What an honour it is to be asked to contribute to this forum. To be able to share with you all some of my journey in Jesus. Let me introduce myself first though. My name is Phil and my wife Joy and I have been part of the Living Waters family for the past 3 ½ years.
To say we feel at home would be to understate what it means to us to be able to live this life of faith in Christ with you all. The vision, calling and mission of Living Waters Christian Centre is what we have yearned for and are humbled to now be part of. You may see us from time to time serving as part of the worship team, Joy on vocals and myself on bass and the shofar.
What I want to share is something that has been an encouragement to me over many years and it starts with a question.
What happens if the promises of God appear to be delayed?
In Hebrews chapter 11 the writer gives examples of men and women who heard the word of God for a situation and held on to that word and saw it come to pass. We have heard their stories many times and rejoiced in the outcome. However, at the end of the chapter we read about situations where believers did not receive what had been promised and how they were commended for their faith.
I will come back to this soon but first I’d like to share a bit of personal history. When I was in my early 30s (a few years ago now) I went through a major burnout experience. It was unfortunately both a collapse of physical and mental function and the recovery out took a number of years. At the time it happened I was commuting away from home every week with my job. I was an elder and worship leader in our church. Living life to the full. Thought I had it all together and doing what God had called me to do.
The reasons for the burnout are now clear to me and I won’t go into them here. Feel free to ask me personally if you want to know more. The worst aspect of that time was realising that some of the truths I had been living by were not healthy and not knowing how to re-write my behaviour. Counselling went a long way to assisting that but the biggest impact came from God’s amazing Word.
I remember vividly the first time I knew that the Word of God was the power-filled truth I needed in that recovery time. There was a time early on where I wasn’t able to sleep and this went on for nearly two weeks. By the end of this I was not doing well at all. I remember calling out to God for help and having the thought that if God’s Word was powerful and true then I needed to find something in it to help me.
I found this portion of Ephesians ch 2 vs 14 ‘He himself is our peace’ and started declaring those words at night, over and over. First night, nothing, still no sleep. Second night same result but the third night I started repeating ‘He himself is my peace’ hoping and praying that something would happen and the next thing I remember was waking up at 7am after a full night’s sleep!
That one experience started me on a journey of re-writing behaviour and truth based on God’s Word that continues today. Memorising scripture and prophecies so that they are on call when needed is something I am passionate about and would encourage you all to make a priority. Why, because the words are direct from the Source of truth and they contain the power we need for life. As the writer of Proverbs tells us in chapter 4 vs 22 ‘(My words) are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body’ (NIV).
As time has gone on in this walk with Jesus I have met some amazing brothers and sisters in the Lord who have, under the anointing of Holy Spirit, blessed me and my family with words from God that contain promises. I’m sure that many of you can say the same. These promises were, and still are, specific to situations in our lives and we received them with joy and encouragement.
Without going into specifics I can pin point at least 5 significant and comprehensive promises that Joy and I and our family have received that had a profound impact on us. So much so that we have the recordings and transcripts of them and have memorized them verbatim. Why, because only the Lord could have imparted the specific words to the person who passed them on to us. Such was the relevance to us that we knew God had spoken and wanted to impart hope and encouragement to us.
We also made the decision that these promises would become part of our conversation and along with the written promises in the Word they would and have become declarations that we regularly speak over each other. A couple of these promises were given to us 10 years ago and here’s where the whole purpose for this article begins.
Waiting over 10 years for a promise to be fulfilled has been challenging. I imagine some of you have waited even longer (and are still hanging on). It is hard holding on to something without seeing the changes and it takes courage to continue to believe that the promise is still relevant and true.
This is where I want to encourage us all to hang on to them.
I have discovered that two things happen when the promises are part of everyday life.
Those two words are familiar, hope and certainty. Remember Hebrews ch 11 vs 1 ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance (certainty) about what we do not yet see’ (NIV). I love how the Amplified Bible puts this verse. ‘Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen (the conviction of their reality – faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses).
’So faith is the result of sustained and deliberate belief in the validity of the promise and trust in the One who gave it.
Just recently I discovered a passage in 1 Peter chapter 1. In fact I’d like to encourage you to read verses 3 – 9 now. It is an incredible passage that details the amazing results of lasting faith. Now look at verse 7. Here Peter is saying that we are going to have trials in this life (check!). Here’s where I’d like to add – and we may have promises that we have yet to see fulfilled (check!). Then Peter goes on to say ‘These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith which is of greater worth than gold….may result in praise, honour and glory when Christ Jesus is revealed! That last phrase still impacts me significantly.
So, when I hang on to the promises of God, making them part of everyday life, declaring and meditating on them. When I allow them to build hope and certainty into my life and treasure the faith that results from them, I will receive praise, glory and honour when my saviour appears. Let that sink in a while. Is there any greater treasure? Any greater gift?
In conclusion, if you are one who has allowed the written and spoken promises of God to be living and active in your life then continue to fully expect to see them fulfilled in this life. Also be encouraged that the faith that is growing in the waiting is also building up eternal treasures that will be revealed when Jesus returns for us.
If you are one who has promises long forgotten can I encourage you to hunt them out, dust them off and re-integrate them into your declaration, meditation and conversation. Allow them to bring hope and certainty. Watch faith arise as you experience the life giving power of the timeless, matchless, unerring and unchanging Word of God. You never know, the fulfilment of the promise may happen today.
Hebrews 10 vs 23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess, for He who promised is faithful.