There is a phrase that we hear in the church fairly often that is something I fear we say without knowing what it really means – or how to apply it rightly: claiming God’s promises.
Okay so someone says, “I’m claiming the promises of God” for this, or this or this…
In this episode of the podcast I ask the questions, “What does that really MEAN – and is it OK to do when it comes to business endeavors?
Here’s a rough outline of this episode about claiming God’s promises for business…
- [0:49] The right way and the wrong way to claim the promises of God
- [3:20] Applying God’s promises depends on your relationship with God
- [7:32] What about business endeavors? Is it appropriate to claim the promises of God?
- [10:34] A recent story of how claiming the promises of God could apply
- [15:03] Believing in what God is doing in your business
How we are often the means of God’s promises coming true
It’s important that we have our thinking straight when it comes to “claiming the promises of God.” Anyone – you or I – can go off in all kinds of directions, claiming that we are taking one of the many promises of God in scripture and actually be on the wrong track – both in our thinking and in our behavior.
It’s easy to do. So how do we avoid that mistake?
I’ve seen this practice done a couple of different ways throughout the twenty years I was a pastor and just in my life as a believer. I’ve seen it happen in the lives of people I rub shoulders with and in my own life at times. And what I’ve learned is that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.
Let me give you a couple of scenarios.
Say you have somebody who is struggling to put food on the table. They don’t have a job. They are not actively looking for a job. But they are praying and hoping that something is going to come through for them and they say things like, “I am claiming the promises of God… that He will never let the righteous be forsaken.” (Psalm 37:25)
I think it’s probably pretty obvious – at least I hope it is – that it’s not really a very wise or proper way to “claim the promises of God.”
God’s promises are not isolated.
When God makes a promise to the righteous, He’s making a promise to a person who has certain characteristics, certain things true about them. That’s what He means when He uses the word “righteous” to refer to them.
And to be clear – all of the righteousness any of us have is righteousness that comes to us through Christ – and it includes having Christ Himself in us to strengthen us and fill us with wisdom. He motivates us to go and do what we need to do in order to be a part of God’s promises coming true.
We are often the means God uses to fulfill His promises to us.
So we can’t just “claim promises of God” if we are unwilling to step into the situation by faith, trusting God is going to help us, and actually put our faith into action.
I think that’s a wrong way to apply this idea of claiming God’s promises.
What would the right way to claim God’s promises, look like? That’s what the rest of this episode is about.
Psalm 37:4 is and example of rightly claiming the promises of God
In scripture there are some keystone kind of verses – verses that lots of other theology or lots of other beliefs rest upon. They are foundational because they communicate foundational concepts or truths that support everything else.
One of those statements I believe is often overlooked in this regard and is easily misapplied in this kind of thing is Psalm chapter 37, verse number 4.
It says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
As we stop and think about that, it could be taken one of two ways. It could mean: If you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you everything you want. And so the desires of your heart is being defined as everything you want.
I don’t think that’s what the verses is saying.
The sentence is an if/then statement – so the last part of it (the desires of your heart part) is contingent on the first part. In order for us to understand the verse we have to understand what that first part really means.
Okay – so, “Delight yourself in the Lord” – that’s a statement about relationship. It’s a statement about our affections being directed toward God intentionally.
You see, we have a responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ to orient our minds, to orient our hearts, toward God Himself as our highest treasure. That’s what worship really is, that’s what being a Christ follower is literally about.
It’s about being so consumed with who our God is, who our Savior Jesus Christ is, that we delight in Him like we would delight in our spouse, or like we delight in our children, like we would delight in some favorite hobby or favorite activity that we have.
You see, the idea of delighting in God is really the key part of this verse. When that is in place – THEN we have a context in which we can understand the next part of the verse.
It says, “Delight yourself in the Lord… and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
After understanding the conditional nature of the statement, what I think it means is this: As you delight in God, in who He is and what He’s about in history and in in this world and in this universe – then He gives you the desires your heart is intended to have.
So He is fashioning your desires. He’s creating them for you – and it flows out of the fact that your perspective and your focus is correct. You are looking at the God of history, the One who holds history in His hand and who is bringing about all things according to the counsel of His will. So it only makes sense that the desires that begin to well up inside of you will be even more on track with what He wants because your are staying aligned with Him on a personal level.
Once we have that foundation in place, we can get back to the question at hand: Is it appropriate to claim the promises of God in relation to business?
Listen to this episode to hear a broader explanation of why I think it is EXACTLY appropriate given what we’ve just uncovered.
Business goals in view of the promises of God: It’s not an exact science
Is it appropriate to “claim the promises of God” in business endeavors?
Well, if my practice of claiming the promises of God is flowing out of that deep, passionate, Christ-honoring, Christ-seeking relationship that is described in the first part of Psalm 37:4, then I would expect that I will start having desires, goals, and ambitions that are flowing out of that.
It would make sense that as I come across passages of scripture that speak to the kinds of things I’m dealing with in business – either in specific or general ways – I have more cause to take those as promises as applications to my situation.
Here’s why… as I’m am walking close to God and as I’m delighting myself in the Lord, I begin to have a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that tells me whether or not I am able to take that particular promise, or that particular passage of scripture as a direct application to my situation.
Remember this is about relationship with God – and no relationship is an exact science – it’s an issue of experience and faith. It’s how on a very personal, individual level, we relate with the God of the universe.
In my thinking, it only follows that as we are growing tight with Him, He reveals to us where we should be headed – and part of that will be Him revealing things He has said in His word that can give us confidence as we head in those directions.
So can you claim the promises of God in relation to your business IF you are doing your diligent best to delight in the Lord… if you are carrying out the practical, consistent, daily things that nurture and grow your relationship with Him in an authentic, genuine, passionate way.
Then you can be more confident that the promises of God you come across in scripture will…
- Be discerned rightly and understood rightly by you…
- That you’ll accurately see how the context of the promise applies or doesn’t apply to your situation…
- And then can be aware of the Holy Spirit’s direction in your specific situation and in view of that specific promise
Then the Holy Spirit – who is the author of that scripture – may actually tap you on the shoulder or tug at your heart and say to you in that inaudible, intangible, still, small voice kind of way, “This is for you. I want you to pursue this. It’s what I want for you and what I’ve placed on your heart.”
That’s my perspective what it means to claim a promise of God… but there’s an application side of this.
What do you actually DO once you have a promise that you believe you can legitimately claim? Keep listening/reading.
How will the action I take in business be different if I BELIEVE God is really working alongside me and within me?
The only way I know to effectively describe this step in the process is to tell you a bit of my story – because it’s the only story I have. 😉
And I don’t tell it to brag or boast – but to illustrate what God is doing or has done in my journey.
My passion, my desire, my purpose in the business God has given me is to build a business that fuels more than just my lifestyle. Some of the ways that has manifested itself is in…
- supporting a team of eleven people at least part time
- funding causes that I care about
All of that is just background to say this…
What does promise-claiming faith look like?
When I’ve done the hard work of pursuing God in relationship – entirely apart from my business endeavors at first – my confidence in my ability to hear Him grows and I begin to have a gut-level belief that God is using the business to do those kinds of things that I just described to you.
It’s a deep, firm conviction I have that I believe God is going to flourish the business because it’s what He’s placed on my heart as I’ve walked close to Him (do you see the connection with the first part of this episode?)
I begin to see situations in the scriptures where God flourishes the work of the righteous – like He did in Daniel’s life, or in Joseph’s life – and I start thinking about my business and the hard work that goes into creating a business.
Marketing. Sales. Establishing a good service for clients. Working with a team. It’s all very hard work.
And I had this thought a few months ago: If God is working alongside me as I believe He is, what kind of action should I be taking in light of that belief?
The conclusion I came to? I would be going for it. I would be excited.
Because I believe God has promised me He’s going to flourish this business. I believe the work of my hands is going to prosper. I believe that what I’m doing is going to succeed because it has a deeper purpose behind it, that the God who created the universe is adding His blessing to it, that He’s bringing just the right people to my team and to my client roster.
So I should be praying as I market that God will guide me to exactly the right clients who will flourish this business and in turn we will help to flourish what they are doing. I should act with boldness and with confidence in those conversations and interactions with prospective clients.
That’s not always easy. It’s not always comfortable. It’s not always natural. Yet, that’s what faith looks like when you really are claiming a promise of God that you are convinced He has given to you.
You act with boldness. You act with faith. You act with confidence – not because you are anything… you see, I don’t think I’m the greatest businessman.
I’m really not a very good salesperson and I’m definitely not the best marketer out there.
But here’s where my faith lies: I believe my God is at work in this business and He has made a promise that He intends to keep. My role is like a little kid at Christmas: I’m just excited to see what He’s going to do. I want to be a part of it. So I’m gonna to get involved. I want to do the things that bring it about and then I’ll be encouraged that my faith in God is actually on track, that I’m hearing from Him, that I’m pursuing the things that matter, the things He’s placed on my heart.
This business is not about me. It’s about Him. It’s about His glory and purpose that He has established.
- The Morning Mindset: www.LiveBuildChange.com/morning-mindset
- www.LiveBuildChange.com/0 – The “zero” episode
- www.PodcastFastTrack.com/why – The reasons behind my business
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