As it nears my son’s sixteenth birthday, there is great expectation. This is a big day for any teenager. When I consider the months and weeks prior to his birth, there was great expectation. He was my first child. I didn’t know what to expect, but I spent a lot of time considering who he would be and couldn’t wait to meet him.
In 1 Peter 1, we read about our great hope. In verse 3, Peter talks about how “we live with great expectation.” We live with this great expectation because “we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.” We know that because of this, “we have a priceless inheritance” (v. 4). The Bible also tells us that God is protecting us “by His power” until the day comes when we receive the revelation of our salvation.
Some of us have lost the joy of this great expectation. We are so focused on this world that we cannot be “truly glad” that “there is wonderful joy ahead” (v. 6). Perhaps our trials have hardened our hearts. God reminds us that this is on “for a little while.” The trials “show that your faith is genuine” (v. 7). Today, be reminded of our great hope, our great expectation. Remember, “You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy” (v. 8).
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.” – 1 Peter 1:3 [NLT]
Trust is a difficult subject. Earning a person’s trust takes time and even then it can be lost in the blink of an eye. The Psalmist wrote, “Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.” The Message translation states, “When I left the womb you cradled me; since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.
The Psalmist speaks of trust, of a trust that comes from early on. From his early days, the Psalmist remembers his days cradled by the Lord. The trust he had for God led to hope and expectation. The trust he had for God made him secure. God was His hope, his security—his everything.
As you look back on your life, you will find reminders of God’s embrace. He cradled you time and time again. Maybe you haven’t been a Christian for a long time or maybe you have professed the name of Jesus for decades. No matter the time you have declared Him as your God, you have been cradled and loved. Today remember that the God you trusted to get you through everything in the past is the same God that is with you through each step today. You are not alone. He is still your hope and your security. Trust Him.
“Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.” – Psalm 22:9 [ESV]
Throughout history people attempted to complicate what God desired. Today you can read hundreds and thousands of books telling you what to do and how to act. You can get bogged down and burned out by service. You can become overwhelmed by not matching up to expectations.
But God isn’t asking for what the world continues to desire from you. Jesus said that “the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” BELIEVE in THE ONE He has sent. Believe in Jesus.
If you want to do the works of God, you need only believe in Jesus. That alone is what is required of you. Yes, this will bring you to serve the Lord. But it won’t be complicated—it won’t cause you to become overwhelmed. It will be a joyous outpouring from believing in the One God has sent us.
“Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.’” – John 6:29 [NLT]
In Judges 7, the Israelites were battling the Midianites. If you read closely, you will note a few things. “Each man stood at his position and watched” – no one was moving forward. Everyone was watching and ready for the Lord’s instruction. They then blew their horns as the Lord had instructed and the Lord brought victory without them going forward into battle.
We are told to be prepared. We are to be prepared for the Lord’s coming (Matthew 24). We are to be prepared to give an answer to others (1 Peter 3). We are to be prepared. In Judges 7, the Israelites were dressed for battle. They were ready to fight. But something happened so the fight wasn’t like what one would expect. The Lord acted in such a way that they simply needed to be prepared and blow the horns.
Be prepared. Understand that there will be times when you will need to do more work than others. There are moments when God wants you to do the work and there are times when He wants you prepared to watch Him work a miracle or do a great work. So keep watching and keep yourself prepared. Expect God to move. You may be amazed by what you see.
“Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the LORD caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as Beth-shittah near Zererah and to the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.” – Judges 7:21-22 [NLT]
We do not always know where God is leading us and we certainly cannot predict the future. We are to walk in faith, trusting that God is faithful. When Abraham was tested, he was told to sacrifice his son Isaac, and Abraham went forward guided by his faith. God had promised Abraham many descendents. God had promised Abraham blessing. Abraham trusted God and pressed forward.
When it was time to sacrifice Isaac, an angel of the Lord called out to Abraham, telling him not to go forward with the sacrifice. When Abraham looked up, he saw a ram in the bush. God had provided the sacrifice that Abraham needed. In verse 8, Abraham had told Isaac: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (NIV). God surely provided with this ram.
If you are going through something right now and you are wondering if things will be okay—remember that God always has a ram in the bush. You might be expecting something different. You might not know what to expect. You might be too exhausted to even look—but the ram is there. God always provides what we need to get done with what we are called to do for Him. Live expecting that ram.
“Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.” – Genesis 22:13 [NLT]
Today when I was walking my dog, he was charged by another dog. I was prepared for the situation; however, because the same dog owner allowed this to happen weeks ago. Last time, he had let his Golden Retriever run loose and the dog came and snapped at my dog. This time, he left his German Shepherd loose, and although there was no snapping, I was not a happy camper at the second episode of negligence.
In life we will meet a person who will do something that irritates us, that hurts us or something that is wrong. We will throw our hands in the air (or sometimes our fists) and demand change. We will get angry. We will say words (sometimes words that are not positive, life speaking words). We will be frustrated by these people who do not do what we want them to do; however, we cannot expect them to change and act as we wish. Nor can we expect someone to follow the commands of God.
I was mad at this man today. He has proven twice that he cannot handle his dogs. The first time I was upset. I was injured. My dog was frightened. It was not a good situation. This second time, though prepared for it, was just as bad. Even so, some people will not change. We can only control our reactions to a situation—not someone else. It is how you react to any given situation that says something about you. I know I do not always react as I should, but I also know that over the years, the Holy Spirit has helped me to react better to each given situation. Don’t let situations and circumstances control you. React with love.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 [NLT]
“But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:18 [NIV]
The beginning of this verse sets the tone. It is a phrase that is sometimes hard to chew on for us. Imagine this—even if God doesn’t do what I am hoping and praying He does—even if God doesn’t show up in the same way I expected—even if I have to face hardship and possibly death—I will not back down. I will stand firm. I will continue to serve God with all that I have and with all that I am.
We should possibly read that paragraph over when we are praying for healing. We should read that over when we just lost our job and are about to foreclose on our mortgage. We should read that again when we are given a moment to defend our faith but it comes with consequences.
That “but” is a hard word to face. These men were facing the possibility of a fiery furnace. What if it didn’t end the way it did? What if they were burned alive, three martyrs burnt alive? We take this historical event and think that it will be the same for our lives. There will be a similarity—God will show up. He always does. However, He might not do what we expect. He could stand with us in the furnace to deliver us and we could come out not even smelling like the fire. But, He could stand with us in the furnace and we might not get out as we planned.
Today, I want to challenge you. Your faith in God should rest on His character, not what He does for you. It is hard; however, we need to face the “but” in life. He is faithful. He will not leave you. He has a plan and purpose for your life—a hope and future. But it might not be what you think. Continue to seek His will for your life, being okay with the “but.”
The feeding of five thousand makes note of something the disciples said when they were faced with the issue of it getting close to mealtime and food was in very limited quantity. The disciples thought it was best to send the people away so that they were able to go to the villages and purchase some food. If we look at that part of the passage, we can see that the disciples cared about the people. They were in a desolate area. They did not have the food available. They wanted to send the people away so that they had a chance to eat something.
As we know, Jesus said that they could give them something to eat– to not send the people away. When I read this passage, I think about how we often have good intentions and a good heart, but that we limit God and what He can do in our lives and through us, because we cannot think outside the box. God created the world as we know it, and everything it contains. Yet, whenever we are faced with a situation, we often think with our own human minds what we can do about the problem. We forget we are dealing with the Creator of the universe. We expect what is expectable, rather than what is impossible.
Life may not be what you have expected. At the moment, you may be looking back on things that have happened, and wondering why you did not meet the goals that you have set out for your life. You may be unsatisfied with the fact that things are not going your way. Well I’m here to tell you two things. Firstly, God’s plan for your life is so amazing and you have not seen anything yet. Today is not the end of the road– it’s just the beginning. And secondly, if you read the remainder of the passage, you will note this one word that sticks out to me like a sore thumb. “And they all ate and were SATISFIED” (Matthew 14:20a NASB). They were satisfied. God wants only the best for you, and if you allow Him to work in your life, His promise to you is that you will be satisfied. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it is a promise from our faithful Father.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
– Psalm 16:11 [ESV]