Far too often I find that I confuse expectation with faith.
What I do believe that I can expect is for God to honor his promises. The quandary becomes exactly what I interpret those to be. What does God actually promise us and how do I integrate that into my faith, my personal grid for how I pray, and for whom and what I pray?
These are bigger questions than I can answer in five hundred words assuming I had the answers at all.
In my own story of adversity and prayers that seem to hover just below the ceiling tiles I’ve begun to ask myself some questions. First of all, is God faithful, trustworthy, and just? Is it an answer to prayer only when things turn out favorably from my perspective as opposed to when they turn out in ways that disappoint and even devastate me? Is God in his sovereignty only going to do what he chooses anyway and my puny prayers are just exercises in futility other than me showing my utter dependence on him?
These are the questions I get pelted with on a very regular basis as I encounter people in the areas of chronic and life threatening illness, tragedy, and the areas of addiction and compulsive behaviors that wreak havoc on the lives of individuals and those around them. Our natural expectation would be for God to heal us, strike us sober, get us well, fix us, and sweep in to smooth out all the fallout.
God doesn’t promise us that any two situations are ever going to turn out exactly alike. I also don’t see that we can take certain promises in scripture that were made to specific individuals, people groups, or cultures (regardless of how comforting and glorious they may sound) and extract them to always fit our personal paradigms. Otherwise, we would just keep the ones we like and throw out the ones where he promises to hand people over to their enemies and even allow terrible things to happen to their women and children.
I see God’s promises to be in the areas of peace, wisdom, courage, and hope. Even as I ask for certain outcomes on behalf of my loved ones and myself what I can expect from him is peace, courage, wisdom and acceptance. These things focus me on the process much more than the outcome, which I believe is really the point in the first place.
Expectation and faith are like Christmas tree lights. Even though I think I have them neatly sorted and wound up when I put them away every year, I manage to open the box to a tangled web of cords when I need to get to them again. I will probably be revisiting this point for the rest of my life. What I am careful to remember these days is that God’s promises seem to be more about carrying me through the process than about guaranteeing my desired result.
Our service this Sunday is going to explore the promise making and promise keeping God.
Our Call To Worship God is from 1 Kings 8:56-57
56 “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. 57 May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us.
We will sing of God’s goodness with the song Forever Reign. We will remember his faithfulness with the hymn, Crown Him With Many Crowns. We will acknowledge his holiness with the worship tune, Holy Is the Lord and we will conclude our worship in song time with the worship anthem We Fall Down. All of these songs highlight God’s faithfulness.
Our feature song and offertory is one recorded by the group, Selah entitled Hope For the Broken World. It tells us that all of God’s promises are kept and made yes in the person of Jesus.
We will have the joy of hearing from our new interim senior pastor, Tony Giles as he addresses us briefly for the first time.
Our guest preaching pastor is Brandon Addison who will bring the message entitled, Our Covenant God: Humanity Hides and God Pursues.
We will conclude our morning with one song of response, You Never Let Go, a great song of worship and assurance.
Our benediction will be read from 2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (NIV)
20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.