Most Christians Need An Expectations Alignment- Part 1
When a person’s back is out of alignment, there’s pain and an inability to walk straight. When an automobile’s tires are out of alignment, there’s uneven wear and a pulling to the side. When an engine or electric motor is not properly aligned with the work that it’s to do, there’s great stress, vibration and breakdown. When a Christian’s expectations are out of alignment with Jesus’ there is unnecessary pain, difficulty in walking in the will of God, uneven wear, a tendency to try and get off the main road, and a lot of stress and breakdowns!
Proverbs 13:12 tells us that “hope-deferred makes the heart sick.” In other words, when expectations are dashed, distorted, detoured, or severely delayed, there is a loss of hope that tends to imprison us in chains of despair and fear. If we aren’t careful, we become fearful of expecting very much from the Lord due to the size and apparent strength of those who are around us and against us. The truth is if you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed.
Our expectation level can be very low, very faulty, or very misaligned. It’s the latter problem that we’re going to deal with in this two-part blog.
Our expectations must be in line with the gospel. The gospel’s focus is on the successful work of our Lord Jesus Christ and the empowering presence and power of the One just like Jesus - minus a body – Holy Spirit. Our expectations are to be Jesus-based and Jesus-big, and when they are we can expect to be Jesus-blessed! What is the nature of Jesus-based expectations?
Jesus-Based Alignment Expectations
“From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” (Hebs. 10:3 -KJV)
The expectant attitude of Christ in this verse is that of final and certain victory (John 16:33;1Cors15:24-28) Christ's enemies will be made his footstool - multitudes by faith because of the gospel’s power, and others by the sheer force of his presence at his final return. Because Jesus is confidently expecting, likewise we, his people, should be continually rejoicing in the expectation that all the Father has promised him, will be given to him.
Notice that Jesus’ great expectations center around three great truths:
- Right Posture – Hebs 10:12 - “For ever sat down on the right hand of God.” “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Cors.15:25).
Please note that Christ is seated, not standing and wringing his hands in despair, or saying to the Father: “Father, look what a mess. The Church I bought at the price of my blood is a bunch of failing, fearful, wimps. The gospel is good for heaven but not for earth, for the human heart but not human civilization. The Devil’s lies are stronger than gospel truth. Just let me get on my horse, get the sword sticking out of my mouth, and go down there and “getter done”.
When is Christ reigning in the exact sense of 1 Cors 15:25? It’s Now and not Then, at His final return. Many Scriptures teach us that Christ is at the right hand of God the Father (Psa 110:1; Mar 16:19, Act 2:33, 34, 5:31, 7:55-56, Rom 8:34, Eph 1:20, Col 3:1, Heb 1:3, 13, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2, 1Pe 3:22), and thus on a throne (Acts 2:30), reigning over His kingdom (Col 1:13), having dominion (1 Tim 6:16, 1Pe 4:11, 5:11, Rev 1:6), and even ruling “the kings of the earth” (Rev 1:5). The New Testament confirms that Christ is reigning presently and is thus, progressively putting His enemies under His feet. In the words of Psalm 110:2, Christ is “ruling in the midst of his enemies.”
Christ reigns, and in so doing, he is subduing enemies (1 Cors 15:25), conquering them with the power of the Spirit and not by the power of metal swords and marching armies. He conquers His enemies with the gospel of grace and makes a Christless Pharisee like Saul of Tarsus into the Christ-filled Paul, the very apostle to the Gentiles he once despised, a dear co-laboring brother to those whom he once murdered. Whatever else is entailed in the conquest of the king of kings, we are assured that there will be “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” of former enemies, hostile in nature to God, who will fill heaven with their praises of the Lamb who sits on the throne (Rev 7:9). As the Psalm says, He is able to cause His people to “volunteer freely in the day of [His] power” (Psa 110:3, Mat 28:19-20). We are promised that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:9). We should be living with great expectations in the victorious and universal advancement of Messiah’s kingdom with a final consummation of this victory at His coming when even death will be utterly and completely abolished.
- Right Place – “right hand of the Father”
In commenting on this expression, Matthew Henry said, “To the right hand of God, the seat of power, interest, and activity we find the giving hand; all the favors that God bestows on his people are handed to them by Christ: the receiving hand; all the duties that God accepts from men are presented by Christ: the working hand; all that pertains to the kingdoms of providence and grace is administered by Christ; and therefore this is the highest post of honor. All the favors that come from God to man, and all the service that comes from man to God, pass through his hand.”
“Sit thou at my right hand.” Sitting is a resting posture; after His services and sufferings, He entered into rest from all His labors. It is a ruling posture; He sits to direct, correct, inspect, and protect. It is a remaining posture; He sits in the posture of the King of Glory forever. Sitting at the right hand of God denotes both His dignity and His dominion. It is a reassuring posture; He reigns now, and all the might and malice of wicked men doesn’t give the least disturbance, frustration or anxiety to His government. His sitting at God’s right hand is a pledge to Him of His setting His feet, at last, on the necks of all His enemies.
- Right Power – Ps 110:2: “The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!”Eph. 1:20-23: “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
The old Methodist commentator, Adam Clarke observed, “The rod of thy strength” is the Gospel - the doctrine of Christ crucified; which is the powerful scepter of the Lord that bought us, is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword; and is the power of God to salvation to all of them that believe.
The kingdom of our Lord was to be founded in Zion, and thence, by gradual conquests, to be extended over the whole earth. It was in Zion the preaching of the Gospel first began; and it is by the Gospel that Christ rules, even in the midst of his enemies…”
Jesus, knowing the nations were His rightful inheritance (Ps. 2:8), prayed for God's will to be done on earth as it was in heaven (Matt. 6:10). He assured His followers that the meek would inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5), and that He would "draw all men" unto Himself (John 12:32). The kingdom Jesus Christ established (Matt. 12:28; Col. 1:13) is likened to both a mustard seed which grows enormously (Matt. 13:31) and leaven which spreads through the entire loaf (Matt. 13:33). Christ promised to build His Church (Matt. 16:18) "till He sends forth justice to victory" (Matt. 12:20), so that "the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). Our Lord Jesus Christ has been granted "all authority... in heaven and on earth" (Matt 28:18), and we are therefore commanded to "make disciples of all the nations" (Matt. 28:19).
Jesus is the Right Man, in the Right Posture, in the Right Place with the Right Power made available to the Right People to accomplish His Mission!
Church of the living God, it’s time for an “expectations” alignment!
I challenge you to join with me in praying daily:
King Jesus, we repent of low-level expectations and ask you to align our thinking with Your Word. Enable us to begin to expect the name of God to be honored more gloriously, the kingdom of God to come more fully, and the will of God to be done more freely at home and abroad!
Enable us, your people, to bring our expectation’s level up to Jesus’ standard. We expect God to arise through His gospel-centered, Spirit-drenched and empowered people and His enemies to be scattered and made His footstool! Move us to daily begin to expect the God of peace to bruise Satan under our feet shortly! Enable us to expect the gospel to freely and powerfully spread through His Church so that disciples are made of all nations! Enlarge our expectations so they we desire to win for the Lamb the reward of His sufferings! Cause hope to arise in our hearts so that we expect that the gospel must blossom with a crown equal with the person of the Crucified, and the bitterness of His agony on the Cross!
Grant, O Lord, a great Expectations Alignment in Your Church!