Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Thankfulness Not Expectations

Principle #8 in my Living a Life That Counts series is "learn to live with thankfulness not expectations."  There is nothing inherently wrong with expectations.  In fact, we should all have spiritual expectations that allow us to live with joy (Principle #7).  However, when we are honest, we live with expectations that are self-centered, unrealistic, and (here's the hard one) godless.  My introductory question was:  Since this is the first day of the rest of your life, what do you expect from the future?  Yes, anytime you ask a question "at church" people will give "church answers".  I believe most of us, however, if we are honest, expect three very specific things:  (1) Prosperity; (2) Health; and (3) Longevity of life for us and those we love.  We try to say that we only "hope" for these, but the truth is we live, think, and act like we expect them, and we blame God when it doesn't happen.  Here are three tough questions to ask ourselves about these three expectations:
1. When were any of these ever promised?
2. Why do we think we deserve these when so many in the world never get them?
3. When will we be satisfied with what we have had?
4. How important were these three to Jesus?
Jesus was pretty clear in chapter six of his Sermon on the Mount.  (1) Don't worry about your life because your value comes from God not from things! (vs.25-27)  (2) Trust God to take care of you because he know what you need! (vs.28-32)  (3) Seek God today and let tomorrow worry about itself! (vs.33-34)  He is gives us three very clear challenges:
1. Don't live by worldly expectations!
2. Focus on what God does for you!
3. Glorify him today, tomorrow may not happen!
These are in direct opposition to the three expectations we tend to live by.  How can we turn it around?  The key to doing this, as a child of God, is choosing to live thankfully!  Here's the brief outline:
1. What is thankfulness?
    A. It is gratitude and appreciation to and for God.  (See Psalms)
    B. It is recognition of God!  Not just thanks but honoring God. (See Rom.1:21; Eph.5:19-20)
    C. It is a heart in touch with God!  (Col.1:9-13)
2. Why is thankfulness so important?
    A. It means we focus on the goodness and kindness of God!  Not just Judge, Wrath, Anger...
    B. It is essential in building our relationship with God!  There is no relationship w/o communication.  Our communication w/ God is prayer.  Thankfulness is the best way to have an ongoing connection w/ God that build faith and makes us aware of his presence.
    C. It keeps us from living for worldly expectations!  It changes the way we look at prosperity, health, and longevity!
Conclusion:  A life that counts is not a life that depends on prosperity, good health, or a long life, but a life that has been made whole by the precious blood of Jesus.  "Thanks be to God, through Jesus our Lord!...Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Rom.7:25 - 8:1

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