Hearing the ding of my phone, I picked it up to see who was texting me at this late hour. Consequently, it was my sister and she was sharing a property with me that had just come on the market. While pulling up the information, I was shocked. This beautiful church built in 1887 had always been my favorite church building in our town. It was stunningly beautiful. My first question was, “Could this be?”
I had been praying diligently for several years for property for A New Thing Ministries. Considering the recent outpourings of the spirit of God, could this be a place to gather and worship – could this be the next step for this ministry? I thought back to the day before when Breanne and I were driving through town. I said to her, “If I could have any church in this city, it would be that one.” Hours later it was on the market, how could that be? And how could it not be God?
I sat down and penned a letter to our prayer partners to have them pray with me to see if this was indeed the next move God had for our ministry. I wrote the email, but I didn’t send it. Something deep inside me stopped me.
Although it all looked absolutely perfect and timely, I hesitated.
Something didn’t feel right. I sat down and began to pray and remember. I remember my vision for what I saw for A New Thing Ministries. It was not a church, even this beautiful one, it was a retreat center for the weary. A place where people who had faced tremendous challenges could come and spend a few days and become refreshed in the presence of the Lord. The more I meditated on the vision I have carried for many years; I knew this was not the next step for us. Frankly, it made me a little sad, I so loved this building, but then God spoke to my heart and said, “In the days of promise, beware of the Ishmaels.”
You may recall the story. God promised Abraham a son. He waited and waited for that son. When it didn’t come in the time he expected, he went in another direction and Ishmael was born. He was not the son of promise. That son was yet to come, just as God had promised. The problem was, Abraham and Sarah got ahead of God and decided to do it their own way – from this decision came Ishmael. You see, their trying to help the situation did not produce the promise, it produced a counterfeit. That’s what happens when we don’t seek Gods face and continue to wait on Him for what He has promised us.
God is not a man that He should lie. His first word is His final word. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”
I encouraged you to do this a few weeks ago, write out your vision. Once it is written out and deep within your heart, beware of Ishmaels. What do I mean by that? I am saying, don’t settle for something less than what you are praying for. If the enemy can, he will convince you that God is not going to do what you asked therefore, its better if you settle for a little less than what you desire.
For instance, if you are believing God to become debt free and you see a way to pay off your vehicle BUT it puts more debt somewhere else, don’t do it. That’s not Gods best.
Or, if you are praying for the salvation of a child and he seems to be a little better, not really saved, but acting better. DO NOT STOP PRAYING AND CRYING OUT FOR HIS ULTIMATE SALVATION. Don’t settle for less.
Or, and this is a big one. If you are believing God for a spouse and someone comes along who appears perfect, even though they may not believe the way you do…pray and seek the face of God. God does not want you unequally yoked; it will only cause pain. Do not settle for less than God’s best, beware of the Ishmael.
In my decades of serving God, I have noticed this one thing. When I am believing for a promise, an Ishmael often comes just before the promise manifests. It has happened to me more times than I can count. In the past, I have embraced the Ishmael, it only leads to disappointment. This is one of the enemy’s tactics – avoid it. He is trying to get you out of the perfect will of God – refuse to go there. Instead stand firm until you see the manifestation of the promise of God. Seek His face and make sure it is His plan before you. Allow peace to guide you. If you do not have utter peace, stop, and listen for God’s voice.
I apply this rule in everything I do. It can be quite frustrating for those around me. Because the things that seem to be a good thing, when I take time to stop, listen and meditate on God’s Word, often those things fall away. I am not interested in a good thing – I only want a GOD thing. This church, as beautiful as it is, is not my God thing.
A funny thing happened. Days later, someone called and asked me to go look at this property with them. I did. As I walked into the church, it was proof, it was not for me. Yes, it was stunningly beautiful but for me, God wasn’t there and if He isn’t there – I don’t want any part of it. He simply confirmed what I already knew in my heart and in my spirit – that wasn’t my next move. My friend, we ARE in a time of promises being fulfilled, please, please, beware of the Ishmaels.