Michael talks about the expectations we have in life and how these are dealt with in God’s plan for our lives.
What are our expectations in life? Those unsaid things that we think all people (ourselves included of course) deserve to enjoy? Let’s make a list either speaking for yourself or more generally in society-
long life, children if we chose, outliving our parents, good health, right to be sexually fulfilled, owning a house, reasonable wealth, to live in peace, to be surrounded by faithful friends, to be married / have a boyfriend / girlfriend?
Do any of these seem unreasonable? If someone or yourself said they half expected these from life would you think they were being greedy?
Where do these expectations come from? How do we feel if we don’t get them? who do we blame? How can they cause us to act if we’re convinced they should be ours? Let’s put this to one side for now and we’ll come back to it later.
Before I start, has anyone got any cash they can lend me? Don’t worry, you’ll get it back!
So this is what I want us to think about today – some expectations of life seem so normal we never question them. The affect they can have on our relationship with God when they are not met can be big and we can find it hard to deal with. Dealing with the disappointment and how we change our lives to get them needs to be thought and prayed about, we can’t just let it run away unchecked. God wants our whole life given over to Him as thanks.
As followers of God what rights do we have then? We know God is not evil and every good gift comes from Him. James 1 v 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
The expectations we listed at the start, God can and often does give them to us but often He doesn’t – how do we deal with that? Do we think God leaves us unfulfilled? Of course not! Do we spend our whole life waiting and not moving until we get what we expect? Let’s look at the right He gives us:
John 1 v12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
We have the right to be the children of God. What does that mean?
As usual there’s no better model of God interacting with humans than Jesus. He gave up all to serve God. We read and believe that Jesus was fully man and fully God. Amen?? Jesus was resting in His throne room at the right hand of His Father, being glorified by all creation and then gave this up to be born as a human child. He has the right to all creation!!! Everything is owed to Him. As a human what did Jesus expect of life? A big family, good job, nice house, a long life?? Yeah, you can say but He came for a certain reason so He didn’t come for this? Yeah that’s right, but I’d say He could have claimed all these things owed to Him, why not? He had a choice, He was fully man. What did He chose though? He chose to submit all these dreams and plans to the will of His Father. Think about it, are we any different? Are we better than Jesus?
I’m not saying we will have hard lives, we might, and we might not, doesn’t matter! What does is getting our unsaid expectations into line with spiritual reality.
The key to this is to do with our attitudes. God does not owe us anything, life does not owe us anything. Many people (ourselves included sometimes)find it easy to blame God when life isn’t fair but GOD can handle that, don’t worry! Are we actually due these things though, does God promise them anywhere? If and when God gives them it is truly a blessing, not a right. Any dreams we have, we need to hold onto very loosely and if they are fulfilled it is because of mercy, not a right.
When we really begin to understand this, it is reflected in how thankful we really are. How can you be thankful for something that you should have anyway? Let’s turn our thinking upside down! When I go to work and get paid for it I’m happy I’m paid but not particularly thankful. I’ve worked for it, it’s due to me. I borrowed a tenner off Jo earlier, here it is, have it back. Here’s another ten pounds which isn’t owed to you and you can have it for nothing and go and spend and enjoy. When someone out of the blue would give me a gift I didn’t expect or deserve, given out of love then I am honestly thankful. See the difference? This is how we need to change our thinking. God is the one trying to woo our hearts and often we are too busy or fixated with life to notice Him. If we think life owes us certain stuff how can we be thankful for it when we receive it?
Let’s thank God in the small things, let’s change our attitudes. Let’s cast off the desires of the world, not dump them altogether, we need balance, but don’t let them dictate how we live life and consequently serve God. Let us live simple lives of praise free from these worries and as we serve and concentrate on a close relationship with our Father, He will look after everything else! Those with faith like a child will inherit the Kingdom of God. Not a low intelligence faith but one where we don’t worry about life and just enjoy being with our Father. One where we marvel at His goodness and how good it is to just be with Him. How many of us have faith like that?
Let’s look at Romans 8
14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
We are co-heirs with Christ. We are heirs to a heavenly Kingdom! We are grafted into the branch of God’s family. We can call the Almighty Creator God Daddy!!! We don’t attain our happiness from having worldly expectations met. Lift our eyes up to our Saviour on high, He is where we have all needs met. In Him everything is Yes! He is the great Amen!! If we have to suffer by following this and letting go of worldly hope then who cares!? There’s a lot of things I’d like and sometimes I expect them but you know what? When I truly understand all that God has given me who cares about them! I am the child of the most High!! What more do I need? As Paul says I want to learn true happiness in each and every situation – Philippians 4:11-13 – “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” How many of us can truly say this?
Last thing I want us to think about is the Prodigal son – we all know this story hopefully? Two sons, one is faithful and stays living with His father, the other takes his fathers money and goes and wastes it living a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll. He then hits rock bottom and comes back to his father who welcomes him with a big party! If you were the other brother would you think this was fair? Why should the one who has disobeyed have the same rights and glory and honour when I’ve been faithful all the time? The other brother in the story is angry and I guess rightfully so in many people’s opinion. He feels like he has earned more than his brother through faithful service, which logically he has. The thing I want to draw out of this is that God doesn’t dish out grace and mercy the same way we do. And sometimes it isn’t fair in worldly terms. The other brother feels like he is owed. When we feel like we’re owed by God, or ourselves or the world how do we feel when someone less worthy is blessed? Jealous? Angry with God? Angry with life? Why do some people seem get all the luck and be blessed by God? Anyone feel a bit jealous when Jo got the tenner and not them? When we can truly understand that God gives from mercy not deserving we can still see these things and thank Him for the blessings He gives to all. We are not in a race, we are content and complete with the things God chooses to give to us, when others are blessed we are not bitter but thankful for the good God is showing them. Extremely hard to do sometimes but necessary! Revelation of God helps us be released from this jealousy.
It’s important to remember that getting blessings and gifts from God doesn’t mean He likes us more and when someone else gets them He likes them more! This is the human way of thinking! As seen God gives as He sees fit, not to confirm love or acceptance. God can’t also be tricked to bless because we feel we need something to be happier, for the right or wrong reasons. When we feel we need something and we then get it, it can easily become more important than God (even if temporarily) and of course God won’t help us with that! He is a jealous God, in the good way. The Good Father, the perfect Father who knows exactly what we need and when. Let’s trust Him as we know He has the big picture and can see all!
So let’s think back to the list we wrote earlier.
Any from that list that have crept in a started to control? I expect we can all relate to something on that list!
Anything on there that God has blessed you with??
For all of them, write them down on a bit of paper. Screw the paper up. Add it to this fire pit, symbolising giving back to God. He is the good Father who chose to give us blessings. These things belong to Him, He can give and take as He sees fit.
If He has blessed us then let’s thanks God and remember it’s His blessing, not our right and thank Him all the more for His goodness.
If we don’t have it and the desire for it is beginning to change the way we think and view happiness then let’s give it to God, let’s let go and say sorry for putting these things above Him. Let’s give Him our disappointment and ask for it to be replaced with His hope and contentment.
Spend some time with God, giving your life back to Him.