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The Promises of God (Part 3)

The Fulfillment of a Promise

Scripture: Genesis 12:1-3

I. Introduction: The Bible is an amazing record of God’s promises. We can study it to discern the Lord’s will for every situation in our lives. However, it can sometimes feel like God isn’t answering our petitions. There are two possible reasons why. First, our requests may not be according to His will, and second, they might not have a true foundation. In other words, we can only expect God to give us something if we’re asking according to His promises in Scripture.

II. The story of Abraham is a wonderful example of how God fulfills His promises. By examining this, we can learn the value of waiting on God and observe the negative consequences that come with jumping ahead of Him. Though the details and circumstances of our lives differ from Abraham’s, the principles and lessons still apply. For example:

A. The promises of God are always stated clearly (Josh. 1:6, 9). In order to accomplish His purposes in and through us, the Lord has given us very clear promises in Scripture that cover every aspect of our lives. When we cling to them, they anchor us through adversity.

B. God’s promises come with clear guidance (Ps. 32:8; Prov. 3:5-6). The Lord doesn’t want us to walk in the dark. That’s why He’s promised to instruct and guide us. The Lord knows all the details and leads us the right way just as He led Abraham through the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:6).

C. We should seek the Lord’s guidance in times of personal worship and meditation on His Word (Gen. 12:7-8). After Abraham received an affirmation of the Lord’s covenant, he responded by building altars. Over time, he returned to them to worship and remember God’s promises. Today, we have the privilege of seeking the Lord and His direction by praying and studying the Bible.

D. Changing our course from God’s path indicates we doubt His promises (Gen. 12:9-11). When Abraham encountered famine, he doubted God and decided to go to Egypt. He further complicated matters by lying, telling Sarah to claim she was his sister. We should always remember the Lord is the source for direction rather than our circumstances.

E. The Lord renews His promises because He wants us to follow Him (Gen. 15:1-7). Abraham felt uncertain because he was childless. When he finally decided a servant named Eliezer would be his heir, the Lord appeared and reassured Abraham. Like him, when unexpected difficulties occur, we may wonder if we’re on the right path. That’s why the Lord encourages us.

F. Listening to ungodly or unwise counsel can cause us to ignore God’s promises and veer from His will (Gen. 16:4). As time passed, Sarah became impatient. She decided to take matters into her own hands and gave her servant Hagar to Abraham to produce a child. Abraham listened to her advice, and trouble soon followed. Likewise, when we ignore what God has promised, we’ll suffer the consequences.

G. The fulfillment of the Lord’s promises may seem impossible from our perspective (Gen. 17:16-19). When God told Abraham that Sarah would bear a son when she was ninety, it seemed so impossible she laughed. But that’s precisely what happened. Remember, we should never underestimate the Lord. If we remain obedient when He challenges us with something that seems impossible, He will keep His word and pour out amazing blessings.

H. The fulfillment of God’s promises may require us to do something that appears contradictory (Gen. 22:1-5). Although the Lord had clearly said the world would be blessed through Isaac, He tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice his promised son. Abraham obeyed, and the Lord intervened and provided a ram instead. Whenever God tests us, we should follow Abraham’s example and live by faith and obedience, not by emotions and human reasoning.

I. The fulfillment of the Lord’s promises may require the surrender of something very dear to us (Gen. 22:2). Isaac was Abraham’s beloved child, yet he was willing to surrender him to God. At some point, He may bring us to a pivotal moment when His purpose rests on a single decision. Even if the choice is costly, we must do what God asks and let go of anything we value more than Him.

III. Conclusion: The story of Abraham shows how the Lord keeps His promises, though He may not always do so according to our expectations. He’ll do His part by showing us the way, but we must choose to follow His path and let His Word guide us.

(By Dr. Charles Stanley. Copyright 2012 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org)