Summary: Expecting To Be Blessed sometimes means giving up every one of our own plans and hanging on for dear life.
Expect To Be Blessed
Faith Expectations Part 1
Reading: Romans 15:4-13
Text: Jeremiah 29:11-14
[This lesson and this series are drawn from the writings of Tom Allen in his book “What to expect now that you believe.”]
We are told in Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Which is why, as I mentioned this morning, over the past couple of meetings in our Wednesday night bible study we reviewed the account found in the book of Numbers (chapters 13, 14) of a lost generation, an entire generation that failed to enter the Promised Land. Of how the people of Israel rebelled against God and failed to achieve the Promised Land. In discussing this account we explored the reasons why this generation was lost and ultimately concluded that one of their chief failures was not trusting in God. And in those discussions we admitted that this same failure occurs in our lives as believers today. When faced with trials or difficult circumstances we can and often do react just like the children of Israel, failing to put our trust in God, forgetting all that He has done and promised to do in our lives. In this lesson I’d like to start the first of what will be a series of messages to encourage us to persevere in our walk and avoid the failures of that lost generation so we might avoid losing our own rewards promised by God. I’ve label this series: Faith Expectations.
If gather together a number of Christians and ask them to recount the testimony of God’s work in their lives, you will get an equal number of unique accounts of God’s grace. But you are likely to develop at least one common thread from all the accounts, each of us had great expectations of what our new found faith would do in us, for us, and through us. And we are justified in these expectations:
John 10:10b “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
We are right to have high hopes for our future in our new found faith. After thirty-six years as a Christian I can testify that life is “abundant” in Jesus with joys and blessings to numerous to count. But I must honestly balance that statement with the truth that there have also been setbacks, burdens, and trials along the way but through them all God was faithful and present in my life. As believers we should never lose the “great expectations” of our faith especially since the greatest expectation will one day be fulfilled in the return of our Lord and Savior. Until that day it remains for us to balance our expectations with the reality of living as sojourners in this world. And so let us consider a great expectation of faith: Expect To Be Blessed.
I.Expecting to be blessed
A.If nothing else, the scriptures teach us to expect blessings.
1.Examining the scriptures, Old and New, will show that God never wastes a hurt, never crushes a dream, and never leaves His work unfinished!
2.God is in the business of changing things:
a.Changing pain into triumph, dreams into realities, and ordinary lives into blessings.
b.But if we do not expect the blessing, we just might miss it. It is God’s plan and delight to bless His children, but we must remain on the course He has set for us long enough to get to the blessing, to have our lives and circumstances changed into a work of God. (Something the lost generation failed to do.)
c.We must also expect to be surprised by the results because things probably won’t end up looking the way we had assumed or even hoped they would. But they will be better whether we recognize it or not.
B.Looking forward to Blessing: Entitlement versus Expectation.
1.It is in God’s nature and desires to bless His children don’t confuse that with the expectation that we somehow deserved to be blessed.
a.God blesses us because it is His pleasure to do so, not because we in any warrant it or are worth of it.
b.That is called grace: God’s unmerited, undeserved, and unearned favor.
2.There is a “doctrine of entitlement” popular these days. Essentially claiming that if we following certain steps, or perform certain actions, then God will bless me in a certain way.
a.That makes for a good self-help plan but it is not the path to blessing. God does not bless us because He is obligated to reward our efforts.
b.We cannot earn or manipulate His blessing. God does not respond to “I’ll do this if You do that” sort of bargaining. He does not barter or trade His blessing.