2 Peter 1:3-4
God’s promises are very precious. Not only do they remind us of His personal interest in our lives, but they also provide hope and encouragement during difficult times.
Before claiming a promise, we must check ourselves in three areas: faith, obedience, and patience. First, we must trust Jesus as our personal Savior and live on the basis of our belief in Him. Obeying God is also necessary. If we willfully continue to disobey the Lord, then He is not obligated to fulfill His promise (1 Peter 3:12). Finally, patience is another requirement. God operates on His timetable to accomplish His purposes according to His perfect plan. Waiting on Him is necessary.
At times it will seem as if a divine promise is not being fulfilled. When that is the case, take a second look at the biblical passage to be sure it applies to you. Then verify that you have met any conditions, and examine whether there is a genuine need. If you are still convinced the promise applies, then you can look a little deeper at your request. Will the Lord be honored when this promise is fulfilled? Can He answer this prayer without harming others or hindering His will in their life? Will this help you grow spiritually? These additional questions will assist you in claiming a promise of God.
The Holy Spirit is our instructor, who will teach us about the Lord’s promises. He wants to build our faith through Scripture, provide the strength necessary to obey, and develop in us the fruit of patience. These qualities help us as we look to God to fulfill His promises.
Our heavenly Father has made many promises in the Bible. But there is confusion among Christians about which verses we can claim as a definite commitment from God. Three questions are useful in evaluating whether divine promises apply to our own situation:
1. Is this promise limited to a specific person or circumstance, or does it apply to all believers? For example, the pledge made to Abraham and Sarah about giving birth to a child (Gen. 18:10) is restricted to them, whereas Hebrews 13:5 contains a guarantee to all Christians that Jesus will be with them forever.
2. Are we asking the Lord to meet a need or a desire? A need is something that we must have in order for God to complete His work in our lives. A desire is something we want for satisfaction or enjoyment. If we lose our job, then an essential—an incoming wage—is missing. But if we want a new position for personal reasons, it’s a desire.
3. Before fulfilling a promise, does the Lord require some action on our part? Proverbs 3:5-6 is a conditional promise, which pledges God’s direction on the basis of our trust in Him. On the other hand, Jesus’ assurance of His presence with believers (Heb. 13:5) is unconditional; it does not depend on anything we do.
By evaluating Scripture on the basis of these questions, we will know which promises apply to our situation. What confidence we’ll have in asking our Lord to fulfill them in our lives. For, as 1 Corinthians 1:20 (niv) says, “No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”