What If We Had Higher Expectations?

Humans are hardwired by God to be in relationship with Him and with others.

  1. God is a Triune God so each part of the Godhead is in relationship with the other parts—John tells us in his epistle that God is love, meaning there is both a Lover and a Beloved.
  2. We are created in God’s image—we are made to love and be loved.
  3. God affirmed our need for relationships with others—see Genesis 2:18.
  4. Relationships with others give us a return on investment, help in trouble, encouragement in dark times, and protection from attack—see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
  5. Christians being in healthy relationships with others is a testimony to just how powerful God’s love is.

Sadly, Brennan Manning pointed out that Christians “have come a long sad journey from the first century, when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, ‘See how these Christians love one another!’”

When I read this, I don’t want to throw in the towel, but I want to reclaim this awe and wonder! 

One of the things that will quickly kill relationships is having low expectations for the other person or for the relationship itself. This can be counteracted by having higher expectations for other people and for our relationships with them.

John Maxwell noted, “People rise or fall to meet our level of expectations for them. If you express skepticism and doubt in others, they’ll return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they’ll wear themselves out trying to do their best.”

Consider the high expectations that God had for a relationship with us. If He had low expectations, one of the best-known verses in the Bible would be, “God thought a few people in the world had something worth saving, so He sent a handful of angels to tell us His story.”

Instead, the verse tells us: God so loved the entire world that He sent the very best that He had—He sent His One and Only Son!

  • Jesus died for us when we were unworthy of His love
  • Jesus gave us all His authority to represent Him in the world
  • Jesus empowered us with His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses
  • Jesus told us that our love for others would be a blazing sign to that we were His

Since God has this high expectation for us … what would happen if we had the same high expectations for everyone with whom we came into contact? What would happen if we believed the best for everybody, and then gave all that we could to bring the best out of them? I think that once again people would exclaim with awe and wonder,

“See how these Christians love one another!”

We will be talking more about Relationship Builders & Killers this Sunday and I would love if you could join me!

Poetry Saturday—Happy In Him

…But when I am happy in Him,
December’s as pleasant as May.

His Name yields the richest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disburses my gloom,
And makes all within me rejoice;
I should, were He always thus nigh,
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal so happy as I,
My summer would last all the year.

Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resign’d,
No changes of season err place
Would make any change in my mind:
While blest with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there. —John Newton

There Is No Such Thing As Unanswered Prayer

“This incense was to be ‘offered with’ or ‘laid upon’ so as to cover or envelope the ‘prayers of all saints’—yes, all saints, from Able downwards; for this seems to be the gathering into one of all prayers from the beginning, that at length they may be answered (Luke 18:3, 7). Upon the golden altar in front of the throne the prayers of the saints of all ages have been laid; there they have accumulated; the unanswered ‘How longs?’ not forgotten.

Not one petition, even the poorest or feeblest, has dropped from that altar, or been swept away, or lost in the process of time. All, all are there. In themselves the are poor, having no fragrance; but their intrinsic imperfection cannot change the nature of that altar on which they are laid. There they are preserved— each sigh, each tear, each cry, from child or aged man, from the chief of sinners, from the thief upon the cross, from the chamber of weakness and sorrow, from the crushed spirit and the broken heart—there they are: the groanings that cannot be uttered; the ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner;’ the ‘How long?’ of the tortured martyrs; the moan of the suffering saint upon his tossing sick-bed—there they are: the father’s prayer, ‘Lord, save my child;’ the child’s prayer, ‘Lord, save my father’— there they are: the pleadings for the church of God, for the overthrow of Antichrist, for the binding of satan, for the deliverance of earth, for the consummation of the eternal purpose! Not one cry lost; not one petition gone astray. All there!

There is no such thing as unanswered prayer. Delay will only add to the fullness of the answer, and increase our joy when it comes. And it will come. He is faithful that promised. He cannot deny Himself.” —Horatius Bonar, Light & Truth: Revelation

Thursdays With Oswald—Knowing Evil By Living Good

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Knowing Evil By Living Good

     There are some things of which we must be ignorant, because knowledge of them comes in no other way than by disobedience to God. In the life originally designed for Adam it was not intended that he should be ignorant of evil, but that he should know evil through understanding good. Instead, he ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and thereby knew evil positively and good negatively. … 

     The only way to find out things in the moral universe is by obedience. … 

     The philosophy of life is based on the topsy-turvy reasoning of going into things in order to find out about them, which is like saying you have to go into the mud before you can know what clean water is. “I must know the world”—if you do, you will only know good by contrast with evil. … Jesus Christ knew good and evil by the life which was in Him, and God intended that man’s knowledge of evil should come in the same way as to our Lord. … 

     The marvel of the Redemption is that Jesus Christ can put into any man His own hereditary disposition of holiness. … 

     Jesus Christ carried out all that Adam failed to do, and He did it in the simple way of obedience to His Father. … Are we humble and obedient, learning as Jesus learned, or are we hurrying into experiences we have no right to? … We grow spiritually by obeying God through the words of Jesus being made spirit and life to us. … 

     “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil” [Romans 16:19]. … When we are born again we have to obey the Spirit of God, and as we draw on the life of Jesus and learn to assimilate and carry out what He speaks to us, we shall grow in ignorance of certain things and be alive and alert only to what is God’s will for us.

From The Soul Of A Christian

I love the fact that Jesus Christ can put into any man His own hereditary disposition of holiness. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you’ve thought or said, or what you’ve seen, Jesus Christ can put His innocence into you.

Ask yourself Chambers’ question: “Are we humble and obedient, learning as Jesus learned, or are we hurrying into experiences we have no right to?”

After asking that question, do you need to make some changes?

6 Quotes From “Joy To Your World”

In Joy To Your World, T.M. Moore encourages Christians to view joy as the fuel for their testimony to others about their vibrant relationship with Jesus. Check out my book review by clicking here.

“The Christian life is joy, the joy Jesus glimpsed as He went to the Cross, that sustained Him through all His betrayal and suffering, and in which He now dwells, at the right hand of God.”

“The joy which infects those who receive the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ causes them to see creation and all culture in an entirely new light. Whereas formally such things were merely taken for granted and used as we saw fit, now they are received as gifts and servants of the joy-giving God, to be redeemed, renewed, and redeployed with joy to the praise of His glorious grace.”

“First, we need to make sure our own lives makes sense, that the way we live supports the reasons we might give for why we live this way. … Second, we must make sure that we know the Gospel. … Finally, we need to make sure we can explain the Gospel’s impact on our own lives. How has the Gospel brought new hope, new purpose, new direction, and new life to us?”

“It is not our task to convert those who ask a reason for the hope that is within us. It is our task to make sure, to the best of our ability, that we have explained the Good News of Jesus as clearly as we can.”

“Joy is not determined by what we can see in our immediate environment. Instead, joy is a condition that attaches to knowing the Lord and being able to see past or through what is seen to engage what is not seen (Hebrews 12:1).”

“When, because of our knowledge of God, the joy that fills our souls comes to expression as joy lived, then our lives will make sense, our salvation will be visible to the watching world, and we can offer any who may ask, sound reasons for how that joy can be theirs as well.”

Relationship Builders And Killers

C.S. Lewis reminds us that there is no such thing as a neutral encounter with other people…

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one of these destinations.” —C.S. Lewis

Wow! Think about it: Relationships with other people are what helps us and others grow toward heaven or shrink toward hell.

Fortunately the Bible has a lot to say to us about relationship builders and relationship killers. The builders help us form and nurture relationships that honor God and move others forward, and the killers destroy potentially life-giving relationships while dishonoring God’s design for us.

I hope you will join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we begin to identify both the relationship builders that can help us grow, and the relationship killers that are holding us back. It’s going to be an eye-opening journey!

Joy To Your World (book review)

“Joy To The World” is a Christmas song, right? Well, we do often sing it during the Advent season, but T.M. Moore persuasively makes the case in his book Joy To Your World that this message is a year-round blessing.

Quite simply, Moore reminds us that “the Christian life is joy.” Joy is what distinguishes the Christians from others, and joy is what attracts others to the Christian faith more than anything else.

Jesus sent His followers out to make disciples, and the empowering force behind the Christian’s testimony is the joy that Jesus is the One who has conquered hell, death, and the grave. So of all people, Christians should be brimming over with joy.

T.M. Moore writes: “When, because of our knowledge of God, the joy that fills our souls comes to expression as joy lived, then our lives will make sense, our salvation will be visible to the watching world, and we can offer any who may ask, sound reasons for how that joy can be theirs as well.”

This is an excellent message to be read at anytime, not just at Christmas.

Speak Life

“It is so easy to be harsh and sharp with your words. Speak optimistic words, life-giving words, bold words, healing words and words of comfort.

“Speak about the good things of life and declare life. Make it a point to say nothing negative at all. If/when you fail, be quick to repent and rephrase! Give each other grace because this is going to be a challenge for all of us!

“Pray that God will help you and empower you to speak life and blessing. Pray that God helps you to be a carrier of peace amidst the chaos of our world.” —Matt Kladnik

Five Women; One Amazing Story!

For some of you, it’s hard to put the word “happy” in front of Mother’s Day.

One definition of happy is “favored by fortune; lucky.” In other words, we’re happy IF things happen to be going our way. But we don’t know how things are going to turn out?

In the last Super Bowl, the New England Patriots were down by 25 points early in the 3rd quarter. It didn’t appear that things were going the Patriots’ way … except they won!

So don’t judge “happy” or “not happy” by how things are going in the middle of the story! 

To God, all of History is His Story. He knows every move, every hurt, every fumble, every betrayal, every noble deed, every evil deed … nothing escapes His notice. And it all fits into His Story—We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor ALL THINGS work together and are fitting into a plan for good… (Romans 8:28).

Check out the stories of these five women—

Tamar had to pretend to be a prostitute in order to get her father-in-law to followthrough on his commitment. As a result, she became pregnant by him and was almost burned at the stake.

Rahab didn’t pretend to be a prostitute; she was a prostitute. She lived in an important city that was about to be defeated by the Israelites. Instead of trying to make things easier on herself, she trusted God and put herself in a very dangerous position.

Ruth was a non-Israelite married to an Israelite man. But when her husband, her brother-in-law, and her father-in-law all died, she took a huge risk in staying with her mother-in-law. She could have moved in with her family in a country she knew, but she went where she was an alien, a widow, and dirt poor.

Bathsheba was married to Uriah, who was a member of the king’s inner circle. But the king took advantage of her when Uriah was away at war, impregnated her, killed her husband, and then married her. Their son from that union died shortly after being born, but Bathsheba trusted God to make something good of her tragedy.

Mary was engaged to be married when she was found to be pregnant. Society could have shunned her, her fiancé could have had her killed for her unfaithfulness, but she trusted God to keep His word.

These five mothers are the ONLY women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-6, 16)

God used all of these women. Despite the way they were treated or mistreated; despite their own mistakes; despite the injustices committed against them. God used all of them as irreplaceable parts of His Story.

To God, all of History is His Story! He’s doing things through your life that you can’t possibly imagine. Trust Him—if you do, your name will also be recorded in the best “His Story” ever recorded! 

Whenever you don’t know what’s going on, lean into Him, cry out to Him. But then say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” And what does God say? “I am working ALL THINGS together to tell My Story through your life!”

Poetry Saturday—Mother, Home, Heaven

Three words fall sweetly on my soul,
As music from an angel’s lyre,
That bid my spirit spurn control, 
And upward to its source aspire;
The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven. 

Dear Mother!—ne’er shall I forget
Thy brow, thine eye, thy pleasant smile; 
Though in the sea of death hath set
Thy star of life, my guide awhile, 
Oh, never shall thy form depart
From the bright pictures in my heart.

And like a bird that from the flowers,
Wing-weary seeks her wonted nest, 
My spirit, e’en in manhood’s hours,
Turns back in childhood’s Home to rest; 
The cottage, garden, hill, and stream,
Still linger like a pleasant dream.

And while to one engulfing grave
By Time’s swift tide we’re driven, 
How sweet the thought that every wave
But bears us nearer Heaven! 
There we shall meet, when life is o’er,
In that blest Home, to part no more. —William Goldsmith Brown
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