a nation. She will call him, Ishmael, which means, “God will hear” because the Lord had heard her cries.

Thirteen years later, Abraham is ninety-nine years old, and the angels of the Lord come to him to tell him that he will conceive a child with Sarah. They tell him that in one year’s time Sarah will give him a son. This is a marvelous story about God and His promises.

The angels continue after giving Abraham instructions concerning his forth coming son, Isaac. They tell him that Ismael will flourish and conceive twelve princes. He will be the father of a great nation. “BUT my covenant will I establish with Isaac.”

“Abraham, this is not your promise.”

Ishmael is the son (product) of your human effort. Abraham, your promise will not come by your reasoning or your efforts. Your promise will come from God.

Spiritual blessings come from God.

With the proliferation of ‘prosperity ministries’ it is easy to become confused and gage our spiritual level by outside indicators. These ‘prosperity ministries’ preach serving God as a means of monetary gain. They talk about seed money’s.

The anthem of such ministries is that God wants us to prosper. God wants us to be rich. If we are not prospering, if we are not rich, then we must be missing the boat spiritually.

“If God isn’t prospering your wallet, then maybe you need to send some ‘seed money’.

This is not your promise.

In the book of 1 Timothy 6.5, Paul tells us that anyone supposing Godliness is a means of gain is destitute of the truth. The word Paul uses for ‘destitute’ is ‘apostereo’ which means to ‘keep back by fraud’. Paul is telling Timothy, in his letter, that those that preach godliness as a method of gain are holding back the truth by this fraud.

Here is a doubled edged sword, so to speak. It is God’s will that we prosper. John wrote in his third epistle, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” John uses ‘euodoo’ when he talks about prospering. This means to have ‘help on the road’. He is not saying that we will enjoy riches in this life. He is saying that it is God’s will that we have what we require here to make it to the next world. As the matter of fact, John goes as far as to say that we should have the help we need as our soul prospers. Jesus spoke in the book of Matthew that we are to “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

After listing many of the basic needs that seem to capture our time, Jesus further states that we are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” He did not say that we would be rich.

Let me emphatically state: I am not telling you that a rich person cannot be saved or that a poor person has any advantage in the salvation category.

I am aware that the Bible tells us that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Looking at that scripture and applying it narrowly to our general knowledge today, it would appear to state that a rich man cannot be saved. However, upon deeper study, we find a startling fact.

In Jesus’ day, cities were protected by great walls. The strength of the wall was only as strong as the gate. Therefore the gates were fortified. When the night would fall, the gates were closed and protected. Any movement into or out of the city was by a much smaller gate to the side of the main gate. This smaller gate was called the ‘eye of the needle’. It was sized so that a camel could still go through it, but only if it were carrying nothing. In order for the camel to go through the eye of the needle, it had to be stripped of everything it was carrying. In this, no one could come or go with anything to cause harm to the city.

The rich ruler that came to Jesus seeking the way into heaven learned he had to give all he had to the poor and take up his cross and follow Jesus. It is not a sin to have. I have heard it wrongly stated many times that money is the root of all evil. Money is not the root. Love of money is the root of all evil. Solomon says that the man who loves money will never have enough. It is not what we have that is wrong; it is what we have between ourselves and God.

This is not our promise.

There was a certain rich man that had good grounds that brought forth plentiful. The story tells of no crime in this. There was no finesse charged. There were no claims of embezzlement. No one was charging theft in this story. There were no mentions of ill means of gain. It was simply the mixture of good ground, good seed, good farming technique, and a good harvest. Up to this time, the certain rich man was charged with no wrong.

What will I do? He asks. I know, I will tear down my barns, and I will build greater barns and there I will bestow my fruits and goods. Then, I will say, “Soul, take ease. Eat, drink and be merry.”

Thou fool, this is not your rest.

This is not your promise.

This is not the barometer of your spirituality.

This is not the fuel gauge of the Spirit filling.

The Word says that this is not of works. It is not of self. The promise was made on spiritual conditions. It is not determined by qualities of natural disposition.

Some will tell you that it is all in the dance and the shout. It is all spirit expression and little substance. They will tell you if you cannot shout the victory, then you must have ventured away from God.

I agree that we should never be far from our victory shout, but there are times all of us will walk through a dry valley.

The shout and the dance; this is not our promise.

“This” is not in the dance. It is not in the shout. It is not even in the tongues.

2nd Peter 2 tells us of those that speak just for speaking sake. They talk loudly, making great boasts, using swelling words. They talk about liberty. However, they were the bondservants of corruption. They were like wells without water. They used high sounding phrases to cover an evil life. They are like clouds that promise rain and then are driven away by strong winds, leaving the fields dry and parched.

This is not your promise.

There are cultists that try to convince us that it is in their dogged determination to a cause, however misguided, that will take them to heaven.

Our promise will not come by the efforts of human hands. Our promise will also not be taken away by the efforts of human hands.

Abraham and Sarah rushed the promise.

The promise will come in its time. It will never be early. It will never be late. There is a time for the promise. There is a place for the promise. All of our efforts will not rush the promise or cause it to be fulfilled early.

This is not the time.

This is not the place.

We have not yet arrived. We have not yet made it. We do not need to sit in our rocker with our feet up and say, “Soul, be at ease.”

The fringes of the promise are never to be mistaken for the promise itself. We cannot afford to be at rest in our spiritual lives. We do not need to rest in the stories of yesterday or yesteryear.

Our stories of healings need to be today stories. Our stories of deliverance need to be today stories. The blessing needs to come today. The shout needs to be heard today. The dance needs to happen today. The world needs us today.

There was a time that the disciples came rejoicing because the devils were subject to them. Jesus tells them, in Luke 10.20, “Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” What is He telling the disciples here?

This is not your promise.

The promise comes from God. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Mankind was devoid of hope, devoid of any means of bringing salvation. Within our hands were no means to save us.

We were without; without God, without hope, without salvation, without deliverance. We had nothing until God made a promise unto all men.

God did not promise that I would be wealthy. He even said I might labor in poverty and obscurity. He did not say that I would always be shouting and dancing, but he did promise that I could make it out of this world amassed with confusion.

Out of the jumble of voices today, there rings a voice of clarity. There is a voice dripping of promise.

This is my promise.

There is rest that is promised

There is a way that is promised.

There is a refreshing that is promised.

“Abraham, my covenant (promise) will I establish with Isaac.”

Jesus, the promise from the foundation, not made by man, not produced by man, not established by man, and not founded on man. It is a better covenant founded on a better promise.

This promise is not based on financial status.

This promise is not founded on my joyful exuberance.

This promise is not locked into me determination.

This is a promised based on God’s character. It is founded on God unchanging, unwavering Word. It is locked into His marvelous majestic name.

He will bless our efforts, but this is not our promise.

We have the promise of riches in glory.

We have the promise of the joy of His ever abiding presence.

David faced Goliath armed with a promise.

We have a promise. We face each day with a promise. We face each night armed with a promise.

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