THE HIDDEN BLESSING OF AN UNFULFILLED PROMISE

The Hidden Blessing of an Unfulfilled Promise

One of the most valuable things you can have in this life is a promise from God. “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). The reason promises from God are “exceedingly great and precious” is because they are guarantees that, before our story is finished, God is going to visit us with His power and glory.

When God has not yet answered, we get discouraged all too easily with the fact that we haven’t yet experienced our breakthrough. What we fail to fully appreciate is the amazing treasure that we actually possess—a promise from God.

The first thing I want to say to everyone who has a promise from God is this: Do everything in your power to keep your fingers wrapped around that promise! It’s just too precious to lose.

When holding to promise for a long time, we’re often tempted to lose heart and relinquish our hope. The reason it’s so imperative to hold fervently to promise is this: Jettisoned promises can be lost forever. Not every promise is unconditional. Some promises must be carried tenaciously if we are to see their fulfillment. We see this truth in these verses:

Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6:9).

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise (Heb. 10:35-36).

Hold onto promise like a wide receiver holding onto a football. As he sets his eyes on the goal line, he says within himself, “No matter what happens, I must not let go this football!” That’s how intently we must resolve to hold fast our confidence.

I can hardly imagine anything more tragic than to receive a promise from God but then to fumble it because it wasn’t fulfilled in our timing. To once have a promise, but to be now without it, is like subsisting in a wasteland of heartsick hopelessness.

My soul refuses to live in the badlands of abandoned promises. I am resolved to do whatever I must to keep His promise close to my heart. Fasting, prayer, and word immersion are gifts from God to empower us to maintain our grip on His promise.

When you have a promise firmly in your possession, an uncommon boldness and confidence overtakes your soul. The unfulfilled promise means that it must be fulfilled in your lifetime. That confidence puts boldness in your soul about the present.

Let me explain what I mean with some biblical examples.

Abraham had a promise that God would make him into a great nation (Gen. 12:2), even though his wife was barren. At a time when Abraham still had no son, Lot was taken captive by invaders. In response, Abraham mobilized the entirety of his resources—318 men—against the federation of foreign armies (Gen. 14:14). The odds were stacked miserably against Abraham, but promise had placed a boldness in his spirit, and he stepped forward audaciously to engage the enemy. Guess who won? The man who carried a promise. A legion of foreign armies can’t kill a man with an unfulfilled promise.

Caleb had been promised a mountain in Canaan (Josh. 14:9,12). Not only did that promise empower him to endure the 40-year trek through the wilderness, it also preserved his body so that at age 85 he had the strength and energy of a 40-year-old (Josh. 14:11). God preserved his strength so he could take and inhabit the promise given him 45 years earlier.

David had been promised the throne when he was anointed as king by Samuel (1 Sa. 16:13). That promise put brash boldness into David’s spirit, so much so that he went up against Goliath, a seasoned champion of the Philistine army (1 Sa. 17:48). After all, how can a man of faith who carries a powerful promise and is led by the Holy Spirit be taken out prematurely by an uncircumcised Philistine?

Peter had been promised by Jesus that he would live to an old age (Jn. 21:18). When he was imprisoned by Herod (Acts 12:3), he wasn’t old yet. That’s why, even though he was slated for execution on the following day, he lay fast asleep between his two guards. Why stay up and fret when you’re living under the shelter of an unfulfilled promise? The promise that he would reach an old age gave Peter the confidence to get a solid night’s sleep before his seemingly inescapable death. And of course we know the story—Peter was released from prison by an angel (Acts 12:11). Why? It was impossible for him to die before he was an old man.

If you have a promise from God, allow that promise to put this same kind of boldness in your soul. Okay, so you haven’t received your breakthrough yet. Okay, so all you have is a promise. But do you know what you’ve got?

NO PLAN B

NO PLAN B - BOB SORGE

One of the greatest secrets to intimacy with God is to come to Him as your only source of help and hope.  “Lord, in this situation I have no Plan B—no other options to default to if You don’t come through. You are the only one who can help me!” He loves it when you look to Him alone for deliverance. And the inverse is also true: His jealousy is kindled when we entertain other saviors.

The Lord scoffed at the idolatry of the children of Israel by pointing to the vain hope that a block of wood offered:

He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak; he secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. Then it shall be for a man to burn, for he will take some of it and warm himself; yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; indeed he makes a god and worships it; he makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” They do not know nor understand; for He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:14-20).

As I was meditating in this passage, the Lord gave me a definition of a false god. This definition helps me because even though in our westernized culture there are very few people who actually worship figures of wood or stone, we too have our own false gods. In the passage, the Lord describes the idolaters as saying to their block of wood, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” So a god is defined as this: anything to which we ascribe the power to deliver us.

Westerners have their own set of false gods—sources to which they turn for deliverance when in times of crisis or need (let the reader understand):

•Money

•Health insurance

•Medical treatment/prescriptions

•Social Security

•Retirement plans and IRA’s

•Credit cards/consolidation loans

•Drugs/alcohol

•Pleasure/entertainment/recreation/sports

•Sex

•Friends (to deliver us from loneliness)

•Counselors

•Lawsuits

•Filing bankruptcy

•etc.

These other saviors campaign for our allegiance. Everywhere we turn, the gods of our culture are promoting their powers. Television commercials promote the many alternatives for relief: “Try me! Let me heal your pain. I am your answer. Look no further. Come to me, and I will deliver you.”

Something dynamic happens in your spirit when you look at some of those sources of deliverance and say, “No! God, You alone are my Deliverer!” Not only is your own spirit tenderized through such singular affection, but the response of the Father in the way He moves upon your heart is quite without parallel.

God-worshipers are those who come to God first in their time of need. They seek God’s face and wait on Him to receive directives for the course to take.  The secret place becomes the threshold where we wait upon God, seeking His powerful intervention, and crying out to Him for wisdom and revelation.

Occasionally, the Spirit will say to you, “In this instance, I want you to wait on Me only and stand in faith until I intervene sovereignly in your situation.” When God gives you this word, then fasten your seatbelt!  You are in for the ride of your life. You are stepping into the God zone. Here we find the stuff of miracles. This is the dimension where God rises up in His wrath and vengeance and wreaks havoc upon your enemies. Your role is to gaze upon Him, love Him, and grow in patience and faith; His role is to loose resurrection power in His time and way. Not every crisis you face falls into this category, but when it does…get excited! You’re taking the high road of the greatest saints of history, the pathway where God reveals the power of His arm, the splendor of His majestic beauty, and the awesomeness of His eternal purposes.

It is toward this glorious dimension that David pointed:

My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:5-8).

 As I write this chapter, I am personally in great need of divine intervention in regard to a physical infirmity. I have been tempted to consider some other avenues of relief, such as those listed above. But instead, I have said to the Lord, “You only are my Helper. If You don’t save me, I am not saved. If You don’t heal me, I am not healed. If You don’t deliver me, I am not delivered. I have no other recourse, no Plan B, no alternative plan. I am not entertaining other options. It’s You and You alone. I worship You. You are my God!”

This is the “single eye” to which Jesus pointed.  Jesus said, “‘If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light’” (Matthew 6:22). The old King James Version says, “If therefore thine eye be single.” Whether translated “good” or “single,” the original Greek word means to be void of duplicity, to have singularity of focus.  When your eye is focused on God alone as your Savior and Deliverer, you open to the fullness of light He destines to fill your entire being.

This singular focus is what David prayed for: “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11). By praying, “Unite my heart,” David was saying, “Lord, give me an undivided heart, a single focus that sees only You as the sovereign power to be feared and worshiped.”

In my experience, I have found that the Lord will test us to see if we truly own this reality.  He will allow a great storm to descend upon our lives for a strategic purpose. Our natural reflex will be to find a source of immediate relief. We tend to explore all our options.

Is it possible, though, that this storm has come to guide you into a higher dimension of kingdom living? Oh, I hope you can learn the secret: When the storm hits, run into the secret place, establish your spirit, and say to Him with unwavering resolve, “You alone are my expectation.” Our God loves to prove Himself strong on behalf of those who have no other gods before Him.

VIDEO: GOD COULD HAVE LEFT JOB ALONE


I was a senior pastor and worship leader in upstate NY when I suddenly suffered a life-changing vocal injury in 1992 that left my voice completely depleted of strength.  I am able to whisper for about an hour each day before the pain prevents me from speaking.  This short film tells m y story and proclaims that the Lord is merciful in our lives even in the midst of suffering and trials.

Film created by Joel Sorge

Music by Pas Neos