Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hope vs. Expectations

Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish.

Hope is something firm, expectations are more shifting, more dangerous and more prone to being misplaced. The natural pull is for us to have certain expectations. We expect our mate to do or be something, we expect our jobs to be fulfilling and financially rewarding. We expect our church to be a place where we can "be fed". We may even have expectations of God. I notice that more often than not my expectations are prone to being just that, MY expectations.

Here is the painful truth for me: just because I expect it does not mean God has to do it. When our expectations are not met we become disappointed. A good way to avoid that might just be to ground ourselves in what God says we can hope in rather than in what we think we have a right to expect. What can we "hope" in? Only in what the Bible tells us and in the dreams God gives us. And of course "in Christ who is our hope" (1 Tim. 1:1).

May your hope bring gladness your way today.

Blessings in Christ alone

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Colossians 3:1-2 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

A few Sunday afternoons ago several of us went to Red's house to shoot clays. At one point Lane Wilson set the targets so that they would come two at a time, one low and fast and the other high and slow. I fire an over and under so I only have two shots. The temptation for me was that if I missed the lower clay, the harder of the two for me to hit, I would waste my second shot on a target that was now even harder to hit. When I would do that I would almost always miss and then I would be left empty watching the second clay come to a gentle landing right in front of me. I needed to forget thr first failure, look up and see the new thing I needed to do.

Two things come to mind. The first is that I often expend my time and energy chasing the last failure rather than focusing on the priority at hand. I have to sit down and actually write out the priorities in order to remind myself of what is truly important. If I have ten things to do and time for only five someone is going to be disappointed. Life somehow works out where the five least important will disappoint the greatest number of people! The right thing to do is to focus on the five that are most important and deal with the consequences as they come.

The other teaching is the one straight from Scripture. As a Christ Follower I am to set myself up to focus on a different set of priorities, His. My focus, like yours, is to be on Him and His Kingdom. How easy it is to let our focus be on the obstacles rather than the goal. I find I have to empty myself daily in order to see what the King has for me.

Blessings in Christ Alone

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Deny Self

Mark 8:34 34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

I find it easy to get confused. In the journey of serving the Lord I sometimes get off track by focusing on my needs, my will, my agenda, basically, on what I want. If others don't do things my way and on my time schedule I get frustrated. That's usually when I get so frustrated I want to say "I'm done!" or to use a C.S. Lewis line, "Hang it all!" I have to realize when my focus is not on Him and what He wants then I am confused. Actually, I am more than confused; I am willfully disobedient.

Perhaps you are like me. Jesus has a simple answer for our confusion: deny self or die to self (drop what we want), take up our cross (His will for us) and follow Him (live as He lived). By the way, dropping what we want does not mean that we don't ever get what we want; He gives us dreams for a reason. It just means we hold more tightly to Him than we do the dream.

Blessed day; stand in Christ alone.