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Sunday, May 6, 2012

What Are You Expecting?

Everyone has faith though that faith may not reflect the type of faith Jesus told us to have. For example, some people have faith that there is nothing to Christianity. They believe the followers are deluded fools whose hope might as well be put in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. Their faith will not allow them to see the working of the Lord around them. Everything can be explained by those who choose to believe there is no god.

Faith fashions our expectations. Natural explanations are readily available to those who seek them. The Hebrew people escaping through the sea can be explained with a strong wind. The crossing of the Jordan on dry ground came because a landslide dammed the river. People were healed just as they are healed by placibos. Walking on water meant Jesus knew where the rocks were.

But these expectations also often form the results too. Jesus told His followers that they must believe before they will see God act.

Matthew 17:20 (NIV) 20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

A father comes to Jesus and asks that a demon be removed. He asks Jesus to do something if He can.

Mark 9:23 (NIV) 23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Belief is tied to expectation and expectation to results. The lack of belief resulted in the lack of miracles in His home town.

Mark 6:5 (NIV) 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

While I am not one who says that the lack of faith is the reason for every unanswered prayer, I have to admit that there is merit in faith bringing miracles.

So, I have to ask myself what I expect. It is not just a matter of what I believe God has the capacity to do. I believe that He can at all times do what people consider impossible. That must be true if I am honest in any request I make. But faith of Jesus is more than this. It actually believes He will rather than merely He can.

How can I have this faith? God is not a cosmic Santa Claus who grants my every wish. He does not merely grant it because I have told Him that He must because I have used the "faith" card to trump Him. No, He remains sovereign.

I must, therefore, know Him so well that I know His will. I may receive that will from a word from Him. I, then, can expect that He will grant my request because He has said this is His will.

1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.

The problem we most often have is that we have neither taken the time to ask or if we have, we do not consider what His will is. Thus, we are either silent or selfish. Neither will see God respond.

James 4:2-3 (NIV) 2 You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

But we can ask and we can expect if we walk with Him to know His will and pray that His will be done.

So, what do you expect? Are you asking for God to act in miraculous ways to do something which will save souls? Are you asking Him to revitalize your church into the army that it was intended to be? Are you asking God to provide, heal, protect, open wombs and raise the dead? Are you asking Him for wisdom, forgiveness and the restoration of the joy of salvation?

Or do you have the same faith as the unbeliever? They don't expect anything will happen today.


Anonymous said...

One of reasons why I spent a lot of time on the Word, is simply because I must get to know the whole counsel of the Word. And I suppose, it is also one of the reasons, the Lord has NOT began in me any earlier, my writings on the internet, as well as preaching. I am NOT a full-time pastor, and I am NOT with a formal theological qualification, but I have spent hours upon hours on the Word, and I am still at it. Why is such required of one who teaches or instructs others on the Word? The reason is simple; if you just take isolated verses, without regard to the context, and the overall counsel of the Word, you can get the intended truth WRONG.

For example, Matt 21:22 reads, “ If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.””

So, what does it mean? Does it mean that I believe my God can (capable) and will give, and so, I ask, “God, I want a Porsche, please give me one”. And God must necessarily give me one, since I believe He can, and I believe He will give me. It is NOT necessarily so.

These few verses given by Ps Prentis, explain further on the subject:

1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.

James 4:3 (NIV) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

These 2 verses said that we have to ask according to His will, and our motive must be right. When we ask for a Porsche, is it according to His will; is it with a right motive?

Then there are related issues such as God’s sovereignty; Romans 9:14-15 puts it this way:
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

Then there is the indication that God is knowing what we need before we ask Him.

Matt 6:8 - 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

This is an interesting verse, and variedly used, sometimes, incorrectly! One of the wrong ways is ALWAYS assuming you don’t have to ask. How do we know that, that is wrong? It is because it is also written in James 4:2 that we do NOT receive, because we do NOT ask! Likewise, many people adopt the same attitude in their prayer life – don’t have to pray-lah, God already know what! This is further extended to this: Don’t have to bother with this or that-lah, we are already set to go to Heaven; we will get there, regardless! This is simply the common erroneous teaching of “It is all God’s part, none our part!” The extreme of this, is this attitude, “All you have to do, is to accept Jesus as your Savior, and believe that you will go to Heaven; the rest, you need NOT be bothered.”

A lot of people don’t say it, but in their heart, that is exactly what they have in mind, especially when men like the overly grace preachers, with great followings, said that we are to just bask in grace. This verse simply means God knows your NEEDS (needs, particularly, NOT referring to WANTS, particularly), and so, you just have to name them (no need to be long-winded about it); it is NOT you don’t have to say nothing, for the verse is NOT followed by that, but followed by a prayer, STILL. So, you need a vehicle; does NOT God know that? Yes, He does. Do you have to tell him? Yes, when it is important enough, tell Him. James 4:2 teaches that; and it is better you go tell Him, then you go covet and get into trouble! But note, God knows your needs, say, you need a car, but it is NOT you need a Porsche; you only need a car!


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

Then there is also the measure of faith involved:

Romans 12:3b - Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Now, the above verse was given in relation to service, but I believe it is applicable for non-service scenario. Some people ask for a Porsche and they get a Porsche, but NOT everyone asks for a Porsche get a Porsche! I don’t ask for a Porsche; when I need a car, I ask for a car. If he has the measure of faith for a Porsche, let him ask, but NOT me. It is NOT exactly “I don’t get because I don’t ask”; rather it is because if I ask, I am crossing the measure of faith I have. I am NOT saying God cannot indulge you nor am I insisting that Porsche MUST be a frivolous desire. I am also NOT saying that you cannot ask for indulgence. I ask according to my measure of faith.

Some may argue, “he is having an inferiority complex” and so he asks so little; or in fact, he belittles God, profaning that God is NOT generous enough or rich enough.” Sometimes, it can be true that the person is really having an inferiority complex, and he needs to counseled, but it is NOT always the case, and more often than NOT, it is NOT the case.

A person asking for a small house can be in line with the desire and will of God; and a person asking for a big house can also at times, be in line with the desire and will of God. Of course, you would have picked up a bias in my declaration; but it is NOT wrong, for truly the haggering for excessive material things of the world is NOT the desire of the Lord. Even if God lavishes you with material and financial possessions, God is saying to you that you are to STEWARD them properly. It is NOT that you cannot “eat” from it, God always provides for that, but what God has handed over to you, it may NOT be for your own personal consumption, solely. Clearly, in a “simple” matter of asking, it is NOT that simple.

At the same time, it is NOT my intention for readers to go off, using this as an excuse NOT to attempt things for the Lord or ask God for needs of life. Having said that we are to operate within the measure of faith we have, it is God’s desire and so, he will and does encourage us to grow in faith.

The boundary of faith will NOT enlarge, unless you “test” the boundary. Have you ever, sometimes, receive surprises when you pray, when you did NOT expect, and it still happens, according to your prayer or desire? Now, NOT all the time, but at times, it can be God is prompting and encouraging you to push harder at the boundary; you might have been too comfortable with another boundary which you draw for yourself, called your comfort zone.

To some extent, such phrases do apply in some way to us, “No risk, no gain; no venture no gain; expect nothing, get nothing; expect NOT, disappoint NOT. It is true that, in too many cases, believers are overly indulging in the last one. You got to honestly assess yourself if you are engaging in “godliness with contentment” or you are just a “lifeless” soul! I don’t think it is God’s desire to see a child of His, like this:

“I bother no one; no one is to bother me; I just sit by my little corner, and eat my plain porridge; I strive to devoid myself of all or any noise; and I kind of have nothing to do with anything.”

Such “statue life”, I call it such, even though you eat, it is clearly a lifeless soul. You are like a light, but put under the bed; or a salt but with no saltiness; or you are a potsherd NOT in use. This kind of life glorifies NOT, God! The Word of God said that we exist to glorify God.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

Then there is this verse:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Eph 3:20)

People use this verse to say that we cannot “out ask” God, and are told to ask for the “best of best”, something along the line of “Don’t ask for a car, ask for a Porsche; don’t ask for a flat, ask for a big bungalow!” Please, it is a doxology, ascribing to God His greatness in power and provision. Please-lah, I have lots of money, it is NOT necessarily that I must give it to you-lah! This is despite you proclaiming that I am a super rich man!

How about this, Eph 1:3? Again, it is in nature of a doxology. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. – Eph 1:3 Then there is the 2 Pet 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

People use these verses to say that we have everything needed for life and godliness. But the verses don’t say, “Anthony, my son, I have given you a house as big as that of Michael Jackson’s ranch, I have given you a limousine and a Porsche, and I have deposited 6 millions in your bank account, and waiting for you is a dream job of ….” They don’t say any of that.

The verses only said, because of what God the Father did, in sending His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the Cross, and with His (the Father’s) power, having resurrected Jesus, we have, in that Covenant package, every spiritual blessing, and things we NEED for life and godliness. When we sign that Covenant, we comes into the armpit of the Covenant that has all of those provisions in it.

Honestly, I and even almost all of you, do NOT need a Porsche for life and godliness! Yes, food, shelter and clothing, and more, God knows you need them, He said that in Matt 6:33-34; but NOT necessarily a huge mansion or a luxurious car and a seven digits bank account. In any case, it is NOT ALWAYS the case that you JUST ask for them. Matt 6:33-34 said that we, believers (please, it was referring to believers and NOT non-believers; you are WRONG, overly grace preachers), are to seek first, His Kingdom and its righteousness.

Now, many of the promises of God, in Scriptures are NOT unconditional promises. If there is/are condition(s), then observe the condition(s). So, you CANNOT claim everything in Matt 6:33-34, but insist that you don’t have to seek His Kingdom and its righteousness.

Some people want to insist that the New Covenant is without commandments or individual laws, viewing it as if God signed a blank cheque over to you and I. I tell you God did NOT, and He cannot sign over a blank cheque to you or to me! The New Covenant, in fact, is more comprehensive than the first one in its content, for it is a Covenant that is alive! It is NOT blank, but it has this written across the page, “As prescribed by the Holy Spirit”, and that is what makes it alive and living, unlike the Old Covenant which is essentially a written or static contract.

The Holy Spirit does NOT create His own commandments or laws, but only prescribes what He hears from the Godhead. And since God does NOT contradict Himself, He contradicts NOT His given written Word, and we can safely insist that the Holy Spirit upholds the Word and does NOT contradict it. And so, the whole counsel of the Word is embodied in the New Covenant. One good summing of the whole counsel of the Word was given by Jesus Himself, and it was NOT exactly a new commandment like what some people make them to be, and it is that we are to love God with our all, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (these are NOT new; see Lev 19:18 and Deu 6:5). Yes, Jesus did “improve” upon Lev 19:18, for the New Covenant was to be a better word, and Jesus was clearly saying that He came NOT to abolish the laws but to fulfill them.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

The New Covenant is with the Word, it is just it is NOT all written down like that of the Old one, but it is that applicable laws are prescribed alive through the Holy Spirit prescribing them to us in our heart or conscience. This is what is meant by God, when He told it to Jeremiah when the prophet said that “no one would need his neighbor to tell him of the law”. Also, in the New Testament it was said that the law is now written in the heart. It is NOT you cut open a Christian body and look at his heart, you see laws written on or in it; it is really the Holy Spirit will be working there, “showing the heart or conscience, the applicable law as the situation calls for, AND when we are open to Him”.

Now, it is also NOT that you no longer need to hear or read the Word, since the Holy Spirit will bring it to you. “Yah, but you just said that it is the Holy Spirit who would be inscribing upon our heart, what we need to know, to do the right thing!” The reason is this: We are called to FAITH.

According to the Word, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Now, you either have the Word/the written word/the Bible as one source or you can be hearing directly from God or through His Holy Spirit.

It used to be, before The Fall, man heard directly from God, commonly; God came to the Garden of Eden and conversed with Adam and Eve. But because of the Fall, this no longer is the common channel, and the reason is the sinfulness of man. Despite offense to His holiness, God still stuck around, so to speak, and we read of God still was with Adam and Eve despite their fall; and throughout early history, we could see the increased distancing required in general dealing with men. When God physically was with the Israelites in Exodus, there was still a separation between God and men; God remained in the Tabernacle, and only Moses and Aaron entered the Tabernacle.

The spiritual side of men “degenerated” so much over time and generations, that we, commonly, don’t hear directly from God. The written word or Word was and is still the alternative provided by God to men, for faith. After the coming of Jesus, God provided the counter against the “voice of the devil”, and that counter is the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the correct stance to take is this: Continue to feed on the written word or the Word, and hark to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We have to embrace both. Some cross out the latter, the Holy Spirit’s role. I am NOT saying you cannot successfully maneuver through your earthly Christian life, but why do NOT want to use what God has provided to you, on your entry into salvation, as the effective counter against the sinful nature still in us all, and against the devils around us. In any case, I believe if you are diligent with the feeding of the Word, you don’t effectively cross out all of the working of the Spirit, for the Word is powerful, and it can be used and is being used by the Spirit in working in you.

What if you instead choose to cross out the Word, and say, “I will just go by the Holy Spirit”? It is just NOT the wise thing to do, unless you have no access to the Word. I have said, the spirit man in us, is in a greatly weakened state (some even used the word, dead); upon salvation, the Holy Spirit quickens our spirit, said the Word. But then, still you must understand your spirit is NOT strong, at least NOT yet, and so, you are not ready to handle the spiritual without the help of the written word. You can go astray, without observing the boundaries prescribed by the Word. How can you recognize and test the spirit if you know NOT the Word? You can’t, and that is dangerous, for the spiritual realm and forces are real. Hello, there is really Satan and devils.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

So, you see, living as a believer or Christian is NOT that simple, NOT as simple as that, many overly grace preachers make it to be - just come in, and bask in grace; ask for the sky, and see God granting it to you. It takes time and intentionality to grow in the faith, to live a life pleasing and glorifying God. And a mature theme of the New Covenant, found in the Word (and please, it still applies, for the Word still applies, as I have explained), is given in Heb 6:7-8 –

7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

What to expect? To me, what is most important for a growing Christian, and each is a growing Christian (the one who said that you are full matured, throw him off your pulpit) is to ask, “What is God expecting?”

Don’t be anxious, don’t strive, but work on God’s expectation, and you will have His blessing. With Jesus having come and resurrected, our covenant with God has moved from the written or static to the Spirit and living, and from the ink and paper to the heart or conscience. Remember always, God looks at our heart. Guard your heart, make it wholly His. Jesus was once a man, He knows it is hard, don’t give up; He didn’t and He is NOT about to give up on you. Excel for Him, and it is right to be excellent for the Lord, but you just cannot be perfect, for you cannot beat Jesus; only He is perfect. Amen.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions