"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21
I find it fascinating how the Apostle Paul follows up on his prayer for the Ephesian believers. Right after praying that they would get a greater grasp on the crazy love of God, he concludes by reminding them of what they should expect from God.
That seems to fit the pattern of all the great men and women of God. As their realization of God's love expanded so did their level of expectations from God.
Expectations are tricky. They are closely tied to faith and yet different from faith. Faith believes in the Person and the power of God and expectations project faith forward to change the present reality. But what can we and what should we realistically expect from God?
When I do pre-marital counseling with couples I spend considerable time dealing with this crucial area of expectations. Coming into a marriage there are high expectations held by each partner and as important as they are, they are rarely shared but simply assumed. Unless the couple is pressed to articulate them and communicate them they end up as two different visions of what should happen in that marriage. Differing expectations that operate within two different assumptions result in two very disillusioned people. Disillusionment breeds disappointment which breeds distance, which breeds distrust, which breeds disaster in the relationship.
Serious marriage problems often trace back to these dynamics of unrealistic or unrealized expectations in the relationship. That being true, transpose that into your faith relationship with God. Just as unrealistic expectations can damage marriages they also have caused many Christians to become disappointed with God and disillusioned in their faith. Perhaps you know someone who has struggled with that. Maybe you have struggled in that area. Could it be you find yourself in that condition right now?
How do you shape realistic expectations of a God Who unlike your human spouse, actually CAN do anything He wants, anytime He wants, in any way He wants, anywhere He wants? That is another level of complications and begs the questions, "What can I realistically expect from God and how do I know that?"
That IS the question isn't it? And it is a perplexing one to be sure! But, over the next two months we are going to dive into the deep end of the pool and try not to drown while we find some insights to help you more realistically shape and share your expectations of God. How will we keep from drowning as we get in over our heads? We will learn from some of the Heroes of our faith who were used by God to do supernatural works. By revisiting the great stories of Moses, Joshua, the Children of Israel, The Three Hebrews in the firey furnace, David and Daniel we will attempt to understand what they expected from God and how they formed those expectations.
In advance of our sermon series, I encourage you to read ahead to refresh your memory of these great men and their great moments with God. You can expect to get more from this sermon series if you study the stories.
I expect you will!