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Charles Stanley - How to Claim a Promise

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There are many, many wonderful promises in the Bible. And a promise is simply a declaration by God of His intention to graciously bestow a gift upon us in some form or fashion. And in the scriptures, promises are a major part, all the way from the beginning throughout the entire Bible you find one promise after the other. Expressions of God's love for us; expressions of God's care for us; expressions of what God intends to do for us, in us and through us. And expressions of the will and purpose and plan of God, not only for our life, but for His whole kingdom. Promise after promise after promise.

And think about this. In all these centuries that have gone by not one single promise has been forgotten. Not a single promise He's made has ever been broken. That's the kind of God you and I serve. So when we think about all those promises and think about the fact that He made them for us, they bring Him glory but He made them for us, then they should be a vital part of our life. Every single day of our life we should be grateful for all the promises that God has given. And if you'll think about it, everything you believe about Him, everything you believe about Jesus, your whole belief system is all based on the promises of God.

And so when I think about how important they are, I realize the tragedy in many people's lives. Here are all of these promises and it's like having this wealth, this wealth that it is so deep and so wide it's uncountable, immeasurable. And people live right by it every day and never stop to claim it. What a terrible sin for a child of God to be a follower of Jesus Christ and in possession of innumerable promises made by God and we just neglect them. We just let them lay. We complain; we moan; we groan about what we don't have. And what's going on within us and all the things we're going through in life, not realizing or insensitive to the fact exactly what we need is found right here in the Word of God. So it's so very important that you and I understand the promises.

This is our fourth message in the series, "The Promises of God". And we're talking about today how do you claim a promise? A promise is nothing but words on a paper unless it is applied. And so I want to challenge you to listen carefully. Take some notes, because you have promises that you probably quote. Do you understand why? Do you really and truly believe that these promises apply to you? I hope so. So I want you to turn if you will to Hebrews chapter ten and I just want to read a couple of verses here that just give us a word of assurance because all through the book of Hebrews, we are assured. And these people are going through some difficult times. And the scripture says concerning them in verse thirty-four of verse, of chapter ten, "For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one". Going through great times of loss, "Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward". Listen to that. "For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what He has promised".

If I should ask you what is your favorite promise in the Word of God, many of you could tell me immediately. Many of you could not, because somehow you've just sort of neglected the idea that a promise in the scripture also applies to you. So I want to clarify some things in order to help you to understand why the promises are so very important in your life and how you personally would be able to choose for yourself to believe what He said and claim that promise. So let's look at what the scripture says. And I'm going to put a few things on the mag screens, but the most important section in this whole message, I'm going to put more notes on that one because I want you to fully understand it. Now. The first question that comes up; and in order to talk about promises fully, we to ask some questions. And the first question is this. Are all the promises in the scriptures applicable for us today? What would you say? I was afraid you'd say that. No they're not.

All the promises in the Bible are not meant for us today. For example, let me ask you ladies, do you think God would say to you, when you get to be ninety, you going to have a baby? No, He's not. And there's not a man in here that thinks he's going to be a father at the age of a hundred. That's a promise He made to Abraham and to Sarah, not to us today. So let me just say this. Now listen carefully. This is very important. While many of those promises were not made to us, they were made to those to whom He spoke for us. That is, if you go back and look how God worked in Abraham's life or Joshua's life or Joseph's life or David's life or Daniel's life, you see the principles by which God operated, what He did.

Now while He didn't make those promises to us, He made them to them for us and for every generation that followed because we see how God works among men and women in those days. He still works in the same ways, in different ways for us today. He made promises to them, but they're also promises for us that we learn from them. A second thing that's so very important and that's this. To answer the question, Who has a right to claim a promise from God anyway? Well, what would you say? Would you say everybody has a right to claim a promise from God? What's that? Now you're listening carefully, right? No. No they absolutely cannot. Only believers can claim a promise from God with one exception. The unbeliever, the person who is unsaved, who desires to be saved, can claim this promise. If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

So God has made promises that apply to everyone. The unbeliever can claim only the promise to be saved. Following that, they can claim others. But for the unbeliever, he can't pray for, Oh God, I need this; I need that; please supply my need here. Has no right, because not a child of God. He's outside; he's outside the family of God. Somebody says, Well, but didn't He create all of us? Yes, and when you rebel against God, you refuse to acknowledge His Son as your Savior, you're out of the family, you do not have the right. You do not have the privilege to call for the promises of God that He has made to His children. And therefore once a person trusts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, then they come under the canopy of the family of God and they have the right to claim promises.

So we say, Well, can an unbeliever claim a promise? How to be saved. Can an unbeliever claim other promises? Not really. Can a believer claim all the promises of God? Those that fit the times in which they live; those that fit those promises that God intended for those of us who are His children in whatever season of life and whatever time period that we're living in. Now, if you take the Psalms alone and read the promises that God has made you, just in the Psalms alone, it's overwhelming. And you put the Psalms and the Proverbs both together. When it comes to living out your daily life, that's a treasure. And I think many believers do not realize what a treasure we have just in those two books in the Bible. Then of course, why should we expect God to promise us anything?

Well, first of all, because He loves us. And He loves us absolutely and unconditionally. And when you think about how to measure His love, there's no way. He, listen, He promises guidance. He promises direction. He promises to provide our needs. He promises to protect us. And on and on and on we go with the promises of God. Why? Because He's, listen, He reveals Himself to us in those promises. He says, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Nobody else in the world can promise you that. He says, I will teach you in the way which you should go. I will guide you with My eye upon you. Only God has an eye for every single person. And we could just go through the scriptures thinking about all the promises God has made.

Now, how can we be sure that God will keep His promises? Because, listen, He says He will. And God, the Bible says, cannot lie. It's against His nature to lie. So therefore, by His very character God will not and cannot because He doesn't change. If God is perfect, He's always perfect. If He's truthful, He's always truthful. If He's powerful, He's always powerful. If He's holy, He's always holy. He doesn't change. Therefore, when it comes to the promises of God and the things that He has promised us in His Word, can we be sure? Yes, we can be sure. Then, here is a big question, and this is where I want us to spend a little time. When does a biblical promise become mine to claim?

So there are a number of points under this one. I want you to jot them down because remember, I've said it three times already. Listen. Believing a promise and not applying the promise is meaningless. Let me ask you a question. To whom do the promises of God belong? I heard one person say "me". Thank you, sir. That's good. And I appreciate that. The promises of God belong to the people of God. So let me ask you a question. Are you a child of God? Say amen. So that means the promises of God belong to you, amen? Do you realize how rich you are? Five of you do. You see, we take it for granted.

So, are you listening? When the promise fits a personal need in my life. When the promise fits a personal need God has promised to fulfill. He's promised to give you direction. For example, look in back in Psalm thirty-two, verse eight. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you". Nobody can promise you that but God. So, here's the issue. When can I claim a promise? I can claim a promise when a personal need that I have is promised me in the Word of God. And He says if I have this need for instruction and guidance and direction in making a decision, I have the promise.

Can I claim God's promise to me to give me direction? Yes, because it is a specific promise given to us in the Word of God, specific promise by Him to meet a personal need in our life. And all of us have those personal needs. And, for example, when the, secondly, when the context of the scripture allows it. That is, you can't just pluck a scripture out of the Bible and say, Oh, I'm going to claim this. But what's the context of it? Well, let's take one, a good example of that would be First John chapter five verse fourteen, fifteen. Look at that for a moment. I'm trying to pick out these that you're most familiar with. He says, in verse fourteen, "This is the confidence," and watch this. This is a promise from God, "This is the confidence which we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petition that we desire".

Well, listen. That is a promise of God that in it's context, the context is what? That I come to Him and I have a petition. And so I'm asking for direction about this and he says if it's His will. If we ask those things, "According to His will, He hears us. And if He hears us," watch. We don't have to guess, "We know that we have the petition that we desired of Him". There's something else is very important and that's this when fulfilling His promise honors Him. If I ask God for something that is not right for me, first of all, He's not going to do it. And I'm asking for something selfishly, it doesn't honor Him. I can't claim that. And so, if it's something that honors God, we have a right to believe that He's going to answer that petition. He's going to fulfill that promise.

And, listen, if it's consistent with His immediate will for my life, which is one of those conditions. If you ask Him for something that's not His will for your life, you're asking for something that He is not going to contribute to. And so, if I'm asking for something that fits His will for my life; and for example, all of us have prayed for things we thought, Oh, Lord, you know I know better than that. Or, after you've prayed for it a couple of weeks or so, God shows you, That's not My will. Then the next question is, God, what is Your will? Will He show you? Yes! Did He not say, Ask and it shall be given you. You're seeking knowledge and wisdom.

In other words, you're looking for direction in order to obey Him. Right? Therefore, He's obligated to a child of God to answer that petition. And He's a promising God. And then of course, I have a right to claim a promise when I am walking in the will of God. Watch this. When you are walking in obedience to the will of God, you have the right, the privilege to claim the promises of God in your life. Because if you're walking in His will, you don't want something that's not His will.

Think about this. How foolish is it to get out of the will of God? Because here's what you do. Watch this. Here's God reaching down to answer your petition. And when you get out of God's will, here's what happens... God's willing, but you're not in a position to receive it. Or I could put it this way. When you say, God, here's what I want. He can't give you something that's not His will. I'd say it again and again and again, the will of God is the plan of God. In this particular situation, listen, there's not a situation in your life that God isn't interested in, not a single one. There's not a need He's not interested in. There's nothing He cannot provide for your life. But we have to decide am I willing to do it God's way in God's timing? And if I am, God has made me a promise He cannot fail to keep. When do I have a right? I have a right to claim it when, listen, the Spirit of God within me confirms that.

Now watch this. Every single believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. His responsibility, first of all was to bring us to a realization that we were lost. His responsibility was to help us understand what salvation was about. His responsibility is to help us to understand who God is. His responsibility is to enable us to live out what God has chosen for us. He has many responsibilities. Listen, one of His responsibilities is to do what? Is to reveal the truth, to show us the truth. And what happens is this. There, when you and I are seeking the mind of God about something and we know that He wants to do exactly what He said, then what happens? Our spirit, for example, I think about it in this light.

When I'm asking God about something and I don't have His will, for me it's like static. You know you cut on the television or cut on the radio, all you get is static. Well, in other words, there's nothing good about static. Tschhhh. There's nothing good about that. I know in my spirit when I'm getting static and the truth is, you do too. Amen? In other words, the Spirit of God within you gives you that sense of quietness and you sense, and He'll help you to sense, This is the Father's will. I'm going to do that. Listen. That's the reason you and I can make requests and walk away confident.

And I would say one last thing. Not only does the Holy Spirit do that, but He gives us a sense of peace. I know that I have a right to stand on this request when there is peace in my heart about what I'm asking for. And how do I know whether it's right or not? Well, is it what the Word of God supplies? Is it what the Word of God allows? Does it fit? Watch this. Does it fit who you are as a child of God? Now, when claiming a promise, what's expected of us? We expect God to do all these things. There are three very brief answers.

Now, watch this. When I'm claiming a promise from God that's crystal clear, got a scripture for it, I have three responsibilities. Number one, obedience, number one. Secondly, faith, that is, I must believe Him. And thirdly, patience, I must wait for Him. You know that He's going to do what He promised. You've got to believe that He will. You must be patient to wait for it. And oftentimes people pray, they're praying in the will of God. They're praying the right thing. God's hearing their prayers. Then they make a terrible mistake, I gotta have it now. Or I've got to have it by next week.

And you see, watch this. Many people get lined up for God's blessing and then what do they do? They've got to have it now instead of in God's timing. And what does it do? It just fouls up the whole issue. I would just say this to you. Do you realize how blessed you are? That, do you realize, that this book, sixty-six books that make up the Word of God and all these pages and all these promises after promise after promise after promise, and it belongs to every single one of us who's a child of God.

Why would you want to substitute anything for this? It's better than a compass, spiritually or any other way. It's better than another counselor. No one can counsel you like this. There's no one who can supply your need like the Word of God. This awesome God who loves you, who has the best plan that a sovereign, perfect God who loves you unconditionally could ever devise. That's His plan for you. And He says if you will obey Me and trust Me and be patient with Me, I will give you the best that I have to offer.

And Father, how grateful we are for Your patience with us, just takes us a while to learn, Lord. Thank You for being patient with us. And I pray for many today who will hear and listen to this message, who are going through difficulty and hardship and loss and need, don't know where to turn; wonder if You really and truly love them. I pray that You'll encourage their heart today. Yes, You love them. Yes, You know their need. Yes, You're willing to meet that need. Yes, in Your time and in Your way. And Father, I pray the Holy Spirit will make each one of us freshly aware of what a treasure we have and freshly aware of how much You love us in every way. In Jesus' name, amen.

Well, if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, do you realize what you're doing? You're trying to live in this crazy, mixed up world without the greatest Helper you could possibly have. The wisest thing you can do is to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, tell Him that you admit your sinfulness; you have rebelled against Him. You ask Him to forgive you on the basis of what He did at the cross when He shed His blood at Calvary. You ask Him to forgive you because He promised to do it, not because you deserve it. And surrender your life to Him. Then let Him take over your life. Let Him give guidance and direction for your life. And all of a sudden, everything will change. And that's my prayer for you.
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