Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

8 Keys to How to Receive God’s Promises | Abraham Showed Us How

        Summary:  The ancient patriarch Abraham was 75 years old. His wife Sarah was 65, and they had no children. In a divine revelation (Genesis 12:1-7) God said to childless Abraham to leave his native land and go “to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation” [vss. 1-2]. So they set forth and, under divine guidance, eventually came to the land of Canaan [vs. 5]. There the Lord appeared to Abraham [vs. 7] and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”
 
        In those few verses, and in other subsequent Scriptures, God spoke to Abraham two of the supremely great promises of the Bible— (1) God would give to Abraham’s descendants the land of Canaan, later to be known as Israel; and (2) the future offspring of elderly and still childless Abraham would inherit that land. Later, in Genesis 15:4-6, God reaffirmed to Abraham the promise of offspring, and He even specified that the promised child would be a son—whom we know as the biblical patriarch Isaac. Very significantly, even with his aging and barren wife Sarah long past the age of child-bearing, the Scripture [vs. 6] says that Abraham “believed the Lord.” God honored Abraham’s faith, and when he was 100 years old and his wife was 90 — 25 years after God’s initial promise — Sarah delivered the promised son Isaac. And Isaac’s son Jacob years later would become the father of 12 sons who became the “twelve tribes of Israel” (Genesis 49:28).
 
        That’s a very brief account of the great patriarch Abraham, the man who “believed the Lord” to become the ancestor of the nation of Israel. Great was Abraham’s faith in the eyes both of God and His people. About 2,000 years later the apostle Paul dedicated a portion of his Holy Spirit-inspired Roman epistle to faithful Abraham. Paul wrote of the patriarch’s astounding faith in believing God’s promise of a son to him and his barren wife when they were far, far past the age of child-bearing. To that faith-building passage in the Epistle to the Romans we now turn to discover “8 Keys to How to Receive God’s Promises.”

Romans 4:18-21, King James Version  Who [1] against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, [2] according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And [3] being not weak in faith, he [4] considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He [5] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but [6] was strong in faith, [7] giving glory to God; And [8] being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

1.  “Against hope [Abraham] believed in hope”

Abraham is a hero to me! My late wife went on to the Lord in heaven after 38 years of our marriage. The first six years she was childless, due to a diagnosed medical infertility condition. I recall her coming home weeping from a baby shower where she had been the only woman there who did not have any children. Nevertheless, we did not give up hope for children, because the Bible says that “children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3, NLT). And in our seventh year of marriage she experienced the Lord’s divine healing and bore us the first of our four children. Like Abraham, we were believing God in hope, despite the fact that to all outward appearances her diagnosed infertility condition was discouraging, offering little hope.

Looking back on our experience, and that of Abraham, I am reminded of the uplifting Scripture that says, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24b-25). Like Abraham, we did not yet have the desired child. But also like that great patriarch from 4,000 years ago, our hope in God allowed us to overcome doubts and fears. And today the four children that my wife bore us in her time on earth have now produced 12 wonderful grandchildren. “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich!” (Proverbs 10:22)

2.  “…according to that which was spoken”

It was God, in Genesis chapters 12 and 15, who spoke these promises to Abraham. The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is filled with examples of God’s promises and their accomplishment. When God makes a promise, you can count on that promise. God says, “So is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Do you need physical healing? Search God’s Word, the Bible, for encouraging Scriptures on divine healing. Do you need salvation? God’s Word has many helpful Scriptures to lead you to salvation and eternal life. Likewise for receiving answers to prayer and many other blessings and promises of God.

Each of us can follow the patriarch Abraham's example. As our main text above says, Abraham “believed in hope…according to that which was spoken” to him by God. As a result, he received the fulfillment of God’s remarkable promises. It’s the same for us 4,000 years later. God is saying to us: search His Word and let it speak to your heart, discover what the promises of God to you are, and believe God for their blessing in your life.

3.  “…being not weak in faith”

Jesus said, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22, KJV). Does Jesus mean I can ask for just any and all “whatsoevers”? Of course not. Here’s the context: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

So take hold of the biblical promise of God that applies to your situation (point 2 above). Then pray to God for that need, expecting Jesus’ promise to come true that, “believing, ye shall receive.” God hears and answers prayers that are asked in faith and according to His will — and we find His “will” in His Word the Bible. There is no reason to be “weak in faith,” because God is faithful! "Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24, KJV).

4.  He didn’t let natural obstacles weaken his faith

2 Kings chapter 6 tells of a time when the prophet Elisha and his servant found themselves surrounded by the hostile army of the king of Syria. Elisha’s terrified servant cried out to him, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (vs. 15) I love the prophet’s reply to the frightened servant: “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (16). The servant, seeing only with his natural vision, must have been dumbfounded by the prophet’s words, because it was just the two of them, he thought, against that mighty army. But the servant was wrong!

The prophet prayed (vs. 17), “‘Open his eyes, Lord, that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” The servant’s eyes had been on the visible, natural obstacle — a mighty army intent on harming them. The prophet’s eyes — with spiritual focus (where ours too should be — were on the fiery hosts of heaven all around them to deliver them. And God caused the Syrian army to be struck with blindness, and the prophet and his servant were delivered.

Don’t let visible, natural obstacles prevent you from believing God to answer your prayers. My late wife refused to cave in to what seemed like a permanent infertility. No! She believed God, was divinely healed, and went on to deliver our four beloved children, all now adults and raising their own beautiful families of godly children.

5.  He “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief”

The biblical writer James, speaking about prayers for God’s wisdom, said by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “When you ask [God in prayer], you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7). There are two commands here relating to prayers to God: 1) we must believe (which we have covered above) and 2) we must not doubt. The King James Version says, “…nothing wavering.” Why should be doubt? Why waver? We are praying to Almighty “God, who does not lie” (Titus 1:2).

6.  Abraham “was strong in faith”

The apostle Paul reaffirms and summarizes points 3, 4, and 5 above. Our role model Abraham was strong in faith. Not weak in faith. Not focusing on the natural obstacles, but rather on the power of God. Not staggering, wavering, or doubting. Instead, the patriarch, inspired by the promise of our faithful God, “was strong in faith.” That’s the lesson for us. Be strong in faith, not passive, not neutral, but strong. I recall praying in the prayer room several decades ago and overhearing my pastor, Dick Benjamin, crying out to God insistently in prayer: “I believe God!” I can hear those words ring in my memory to this day.

7.  “…giving glory to God”

A pastor friend of mine from North Carolina once told me of a prayer for divine healing that brought spectacular results. He had been called to the hospital room of a woman with a large goiter on her neck. He laid hands on her and prayed, “Father, that you may be glorified, be healed in the name of Jesus!” Then he left the room. When he came back the next day, the goiter on the woman’s next had disappeared! What had happened? He had prayed a prayer of faith … for the glory of God. And the wonderful healing of that woman continues to bring glory to God Almighty as I share it with you today to increase your faith in our prayer-answering God.

Whatever we do in this life, may it fulfill the apostle Peter’s words “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

8.  “…and being fully persuaded that what [God] had promised he was able also to perform”

Mark 9:27-30 tells the account of two blind men who approached Jesus, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They replied, “Yes, Lord.” And Jesus touched their eyes, and their sight was miraculously restored.

Let me add one more point not mentioned in the account of Abraham. In Mark 1:40-42 a leper approached Jesus and said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Let Jesus’ reply ring loudly in your soul. He said to the leper who was asking for healing, “I am willing. Be clean!”

Our wonderful triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— cannot be limited. The Bible tells us (Ephesians 2:18) that, helped in doing this by the Holy Spirit, we can come to God in the name of Jesus. Bring to Him your needs, your prayers, your praise. God is both able and willing to help you. As the prophet said, “Nothing is too hard for [Him]” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Summary: 8 Keys to Obtaining the Promises of God

1. Even though there may seem to be little natural hope, believe God

2. If God has spoken, you can count on God’s Word to work

3. Refuse to be "weak in faith"

4. Don’t let natural obstacles weaken your faith

5. Don’t "stagger at the promise of God through unbelief"

6. Like the patriarch Abraham, be strong in faith

7. Desire that the answered prayer will bring glory to God

8. Believe unswervingly that God is able to do what He promises
 

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Check out our faith-building sermon: God’s Promises Are Absolutely True

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Pentecostal Sermons &
Bible Studies by
Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.