Don’t Stop Short of Your Promise

6 Jan

Before Abraham and Sarah were the superstars of faith’s Hall of Fame, they were simply known as Abram and Sarai. Way back in Genesis, God made a powerful promise to a childless Abram saying, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have.” Quite the promise to a man who’s wife had tried to bear children and given up decades ago.

The cold hard facts were staring Abram and Sarai right in the face. They had hoped and prayed earnestly for children but came up empty. Now the window for bearing children had closed and thier only heir would be Eliezer, a servant in Abram’s household. Needless to say, that was not what Abram had signed on for. Had he made the mistake of his life? Leaving home and family, only to follow the voice of a God he’d never heard of — for this?

As tensions grew to fever pitch levels between Abram and Sarai, Sarai takes matters into her own hands and proceeds to give her servant girl Hagar to Abram. “Go and sleep with my servant.” Sarai tells Abram. “Perhaps I can have children through her.” Abram, wanting to appease his distraught wife, agrees to sleep with her Egyptian servant girl, and in time, gives birth to Ishmael. But was this the promised child God had spoken of?

Many times we take matters into our own hands regarding the promises of God that have been spoken over our lives, much like Abram and Sarai. God did in fact make a promise to them, but the promise lay unfufilled for many years. So what were Abram and Sarai to do? What would you do if you found yourself in their shoes?

Waiting patiently on the promise of God may be one of the hardest things a believer will ever have to experience. What’s the old saying? “God is never in a hurry, but he’s always on time.” Habakkuk 2:3 says, “if it (the vision) seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” God’s time is almost never our time, but his timing is always perfect.

In time, Sarai would give birth to her first and only son, Isaac, the promised child. The Bible says she was well past her child-bearing years when she bore Isaac, and actually laughed at the notion of having a child so late in life! Abram would eventually be known as Abraham, because he would become the father of many nations. Sarai would become Sarah, the mother of many nations.  So, the miraculous promise was indeed fufilled!

Countless believers have given up on God’s promises, thinking that God’s delays are his denials. But nothing could be farther from the truth! Many times God is waiting on us to take steps of faith in preparation for his promise to come to pass. So, if truth be told, he’s waiting on us!

Don’t stop short of your promise. Don’t settle for an Ishmael when God has promised you an Isaac! We must constantly remind ourselves that we are children of the king and heirs of the good promises of God. And all his promises are yes and amen in Christ!

As the children of Israel were preparing to enter into the promised land after 40 years of wandering  in the desert, there were 2 1/2 tribes who petitioned Joshua for special approval to stop short of the promised land and settle on this side of the Jordan. Gad, Asher and the 1/2 tribe of Mannasah told Joshua plainly, they were content to stay on the other side of the Jordan for the simple fact that it was good farm land, and excellent for raising flocks and herds. They couldn’t imagine finding anything more beautiful on the other side of the Jordan.

Reluctantly, Joshua and the elders allowed the 2 1/2 tribes to have their way, but warned them that they were vulnerable to the enemy, separated from the rest of Israel by the Jordan River. Secondly, there were no natural defenses from their enemies, such as a body of water, mountains or even rocky terrain. They were exposed and they new it. However, they chose to stop short of the promised land and happily settled into the land that lay before them.

This story is a picture if you will of many christians today who settle for less and stop short of God’s promise. If God wanted a few of the tribes to settle on this side of the Jordan, he would have said so! These 2 1/2 tribes were not interested in “pressing on” with the rest of Israel. They were content on this side of the promise. Not only that, they based their decision on their stuff, rather than the word of the Lord!  Hebrews 4:1 says, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful not to fall short of it. Refuse to settle for second best! Good things are worth waiting for.

I recently heard the story of pastor Tommy Barnett, who for years had hoped to build a Dream Center; a place where broken and hurting people could find Christ, get a second chance to turn thier lives around, and live a life of freedom and purpose. When asked how long he carried the hope of a Dream Center in his heart, he said, “I held on to the vision of a Dream Center for 40 years before it became a reality! Today, there are more than 70 Dream Centers across the US and around the globe.

Don’t stop short of your promise! Someone has said, “if you can hold on to your dream for 5 years, and not give up, it will come to pass.


2 Responses to “Don’t Stop Short of Your Promise”

  1. Cole Bradburn January 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Great and encouraging post Jim! Waiting is so uncomfortable that it is easy to give up on our dreams.

  2. Rick Puckett March 26, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    This story of Joshua and the 2 1/2 tribes was actually was the first sermon I ever preached: 1986 at Islands Assembly of God, Savannah Ga..

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