Expectations: we all have them. We go to a doctor’s appointment and we ‘expect’ to be seen on time. We ‘expect’ people to treat us fairly and honestly. We work hard and long with the expectation that our work will be rewarded by a raise in pay or a promotion. And here is the big one: We serve God, read the Bible, attend church and do all the “Christian things” and you would ‘expect’ life to go your way.
The Bible has plenty of examples of peoples’ expectations that were not fulfilled. Take Moses for example. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that God had called him to deliver the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. He killed an Egyptian that was abusing an Israelite slave and he “assumed” (expectation) that this would endear him to the people. WRONG! For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. Acts 7:25.
We expect good to be rewarded and evil to be punished. Unfortunately, it is not always so. But the bottom line is this: HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE NOT FULFILLED? This is a very crucial question because your response often determines your destiny.
- People get married and they bring all their expectations with them. Many are unrealistic expectations. What do you do when your mate does not live up to your expectations?
- A Pastor or Church leader fails you, hurts you and disappoints you. You had expected more of them!
- Your boss shows favoritism and gives the promotion you rightly deserved to another. Do?
Many people do not handle these situations well. There are two basic ways you can respond. 1] You can get angry, bitter, seek revenge, depressed, withdrawn. etc. 2] You can turn your disappointment and hurt over to God. Realizing He is in control and has allowed this to come into your life for a reason even though you might not understand.
Remember Psalm 62:5 “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.”
I have spent most of my life in the church. For the last 30+ years my wife and I have given ourselves to serving the church, so to say I am concerned about the church would probably be an understatement. But let me clarify what I mean by the “church.” I am not talking about an ecclesiastical organization but rather the individuals that make up the church. The church is not a building. The church is people. “Greet also the church that meets at their house.” Romans 16:5 ; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15
Most people are confused about Christianity. They believe that what they DO makes them a Christian: following the rules, rituals, and in general being a nice guy. The truth is Christianity is not about rules but having a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. And that is where the “rub” comes in. If you have grown up in the church, I am sure that you have picked up how to speak Christian, how to behave as a Christian, and do all the things that is expected of being a Christian. PEOPLE HAVE LEARNED HOW TO CONFORM TO A LIFESTYLE BUT THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN TRANSFORMED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT!
In the Bible, when people had an encounter with God; they were changed. I Samuel 10:6 Jesus did not come to earth to make you a better person. He came to make you a new person. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Cor. 5:17 NLT So many people want to add Jesus to their life without subtracting their sin. Jesus is not an “add-on.” But He becomes the center of our existence. Philippians 1:21 “For to me, living means living for Christ,...”
I am sure that must of us have seen a lifeguard (Baywatch doesn’t count) at the beach or at a swimming pool. Their main responsibility is to see to the safety of the swimmers. And every lifeguard knows you can’t save someone as long as he is trying to save himself. If somebody is drowning and flailing around in panic, Every lifeguard knows to just stay back for a few seconds and wait until he gives up. Because if you try to save him while he’s trying to save himself, he will pull you under, too. When he finally gives up and relaxes, you put your arm around him and just swim back to shore. It’s really quite easy.
When it comes to saving ourselves spiritually, the majority of people are trying to save themselves by: Attending church, trying to follow the Golden Rule. keeping the Ten Commandments, and being a good person in general. But the fact is no one can save themselves no matter how hard they try. You have got to quit trying to do it yourself. You’ve got to relax. You need to let go and let God be God.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
The famous advertising slogans we all remember have several key traits in common – they are all short, easy to remember and tied to a strong product or service benefit. Madison Avenue spends millions of dollars each year trying to come up with slogans that will stick in your mind. Creating a commercial ad slogan is all part of making your brand the one who customers can remember. Who can forget these classics? “M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand.” – M&M candies. “Don’t leave home without it.” – American Express. “Reach out and touch someone” – AT&T. Just do it (Nike).
A few years ago when the cereal giant Kellogg began to see the Corn Flakes drop in sales, they came up with a brilliant idea – an add that went like this: “Kellogg Corn Flakes: Taste them again for the first time.” Why am I writing a blog about cereal? Glad you asked. The idea is that something (or someone) can become so familiar that it loses its significance.
Life can become so familiar, so routine that it becomes like a bowl of soggy cereal. You need to go back and taste it again in order to fall in love with it. Life is composed of so many different aspects: Marriage, church, family, prayer life, Bible reading – maybe you need to taste it again for the first time.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
Choosing a church is no easy task. Some people choose a church by who has the best music program. Others choose a church by the charisma of the pastor.Still others may choose a church by the church’s worship style. I think there is a better method in choosing.
All churches fall into one of three categories.
In the Safe Church, the Safe Pastor finds the middle of the road and stays there. His message are “safe” : no challenge, no disturbing your comfort. His message will be based on a topic that has been settled for the majority of listeners. Getting along will matter more than anything else. Speaking of controversial topics is taboo.
FINAL WORD CHURCH
This church strives on controversy. When Hollywood’s favorites say something un-religious or Congress passes disputed legislation, the sermon for the coming Sunday is set. This church has the final say on all things: religious, social, political, and ethical. No need for thinking here; just sign of the dotted line of the church’s membership covenant and they will give you your position of everything.
At Maturing Church you will grapple with tough issues. You will be formed as a maturing follower of Jesus in a changing world. You will be exposed to other Christ-followers with different views. The goal at Maturing Church is continuing to grow in likeness to Jesus. You will be formed as a maturing follower of Jesus in a changing world.
What type of church will you choose?
It is amazing to me how often people think or live as if they could get away with violating the law of exposure. The events you attend, the materials you read [or don’t read], the images you watch, the conversation you have, the daydreams you entertain, all have an affect on your whole person. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
This is why people do not have peace or hope in their lives. It all depends on where your minds stays. If you want to become a mature Christ-follower – you must begin to think thoughts that will produce those characteristics. When you focus on Christ, these are the kinds of thoughts He will inspire you to think. Paul gives a command to all Christ-followers, “Think of these things.”Philippians 4:8
One way to keep your mind focused on Christ is to meditate on Scripture. (I can almost hear the groans!) You probably think you cannot meditate on Scripture but let me ask you one question, “Do you know how to worry?” If you can worry, you can meditate. To meditate merely means to think something over and over. Let it simmer in your mind.
What are you thinking right now? Keeping your focus on Jesus requires discipline and most of do not like discipline. So here is your homework until the next time.
2 Corinthians 10:5 “… and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”