In our series “Living beyond Lockdown”, we have explored how whenever there’s a promise from God, it requires preparation in order to possess it. Those seasons of preparation involve enduring certain pressures, and God gives us everything we need for surviving the pressures to thrive in his promises. The promise is guaranteed. The only uncertain variable is our willingness to take possession because it will require enduring a season of preparation which comes with pressures.
This week we spoke about the importance of patience and peace for surviving the pressures of this season. In the book of Exodus, three months after Gods people left Egypt, God speaks to Moses and the Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites, as well as certain other laws. At the end of these instructions in Exodus 23:20 God promises to prepare the way for his people as they move toward the promise.
Among Gods words from verses 20-33 he describes how he will lead them into the land of their enemies to wipe them out, and how this process of taking the promise will happen “little by little”. As part of Gods work in preparing the way for the promise, his people would have to move into the presence of their enemies and wait for God to give them possession of the land “little by little”.
If Gods people were going to survive those periods it would require patience and peace.
As God explains in Exodus 23, if God had given his people the land all at once rather than little by little, the land would have become desolate and overrun by wild animals before Israel could settle in and cultivate it.
Patience for God’s promises is required because premature possession leaves us with a problem. Theologian and author, John Piper wrote:
“The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us all in all our delays and detours.”
- Where in your personal life have you become impatient with God and why? In Exodus 23:30 God says the Israelites will take full possession only after they increase! This speaks of a population increase, but the Hebrew word here means “to bear fruit, to be fruitful”. That meaning not only describes bearing children, but also bearing fruit in personal growth. God wasn’t calling his people to go toward the promise; He was calling them to grow into it.
- In this season where you may feel impatient with God, what part of your personal life may God be wanting you to grow?
2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says:
“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed.”
Pause, and pray back to God a prayer of personal surrender to His timing, and a commitment to grow in the area of your personal life that you identified.
The preparation for the promise involved the presence of an enemy Israel had to confront, not because they were to be captured on the devil’s orders, but because they were to conquer at God’s call. The enemies you experience aren’t evidence of empty promises, they’re evidence that you’re moving through a season of preparation in the right direction toward the promise. The presence of the enemy is also a sign that God is involved in personal preparation for your life.
In Psalm 23:5 (NLT) King David, who confronted many enemies, wrote: “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.” God is preparing a feast for us amid our fears, and if we’re focused on the God of the feast, instead of on the enemy we fear, we can experience a peace that allows us to survive the pressure.
In Isaiah 54:17 (ASV) we read: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” The problem is not the presence of the weapon; it’s when we allow our fear to give what’s been formed permission to prosper.
- Where in your personal life are you experiencing fear in this season? Why?
- How may you have given permission for your problems to prosper, through your thoughts, words and/or actions?
- If you have given your problems permission to grow, what practical changes do you need to make to change this? In this season of preparation for the promise, we need to see what we believe, instead of just believing what we see.
Pray back to God a prayer of faith that he is with you when you’ve felt impatient or only focused on the presence of your enemy.
As you end your prayer, declare your trust in Gods timing and victory over your enemy and read 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV) aloud.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” Amen!
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