Expectations are a part of life. Parents have them of children, children have them of teachers, teachers have them of students, employers have them of employees, and lenders have them of borrowers.
But what happens when our expectations aren’t met or when we don’t meet the expectations of others?
God also has expectations of his followers.
God Expects Us to Believe He Can’t Lie
“These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence” (Hebrews 6:18 NLT).
He spread the cell phone bill before her on the table. Earlier, he had perused the calls. He had his suspicions, and as he looked over the calls his misgivings were confirmed. Now came the unpleasant duty of confronting her. On one particular day, an out-of-town location appeared. He remembered the day. She had left early, telling him and the kids she was going to work. They believed her, even though they had reason to doubt her. Sure enough, she had lied—again. It had become her pattern.
When questioned, she said, “I was at work.” He produced the bill. She held her course. Only after an hour of lawyerly interrogation did she finally admit what he and the children already knew. She had lied. She was where the bill showed she was.
God made a promise to Abraham and sealed it with an oath. He would bless and prosper him and give him many descendants. Since God can’t lie, the promise was as sure as the sun rising the next morning. Abraham lived to see a portion of the promise fulfilled, and we’re witnessing another portion of it presently.
God’s promises can be trusted because they are unchanging and trustworthy. They have to be because they reflect his nature. He doesn’t change—although it may appear he does—and he never goes back on his word. What he says he will do.
God promises forgiveness and salvation to all who ask. Since he’s allowed his Son to pay for humanity’s sins, all that remains is for us to reach out for it. When we ask, our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. They’re cast into the bottom of the sea…into God’s forgetfulness.
God promises abundant life in the present—a quality of life we could never experience otherwise. And even better is the promise of eternal life in heaven. A place that is indescribably beautiful and fulfilling. A place where ultimate healing in all areas of life will be experienced.
God Expects Us to Follow His Lead
“Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20 NLT).
Following graduation from high school, I skipped college and began looking for work to support myself. Attempting to avoid plant work, I chose Orkin Exterminating Company. Things went well initially, but then a shuffling around occurred and I found myself working under houses.
A person can find many things under houses: snakes, busted septic lines, spiders, discarded toys. One of my trainers was an older gentleman who hated flashlights. I, on the other hand, preferred looking around before I lunged under a house. While in training, I followed his lead—frightened and in the dark. Surprisingly, he always took me to the area we needed to reach—and without incident.
Jesus is a better leader. Prior to his arrival, people were forced to approach a priest, confess their sins, and allow him to approach God on their behalf. God, however, wanted unhindered access as had originally been the case with Adam and Eve. So in his perfect timing, he sent his Son to blaze the path back to him. Now all who follow his lead can come boldly into God’s presence without fear of rejection or condemnation.
As a follower of Christ, I’ve been charged with the responsibility of leading. In what direction I lead others and with what qualities are important considerations. By my actions, words, and attitudes, I should direct those in my circle of influence in a particular direction. I’m a leader whether I desire the position or not, but where will others end up if they follow me?
When our lifestyle reflects Jesus’, we’ll lead others to understand who Jesus was and is and what he was sent to earth to accomplish. By watching us, they’ll comprehend the exchanged life—living for Christ instead of self. Those who choose to follow our lead will stroll successfully through the mountains and valleys of life on their way to an eternal Promised Land.
God Expects Us to Give from the Heart
‘Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:2 NLT).
If I had all the money I wanted, I suppose I would still be financially strapped. I love to give and over the years have given away many things that were precious to me. But the one gift I most wanted to give I couldn’t.
My grandfather had never owned a new vehicle. I often dreamed of being able to buy him a brand new vehicle, park it in his driveway, and watch his reaction. I kept this dream until his health grew feeble and he could no longer drive. Giving him this gift would have been a present from my heart for all he and my grandmother did for me. Gracing him with a new car would have been my way of showing him my appreciation. Though the dream never became reality, I believe God honored the desires of my heart.
Long before God established the priesthood in the nation of Israel, Melchizedek served as priest of Salem (Jerusalem). Since there is no record of his birth or death, he is referred to as a priest forever. Abraham—after fighting a battle against enemy kings and then returning home—chose to give a tenth of all his battle spoils to this priest-king. These gifts from the heart were Abraham’s way of showing his appreciation to God for protecting him in battle.
When we give from the heart, it will be voluntary as Abraham’s was—not forced. We won’t care who knows what we give or even that we give, for it is an expression of our gratitude to God. Not a show to receive other’s praise or to make an impression.
If we give only because we feel forced or because we experience guilt, we’ll give out of the wrong motives every time. In the end, the attitude with which we give is much more important than the amount—although amount does express the heart of our giving.
God Expects Us to Believe We Have a Different Type of Priest
“So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood” (Hebrews 7:11 NLT).
Day after day, I stood in the same place doing the identical thing. Some of the people were the same, but many were new to the ceremony. They came from as close as a mile and as far as one hundred miles. Those who traveled great distances often came with money instead of animals. The Temple court was filled with merchants eager to exchange their foreign currency and sell animals—all for exuberant prices. These practices were helpful, but the merchants took every opportunity to make money in the process.
As each worshiper delivered their sacrifice, I—along with the other priests—performed the duty we despised. Blood flowed wildly, and the stench was almost overbearing. The abhorrent scenery of my work eventually lost its disgusting nature as I slit the throats of hundreds of animals each day.
Prayers to God became nothing more than a ritual of repeating the same words as I assured the worshiper of God’s forgiveness. I had repeated the words so many times I no longer thought about their meaning. When would it all end? I knew the prophecies of the Scriptures by heart. God would send a Messiah, One who would provide the ultimate sacrifice. But when?
Then the news came. Messiah had come. The religious leaders opposed him, but the common people hounded his steps and marveled at his miracles. Could he be the one? I was almost ready to believe when the religious authorities had him crucified. As I watched him hang on the cross—bloodied, bruised, and in agony—I wondered how he could be the one.
But as Jesus breathed his last, a strange event materialized. The curtain in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. It finally dawned on me. Jesus was the better priest. His sacrifice actually took away sins, not just covered them as the animal sacrifices had. All that remained was for me to believe and accept this different priest.
The same choice exists almost two thousand years later. And always will. Acceptance brings forgiveness; rejection leaves me in my sinful mess.
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- Grace and God’s Choice (A Study in the Book of Romans) - August 14, 2018
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