21 DAYS IN THE WORD - TOOL 19 - HOW TO CLAIM THE PROMISES
As I’ve mentioned, one of the most important tools that God’s word gives us is the promises of God. We mentioned that it is by these we become “partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through evil desire.” (2 Peter 1:4)
These promises are like signed checks from Jesus, but as one preacher said, most Christians are sitting on the premises but not standing on the promises.
There are some 2000 promises in the Bible. Though some of them are specific for specific people most of them are part of the guarantee to us of the new covenant. If they indicate something Jesus came and claimed for his life or indicated were part of why He came for us, they are ours to claim. In 2 Corinthians 1:20 Paul said, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
This means in the new covenant, because we are his children, all of the inheritance in the will and testament of what Jesus did and deserves because of His righteousness is now part of our inheritance, too. There are some times premises connected to the promises. In Philippians 4:7 for example, where it says, “the peace of God will keep our heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” That verse is preceded by vs. 6 which tells us this happens as we lift everything up to God in prayer with thanksgiving. Even so, we don’t have to deserve this promise or try to be worthy of it, we simply follow the instructions for how to activate and receive it.
We see a wonderful example of how to claim and live by the promises of God in the story of Abraham. We know Abraham received a promise from God that he would have a child and that through his “seed” or family line all of the nations of the earth would be blessed. We are told it was because he fully believed this promise he was counted righteous. His life is used as the example of what it means to be counted righteous by faith. Here are some things that Abraham did with the promise.
1. He believed it and claimed it for himself. This goes back to the idea of digging out the meaning of a verse and making an active application of it in your heart. For example, a verse that says, “for you have not received a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7) only has power for you if you personalize it and align your thoughts with it by faith. For example, I could tell myself, “Because I don’t have a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind, as this corona virus in some way threatens physically, emotionally, or economically me or someone I love I don’t have to and refuse to respond in panic or negativity. I will have the power to trust God for an answer, the wisdom to know the right next step that leads to a solution, and the love to think of others more than myself and help calm their fears and distress.”
2. He let God paint a picture in his mind of a future with that promise being fulfilled. In Genesis 15:5 God called Abraham out of his tent to look to the sky and count the stars. The Lord said, “So shall your offspring be.” Faith is empowered through the use of sanctified imagination, just like fear an unbelief gains a grip through a negative imagination. Have you ever had your mind rush to a dark place and feel your heart overwhelmed by fear? Living in the “promised land” starts with seeing yourself in the promised land. I think that is why Caleb had such great faith when confronting giants. He had already seen himself and his family in the place of promise and had an assurance in his heart that it would come to pass.
3. He strengthened his faith in the promise of God by giving glory to God and praising God for Who He is in the situation and for what He said was already done. Faith in the promises of God doesn’t always or even usually mean instant results. In Abraham’s case it took some 27 years. It is important to remember the length of time that it takes for a promise to be experienced doesn’t in any way diminish the truth or confidence that we should have that it will be revealed.
The Bible often mentions how long people waited for the fulfilment of a miracle just to encourage us in this waiting promise. John the Baptist’s parents were very old when they conceived John though they had believed for years for a baby, the man by the pool of Bethesda was there 38 years before he was healed, a woman with a hunched back had the condition 18 years and then Jesus healed her. The thing that Abraham did that reenergized d his faith was praise.
I love how it says in Romans 4:19-21:
“Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promises of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
4. One other key is to take whatever action you can. Abraham didn’t just give mental assent to a promise but he moved his family to the place where God led him to go for the fulfillment of the promise to take place. As we are claiming a promise we should be asking the Lord, “Are there steps of obedience you want me to take to activate this promise?” Later, Abraham would be asked to offer Isaac up. That was a shocking example of a step of obedience, but it was key to Abraham and Isaac coming into the full understanding of how this promise was going to be fulfilled in a greater way than imagined by God someday offering up His Son.
This is what I was talking about when I mentioned earlier that with a promise is often a premise. There is something that God wants us to do to prepare us for what He wants to do. Instead of just giving stuff to us, he teaches and tests our obedience so that we will have not just the blessing but the character and faith to keep and be faithful with that blessing.
My prayer is that you will see the promises of God as gold worth far more than a million dollars. That you will passionately pursue the capturing of God’s promises for the future of your life.