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.