Expectations Exceeded

Expectations Exceeded

Many years ago I was working at a job that wasn’t paying me very much money.  We as a family were struggling financially and I needed to make a career change.  I finally found another job that was going to pay me substantially more money so I quit the job I was working at to take the new position.  When I came to get my final pay from the company, I had the expectation of maybe getting paid for some unused vacation time and sick days as well as my final week of work.  Well, to my surprise, they paid me much more vacation time because I had just gotten to my anniversary date with the company and I also had more sick days than I thought!!  That last paycheck went far beyond my expectations and helped get our family back on track financially.

It is not very often that we experience situations that are beyond our expectations.  Most of the time our expectations are very high and we are disappointed by the outcome of a situation.  Can our expectations of the Lord be too high?  Do we put on Him desires that are beyond His ability to achieve?

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

The Word of God teaches us that the Lord is able to do things for us that are beyond our comprehension!  What often happens though is that we desire the Lord to work outside His will.  Our expectations are what we want Him to do and because the Lord knows what is best for us, He doesn’t “come through” like we want and we are disappointed.  I believe that if we are seeking the Lord’s will in a situation, He will exceed our expectations.

There is the account of a crippled man in the book of Acts that was begging outside the Temple.  Peter and John walked by and saw him…

Acts 3:4-8 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

The crippled man had an expectation of receiving some money, but he got something much greater, he received the ability to walk!!  He would beg no more.  The Lord far exceeded his expectations, by giving him what he needed, instead of what he expected, or thought he had need of.

This happens to us many times.  We come to God with a request for something we believe we need.  We have figured our situation all out and have come up with the solution to the problem.  However, God gives us what we need rather than what we want.  It is the will of God that He meets all of our needs.  We should always have an expectation for that.  But, so often He goes far beyond what we feel our needs are and does exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.

When we feel that our expectations have gone unmet, we need to look around and see all that God has already done for us.  We miss God’s abundant blessings many times because we focus on the expectations that we have of God.  The Lord’s will for the crippled man was that he would walk and bring God glory.  If Peter and John would have given him what he hoped for, he would have died a beggar.  Don’t be disappointed in unmet expectations, what we need is far greater.  Allow God to exceed our expectations today.  In His will, in His time.

 

Humble and Happy

Humble and Happy

If asked, “What is it that makes us happy?”  I wonder what answers we would come up with.  No doubt, many would say, having good health, or having the bills paid and money in the bank, some would say having their family close by would make them happy.  Happiness is the result of circumstances in our lives.  Joy, on the other hand, can be a constant in our lives.  Joy is a fruit of living a spirit-filled life.  A life lived with an awareness of God’s presence.

I remember as I was pastoring a small church, after finishing the morning service, a member approached me and wanted to show me something in one of the restrooms.  Well, one of the toilets was plugged up and this member asked me, “What were we going to do?”  I said, “What do you think we are going to do?”  Then I proceeded to get the plunger and unplug the toilet.  I didn’t know if this person was putting me to a test or they genuinely had no clue.  But, the situation was solved and life went on.

John 13:16-17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (Emphasis added)

The Greek word translated happy in this passage is translated blessed or blessing in other passages in the New Testament.  Jesus had just finished washing the feet of His disciples.  He was demonstrating to them the need for humility of service in their lives.  After all, these are the same men that were arguing about who would be the greatest among them.  The Lord wanted them to know that their happiness would come from humble service to others.  But, He also went on to qualify their happiness is in the doing, not just the knowing.

We can fill our minds with the Word of God, and we ought to, but, merely knowing the Word is not going to make us happy.  We need to apply what we have learned to our lives.  So many times people sit in church and shake their heads in agreement with the Preacher, yet the word preached does not impact the way they live.  In other words, they are hearers of the Word and not doers of the word.  This leads to a life that is void of happiness or the blessings of God!

We all want to lead a happy and fulfilled life.  We desire to have God’s blessings, yet we do not allow the Word of God to change our behavior.  Jesus said, that we should not only know we are supposed to be humble servants but to BE humble servants.  The example is the Lord Himself.  We must lay aside our pride and be willing to humble ourselves and DO the lowly tasks and not to think that a task is below us or that someone else should do it.  Jesus didn’t instruct us to run around being feet washers, but we should be willing to do it if it needs to be done.  We then can be humble and happy.

When You Can’t Praise, Worship

When You Can’t Praise, Worship

Job 1:20-21 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Job suffered unimaginable pain and heartache.  The loss of everything, then eventually his health.  After receiving the news that his children had perished when a great wind hit their eldest brother’s house and it collapsed on them all, Job fell down and worshipped.  The word worship literally means to prostrate oneself in homage to God, to bow down, to reverence.  Job could do no more than to worship God in his sorrow and pain.  The Bible doesn’t say that he praised God, nor thanked God in his grief.  As a matter of fact, those two words are not even found in the book of Job.  He could just fall on his face before God and reverence Him.

Job knew that he did not possess the strength he needed to survive the pain he felt, he knew all he could do was to trust in the God he Loved.  There are certain occasions in our lives that will change everything in an instant.  It could be a phone call, a diagnosis, an accident or some other tragedy that all we can do is to worship the Lord we love.  There are situations that arise that hurt so much that we know we cannot handle them in our own strength.  That is when we must simply turn our hearts heavenward and reverence the Lord.

I know the word of God teaches us to give thanks in everything, and that our God is worthy to be praised in all situations.  However, practically speaking, there are times that hurt too deep to praise and thank God.  When our son Johnny was born with multiple congenital defects, I must be honest, I tried to praise and thank God.  But, to tell you the truth is wasn’t honest praise or heartfelt thanks.  Looking back today over the past 32 years I can thank and praise God for all he has done with Johnny’s life and in my life through him, even in his home going I am thankful that Johnny no longer suffers the pain he was in.  Yet, at his birth and through many difficult situations through the years, all I could do was worship.

Much of what is called worship today has nothing to do with humbling ourselves before God or giving Him reverence.  True worship puts us and God in our proper place, humbles us and exalts the Lord.

Friend, when your heart is breaking and you can’t muster up the praise or thanks…just worship.  Give God reverence, we may not understand the reasons for our pain, but we can be sure that the Lord hasn’t forsaken us.  In time you will be able to thank and praise Him, but until that time worship, ask Him to give you the strength you need to endure the trial He has allowed into your life.

Acknowledge the Pain of Others

Acknowledge the Pain of Others

1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:”

The Bible text above tells the reader not to look at trials as though you are the only one experiencing them. It is not a strange thing to have problems. As a matter of fact, trials are an everyday part of life. Troubles and problems aren’t just for a select few.  We all have times that are taxing and troubling. Sometimes the problems are manageable, and other times they are overwhelming. Whether they are large or small, in comparison to other people’s circumstances, they are real to each person going through their particular trial.

In spite of our own trials, we need to be willing to help others as they go through their struggles. When we do this, we may face situations that we have no experience in ourselves and we can’t come up with the words to say. When trying to comfort the brokenhearted, it is important to remember that there are no magic words or special formulas to take away a person’s pain. We can only try to comfort them the best way we can.  Just being a listening ear can be a great help and comfort to someone that is hurting.

Life can change in a moment. A phone call, a diagnosis, a knock at the door, a loss of a loved one, situations that impact our lives in a major way. If life takes it’s “normal” course, we will bury our parents, experience the ill effects of aging, and our bodies will be subject to disease and sickness. There are plenty of challenges to be faced in everyday life.

Proverbs 27:1 “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Our personal trials may be uncommon, compared to most people, but having problems is common to all people. There are times that we can see the storm clouds gathering, so to speak, then there are times that the storm catches us totally off guard.
Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Every day offers its own set of trials and problems for each of us, but we need to be aware that there are people all around us that are hurting. The Lord allows certain trials to enter our lives, but He has also called us to have compassion and to care about others as they navigate their difficulties. The Christian life is to be a life of service to others. The old acrostic: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last, is a good way to remember that we are all to be servants of Christ and others before we serve ourselves. That concept seems to be lost on many of today’s Christians. Many churches make their Christianity about the church organization, some make it about the people in the church, but the life of a disciple of Christ is about Him and others.

When we see people around us go through difficulties, it is invaluable that we acknowledge their pain. People that are hurting appreciate so much when others “get it.” We can encourage someone by simply letting them know, that we are aware that they are struggling and that they are not alone.

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Flee From the Voice of Strangers

Flee From the Voice of Strangers

Recently I heard a man speak of a son that had turned his back on the Lord and all that his parents had taught him as he was growing up.  The man’s voice broke as he explained how his son had once had a close walk with the Lord and is now very far from Him.  My heart was broken for that man and I immediately lifted up a silent prayer for my sons from my heart.  The sad truth is, that this scenario is more common than we might want to believe.

So what happens in the life of a Christian that would cause them to turn from all that they knew growing up?  As parents we will take upon ourselves much of the blame, I mean, we raised the children for the Lord and now they aren’t interested in our God.  We believe we must have done something wrong for our children to reject the Lord.

I believe that we as parents take on way too much of the blame.  None of us are perfect for sure, but if we have attempted to raise our kids in a good, godly, nurturing home; when those children become adults, they are responsible for their own actions.

In my opinion, what many wayward Christians do, is to listen to the voices of those that do not have faith in Christ.  They have grown up with the Word of God as the center of their home, but somewhere down the road have not given the Bible a prominent place in their adult lives.  There are many different voices in the world trying to pull God’s people away from the truths of scripture.

John 10:1-5 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

Jesus’ voice should be very familiar to the child of God.  He knows each of His own and calls us by name.  He leads us and corrects us.  The voice of strangers will attempt to lead us away from the Shepherd.  The voice of a stranger can eventually become familiar to us if we listen for too long.  Jesus said that His sheep will flee from the voice of strangers.

There will always be those that will try to get us to compromise our stands, or get us to back away from our Biblical convictions.  Don’t follow voices that are different than the Shepherd.  Stay in the Word of God!  Get to know The Shepherd’s voice so well that you can identify the impostors immediately!

I hope that none of us will be the subject of a brokenhearted loved one because we have turned from the Lord.  When the strangers speak into our ears, we need to flee!