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Delayed Dreams

When I was 12, I felt like God spoke to me about what He was going to do with my life. I began to have dreams about it. I even kept a spiral notebook next to the bed where I would write down the dreams. Then it all stopped and nothing has happened in years. I told a friend recently that it feels like God has revoked His calling on my life. He kind of laughed and said, “God doesn’t revoke His calling. You’re still in preparation mode.” Even though his words spoke life into my situation, it still feels like it’s going to drag on forever and I’ll never get the opportunity to fulfill the dream God put in my heart.

Have you ever felt like that? Has God planted something in you, but it just feels like it never went anywhere or grew? You’re not alone. It was 15 years between the time David was anointed and he became king. It was 14 years from the time Joseph had his dreams until he became second in command of Egypt. It was about 25 years from when God promised Abraham a son until Isaac was born. I don’t know why there are delays in our lives between when God plants a dream in us until it’s fulfilled. What I do know is that hold onto that dream and prepare for it.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “When hope’s dream seems to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing. But when at last your dream comes true, life’s sweetness will satisfy your soul” (TPT). What God has promised, He will do. David had to fight giants while he waited. Joseph had to spend years feeling forgotten. Abraham had to feel like he was too old and his time had passed. God hasn’t revoked His calling on your life. The dream He planted in you will come to pass. Whatever you’re going through during the delay is preparing you for the fulfillment of it. Press on and hold onto that dream.

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Waiting For God’s Promise

Waiting on God to fulfill His promise can be like waiting to open a present at Christmas. We see it there with our name on it. It is ours, but we have to wait. Every day you see it there. You’re ready to open it and use it, but the time has not come. There is always a waiting period from the time you are promised something and the time that you get it. How you spend that time matters.

There are 3 lessons we can learn from Abraham and Joseph while waiting on God to fulfill His promise to you.

1. Don’t preempt God

When God spoke to Abraham and promised him a son, he was about 85 years old.He could not see how God would do what he said he would do. He decided to intervene on God’s behalf and make the promise come true. He ruined a relationship and started a feud that goes on to this day.

When God makes a promise, our desire is to see it come to pass immediately. Often we are the ones who are unprepared or ready at the time a promise is given. We think we are, so when it delays, we try to step in. God does not need your help to bring about what He has promised. He needs you to prepare to receive it.

2. Bad things may still happen to you

Joseph received a dream that everyone, including his brothers and parents, would bow down to him. Being young and foolish, he had no problem telling others what God had intended to be just for him at the time. While he waited on God’s promise, he was beaten by his brothers, sold as a slave, taken to a foreign land against his will, worked as a slave, was wrongly accused, thrown in jail and forgotten about.

I’m sure it was difficult to trust God to fulfill His promise in any of those situations. You never read of Joseph complaining or crying out “why me, God”. The bible simply says that in each instance, he worked. In working, he found favor with those around him. God used those situations to prepare him and to get him in place for the promise. You may not like or understand what is happening to you in the waiting, but if you trust God and work for Him, He will fulfill it in His time.

3. Have patience

This is easier said than done. Abraham waited 15 years before God fulfilled his promise of having a son. He just thought he was too old at 85! For Joseph, it was 13 years before he interpreted pharaoh’s dream. It was at least more than 7 years after that before his brothers came and bowed down before him. I’m not saying you will have to wait 15 or 20 years for God to fulfill his promise to you, but it could.

We want God to act in our time. We want Him to fulfill His promise when we think we are ready, not when He thinks we’re ready. Patience is tough. Waiting is hard. God may show you the end result now, but wants you to take one step at a time. He may not show you the step after that until you take this one.

What step has God called you to take right now to move towards the fulfillment of His promise? Are you willing to trust Him and His timing? Take each step one at a time. Don’t preempt God. Understand that things may happen between now and the time of fulfillment. They are there to prepare you and to place you. Above all, have patience as He works to bring it about. He keeps His promises.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Red Light Green Light

A fun game to play with a group of kids is Red Light Green Light. All the kids start out on one side while you’re on the other. You turn away and say, “Green light!” Their job is to run towards you as fast as they can while the light is green. Randomly, you turn and face them and yell, “Red light!” They have to stop immediately. If they move during red light or don’t stop, they get sent back to their starting point. You repeat this process until someone reaches you, then you start all over.

Following where God leads can feel a lot like that game. There’s a series of red lights and green lights along the way. If you’re looking for a pattern, you won’t find one. There are times when green lights seem to on,y last for a short while, and red lights can take years. We love the green lights because they make us feel like God is doing something in us and that we are being productive for Him. When the red lights come, it can feel like we’ve done something wrong. That’s not the case. Red lights come for many reasons. It can be to protect you, to teach you, to grow you, to wait for someone else’s obedience or some other reason.

The important thing is to wait where God has you for as long as He deems necessary. The Israelites went through this in the wilderness. Numbers 9:22 says, “Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud [of the LORD’S presence] lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the Israelites remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they set out” (AMP). We don’t want to go where God’s spirit isn’t leading us. If you’re in a red light season, it’s ok. You’re where God wants you and that’s the best place to be. Rest in His presence because your green light will come.

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Frustrating Faith

The night I proposed to my wife, I had planned it all out and timed it as well. When she opened the card I gave her, it contained a clue to where we were going to have dinner. Once she figured that out, we headed that way. During dinner, I slipped the next clue to the waitress to give to her. On and on it went as we drove back and forth across town. She didn’t know where I was going with the clues or what would happen next. At each place, she only got a clue to her next destination. Finally, after she followed all the clues, we ended up at the spot where I wanted to propose.

Following God’s plan for our lives can feel a lot like that. It seems all we get are clues that don’t really tell us where we’re going. They only tell us enough to have to step out in faith and rake the next step. Many times we aren’t even sure if that’s the right place God is leading us. It can feel frustrating sometimes not knowing for sure what your next step is or even the end game of where He’s taking you. We know He has a plan for each of us, but walking by faith and trusting Him is often difficult.

Moses felt your frustration too. In Exodus 33:13 he expressed what many of us feel when he said, “If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility” (MSG). Like us, he wanted to know more of God’s plan. I love God’s response in verse 14, and I believe it’s for us too. God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” You and I don’t need to know the end game, but we can rest in knowing that God’s presence is with us as we go. God will walk with you step by step until He completes what He began in you.

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Keep Working

Positive reinforcement is a great tool to encourage people to continue doing what they’re doing. It rewards them for a job well done. Many companies are like mine where they give bonuses if you meet the goals the company sets for you or if you help the company meet their goals. For me, that last one comes once a year. After several months it’s easy to forget several months that I will be rewarded next year if I help the company achieve its goals long term. Sometimes it feels like a chore having to do the things I have to do because I forget about the reward at the end.

In II Chronicles 15, King Asa must have been feeling the same. He was the first king in a while to remember God. He got rid of most of the idols and shrines. He even removed his grandmother from the role of queen mother because of her love for idols. He also defeated armies with over three times as many men. God was blessing him, but he was starting to lose sight of the positive reinforcement that God was using to bless him for doing what he was supposed to do.

The spirit of God came on Azariah and he went to the king to deliver a message from God. In verse 7, he said, “But you must be strong and not be discouraged. The work that you do will be rewarded” (GNT). I believe God is saying that to you and I today. He wants to encourage us to continue doing the work He called us to. I know that we can feel like God has forgotten us as we focus on completing and doing the work He’s given us, but He hasn’t forgotten us. We will be rewarded.

Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.” God believes in positive reinforcement. He has given us many promises in His Word to keep doing the work even though it gets tiring and mundane. If we will continue to do what He’s called us to, we will reap a harvest and a reward. Don’t quit doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t give up. God sees what you’re doing even if others don’t. He won’t fail in delivering on His promise to you.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Unmet Expectations

One of the things I’ve learned is that unmet or unrealistic expectations hurt and often kill relationships. When we’re in any kind of relationship, we automatically create our expectations from the other party and the relationship. If we never communicate those to them, or clarify what we think are their expectations, we will end up disappointed and confused. It’s a shame that so many relationships go south because of this, and worse that we blame the other party for the problem because they didn’t do what we expected them to do, but never clearly told them. If these misfires happen in inter-human relationships, how much more do they happen between God and us.

There are times where I’ve been so sure I’ve heard from God, but I assumed and expected it would happen a certain way. When it doesn’t happen that way, I get frustrated with God and often do something that is not in His plan. Think of Moses. Even though God told him that Pharaoh wouldn’t let Israel go without being forced to, he thought it would happen differently. When it didn’t happen according to Moses’ plan, and things got bad, he got mad and questioned God in Exodus 5:22-23. He said to God, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?” (MSG)

If things in your life or ministry aren’t happening the way you thought they should after you clearly heard God, hold on. He is at work in you and in the situation. We know that He works ALL things together for our good. Your frustration is simply your unmet expectation of what you thought God was going to do. Go back to God in prayer, submit to His plan and for Him to do things His way. Ask Him to help you see His plan so you understand what He’s doing, how He’s doing it and why. He may not give you those answers, but as one who speaks from experience, the sooner you submit to His plan and His way of accomplishing it, the better off you’ll be.

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An Open Hand

To me, one of the most challenging things God has spoken to anyone in Scripture is in Genesis 12:1. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you’” (NLT). He was 75 years old at the time. He was well established, and yet God asked him to pack everything up and go to a destination that would be shown to him at a later time. His faith in action is inspiring to me. The Bible later says that his faith was counted at righteousness. That’s a faith we should all aspire to have.

Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus spoke something very similar to all of us. In Luke 14:31 Jesus said, “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Every one of us who follows Christ is given the same call that went out to Abram. I believe it’s God’s reminder to us that this place is not our home. Everything we have here is temporary and we can’t take it with us. We must be willing to let go of earthly things so we can receive from God the spiritual things that matter for eternity.

My wife and i try to keep an open hand for the things we have. When your hands are open to God, He can place things in them and take things out of them whenever He wants. Faith is trusting God with all you have and with the direction of your life. You may not get to know the destination. You may he asked to walk away from everything that’s familiar to you. God’s greatest blessings are stored up for those who are willing to give God whatever He asks for and for those who follow Him wherever He leads. What are you willing to let go of should God ask for it? Pray that God would help you keep an open hand and heart.

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