Has anyone ever made a promise to you, and then didn’t keep it?  How does it make you feel?  Disappointed, angry, desperate?  If you’re like me, you know the feeling well, for it has happened to all of us at one time or another.  It might have been a small matter, like someone saying they would meet you for a cup of coffee, then they didn’t show up.  Or it might have been something major, like someone saying they would lend you money to get your car fixed that you need in order to keep your job, and they didn’t come through.  Or maybe it was a mate that was not true to you, or a promotion you had been promised at work that didn’t materialize.   Whatever the case may be, it sure makes for a bad day, doesn’t it?
    Now let’s move this scenario over into the spiritual realm.   Suppose you have been listening to a preacher telling you that God promises such-and-such in the Bible, so you have decided to believe God for the promises.  By any chance, did you get into the Bible to check out the promise said for yourself?  For example, there are those who insist God will bless you with a thirty, sixty, or hundredfold increase if you give offerings to their ministry.  I know people who have given to certain ministries for years on end, wondering when the promise is going to kick in, or why God isn’t keeping His promise.  Here’s something you need to know before we go any further:  God DOES keep His promises.  But He isn’t obligated to keep promises that you or I or someone else makes in His name.  Here’s where the problem lies, people are quick to make promises they have no intentions of keeping, or that they cannot keep even if they want to. And it ends up causing someone a lot of hurt.  If those promises are made in God’s name, and they don’t materialize, then God gets a bad reputation for them, and the sad part is, He didn’t have anything to do with it!  There are “prophets” who say “The LORD said, the LORD said….” So you believe that person, and then it doesn’t happen.  Of course you would be told, “Don’t touch God’s anointed”, heaven forbid that “He or she is a false prophet”.  So who gets the bad rap?  Again, God does.
   What do you think?  I think we should see what the Bible says.  Num 23:19  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
     Right there I think we have the answer we’re looking for.  There are so many running around saying stuff in God’s name that God didn’t say.  And those people will give account unto God for it, you can count on it.
    Have you ever noticed that the promises of God are conditional?  That means if you will perform what God requires of you, He will do His part.  But we must surely beware that we understand what God requires.  Don’t blindly jump out there and expect God to do such and such if you have not fulfilled the requirements He has set forth.  And extreme example might be someone being read the verses in Psalm 91 which says, For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
  There are actually people out there who would step off a roof and expect God to catch them, or go walking in the midst of snakes or lions and expect God to keep them safe because the Psalm says so.  You might think that’s goofy, but there are people who think like that.  And when they tempt God like that, they will lose, but when they do, they will blame God for the failure.  Why? Because the Psalm says so.  Perhaps they didn’t see the first part: He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  “Dwelleth” means you stay there continually, not just drop in for a quick visit and go on your way.  Psalm 91 is a very powerful promise, but you have to meet the conditions if you expect it to work for you.  Is there a possibility someone has lost a home in a hurricane even though they spoke Psalm 91 over it?  Sure there is, and here’s why:  God is in heaven, and He is the master.  We are on earth, and we are people, we serve God, God does not serve us.  He knows who “dwelleth” and who doesn’t.  Got that?
    Getting back to the thirty, sixty, and hundredfold return thing:  notice THIS is what Jesus says in Mark chapter 4:  Forget what you’ve been told by the preacher who’s looking for an offering.
Mar 4:1  And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.
Mar 4:2  And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,
Mar 4:3  Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
Mar 4:4  And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
Mar 4:5  And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
Mar 4:6  But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
Mar 4:7  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
Mar 4:8  And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
Mar 4:9  And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mar 4:10  And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
Mar 4:11  And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
Mar 4:12  That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
Mar 4:13  And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
Mar 4:14  The sower soweth the word.
Mar 4:15  And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
Mar 4:16  And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
Mar 4:17  And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
Mar 4:18  And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
Mar 4:19  And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
Mar 4:20  And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
    Now, having read this passage carefully, do you see anything there about a return on offerings into ministries?  I don’t.  First off, it says the sower sows the WORD  that means the preacher preaches the Word of God to you, and hopefully it will fall upon the good ground of your heart and bring forth godly change in your life and HELP you.  Of course, if you want to sow your dollars to them, that’s fine with them.  In fact, the Bible says to bless your preachers, saying not to muzzle the mouth of the oxen that treadeth out the corn.  But too many are trying to make God’s word say something it doesn’t say, then when the “promises” don’t materialize, God gets the blame.  I want to see that stop.  There are many making merchandise out of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will get duped if you aren’t careful! 
    While we’re on the subject of “sowing”, have you ever planted a garden?  Where did you sow your seed?  In your yard or field, right?  Where did you go to take care of that crop, watering it till it was ready to harvest?  Again, your yard or field.  Where did you go to get your harvest?  In someone else’s field? NO!!  You can see how silly that would be.  You reaped your harvest where you sowed!   If you’ve “sowed” dollars to your church or favorite ministry, can you call the preacher and say, Is my thirty, sixty, or hundredfold harvest in?  Can I come down and pick it up?  Not likely.  People have given to our ministry, and I can’t “multiply” it and write them a check for more than they gave me.  Things just don’t work that way.  Yet some have “sown” into ministries for years, being told to keep it up, believing God for their harvest.  Can you show me anyone who consistently gets a thirty, sixty, or hundredfold return from their offerings? 
   Let me help you here:  there is a difference between “sowing” and “giving”.  A farmer sows, expecting a return in the material realm, and God set the system up to work like that.  A job is a lot like that, you’re sowing your time for a paycheck.  But when you give to God’s work, you aren’t “sowing”, you’re “giving”, because the preacher can’t multiply your money back to you.  Can God make favor abound unto you where you are blessed for your giving?  Sure, but let’s don’t try to obligate God to do it, for we serve Him, not the other way around. 
    I’d be the first to tell you, don’t just believe something because you heard it on TV, or heard someone preach it.  If it’s in the Bible you need to get that thing off the shelf, open it up and READ IT CAREFULLY, praying as you go that God will open your understanding of His Word.  And when someone prophesies something to you, remember, God always works according to His Word.  If you can’t find it in the Word, forget it.
    Jesus said a house divided against itself cannot stand.  His Kingdom cannot stand if He contradicts Himself.  But be of good cheer, God never disagrees with the Word.  God’s promises are true for those who will meet the conditions.  Sometimes it’s as simple as “Fear not, believe only.”  But not always.  Read Deuteronomy 28:1-14 for some really fine promises that are sure to put a smile on your face.  But don’t miss the “conditions”, for they are the key to their fulfillment: 
Deu 28:1  And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
That’s what I’m meaning when I say “conditions”  If you think you can live in sin and disobedience to God and have all these blessings fall on you like apples falling off a tree, you have another think coming.  But if you will meet God’s condtions, He will make the promises good, and you don’t have to worry about it at all.
    What do you think?  Are the promises worth the paper they are written on?  Some don’t think so, because they haven’t seen them come true for them.  But consider this: what you think doesn’t change God one bit, but your response to the conditions on which the promises were made will determine if you will see those promises fulfilled in your life or not.  Believe it or not, YOU have a role in whether God’s promises come true in your life or not.  And another thing:  make sure it’s God making the promise, not some man trying to make you feel good so you will give him a nice offering.  I want to see God get the glory, and the only way that is going to happen is if I tell you the truth!