Monday, December 8, 2008

When God's Word Tarries

Joseph Herrin (12-08-08)

Many of God’s people, and more than a few who read this blog, are in a season of waiting upon the word of God to be fulfilled in their lives. The promises of God have tarried far longer than anticipated. In many instances situations are becoming dire, and the promises of God appear ready to fall to the ground. There is pressure to act out of unbelief, to attempt to help God out, or to simply forget the promises of God, discounting them as fables.

To some the test of waiting further seems too unbearable to continue, for they have not reckoned on the promises as fact, substance, and reality. Lacking the confidence to believe with absolute surety that the word of God cannot fail and that some great thing awaits them, they are tempted to turn back because the trial of waiting and enduring another day seems too heavy to bear.

I know personally a number of people who are in this trial at this moment. The promises of God have tarried far beyond what was anticipated. For some, their situation is looking more desperate than ever before. It is at this very moment that you must hold on to the promises of God more tightly than ever before. You must rise up in faith and consider the word of God more real than the circumstances around you. God is true. The impostor is found in what your natural senses report.

Through the years I have come to understand some of the ways of God. What I have described here is one of His most common patterns God has chosen to deal with His elect. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the life of Abraham.

Abraham was getting up in years. God had blessed him in many ways. Abraham had flocks and herds and servants and riches and a beautiful wife who honored him. Yet all of these things made the absence of a son all the more glaring. When Abraham died all that he had would go to a stranger, for he had no heir.

One day God appeared to Abraham in a vision and spoke to him great promises.

Genesis 15:1-6
After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great." Abram said, "O Yahweh God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir." Then behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, saying, "This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir." And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." Then he believed in Yahweh; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

People of God, consider now the ways of God. Yahweh could have simply blessed Abraham with abundant children. He need not have made Abraham wait until his old age to have a son. Yahweh could have given Abraham the desire of his heart before he even asked. Or God could have chosen to not give Abraham this promise at all.

It is ever the practice of God to speak a word of promise to His people. He will tell them something exceedingly good, asking them to believe what He has spoken. He will then try the heart of man through delay and setbacks, and by allowing circumstances to arise that appear to deny the possibility of any fulfillment of what has been spoken. In this way faith is matured, perfected, and the people of God learn to reckon on the word of God as their reality more than all the circumstances of life around them.

God’s promise to Abraham was sure. It would not fail, but it tarried. Abraham grew older, and so too did his wife Sarah. Faith began to be tried. Faith was not wholly abandoned, but they began to question the way in which God might accomplish what He had promised. It seemed most desirable that the promised son would be born of Sarah, the beloved wife. Yet Sarah was barren, and she was past the normal age of child bearing. Perhaps God’s promises would be fulfilled in another way, even through Sarah’s Egyptian handmaid Hagar.

Abraham listened to the voice of his wife Sarah and he went in to Hagar and a child was conceived. A son was born, but it was not the son that God had promised. Yahweh appeared to Abraham again and told him the son of promise would be born to Sarah. When Sarah heard this she laughed. The angel asked, “Is anything too great for God?”

In your life, has God given you promises that have tarried? Are you now thinking that perhaps they cannot be fulfilled as you once envisioned? Perhaps God will have a “more practical” way of accomplishing what He has promised. Perhaps there is a plan B, less desirable, but close enough that it would satisfy you.

People of God, do not compromise your dreams. There is nothing too difficult for Yahweh. If He has promised, He will accomplish it.

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Yahshua to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Isaiah 59:1
Behold, Yahweh’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear...

Let us learn from the example of Abraham. After God declared again His promise, and specified that it was through Sarah’s womb that the promised son would come, Abraham turned away from the report of his senses and believed God.

Romans 4:18-22
[Abraham], contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be." And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

People of God, look at the circumstances around you. Observe how impossible in the natural it would appear that God can deliver you at this late hour, or that He can fulfill the promises of long ago. Then laugh at these lying witnesses that are your natural senses. Faith is greater than sight, for it is based upon something more sure, even the word of God.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Do not waver. Allow your faith to grow strong. Reckon the promises of God as assured, and every good things He has promised as already yours. Will this not lead you to rejoice now? Surely the promise is already in your hand, for God who has spoken is faithful and He cannot lie!

God has always tested His people through such means. Consider Joseph who was given dreams of ruling and promotion only to receive demotion and slavery. The vision tarried, and the word of God became that which tried Joseph’s soul. Would he hold to the promises as sure despite all the evidence around him?

Psalms 105:17-22
He sent a man before them - Joseph - who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, his soul was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of Yahweh tested him. The king sent and released him, the ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions, to bind his princes at his pleasure, and teach his elders wisdom.

Joseph was a youth of seventeen years when God gave to him dreams. He was thirty when the dreams were fulfilled. How long has the word of God tarried in your life? I have been exceptionally blessed in that the Lord has given to me many promises over the years. Although none of these promises have yet been fulfilled, and my life and circumstances are abhorred by the majority within and without the church, I am blessed. The end of the story is not yet. The promises of God are sure. He who has promised is faithful. He will accomplish it.

Can you look at your life now, before the promises are visible to the senses, and count yourself blessed, knowing that the promises are in your hands, for it is God who has declared them? Will you like Abraham wax strong in faith, bringing glory to God, having your faith accounted to you as righteousness for you believed the One who has promised? Can you walk in a daily anticipation that all He has promised is yours, and will shortly be revealed?

No matter what circumstances may come, we have something more sure than they. We have the word of God, and He is omnipotent. When Abraham was asked years later to sacrifice Isaac, the son of promise, and the one through whom many people would come, he considered that of God required his life that He must also raise him back up from the dead. Such was Abraham’s confidence in the word of God which could not fail.

Hebrews 11:17-19
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, "In Isaac your descendants shall be called." He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type.

What appears ready to die in your life? Are you persuaded that God is able even to fulfill His word after a death has occurred? Should even you die before the promises of God are realized, He would raise you back to life in order to fulfill that which He has spoken, for His word will not fail. This is the confidence God wants His children to walk in. This is the faith that brings glory to Him.

When we do not reckon on the faithfulness of God and the surety of His promises, we are beset by depression and open our lives up to temptation. Joseph could have despaired of the promises of God when his life took such a dark turn and the word of God seemed out of reach. In despair he could have given in to the temptation of the Egyptian wife of his master and lain with her. Joseph could have declared, “God has forsaken me. Why should I remain true to Him?” Yet Joseph did not do so.

Do not allow your circumstances to lead you to depression, unbelief and thoughts of despair. Sin is at the door, and would swallow you up and cause you to forfeit the good things God has determined for you. Instead, call these false thoughts what they are, lying impostors. Stand upon the promises of God and pursue righteousness and holiness, knowing that God is exceedingly good to you. What He has promised is already yours and will soon be in your hands. Walk in hope and faith, and consider how blessed you are before the promises are seen.

I would encourage you to perform another exercise. Sit down and consider what things the Father has promised you. Ask Him to bring every promise to mind. Write them down. Then consider that they are already yours. Truly they are, for the One who has promised is true. And remember the word of God:

Hebrews 6:11-12
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through FAITH and PATIENCE inherit the promises.

This is God’s way. Faith must be perfected through patience. Wait upon Him. Everything God has promised will be fulfilled at “the appointed time.” Will you wait for that moment?

Habakkuk 2:3
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:
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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063


Anonymous said...

Dear Joseph,

Thanks for the encouraging word. I've been waiting for a word of God to be fulfilled in my life for almost 30 years. He spoke to me about it when I was 25, and over the years has confirmed and affirmed it several times. I have absolutely no doubt that He will bring it to pass, and, by His grace, and after many years of afflictions and trials, I have come to the place of perfect peace and rest about my future in Him. This has not always been the case, for up to about a year ago I was still very much anxious and striving about the fulfillment of the vision He has given me.

I'd just like to add to what you have written by saying that I believe one of the enemy's most effective tactics in keeping us out of the peace and rest of God, and also thereby hindering His work in us and the fulfillment of His plans, is to get us to focus on and desire the word or vision God has given us rather than focusing and desiring Him -- and Him alone. This he can do most subtlely.

According to Scripture, two pre-requisites for walking after the Spirit of Christ are that our desires and focus [thoughts] are in line with those of His Spirit. Even though the Spirit gives us the word and vision for our future, we will inevitably stumble and fall if we begin to focus on and have inordinate desire for them.

Rom 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh {and} are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on {and} pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit {and} are controlled by the DESIRES of the Spirit set their MINDS on {and} seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.

Heb 12:1 Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off {and} throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to {and} entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance {and} steady {and} active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Heb 12:2 LOOKING AWAY [FROM ALL THAT WILL DISTRACT] TO JESUS...

Yes, if we will allow him to, the enemy will use even the vision God has given us to keep that vision from coming to pass. However, when we allow Him to bring us to the place where we are completely satisfied and delighted in our fellowship with Him and need nothing else, HIS life and faith in us will OVERFLOW and overwhelm every lying imposter and hindrance to the purpose of God and we will find ourselves abiding in His glorious rest, without a care or anxious thought.

Ps 27:4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, {and} [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold {and} gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, {and} inquire in His temple.

Ps 25:14 The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant {and} reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.

Blessings to you Joseph. The Lord has used your writings in a great way to encourage and strengthen me in Him.

Keep looking up!

Anonymous said...

"It is ever the practice of God to speak a word of promise to His people. He will tell them something exceedingly good, asking them to believe what He has spoken. He will then try the heart of man through delay and setbacks, and by allowing circumstances to arise that appear to deny the possibility of any fulfillment of what has been spoken. In this way faith is matured, perfected, and the people of God learn to reckon on the word of God as their reality more than all the circumstances of life around them."

Joseph, this is a very good word. There are two other things that are accomplished. In the delay all natural explanations are crushed. If Sarah had soon conceived the power and sovereignty of God would not have been revealed. We can easily be like Saul, professing to give glory to God for the victory when he had 300,000, but having his heart exposed when his army numbered 3,000. It is when all natural hope is crushed that we truly see God.

Second, is what Austin-Sparks called the Law of Travail. We do not value that which comes easily. The night I was rebaptized with my wife I was wearing a T-shirt that had "Get Serious" printed on the front. The pastor did the normal, asking me why I wanted to be baptized, etc. then he said, "So what's with the shirt?" I told him that I had been thinking about what a guest speaker had said about the "minimum entry requirements" to the Kingdom of Heaven, meaning that most Christians seem to only be interested in cheap grace so they can "go to heaven when they die."

I told him I had noticed that some runners who won their medal became overcome and wept. Especially those who had not been expected to win. Why were the winners weeping instead of the losers? The point was that that medal represented years of hard labor and pain in training for the race.

Contrast this with a man who was so gifted with speed that he showed up at the Olympic trials and effortlessly won. Then without training, he won the gold medal with equal ease. Would he weep? I doubt it. He would be more likely to strut and view his competitors with contempt in the way we see some gifted professional athletes.

This occured as I began many years of travail. I didn't fully understand what I was saying then. I understand much better now.

Anonymous said...

"I'd just like to add to what you have written by saying that I believe one of the enemy's most effective tactics in keeping us out of the peace and rest of God, and also thereby hindering His work in us and the fulfillment of His plans, is to get us to focus on and desire the word or vision God has given us rather than focusing and desiring Him -- and Him alone. This he can do most subtlely."

This comment was very timely for me today. Yesterday, I believe I may have begun to be tempted in this very way. I believe this instruction ties into the command to "be anxious for nothing." If a bondservant really seeks only to do the will of his master, and knows that his master is sovereign, omniscient and all knowing, then why would he become anxious if the thing does not come to pass when he expected. If we become anxious that is a pretty good tipoff that we are out of order. And this "anxiousness" applies to matters of ministry just as much as it does for our personal provision.

If we seek first the kingdom of God (where the Father's will is done as it is in heaven) and His righteousness, then He has taken on the responsibility for supplying what we need to accomplish His will. He did not say this would be easy for us. He just declared it to be true.

One of the subtleties of the enemy is to then try to trick us into thinking that we are being disobedient in our waiting upon the Lord. He does not want us to wait. He wants us to move in the flesh as Abraham did with Hagar.

This is where what a friend calls giving the Lord a blank check comes in. We agree in advance to obey whatever it is that is the Lord's will. He is the one who is fully capable of making His will known to us. Our discernment is not a skill we possess but a gift given by the Holy Spirit in real time.

Brother Lawrence has some great wisdom to share on this subject. Thanks for the comments. A very good word and reminder for me today (in real time.)