Sunday night Pastor Don preached at the church service we attend at Asbury United Methodist Church. Pastor Don is not the regular preacher on Sunday nights, so it is always a treat to get to listen to him. His sermon was on clear expectations. He suggested a couple of expectations that God has of us.
I have always appreciated clear expectations clearly stated. Working at a different National Park site every few months can be challenging. The most helpful supervisors state their expectations and help us follow through. For instance: you will attend the two week training. In week two you will write a fort tour and submit it for approval. Once you begin working you will give two fort tours every day. When you are not giving fort tours you will work at the Visitors Center desk. Those are clear expectations and it is easy to tell when they are being met. I thrive in that kind of atmosphere.
Pastor Don suggested that God also has clear expectations for us. This was a wonderful starting point for my meditation. What do I consider to be God’s clear expectations for me? Here are the ones I came up with.
First, God expects that I will put my relationship with him first in my life. That I will love him completely and put aside anything that interferes with that love. Deuteronomy 6:4-7: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Second, God expects that I will use my gifts in his service. He has blessed me with specific talents that can build up the body of Christ and I am expected to use them in as many ways as I can. Romans 12:6-8: We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Third, God expects that I will honor him by worshiping with others regularly. We can worship on our own, but over time we get lukewarm or weird. When we worship with others we are challenged to expand our understanding, our compassion, and our love. Worshiping with others is a workout we need in order to be strong Christians. Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Fourth, God expects that I will work on loving my neighbors. Who is my neighbor? Anyone I encounter in person or through reading about them. God expects I will forgive those who hurt me or those I love. And I am expected to pray for those I most dislike – my enemies. Which is why a certain person in leadership is always at the top of my prayer list these days. Matthew 5:44: But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Finally, God expects that I will continue to read and study his word to me through the Bible, first, and through other devotional readings. Psalm 119:104-105: Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
If I can keep these clear expectations, then I can live my life in a way that is pleasing to God. I certainly am not perfect in this, which is why I am thankful God is so forgiving. But I am also thankful that God tells me what he wants me to do and allows me to faithfully follow.
How about you? Does God have clear expectations for you? What would you add to my list?