‘I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass.’ Isaiah 46:11 KJV
Friends may fail to keep their promise to you, but not God! He has put His reputation on the line by promising to perform every word that He’s spoken. ‘You have magnified Your word above all Your name’ (Psalm 138:2 NKJV). If God has spoken it, He will do it! But there’s one qualifier: if He’s decreed a condition, you must fulfil it in order to receive His promise. After Elijah’s confrontation with Baal’s prophets on Mount Carmel, he told King Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain’ (1 Kings 18:41 NIV 2011 Edition).
Ahab ate and drank, and Elijah, atop Carmel, fell on his face in prayer. It hadn’t rained in three and a half years, but Elijah fulfilled God’s condition and the desperately needed rains came. Often we claim God’s promises without checking the conditions. Yet His conditions are an integral part of many of His promises - and He expects us to fulfil them. God will do what He says if you follow the simple steps Elijah practised:
1) Believe the promise.
2) Fulfil the condition.
3) Pray persistently, believing God will keep His Word.
4) Be patient. Elijah sent his servant out seven times to look for signs of rain, never once doubting God’s promise.
On the seventh time the rains began. Question: are you being obedient to the conditions that accompany the promise you’re claiming? Do your part and watch God honour His word to you: ‘I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.’
‘Confess your faults one to another.’ James 5:16 KJV
It’s usually only when addicts ‘hit bottom’ that they’re willing to embrace a twelve-step programme of recovery, and submit to the guidance of a ‘sponsor’ who will help them by holding them accountable. Where did the twelve-step principles originate? From Scripture! The Bible says, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ Have all the years you’ve spent hiding your problem only made it worse? If so, an important step towards your deliverance is having someone in your life who understands, wants to see you set free, will stand by you, identifies with your struggle, and knows how to keep your confidence. And it needs to be someone you trust and respect; otherwise you won’t take them seriously.
There must be an agreement between you that you’ll work together until lasting change takes place.That means finding someone who won’t be shocked by your problem and who won’t ‘shame’ you, no matter what. It’s the broken who become masters at mending, so find someone who has won the battle you are fighting. And make sure they share your faith and values. Why do you need to share your struggle with someone? Because we are only as sick as the secrets we keep! Jesus said, ‘If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them’ (Matthew 18:19-20 NIV 1984 Edition). By opening up to another person and asking for help, you’ve taken a major step towards a better life.
‘Be patient with all.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:14 NKJV
You’ve probably heard the joke about the lady who prayed, ‘Lord, give me patience; and I want it right now!’ That’s not so funny when it reflects how you live. If you get annoyed at having to wait for anything, your impatience can hurt you. The only person who has the power to make things happen the way He wants them to, is God. But even He is gracious, and respects our will and waits for us to get in line with His will. And since we’re not God, think how foolish it is to become upset with the supermarket assistant, the bank cashier, or the slow driver who doesn’t move at warp speed.
Jesus said, ‘By your patience possess your souls’ (Luke 21:19 NKJV). Here the word souls refers to our emotions. Jesus is saying, ‘Take control of your emotions and show a Christlike attitude.’ Your ability to handle delays, disappointments, and detours will determine your level of joy and peace. When you discover that you cannot control what’s going on around you, decide to control what’s going on within you. Overcoming impatience involves three things:
1) Admitting you have the problem. As long as you rationalise and justify your attitude, you won’t grow.
2) A commitment to allow the Holy Spirit to produce patience in you. Patience doesn’t come by making New Year’s resolutions or counting to ten; it’s the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit, and it grows with your cooperation (see Galatians 5:22).
3) A decision to ‘be in the moment,’ rather than obsessing over what must happen next.
‘A gentle answer turns away wrath.’ Proverbs 15:1 NIV (2011 Edition)
If you’re an organised, time-conscious, purpose-driven, make-it-happen kind of person you can get upset with incompetence and low productivity in others. And you can end up speaking words that hurt them and don’t bring the result you hope for. In Proverbs chapter thirty-one here’s how Solomon describes a wise woman: ‘On her tongue is the law of kindness’ (v. 26 NKJV). Speaking kindly to and about others was one of this woman’s core principles. And when you think about it, there’s never any justification for being harsh or unkind in your communication. Certainly not if you’re a Christian! Hasn’t God been gracious with you? Then extend that same grace to others. T
he old adage, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,’ isn’t true. Harsh words can impact a person for a lifetime. Many so-called ‘social outcasts’ have been victims of verbal abuse at some point in their lives. They have suffered at the hands of parents, teachers, insecure spouses, and others battling their own emotional issues. If you find you’re prone to speaking harshly to people, pray for God’s help. Whatever it takes, including seeking help from a pastor or counsellor, do it. The Bible says, ‘He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city’ (Proverbs 16:32 NKJV). Decide today to ‘rule your spirit’ and make kindness a hallmark and guiding principle of your life.
‘Adjust yourself to [people].’ Romans 12:16 AMP Classic Edition
A woman who was about to become a mother-in-law wrote to columnist Abigail Van Buren: ‘My son will marry his girlfriend this summer. She’s a lovely girl…already a cherished member of our family. I remember a prayer you ran; a pep talk from a woman to herself as she approached mother-in-law status.’ And since all truth is God’s truth, here’s the prayer: ‘Lord, let me be glad when my son picks a mate. If he brings home a girl with two heads, let me love both of them equally. When he says, “Mom, I want to get married,” forbid that I should blurt out, “How far along is she?” Help me get through the wedding preparations without squabbling with the “other side”. Drive from my mind the belief that had my child waited they could’ve done better.
Remind me when I become a grandmother, that my kids don’t want advice on raising their children any more than I did. If you’ll help me with these things perhaps my children will find me a joy to be around, and I won’t end up writing another letter complaining about them neglecting me.’ One pastor says: ‘Because somebody doesn’t do things the way I do, doesn’t mean they’re wrong. We’re just different. It takes maturity to get along with somebody who’s different, [and] patience not to start a dispute or become offended…No matter how great somebody is, if you’re around them long enough you’ll have opportunities to be offended.’ Paul says, ‘Adjust yourself to [people]…Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.’ It takes humility to keep your own counsel and resist giving unsolicited advice to your adult children.