God has made a promise to all who place their faith in Him, that he has great plans for them; “plans for good and not disaster, to give you hope and a future” (Jer .29:11). What a beautiful picture of a God who is always faithful to us and loves to bless us.
Yet sometimes when we really get into the thick of life, that picture can seem far from reality. Life gets messy, difficult things happen and we can begin to start asking questions like:
Is God really going to come through for me?
Why does God allow me to go through such difficult times when he has promised me plans for good and not disaster?
While I don’t have all the answers for life’s most difficult questions, I do want to take a look at 3 ways we can make sure to not miss out on God’s promises to us. But first, let me set it up with Abra(ha)m.
If we look back at one of the 1st promises of God to His people, we see this story of God speaking in a vision to Abram (Gen 15). God makes a covenant with Abram about a “Promised Land” that he will give to his children:
19: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
He then repeats this promise to Moses (Deut. 11) and then Joshua(Josh. 1), with this added detail:
24: “Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
The promised land boundaries are from the Nile River to the Euphrates… that is an area estimated to be about 250,000 square miles.
However, if you look at a map of the area that Joshua and the Israelites ACTUALLY took, it’s just a small portion of the Promised Land. Joshua only takes the land along the Mediterranean Sea between the Sea of Galilee and the Red Sea.
That is an area estimated to be about 30,000 square miles.
That is less than 1/8th of the actual boundaries that God promised to Abraham. And not coincidentally, that just happens to be the only places Joshua and the Israelites “set their feet” on.
In short, they missed out on the majority of God’s promise to them.
Are we guilty of doing the same thing today?
Here are 3 ways we can make sure we don’t miss out on God’s promises to us.
1. Be obedient in both the good and difficult times.
It can be so easy for us to want to take the easy way out in difficult situations. But if we will be obedient to God through every season of life, God promises that we will be blessed because of it.
• That means taking the time to confront that person who has offended you; doing the hard task of settling things in a loving way.
• That means staying in a job, or a place, or a relationship, that God has led you to simply because He hasn’t said that it’s time to move on yet.
• That means sacrificing things YOU want in life for things God wants for you.
Thankfully, God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us through life, but we must be willing to listen and follow Him in all situations!
2. Trust that God sees the big picture.
God’s plan doesn’t just set us up for good things, but it extends down to our children, and their children. Imagine your kids:
• Knowing how to handle conflict in a biblical way;
• Acting with integrity in a tough situation;
• Having the ability to forgive their enemies;
• Being able to show humility and think of others before themselves.
The truth is, that when we are obedient to how God asks us to live our lives, it will have a ripple effect from our lives into the lives of all those around us. Our kids still have their own choice to follow God, but believe me, they will treasure these things passed down from us far more than some extra cash in their pocket, or a nice car when they turn 16, or thinking their parents are cool when they are teenagers.
3. Go all the Way.
All Joshua had to do was obey God’s offer to set his foot on all the land set out for him and he would have had 8x the amount he settled for. In our lives, we sometimes get complacent in our walk with God after we become a Christians. We go to church and do the activities, and feel like that’s good enough. But if we are actually following Jesus the way God intended, then we are offering our body as a living sacrifice to God. That means that we see our job, our house, our talents, our money, and everything else we have, through the lens of how God can use what He has given us to love and bless those around us.
The blessings you will receive through obedience to God in these ways are far greater than I could ever express to you. It’s already been promised to you. All you have to do is set your foot down and take it.