Covenant Love

Manifest your faithful love in amazing ways because you are the one
who saves those who take refuge in you, saving them from their attackers
by your strong hand.   -Psalm 17:7 CEB

Question: Are you married to God?  Are you covenanted to Him?  Are you the bride of Christ?  If you are, then you are fully committed to the Lord (He is your Lord) and the Lord is fully committed to you.  You are partaking of God's Hesed, His covenant love.

The word Hesed is difficult to translate into English.  David is asking God for God's Hesed love.  We get the idea that Hesed means covenant love, based on all of it's usages in the Old Testament.  I looked at seven translations to see what the Hebrew scholars decided with this deep word.  Here's the results:

Faithful love (CEB)
Wonderful love (CEV & GNT)
Steadfast love (ESV)
Unfailing love (NLT)
Marvelous lovingkindness (NKJV)
Great love (TNIV)

Also, Hebrew scholar, R. K. Harrison translates Hesed in Psalm 17:7 as compassionate love.  The Psalms For Today, (1961, Zondervan).

In David's crisis, he asks for relief, and he expects God to answer his request.  Then David prays that God would answer by manifesting or showing this special love to him.  David does not just see problem solving, but an act of love, based on the relationship between him and God.

David was a lover.  Are you a lover?  Lovers give love and receive love.  True lovers are loyal and committed and take care of their beloved.  Notice the words faithful, steadfast, and unfailing that the translators chose for Hesed; and you start to get the picture of covenant love.

At wedding ceremonies, some of us make public vows to be faithful in our love to our spouse, "for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part".  We sign a legal document that contractually obligates us in certain ways to our spouse, but that's not the marriage covenant.  The covenant of marriage is made in vows and through prayers.

The most important aspect of our marriage covenant and our covenant with God through Christ is that God is the one who has the power to keep the covenant.  We participate and cooperate with the covenant, but God keeps it.  We practice obedience and repent when we stumble, but God empowers it.

This is the difference between Christian and secular marriage.  God keeps the covenant between us in Christian marriage.  You still have to die to yourself, forgive, love unselfishly, put your spouse before everything except Jesus; so your part is not only hard, but impossible.  That's why we need God to hold us together and empower the covenant to work.

God has always been a covenant God.  David probably knew this.  David knew that he was committed to God.  He was in, lock stock and barrel, no holds barred, mountain style (all in).  When you commit to God, God commits to you.  God takes care of those in covenant with him and David knew this.  Do you know this?

David prayed to God for his loyal love to be shown to his child with power.  Did you know that you can do that?  You can pray for God's intervention in your life, just like David did, if you are in covenant with God.

Covenant love is given to those in the covenant.  Are you in the covenant made by Jesus' shed blood?  Have you entered into that covenant?  If you have, then you are God's and God takes care of those who belong to him.  That is the message of Hesed.  God's love is shown to those who are in covenant with him in a special way. 

Open Heaven Prayer

I cry out to you.
I call to you.
I pray to you, God.
I am praying to you.

Because you answer me.
Because I’m sure of an answer.
Because you will help me.
Because I know you will answer, O God

So tilt your ears toward me now.
So—answer! bend your ear!
Bend down.

Listen to what I’m saying!
Listen sharp! 
And answer my prayer!
And listen as I pray.
   -Psalm 17:6 (CEB, MSG, CEV, NLT)

I wonder if most Christians have confidence that God hears and answers each of their prayers?  We don't see the answer perhaps, so we might be tempted to believe God does not answer.  Then, we might start believing God does not even hear us.

David had a different perspective.  He believed God hears and answers prayer.  He had plenty of experiences of feeling like God was distant and not answering, but he prayed and believed God would answer anyway.

Open heaven prayer is when you know God hears you and you hear back.  Open heaven prayer is when you get answers.  The answer might be something you don't expect, but you get answers.  Open heaven prayer is when you might not understand the answer or "get it", but you know God is answering and will answer.  When you don't get it, you pray some more, you keep seeking God, you cry out; because you get it that God hears and answers.

We need to pray about everything that is of concern to us.  God can't answer if we don't ask.  Better to ask and have our requests denied than to not ask and wonder "what if".  Better to swing and strike out than not try.  We have to "plug in" to God in prayer, if we are ever to get "current" answers.

Some of us shrink back from asking God because we are afraid of disappointment.  We were disappointed before and we don't like that, so we don't ask.  That is not the way.  We need to die to our selfishness and get a revelation of God's nature to care for His children.

Imagine the person who gets all their prayers answered carte blanche.  What would their character look like?  That was not David's experience.  David had set-backs, reversals, disappointments, delays, and heartbreaking defeats.  But he believed in answered prayers.  He knew God hears and answers.

We need to know that too by cultivating a secret history with God.  The best athletes and musicians have a gift, but what makes them shine is their discipline to practice.  Do you realize how many people also have a gift, but do not practice much and have no discipline, and they never shine?  Professional athletes and musicians got where they are and can only stay there through thousands of hours of disciplined practice.  It is the same way with spiritual things.  You need the gift and discipline.

You can study something comprehensively, but never do it; or you can do something without any training and fall flat.  Discipleship is when you study and do it, study some more and do it some more; with coaching along side of you as needed.  Some people are self taught by life and circumstances.  They need a little guidance and off they go.  Maybe David was like that.  He may have learned things in his mind and heart from his family and community and then learned it experientially in the lab or clinic of the great wide open lands where he shepherded, and then learned more later in the wilderness when he was on the run.

Bring to mind your answered prayers.  Have you noticed that God's answer is bigger than your request?  What if prayers that seem unanswered really have bigger answers, coming soon?  What if we start believing that God hears all our prayers and answers each one?  In light of that, why not pray more?  Why not put more confidence in God and be like David, saying, "I am praying to you, God, because I know you will answer.  So tilt your ears toward me now. So—answer! bend your ear!         Listen. Bend down and answer my prayer."  Like David, we can believe God answers, remind God that He answers and ask God to answer.

Maybe David had good faith and good theology, but he was desperate.  He was pressing in.   When we are in desperation we need faith and right knowledge of who God is.  We need to get it settled inside ourselves that God is good and God hears and God answers our prayers.  When the crisis comes, like a soldier that has trained and trained; we fall back onto what we know that is rooted and solid deep inside our selves.  Crises come to everyone. 

If we seek to live under an open heaven daily, then we will have a level of open heaven experience when crisis hits.  Let us pray.

Avoiding The Destructive Path

But these other people’s deeds? I have avoided such violent ways by the command from your lips.
I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way.  I’m trying to get your way, your Word’s way. 
I don’t do like others.  I obey your teachings and am not cruel.
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.

My steps are set firmly on your paths; my feet haven’t slipped. 
I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot In front of the other.  I’m not giving up.
I have followed you, without ever stumbling.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
-Psalm 17:4-5 (CEB, MSG, CEV, ESV)

When we are encountering trials, God wants us to avoid the destructive path.  We can all become destroyers who destroy others and destroy our selves.  There is a selfish way that goes towards violence and is cruel that is not the way of God.  Lashing out, hitting back, and being cruel are all temptations for us when we are in a trial.  Avoid it, don't do it, and take God's way .

The path to stay on is the path of God's commands.  There is a Word way that we need to be on.  God's word is loaded with advice for how to live.  The book of Proverbs has 31 chapters.  If you need practical wise counsel, read Proverbs.  Read a chapter a day, if you need wise counsel for how to walk in the Word of God.

When we are under pressure, in a trial, being chased, feeling cornered, or when we get ambushed; we can be tempted to be violent and destructive.  We feel hit and want to hit back, maybe harder.  We feel hurt and want to hurt back, even cruelly.  Don't do it.

The path of destruction is when you lash out destructively towards another person.  The destructive path is when you fight your own battles.  The destructive path is when you take matters into your own hands.

You might take the destructive path towards your self, by judging yourself more harshly than God does over something and then cruelly punishing your self.  Self-destructive behavior is also not the path of God's ways.  Let's not be violent towards our selves.  We need to be violent towards sin, the works of the flesh, and demons; but have grace towards our selves.  Masochism is not the path of God.

Don't slip, don't give up, but stay on God's path.  God's path is the path of His commands.  Take your impatience back to God and walk on the path of patience.  Take your lack of faith and go back to God and walk on the path of faith.  Take your lack of wisdom and your temptation towards foolishness back to God and walk on the path of wisdom.  Repent daily, hourly, minute by minute as you keep getting back onto God's path.

Leadership Audit Coming For Christian Leaders

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord.  -Jeremiah 23:2 (ESV)

There are spiritual leaders who are in positions to care for people who are not doing so.  There are pastors who do things that scatter and drive people away from fellowship.  There are so-called spiritual leaders that go by pastor, bishop, preacher, minister, prophet, teacher, and apostle; who are rotten in God's eyes.  These people are corrupt, false, and evil.

Corruption in the household of God, does not escape God's eyes.  A time comes when God deals with these people (1 Peter 4:17).  God says, "you have not attended to them.  Behold, I will attend to you."  Disciplinary action is coming.  It came in Jeremiah's time and is coming again today.  The time is here.  God does give performance evaluations to people in leadership among His people.

Apostle James warns people who want to be teachers of God's people that they will be judged more strictly than others (James 3:1).  The seven churches in the book of Revelation were audited or evaluated (Revelation 1:20-3:22).  A man in our congregation was shocked and put off by this message and told the pastor so in a letter.  John went to the zerox machine and made copies of Revelation 1-3 and mailed them back to the man.

The good news is not only that God is paying attention and promises to deal with sinful leadership, but repentance is always possible.  The whole book of Jeremiah is calling a people and their leaders to  repentance.  It's the same with the letters to the seven churches in revelation and it is the same today.  

Repentance.  Change your mind.  Change course.  To and through the Cross.  God centered.  Christ centered.  Spiritual relationships through Christ.  Start over.  The King is coming.

(The painting above is by Pieter Brueghel II, "The Bad Shepherd", Oil on panel, 29 in. x 41¼ in.
c. 1616, Private collection)

Bravery, Strength, and Obedience To Inherit

“Be very brave and strong as you carefully obey all of the Instruction that Moses my servant commanded you. Don’t deviate even a bit from it, either to the right or left. Then you will have success wherever you go. Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it. Then you will accomplish your objectives and you will succeed. I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I? Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  -Joshua 1:7-9

Have you ever seen a movie where the will is read and there are conditions that must be met before a person can receive their inheritance?  Many of God's promises are also conditional.  God says, "If you will, I will."  Sometimes it is as simple as asking, "you have not, because you ask not."

In the book of Joshua, the time for fulfillment has come.  The time of fulfillment comes right after a great grief.  Moses has died.  What now?  I imagine that Joshua and all of Israel were discouraged and afraid.  God speaks to Joshua, in the midst of the grief over Moses death and says, "get ready to cross over into the inheritance that I will give my people".  Then, God gives Joshua some instructions on the conditions from which fulfillment of obtaining the land of inheritance will come.

Be very brave and strong.  Why would you have to be told this?  Because it is frightening.  We say someone is strong and brave because they are doing it.  These are things you do, actions.  Be brave.  Be strong.  Joshua, chapter one, says this four times and it is a command.  It is not optional.  We must be brave and strong to inherit the promises.  It will feel scary and you will feel weak, but don't listen to your feelings and do God's will anyways.  God's will is what is written.  Remember when Jesus answered the Devil with, "it is written"?  We also have the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth and empowers us to do God's will.

When you are brave and strong, it will be said of you that, you didn't know you had it in you. 

To be told to be brave and strong means that passivity will not cut it. God is about to do something big, something we have been waiting for.  But we must do something too.  Be brave and be strong.

Be very brave and strong as you carefully obey all the instruction that Moses my servant commanded you.  You have been instructed and you have much knowledge.  It is time to put the knowledge into action.  The goal of instruction is obedience unto a godly life.  We don't learn from God so that we can just be knowers, but we learn so that we can be doers.  Godly people are people walking in God's ways.  Godly folk are being godly and also doing godliness.  God's way is to work through you and me.  To know and not to obey is to not believe.  The life, life in God, life with God, is lived out through obedience empowered by love and done in faith.  It's not enough to be instructed, but we must do the instructions.

Don't deviate even a bit from it, either right or left.  Then you will have success wherever you go.  The secret to success in God, in life, is obedience to God's word.  Want success?  Obey God's word.  Disobey Gods word, you get failure.  Deviation is when we mix God's ways with the world, the flesh, or the devil.  It won't work.  The mixture will corrupt the pure.  Compromise is when we go off God's path that is laid out in the scriptures in an area of our lives and it infects the whole of our lives and we are brought down.  Stay on the straight and narrow, says God, and find life and wholeness and success.

Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it. Then you will accomplish your objectives and you will succeed.  Become a person overflowing with the Word of God.  Read the Bible.  Study the Bible.  Memorize the scriptures.  Apply the Word to your day to day life.  Let the Word be the path you walk on.  Make the Bible your prayer book.  When you need to pray because you are in a fix, browse the word until you find your prayer.  The Psalms are good for this.  Many of the worship poems or songs in Psalms are written prayers to God.  In Paul's letters, he goes into prayers.  Instruction and prayer go together.

I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I?   This is the fourth time that God says to be brave and strong.  It is like God is saying, "I can not emphasize this enough".  God knows that it is going to be a wild ride ahead and says, "buckle up".  Check yourself.  Are you being brave and strong?  If you don't have bravery and strength, it is time to get some.  God does not tell us to do something without giving it to us.  You've got the gift, but it looks like you are waiting for something. Be brave and strong.

Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  We must be obedient to the Word or life will not work.  Being obedient Word people puts us in a position to partner with God.  We will be destroyed if we do not walk in the Word as we partner with God.  The power to save comes from God, but you may be the one God uses to deliver the message.  The power to take territory comes from God, but God needs us to occupy and steward the land.

The book of Joshua is not just history, it is also filled with principles of how God works.  God has plans for his people, an inheritance.  God says, "I have an inheritance for you, an inheritance that you have waited for; but to receive it, you must be brave and strong; you also must be obedient to my Word."  That's it.

We must be brave and strong: take courage, and we must be obedient to the Word of God.  We must live in a Word life, not a self life.  Remember that Jesus is the Word, so don't get hung up on not wanting to be a legalist.  The message is, stop being rebellious and lawless and selfish.  Crucify your flesh rather than feeding it.  Stop nurturing the old man and instead let the new, resurrected person come forth.  Say yes to the fruit of the Spirit and let it grow in the fertilizer of negatives in your life.

The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  We are meant to be people of the Lord God, who is with us.  God is not a force, but a person.  A person, the Holy Spirit, is with us.  Who will help you to be brave, to be strong, and to be obedient?  The Holy Spirit!  Who is the strongest, smartest, and most encouraging person in the world?  Who is the best problem solver?  The Holy Spirit.  In the uncharted territory ahead, God will be with us.  He goes with us.  We are people of the presence.  We are not people of a religion, but people in relationship with the living God, inviting others to know him also.

The Vision Thing

Vision, by Terry ChenCC BY-ND 2.0
When there’s no vision, the people get out of control, but whoever obeys instruction is happy.  -Proverbs 29:18

There is still a vision for the appointed time; it testifies to the end; it does not deceive.  If it delays, wait for it; for it is surely coming; it will not be late.  -Habakkuk 2:3

Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known.  -Jeremiah 33:3

I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.  -Jeremiah 29:11

When I was a teen, I had a poster on my wall of a movie I never saw, called Vision Quest.  Deep inside me, there was a cry in my heart to have a vision for my life.  I now know that the Spirit of God was wooing me to Christ.  "He is your life, He is your vision, follow Christ, be enamored  with Him."  Seven years after my high school graduation, I found Christ again and was baptized in God's Spirit.  The seemingly impossible dream of being in love with Jesus again, as I was in childhood, came true for me.  God gives us impossible dreams, impossible visions, impossible ideas; so that He can fulfill them.

If you have only had experience in churches that do have community, discipleship, mission, and an organic family-like atmosphere where Jesus governs the whole group in love and through the elders of the group who are loving and not perfect; then this post might not be for you.  I've met many Christians who have never been a part of a corporate modeled church, but a portion of Christendom today is very corporate and I was a part of that, so that is where my reflections come from.

A gentle giant of a man cornered me at a church gathering and asked me, "what's your vision?"  A friend of mine finally got a date or meeting with a woman he was interested in and her big question for him was, "what is your vision?"  

I got the idea that both of these people had bought into a corporate mindset for church that says that a leader should have a vision from God for their ministry that they will be calling others to follow.  They were both interviewing us.  I don't know when it started, but at some point, the church in the west took on a "corporate mindset" that says that leadership is hierarchical and very top down.  In the corporate model, the top leader is like a CEO of a company.  Another way to describe the top leader in the corporate model is a benevolent dictator.  I was shocked the first time I read this, but it made sense when I looked at the leadership ways and means in the corporate church model.  

Jesus actually taught and modeled bottom up leadership, leading by example, and leading from beside.

In the corporate church model, the leader leads by dictate.  He is the Moses and he gets orders or vision from God and he presents it to the people and they follow, or stop following, and sometimes rebel against him and get punished.  Discipleship is given lip service too, but not really not done.  It is disciplinary to follow someones orders, but authentic discipleship is learning to follow Christ together and being cared for by and submitting to and loving one another.  

We need to rediscover discipleship.

When the goal of our commands are not love, our labors become vain.  In a corporate environment, there is not much nurturing.  In a corporate environment, you do work and you get paid.  If you don't do the work, you get shamed or fired.  In the corporate environment, there isn't much discipleship and that is why the corporate model can grow a church in size, but not grow the people.  

Much of the growth of the corporate style churches is in transfer growth.  People transfer in and people eventually transfer out.

What if we have the vision thing backwards.  Instead of asking someone that we see as a potential leader in our lives, "what is your vision?", why don't leaders ask followers, "what is your vision and how can I help you fulfill it?"  What if real leadership is about lifting others up, rather than rising above and being over others?

What if "vision casting" is ok for the leader of a group, but we need to add to that having the people in that group responding to him or her and then sharing their own visions?  Why not mutually affirm and empower one another in communion?  

What if, instead of seeing the church as a classroom for lectures, or a theater for sanctified performances and individual (called corporate) worship, that we saw the church as a table, even the communion table?  

Jesus last words, where he had his last chance before the cross, to be the church with the disciples; were given over a meal, around a table.  After Jesus rose from the dead and spent time and appeared to his followers, he had bar-b-ques, walks on the beach, and spent time with people in small gatherings where he could have eye contact (face time) and people could ask him questions.  Have you ever considered that Jesus is the model for the church and he said he would build his church which would probably look like him and do things in his style?

What if church meetings became places where we would really meet one another actively, rather than passively consume?  What if the leader's job was to get the community conversation started and keep it going and be a referee, in case someone gets "out of bounds"?

In New testament Christianity.  Every person gets to have there own vision.  Our visions harmonize and work together like all the parts of a body.  No man or woman is the head.  Jesus is the head.

Fulfilled Promises: Faith For The Desert & Big Valley

God isn’t unjust so that he forgets your efforts and the love you have shown for his name’s sake when you served and continue to serve God’s holy people. But we desperately want each of you to show the same effort to make your hope sure until the end. This is so you won’t be lazy but follow the example of the ones who inherit the promises through faith and patience.

When God gave Abraham his promise, he swore by himself since he couldn’t swear by anyone greater.  He said, I will certainly bless you and multiply your descendants. So Abraham obtained the promise by showing patience.  People pledge by something greater than themselves. A solemn pledge guarantees what they say and shuts down any argument.  -Hebrews 6:10-16

There is a principle or a common experience for people of faith:  The way to the promised land is through the desert.  The desert prepares you for the promised land.  The preparation of the desert only works if we cooperate with it, and with God, by faith.  Can your desert become a dessert?

Sometimes we feel like we've arrived onto a mountaintop of God and then we receive a promise to go to a higher mountain range.  We're filled with wonder and praise.  God has spoken and I am going up higher.  I am filled with thankfulness and great joy.

But the only way to get there, to my promise fulfilled, is to descend the mountain I am on and begin walking in the valley, where the mountains of my promises seem farther away and less clear.  Welcome to the in-between-time.

There is another common experience for people of faith, in that you see or hear something from God and believe it, but then your experience is the opposite.  This experience breaks you, brings you into personal brokenness.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me,
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
"Make the same effort to make your hope sure until the end." Hope deferred makes the heart sick. If you have a sick heart, that sick heart of yours needs to be in the care of the Great Physician. If you don't get treatment for a sick heart, it can get bitter with grumbling, complaining and depression.  You could even end up slandering God. The sick heart needs to be in touch with Jesus, finding sweet fellowship in his sufferings. Is Jesus your shepherd who is taking care of you?
The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; he keeps my soul alive.
He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff— they protect me.

You set a table for me right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will return to the Lord’s house as long as I live.  -Psalm 23

How do we make our hope sure until the end?  Like Romans 4:18 says of Abraham, "When it was beyond hope, he had faith in the hope that he would become the father of many nations, in keeping with the promise God spoke to him: That’s how many descendants you will have".  Our hope too must be anchored in God.

We are all theologians, we're all doing theology; working out who God is.  God is revealing His-story in each of our lives.  How will it turn out?  Have you studied the main character, God, to get an idea of how things might go in His-story in your life?  Are you holding on to who God is, and who He is specifically to you?  What or who is your hope based on?

Through the writer of Hebrews, God says, "thank you for your service, thank you for all you have done in the past for the saints and are doing now.".  "Thank you", says God.  But God also says that as you showed effort in that service, you also must make every effort to see your promises fulfilled.  You will be tempted to laziness and slothfulness in regards to your promised future.  Do not give in to those temptations, but get up and engage in faith.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  Fruit comes from the branches abiding in the vine.  Sloth and laziness are not abiding because it takes faith to abide and those are not faith.  It takes faith to not be lazy because faith is exercised.

Abraham is the example in scripture of the person of faith.  The scriptures lay bare many of his mistakes.  He may have moved slow, but he moved and he made wrong moves, but he moved.  God honors movement.  If you move wrong, God can course correct you.

You might say, "I am standing still and seeing the salvation of the Lord in my situation."  Notice that you are exercising faith, because you are standing and seeing.  The lazy person stays seated or laying and has there eyes closed or on something else.

God's promises are fulfilled to you by faith and patience.  Remember that faith is not just a belief, but it is an action based upon a belief, sustained by a confidence in a person.  Faith, to be faith, also must be tested, or it is not faith.  To see fulfillment of your promises, you must have faith that is actionable and tested.  You can say you believe and even live a holy life, but you will not obtain the promises without taking risks, acting, going after something, pressing in, and being aggressive or assertive.  Did you know that God wants you to take risks?  Did you know that God loves failures?  Do you know that God would prefer that we risk and fail, rather than not risking?

We must learn patience if we want to see our promises fulfilled.  Patience means long-suffering without losing our temper.  It means you keep on keeping on.  People who believe in breakthrough also must believe in perseverance.  Patience and faith combined say, "I will trust you and keep moving toward my promises no matter how long it takes, because you are trustworthy and my only hope".

Many people get disillusioned with God at certain points in their Christian lives.  They get disappointed.  A person can be saved, born-again, and experience joy unspeakable.  They serve in some capacity and do it with joy.  That service may even be going into full-time ministry.  Then, life serves up some disappointments or the person believes God for something more, a promise fulfilled; and that promise goes unfulfilled or faith fails.  What then? 

This is a faith wall, line, or barrier that few cross.  Many Christians turn back or stop there.  Some people leave their faith and others stay engaged in church life, but are now lukewarm.  This is where your ideas about God get questioned and you have to integrate the disappointments and dryness in your life with God, who is all loving, all good, and faithful.  You must process all this before God and with the help of other saints in discipleship.  You must allow your self to be transformed through death to self and a raising of your dead self into life in Christ.  This is something that the Holy Spirit loves to do, but many Christians hold back from allowing this process.

Sky Links, 1-19-19