Raising our expectation of what God will do

10th October 2003

1. Two ways of thinking
2. God's centrality in evangelism
3. The blessing God wants to send
4. Expecting more from God

1. Two ways of thinking

``No one in charge of Christianity seems to be that convinced about the product.''

— Tim Rice

This is a common perception of the church; and the problem is that Tim Rice's perception is ``based on a true story''. For people who were created and saved by an awesome, omnipotent, loving God, we do tend to live our lives, and even build our church, as though we didn't really believe in him.

What a contrast with David's life:

I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

— Psalm 121:1-2

We sing the song ``I lift my eyes up'' but it's not obvious that we really do; our help doesn't come from God so often as it does from our own experience, talents, training, etc. Where does our help come from? The bible says, from God!

2. God's centrality in evangelism

Most of you will remember the one of the church's goals this year - the one Fiona and I are supposed to be responsible for - is ``keeping God central''. Under that heading, we've talked about keeping him central in our thinking, keeping him central in our worship, keeping him central in our church; today I we want to look at keeping him central in our evangelism.

There is a warning from the bible for us who are working so hard at keeping this church going week by week, putting meetings together and running Alphas:

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, they labor in vain. Watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves.

— Psalm 127:1-2

We need to realise that effective evangelism is first and last something that God does. Unless he is in it, it is literally pointless. That's not to downplay our role in it, but ultimately whether someone becomes a Christian or not is down to one thing only: does God speak to that person? Does he show himself? If he does, then evangelism can hardly help but be effective; if he doesn't, then it is doomed, and no amount of effort on our part can redeem it.

[Read the word-of-knowledge-on-the-plane anecdote from John Wimber, Power Evangelism, chapter 3, pp44-46.]

Where does our help come from? From God! We've got to stop thinking our help is going to come from anywhere else but God himself. We've got to stop trusting in nice venues, good coffee, a wide selection of pastries, tasteful music, carefully argued sermons or well co-ordinated publicity campaigns.

3. The blessing God wants to send

Look at these Old Testament promises about how God himself wants to work in us and for us:

If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock--the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

— Deuteronomy 28:1-13

How do we get that blessing? Simply, by trusting and obeying God. Compare and contrast these three bible quotes:

God mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.

— Proverbs 3:34

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

— James 4:6

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

— 1 Peter 5:5

Isn't that simple?

4. Expecting more from God

We mustn't be satisfied with the Christianity we know. We have to realise that this is a pale shadow of that God intends for us. Peter writes that ``You [...] are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy'' (1 Peter 1:8). If that's not our experience - and it's not mine - then we should no more consider that acceptable than we would a humdrum and unrewarding marriage.

If there is one thing to take away today, it's simply this: aspire. Expect more. Put your trust in God, realising that it's ultimately pointless to put your trust anywhere else.

If you're reading a paper copy of this document, the soft-copy can be found at www.miketaylor.org.uk/xian/expectation.html

Feedback to <mike@miketaylor.org.uk> is welcome!