Expect Nothing – Appreciate Everything!

Expect Nothing Appreciate EverythingWhen Lloyd and I were doing marriage ministry early in our ministry life, I used to tell the wives that I did not trust in my husband, but in God.  For some, that caused alarm — they could not understand what I meant.  I don’t mean that I expect my husband to behave badly – what I mean is that I understand that my husband cannot ever meet every need in my life.  Because he is flesh, as am I, he will undoubtedly fail me and I will undoubtedly fail him!

Understand this — I am married to arguably the best man on the planet!  He is kind to me; he is loving towards me; he is patient with me; he cares for me tenderly; he is careful to protect me; he’s a good friend to me; he is my very best friend; he makes me laugh; he rejoices in my joys; he feels my sorrows —  he is not, however, perfect; but I truly do believe that for me – he’s the perfect guy. When we started this journey together as man and wife we made deliberate choices to give the marriage back to God.  We learned early in our marriage that it was best to expect nothing at all from one another but rather to depend upon God in all things.  This attitude, I believe, has made us both find enormous pleasure in the ways that we bless each other.  That may not be clear so let me break that down for you.  Men and women generally have roles in a marriage — he takes care of the car; she ensures that healthy food is in the house; he will be the provider; she will be the counselor; etc.  While Lloyd and I surely understood these role expectations — neither of us held the other to these roles.  We never assumed that the other would be perfectly suited for any particular role.  He agreed to love me like Christ loved the church and I agreed to respect Him and build Him up as head of my home; and we agreed that the rest would work itself out.  Here’s what happened over these 22 years and 4 months:  when I cook for Lloyd, he is genuinely grateful for it because he knows I could choose not to.  When Lloyd gets the car serviced and fills it with gas, I am genuinely grateful because I know he could choose not to.  Now — neither of us has ever made the choice not to serve the other – but because our hope lies in God and not each other, each act of love is truly a blessing that is gratefully received and graciously given!

Because this has worked in our marriage – we have translated it to our relationship with our God.  Instead of expecting him to meet our expectations – we simply depend upon Him to do what He does as God and Father.  Instead of walking in an attitude of entitlement to His blessings; we choose to walk in an attitude of humility before Him; laying our requests about before Him and leaving them there.  We moved from saying “Good job, God!” to saying “Wow! Thank you Father for caring for me in such an extravagant way!”

Many believers have relegated God to the role of “Genie”.  We say “God is a Healer” and say it as if our words demand that He heal; instead of saying “God is a Healer” and leaving that illness at His feet expecting only that His will be done and poising ourselves to be surprised by the extravagance of His great love. We do the same with every attribute of God – Provider, Peace Giver, Keeper, etc.  What if we made the decision to expect that we can depend upon Him and decide even while waiting that whatever the outcome we will respond with profound gratefulness.  He has told us that we will have trials and should count them as joy — how can we do that sincerely if we are always expecting Him to fix them to our liking instead of expecting Him to work them out for our good and His glory?!  I’m not saying it is easy — but I do believe that He will empower us to respond in a right way.  He is Sovereign!  He is Just!  All of His ways are Good and Holy!  Won’t you trust Him with your life today?!  Expect Nothing – just Depend Upon God!

O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God And a great King above all gods, In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also.  The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land.  Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.  Today, if you would hear His voice, (Psalm 95:1-7)

Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. (Psalm 146:3)

A Little more about satisfaction

philippians-4-13God is more knowledgeable about us than we are about ourselves. He knows that the temptation to fall into line with the world’s systems are too much for us to bear alone. He does not leave us to our own devices, but will work within us to teach us to be satisfied – to give us hearts that are content.

As you start this New Year, I encourage you not to cry over the things that you did not accomplish; the stuff that you did not get; the relationship that ended; the project that you did not complete. Ask the Lord to help you to accept that all that happened in 2014 was what He had for you in 2014 — and then walk into 2015 with a new attitude that says “I am beginning again!”

Paul said that he could be content in any situation because Christ within him gave Him the strength. You have access to that same resurrection power! Ask the Holy Spirit today to teach you the way to be satisfied/content with what is over and done with and ask Him to teach you the new lessons you’ll need in the coming days to move ahead.

God’s plan for you in 2015 are perfect – tailor made for you! There is nothing that He intends for you to have that you cannot not have. There is nothing He intends for you to accomplish that you cannot accomplish. There is no good thing that He will withhold from you. What God has destined for your life is for your life.

You are a part of God’s great plan to redeem this world and reconcile it to Himself. Get in the game in 2015 – realize that there is something that God created you to do that no other person can accomplish. Know this — when you identify that purpose; you will know satisfaction in a way that you have never known it before!

Happy New Year! Be New! Be Changed! Be All HIS!!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

O for GRACE to trust Him more!

TrustSince we’ve been back from Ghana – I have felt quite independent.  I can drive myself around.  There are not critters everywhere that my husband or sons have to come and kill.  I cook what I want to eat.  I go where I want to go – when I want to go.  It has been nice.  Well, I went into the bathroom the other day and pulled back the shower curtain and lo & behold there was a bug!  I cried out for my husband to come and kill it and he said, “There you go – I thought you forgot how to call on me!”  My husband let me know that it was his pleasure to deliver me out of trouble.  It reminded me of the story of Asa in 2 Chronicles 16.

Asa went his own way for victory and Hanani the seer told him in verses 7-10  “ Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

The Lord seeks to bring victory to those whose hearts truly and desperately depend upon Him alone.

It is not an easy thing to live in a state of desperate dependence.  This present age teaches us to go for it; to make our own futures; to live our best lives now; to be more than the next guy; to prosper at all costs.  God seeks for us to depend upon him to bring to us the future and the present that He desires for us.  Our striving on this earth must be, as Paul Says in Colossians, “striving according to His power, which mightily works within me”.  In other words, even in seeking to bring a good resolution to our problems, we must do so in a manner that places us in a position of humble submission before the Lord of Hosts.  It is not proper that we rely on Him in our minds, but then act in the flesh to bring swift resolutions to our own issues.  When we act in such manner – we disregard the victory that God has assures and set ourselves up for strife and discord.  We must ask the Lord to develop within our hearts a trust that moves us to stand firm in our faith in God and in our belief that He will work the matter out for our good and for His glory.  Yes we must ask the Lord because without Him granting us grace – we would not be able to trust Him at all!  We might be tempted to take out a payday loan to satisfy a debt – but we will end up losing more than the original debt when we realize that our resources are not enough to satisfy the payment.  We might make a deal with someone to lessen some debt that we owe – but people are rarely satisfied with the deals they make with debtors unless it leaves the other person in ruins.  If, however, we stand still and rely on the Lord; being strong and courageous and not doubting our victory, according to the Word of the Lord, we not only receive victory but divine favor!

O! that we would learn to trust!

Father, we need you to grant us the grace to trust you more. I plead for myself that you will make my heart one that relies on, desires, trusts and loves you above all!  Father, there are many things facing me in the days ahead and I have been feeling a bit apprehensive, but today – I commit to lay my needs at your feet.  The needs are earthly, in the flesh’s realm, and you are the God of all flesh.  I know that you know what I have need of.  I know that only you can provide everything that I need.  On the word of my own testimony, I can say that you are a faithful deliverer and provider.  Help me to be strong and courageous.  Gird me up, Lord, when my faith falters.  I am trusting in you to see me through!  I am weak – You are all powerful!  You are my God, in whom I trust.  I know with assuredness today that all is well!  Amen