When God doesn't seem to keep his promises (pt.2)

Andrew Fountain
Sun, 2022-05-15

Video cover image by wikipedia CC AS 3.0

  • Sometimes we can feel God was leading us, but end up in a bad place.
  • How should we understand this if this happens?
  • and guard against it happening to us?
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Sermon Slides - When God doesn’t seem to keep his promises (pt.2)


Sometimes we can feel God was leading us, but end up in a bad place.
How should we understand this if this happens?
and guard against it happening to us?

Summary from last week

  • We looked at the story of Abraham...
  • It is only faith that can bridge this gap. I picture it like this:

The Gap of Faith

image: traingap.png

  • This is actually an opportunity as well as a challenge!
  • We looked at the book of Habakkuk
    • Dialog between prophet and God
    • 3 chapters. Same conclusion
  • When you are faced with this test, you have two choices

Fork in the road

Fork in the road

Image source: “P L Chadwick”

  1. Believe Satan’s lies and say “God, if there really is a God, doesn’t care about me”
  2. Recognize Satan’s lies for what they are.
    • See Jesus there, hanging on the cross yet like a submissive lamb, trusting his Father.
    • He simply trusted the love of his Father and rested in it.

When God doesn’t seem to keep his promises (Part 2)

  1. The Difficulties we get into
  2. What did God Actually Promise?
  3. Walking in Wisdom

1. The Difficulties we get into

“Spiritual Bypass”

  • Just don’t get too attached, let go and find your inner peace
  • “All things work together…”
  • “This too shall pass” (not in the Bible)
  • instead: “Weep with those who weep” (in the Bible)
  • Story of a woman who felt God had led her to the wrong career.

1 Kings 22

  1. Then [the King of Israel] said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to attack Ramoth Gilead?”
    Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I will support you; my army and horses are at your disposal.”
  2. Then Jehoshaphat added, “First seek a word from the LORD.”
  3. So the king of Israel assembled about four hundred prophets and asked them, “Should I attack Ramoth Gilead or not?”
    They said, “Attack! The sovereign one will hand it over to the king.”
  4. Zedekiah son of Kenaanah made iron horns and said, “This is what the LORD says, ‘With these you will gore Syria until they are destroyed.’ ”
  5. All the prophets were prophesying the same, saying, “Attack Ramoth Gilead! You will succeed; the LORD will hand it over to the king.”
  6. The king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead.
  7. Now an archer shot an arrow at random, and it struck the king of Israel between the plates of his armor. The king ordered his charioteer, “Turn around and take me from the battle line, because I’m wounded.”
  8. While the battle raged throughout the day, the king stood propped up in his chariot opposite the Syrians. He died in the evening; the blood from the wound ran down into the bottom of the chariot.
  9. As the sun was setting, a cry went through the camp, “Each one should return to his city and to his homeland.”
  • Those of you who know the story will know that I have skipped an important detail, but I want you to put yourselves in the mind of those two kings who thought God would come through for them
  • One more passage to illustrate the problem we are looking at today

Job 10

  1. I am weary of my life;
    I will complain without restraint;
    I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
  2. I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me;
    tell me why you are contending with me.’

2. What did God Actually Promise?

  • Story of the Old Charcoal Burner and his Wife
  • Story of David Fountain praying for God’s direction
  • Back in 1990 my father, David Fountain, was given 6 months sabbatical leave by his church.


Special General
  • The Bible image: openbook.gif
  • Principles & wisdom derived from the Bible
  • God speaking through Dreams, visions, prophecies
  • Creationimage: bunting.gif
  • Conscience & innate knowledge of morals
  • Wisdom & feelings
  • The events of life image: thunder.gif

A. Creation

We see this clearly in Creation. Psalm 19 says that the stars and the sun are telling people all over the world about God:

Psalm 19

  1. The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
  2. Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveals his greatness.
  3. There is no actual speech or word,
    nor is its voice literally heard.
  4. Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;
    its words carry to the distant horizon.
  • The creation includes all the birds and animals. Marvelous design, breathtaking beauty.

B, Conscience & innate knowledge of morals

Romans 1:20
Innate knowledge of right and wrong

  • For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
  • This does not mean we all agree on the details, but there is an amazing commonality across cultures.
    • Otherwise there would be no way we could even talk about subjects like “human rights”

C: Events of Life

  • But God’s actions have not stopped with creation.
    He is constantly active in this world, in providential care of his people, in judgment, and in displaying his character.
  • Thunderstorm poetically called “The Voice of the Lord”.

Psalm 29 – a thunderstorm

  1. The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
    The God of glory thunders;
    The LORD is over many waters.
  2. The voice of the LORD is powerful;
    The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
  3. The LORD’s shout breaks the cedars,
    the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
  • Next time there is a thunderstorm, remember this!

Deuteronomy 3:24

  1. O Lord God,
    you have begun to show your servant
    your greatness and your mighty hand,
    for what god is there in heaven or on earth
    who can do anything like your works
    and your mighty deeds?

All these things are through Jesus Christ

So we see that there are several different ways that we learn about God, but one thing they have in common is that they all come to us through Jesus Christ.

  • The Bible: John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible was written by Jesus’s prophets and Jesus’s apostles.
  • Creation: John 1:3 tells us that all things were made through Jesus Christ.
  • Events in our lives: Colossians 1:17 tells us that “in him all things consist”. Jesus is now reigning in power—everything that happens is through him. In the book of Revelation we see that the Lamb of God is reigning and bringing to pass world events
  • Even feelings that we have: 2 Tim 4:22 reads: “The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit”

So, God speaks to us by special revelation and by general revelation.

Words Speak Clearer than Works

Let’s go back to Psalm 19 where David has been talking about how the stars and sun declare God. We only learn a limited amount through the stars. What do you think we can learn about God? We can tell he is very great and powerful, awesome and wise.

We cannot learn about salvation through the stars. We cannot learn about sin and Jesus Christ and the cross; faith, repentance and everlasting life. David talks about God’s creation for the first six verses of the psalm, but in verse 7 he begins to contrast the creation (general revelation) with the Word of God (special revelation):

Psalm 19 (v.1 The heavens declare the glory of God)

  1. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
    The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
    The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes…
  2. More to be desired are they than gold,
    yes, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

God’s Word can convert the soul, make wise the simple and cause our hearts to rejoice with salvation.

Without God’s words, it is very difficult to understand his works.

  • Suppose you fall over and break your leg this afternoon. What is God saying to you? It’s very difficult to say.
  • What if it is bad weather tomorrow? What is God saying?
  • God’s words are needed to understand his works.
  • So, we can only understand what God is saying in his Works (Creation, the events of life), by means of his Words (the Bible).

God’s Words speak authoritatively, but his Works do not

Some answers to prayer that are so clear that we can be fairly certain that it is God’s direct answer.

3. Walking in Wisdom

1 Kings 22

  1. But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD still here, that we may ask him?”
  2. The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can seek the LORD’s will. But I despise him because he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster. His name is Micaiah son of Imlah. Jehoshaphat said, “The king should not say such things.”
  3. The king of Israel summoned an official and said, “Quickly bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
  4. Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their respective thrones, dressed in their robes…
  5. Now the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the prophets are in complete agreement that the king will succeed. Your words must agree with theirs; you must predict success.”
  6. But Micaiah said, “As certainly as the LORD lives, I will say what the LORD tells me to say.”
  7. When he came before the king, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?” He answered him, “Attack! You will succeed; the LORD will hand it over to the king.”
  8. The king said to him, “How many times must I make you solemnly promise in the name of the LORD to tell me only the truth?”
  9. Micaiah said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd. Then the LORD said, ‘They have no master. They should go home in peace.’
  10. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster?”
  • Problems with prophetic words
  1. There is a huge danger in being selective in what we want to hear
  2. We are told to test, and that includes seeking wisdom from others
  3. The cost of being wrong varies
    • Taking food to an elderly couple because of a dream
    • Marrying someone
  • Problems with trying to read God speaking through events
  1. We look at “coincidences” for guidance—surely this could not have happened by chance
    • Every day large numbers of coincidences happen to us, we only notice the ones we are looking for
  2. A women I know was sure God was leading a particular man to marry her
  3. David -Opportunities to kill Saul…

Clarity and certainty
Suggested order:

  1. Direct teaching in the Bible
  2. Biblical wisdom & principles
  3. Conscience and inner work of the Spirit
  4. Wisdom from the Spirit in others
  5. Dreams/visions/prophetic words
  6. Events/coincidences that seem to point in a direction
  7. Feelings
  • David in the cave?
  • Ruth —little chance of re-marrying
  • Joseph in prison (extreme favor with the wife of the ruler)
  • The unhappy dentist
  • Paul & Agabus the prophet
  • One more story The Strange Story of Hezekiah (three places in the O.T.)

2 Kings 20 Part 1—Prophetic Word

  1. In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’”
  2. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying,
  3. “Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Part 2—Extremely unusual event

  1. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him:
  2. “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD,
  3. and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”
  4. And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD on the third day?”
  5. And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?”
  6. And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.”
  7. And Isaiah the prophet called to the LORD, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.

Part 3—unusual opportunity

  1. At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick.
  2. And Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.
  3. Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.”
  4. He said, “What have they seen in your house?” And Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”
  5. Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD:
  6. Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD.

Making Choices

  • Don’t make a bad choice and then blame God
  • But, you don’t have to have perfect decision-making to please God
  • Your heart is so much more important!
  • Pray for wisdom, above all things.
  • “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Updated on 2022-05-15 by Andrew Fountain