Sunday, February 05, 2017

Expectations of God

In perhaps his most famous quote, renowned British Baptist missionary, William Carey, said, "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God."  A lot of people have heard or read these two statements.  Although not scripture, those two sentences have been used to support many different ideas through the years, very often contradictory to one another.

A good question that everyone should consider from scripture, related to the Carey quote, is, "What should believers expect from God?"  Maybe someone could add, "What should we expect more from God than what He has already done, is already doing, or that He has promised to do?"  Believers should not expect more than what God  will do or has promised to do.  In many cases today, people are burdened by unscriptural expectations of God.  As a result, they don't enjoy what they already have or will get.

Some people take thoughts from something like the Carey quote and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. They make something "great" happen, and then say it was God, as a proof that God was working.  The great work then says that what they did was legitimate.

What are "great things"?  Great things to Jesus were His submission to God the Father, doing every thing the Father told Him to do, all the way to the end.  Those were the "great things" Jesus expected from Himself.  Is that good enough for people, just to do everything that God told them to do?  If every believer just did everything that God wanted him to do, would that be good enough to be a great thing? Would he have attempted a great thing for God if he attempted mere obedience to God?

What "great thing" should believers expect of God?  Some are expecting miracles from God.  They think they should expect miracles.  They expect God to talk to them still in addition to scripture. When God does talk to them, like they expect Him, He tells them new ways, great ways, to make their work increase, that He hadn't already told them in His Word.  Then He makes those things work more than what He said.  Those are the great things they expect.  They ask you to pray for those things, so that when those occur, they say that those were answers to prayer.  The prayer itself becomes a great thing, the prayer for some great idea that will result in other great things.

Lets say that someone tried to preach to every single person in his town.  Some of the people didn't want to hear and either ignored it or opposed it.  He keeps trying and gets the gospel to everyone who will listen.  No one is saved.  No one. Was that a great work?  Was it only great if someone was saved?  Was he not expecting great things from God, so he didn't get them?  Even though he preached the gospel to everyone, was it enough to be a great thing?

May I pose a few things to you?  Perhaps the ordinary things that God wants us to do could be great things.  Those are good enough, so they are great.  God will then do everything that needs to be done through those ordinary things.  That is expecting God to be great.  God is great.  He is always doing great things.  We can expect those of Him.  We should.  We should admire them.  

If believers had just kept doing the ordinary things that God wanted, then everything would have been done.  In many instances, because believers would not expect the ordinary, they failed.  Nothing great happened, because ordinary was what God wanted.

Many men, expecting great things, get what they think are mediocre things, and they quit, discouraged.  Some attempt a great sermon, but an ordinary sermon would have been better, one preceded by time in diligent study yet without the dynamics and stagecraft.  The Word is faithfully exposed week after week in a way that will edify the saints, but that isn't great enough.

The attraction of great things has sent many men veering into pragmatism. Unwarranted methods arise from great expectations.  Great things supersede scripture.

People in congregations expect great things.  Someone looking for a church wants great things.  These expectations fuel movements that pervert the church.

Someone expects the power of God.  He should look for fruit of the Spirit, boldness in evangelism, a good marriage, good parenting, and faithful giving.  He doesn't.  He looks for a feeling of excitement and terrific results and assesses those as the power of God.  What is called more power is less and what is called less is more.  True spirituality is a casualty.

Let's adjust our expectations of God to what the Bible says.

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