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Appropriating the Promises of God; Joe DiCarlo

 

As I pray for situations to be addressed by God in my life and in the lives of others, and as I pray for Godís blessings in my life and in the lives of others, there are several things that Iíve come to realize that I should never fail to consider carefully as I petition God.

As most Christians, Iím aware that my prayers must be in accordance with Godís will. Itís also exciting to find that in addition to the revelation of Godís will as it is written in His law, we also have His promises. Unlike mankind, God always keeps His promises and therefore I know that when I find a promise from God in scripture, it is a statement of His will for me and that I should seek it. Iíve also found that most of His promises are conditional. That is, they have an ďif thisÖthen thisĒ format. In John 14: 13-14 Jesus said:

ďAnd whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it.Ē

Why is it then that I have at times discovered a promise of God, prayed for it to come into my life or the lives of others, and yet Iíve either failed to see it come to pass or Iíve seen it delayed in coming about? After all, He promises these things to His children, and we are His children, right? Doesnít God say in Psalm 37:4 that He will give you the desires of your heart? Most believers at this point raise their hand like theyíre in a 5th grade classroom (Ooh, ooh, I know this one!)

ďYe ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.Ē (James 4:2-3)

So then what is ďasking amissĒ or what am I misunderstanding concerning the appropriation of the promises of God? If Jesus came that I might have life, and life abundantly, how can I realize that abundance in my daily life? What causes delays in receiving of the promises of God?

First of all, Iíve come to realize that I donít get to make the choice of which of Godís promises I can ďclaim.Ē That is a choice that can only be made by One who knows us at the heart level. That is the job of the Holy Spirit and not of the believer. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to identify which promise of God can be appropriated into my life and to supply the faith that I need to receive it. My spiritual growth is thwarted by my continual insistence on thinking that I know what is best for my life. The Holy Spirit is the One who actually knows whether the timing of the thing that I am requesting is right. He also knows whether or not my character is developed enough to accommodate my request. Asking amiss, on the other hand, is my specialty, even when I believe that Iím more than ready to receive Godís promises. As with many believers, my shortcomings are twofold: I have a lacking vision of God and His purposes accompanied by an internal war with my old sin nature. Paul speaks of the latter in the book of Romans as he describes his internal battle between his old nature and the new creature that he became at his conversion. Oswald Chambers addresses the former like this:

ďMy vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, ďI saw the Lord,Ē there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. Until I am born again and really begin to see the kingdom of God, I only see from the perspective of my own biases. What I need is Godís surgical procedureóHis use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification.Ē [1]

ask the holy spiritI would like to suggest that instead of continually having to go under Godís surgical knife in finding Godís provision for abundant life, it is better to take a proactive approach and simply ask the Holy Spirit to daily be my guide in finding out if there is a promise in Godís Word that I can be prepared for adding to my life in Christ in my present circumstances. I donít believe that there can be even a hint of an attitude of entitlement in such a request. I must be willing to be truthful about my character both with God and with myself. If the Holy Spirit shows me to surrender certain habits, or certain ďrights,Ē then I should not expect progress until I have done so. When God has told me that I must deliberately die to my old nature, just as I must one day die physically and thereby leave that old nature and its desires behind, then dying to self is no longer optional for me. I must take the lead in creating a void that the old sin nature and patterns once occupied. Only then can I expect Him to keep His promise to me. And yes, with rare exception, I must create the void. Godís Word says for me to put to death the old sin nature. It says for me to refuse to yield my members (including my mind) to sin. It says for me to no longer allow sin to have dominion over me. In addition, it tells me to put on the mind of Christ. Those are all action verbs. I am required to be proactive in appropriating the promises of God, and even then only as the Holy Spirit shows me which of Godís promises Iím truly prepared to claim! Thatís because it isnít only ďnot about me,Ē itís actually not usually even about the issues that I think itís about. Itís all about Jesus Christ and glorifying Him. If, as Paul says to the Galatians, ďI am crucified with Christ,Ē then I can rightly deduce that what remains of me that has life, as God defines life, and that would be my spirit. With that in mind, the apostle John teaches in 1 John 3:9 that this quickened spirit, this new creation that God has created in me cannot practice sin because it is born of God. Sin, although it resides in me, no longer has dominion over me as it did before God quickened my spirit and gave me His Holy Spirit to live inside of me. I now have the power to choose between abundant life or sin! As I approach receiving Godís promises, I must ask myself this question: Until I have come to the point of submission to Godís will and a willingness to deny self, why should I think that I have the wisdom or even the position before God to choose which of Godís promises Iím ready for in any circumstance of life?

If Iím not experiencing Christian growth and finding abundant life, then that should be my cue to ask the Holy Spirit to show me what I need to do next and then obey Him. Knowing that God has great and precious promises for His children, and that He has already made those promises to me, I need to take those promises to the point of provision. In short, I need to make the Holy Spirit my best friend.


 

[1] MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, The Price of the Vision, Oswald Chambers

 

 

Volume 15, Issue 4