We recently started a new service in our church. Usually, I always preach the same message in both services, but this past Sunday was different. The Holy Spirit prompted me as we were singing during worship that people needed to know how we work in tandem with Him to usher in God’s promises to our life. For most Christians, when we read the promises of God, an expectation solidifies in our heart that God will fulfill His promise. But the promises of God are the power of God at work within us. This means that we have a role in whether or not God’s promises manifest in our life or not.
In the story of Elijah and Ahab, God has promised Elijah that after three long years of drought, He is about to make it rain. This is the promise. But let’s take a moment and look at how Elijah cooperated with the Lord for the promise to develop from the spiritual to the physical realm.
1 Kings 18:41
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” (NIV)
Elijah says that He hears something that does not exist. As we keep reading, we see that there is no rain, there are not even any clouds. The sound that Elijah is referring to is in his own spirit. This is where the promises of God begin. They begin in our spirit.
We don’t always know how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to receive God’s promises…
Let me stop for a moment to talk about the promises of God. God does not release promises at certain times in our life. In Ephesians 1:3, we learn that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Every good and perfect gift comes from the spiritual realm into the physical realm, but God has already released every blessing in the spiritual. God does not withhold His promises. We just don’t always know how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to receive the promises. God gave us creation and He will sustain it. The promise of rain was not being withheld for these years, but the nation of Israel, in particular, the king of Israel, Ahab had positioned themselves against the Lord. Any time we set ourselves in opposition to God, we are the ones who restrict His promises from coming down from Heaven.
To see the promises of God, we must have a spiritual relationship with Him…
Before we can receive any promise from God, we must be connected to Him spiritually. We must have a spiritual connection that gives us the faith, which is the confidence of knowing God will keep His promise. If the promises begin in the spirit, and I must have faith to receive, how can I receive a promise when I do not have a spiritual connection with the Lord. Jesus said the Father seeks those who worship in spirit and truth. Truth is obedience, but spirit is a passionate relationship with our spiritual father.
If you don’t know how to worship, you can not connect with God. Worship is the vehicle where our spirit becomes entangled in the Spirit of God. His Spirit inhabits our spirit and He is enthroned on our praises we learn in Psalm 22:3. Truth without spirit creates legalism. To obey without passion for God Himself will not lead to God nor His promises. We must worship in spirit so that we can hear the voice of God when He speaks His promises.
1 Kings 18:42
So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. (NIV)
Elijah drew near to God then bent down with his face between his knees. Our spiritual connection helps us to draw near to God, but the attitude of our hearts as we approach God is key. Elijah took a posture of humility.
No humility…no promises…
Humility remembers that God is God and we are not. Many times when we hear the promises of God, we want to draw near, but our motive to draw near is to receive the promise. This motive reveals a belief that God owes it to us to fulfill His promise. OH…PASTOR LEE, I HAVE NEVER FELT THAT GOD OWED ME ANYTHING. Ok. I hope not, but every time we get discouraged or upset because God did not answer our prayers as we felt He should, this reveals our own belief that God should have done something for us that He didn’t do. Humility lets God be God and accepts what He does as best for us even when it is not pleasant. When we don’t accept what God does or doesn’t do as wisdom knowing what we need at the moment, our faith will never increase. Faith does not increase in blessing, but in the lack of blessing. When I accept the good with the bad as part of God’s plan to bring me into greater blessings, it opens the floodgates of Heaven for God to do all He wants to do for us.
1 Kings 18:43-44
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” (NIV)
There was nothing there in the physical realm, but Elijah was filled with expectation. To see the promises of God manifest in our life, we need to live pregnant with expectation. The Bible says we cannot even follow God unless we believe that He will do good things in our life. That’s right. You MUST believe that God is going to bless you to follow Christ. Just read Hebrews 11:6. We cannot draw near to God spiritually unless we live in expectation of His reward for seeking Him spiritually.
We must live in expectation of God’s goodness to see His promises…
Negative Nancy’s restrict the promises of God in their life. They live in expectation, but they are always expecting something to go wrong. They live in fear-filled anxiety. Worry dominates their mind. We must live in expectation that God is doing good, working all things to the good, and will continue to do good. After all, is He not a good Father who wants to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). The righteous shall live by faith, right? How can we say we are living by faith if we don’t actually believe God will do what He said He would do?
Seven times Elijah’s servant went out and returned to report there was nothing in the sky, not even one cloud. If we want to see the promises of God in our life, we must learn how to wait upon the Lord.
Waiting is always a part of God’s promises…
I mentioned briefly above that the promises are received by faith and if God’s plan for the righteous is a continual increase of blessing (Proverbs 4:18), then our faith must always be increasing. For our faith to increase, we must learn how to wait for the promises without losing our confidence in God to do what He said. If I ask for healing the same day I am diagnosed, it requires faith. But if God doesn’t heal me today, then I will need to muster up more faith in my spirit tomorrow to pray again for healing. And each day that God doesn’t heal me will force me to muster a little more faith to keep praying with expectation. The promises of God are progressive. Each one is intended to be the foundation for the next. If I don’t learn to wait, my faith will not increase. Without increased faith, God’s purpose in what I am waiting for cannot happen and If His purpose is not going to be manifested in the promise, He will wait for us until we learn how to wait upon Him.
It was the seventh time before the servant could report anything. The number seven always symbolizes God’s perfection. All promises come in God’s timing. We just have to know that if the promise has not yet come, the timing has not yet been perfected. So we take joy in waiting knowing that when God’s promise does manifest, it will do so with the highest potency.
Do not despise small beginnings…
It was a tiny cloud. The servant finally came back to report a cloud the size of a man’s fist. If we want to see the promises of God manifest in our life, we cannot despise small beginnings. The promises of God do not always appear all at once. He brings them little by little to help us with waiting and increasing our faith. We cannot be discouraged that our marriage is not repaired right away. We can’t become disillusioned if we don’t get promoted quickly. Instead, we must learn to celebrate the small things. Maybe your relationship is still on rocky ground, but if you were able to have one good interaction, celebrate it. Maybe you still struggle with fear as you wait for the peace of God. But if you have a moment where fear doesn’t completely control you, celebrate that victory. There are no small victories in God’s plan for our life.
1 Kings 18:44
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” (NIV)
Fear restricts His promises…Faith opens the floodgates…Stop living in fear
Elijah told his servant to ‘go and tell.’ If we want to see the promises of God, we must be willing to testify in faith what God has promised even when the promise is still as small as a man’s fist. The devil wants us to be afraid to declare what God has promised in faith that it will come to pass, but this is fear and there is no fear in love and God is love. God can not operate in our life when we live in fear. At the same time, fear doesn’t just go away. But we also do not have to obey the fear we feel. We can have fear in our soul, but faith in our spirit. To behave in faith when we feel fear is the mustard seed that keeps growing until it moves mountains. Stop letting fear control you.
I hope this has been a help to you as you seek the Lord and begin to live deeper in His plan for you. If you have any thoughts or questions, please hit reply and let me know. I will get back to you. In the meantime, remember this:
2 Corinthians 1:20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (NIV)
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!