Monday, May 18, 2015

“Great Expectations”

"Great Expectations"

(I think somebody's already used that title, actually…)

    Should the born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ expect to consistently obey or disobey God?  The Bible answers the question in no uncertain terms.

    "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).
    "They which receive abundance of grace and of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17).

    The answer we personally offer, however, may not ring with the same confidence and assurance as implied in the Apostles' affirmations.  Past experience, the awareness of our human weakness, and even an erroneous concept of humility may lead us to low expectations.   If confronted with the New Testament's ongoing declaration of our enabling through Christ, we may be tempted to respond, 

     "Yes, all that may be true in some manner.  My frequent failure miles, however, tell a different story.  I'm obviously just not dedicated or spiritual enough to expect the consistency and triumph suggested by the Bible.  I know it's not right, but there just doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it!"

    Note several features of the mournful resignation that characterizes such a defeatist confession.  First, self focus and self absorption pave the path of failure.  The Christian life was never meant to be lived by the power of our own dedication and spirituality.  We rather "look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" as the holy means whereby the quality of His life manifests itself in our own - "the just shall live by faith" (Hebrews 12:2; Romans 1:17).  We focus upon our Savior's  frequent faithful miles, as it were.  Indeed, unbelief and sin always originate in our failure to keep the first thing the first thing, and the main thing the main thing (Thanks, Larry!).  And the first and main things regarding godliness are the confession and affirmation of "Christ, the power of God," and Christ the empowerer of ourselves to fulfill the will of God (I Corinthians 1:24).  "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).  Failure to faithfully obey God means we have not availed ourselves of His promised and present enabling through the Lord Jesus.  A heart devoted to His dedication and spirituality leads to Christ-empowered feet enabled to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).

    Consider also the resignation to failure implied in the aforementioned statement.  Rather than expecting our faithful Heavenly Father to fulfill His promise to work in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure," the statement implies anticipation of defeat (Philippians 2:13).  Whose defeat?  Certainly we would quickly acknowledge our own.  However, implicit in any lack of expectation to walk in genuine godliness lies either ignorance of God's promised working, or outright unbelief concerning the promise.  The believer who resigns himself to low expectations actually says more about God -falsely - than about himself.  Is the Lord Jesus who the Bible declares Him to be?  Does He do what He promises to do?  If I answer yes to those questions, by logic and definition I embrace high expectations of His faithfulness and my Christ-enabled response.

    Finally, there is something we can do about it!  We can trust and submit ourselves to our Heavenly Father, and then marvel as He confirms the truth of His Word.  I argue not for perfection in this consideration, but for a growing consistency in our walk with the Lord.  Failure is not an option for the trusting sons and daughter of God in Christ.  It is a possibility, but it must be tolerated in our thinking as an option.  The Lord Jesus was tortured to death on the cross of Calvary and smitten by God and man to save us not only from the penalty of sin, but from its power.      Too much was suffered and sacrificed for any believer to dishonor the cross by living as if there had been no resurrection.  There was, and the power thereof, the same power that raised our blessed Lord Jesus from the dead, now inhabits us to foster great expectations and the fulfillment thereof…

"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places."
(Ephesians 1:15-20)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:7)



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