Overcoming Expectations

Steve Arterburn

One of the subtlest enemies of spiritual life and growth is the influence of other’s expectations of you.  The world expects you to continually seek possessions and prestige.  It expects you to fill your time with busy activity, whether meaningful or not.  

Are you allowing the world’s expectations to dictate your life?  How often do you act in order to please others rather than because you want to please God?  Sometimes pleasing God may actually require that you disappoint others because you can’t fulfill their demands on you.

What do people expect of you?  What do you do when the world’s demands are pressing in on you?  Solitude can help you break free from other’s expectations.  When you spend some time quietly alone you can see more clearly what the world is asking of you.  In solitude you’re more able to evaluate these expectations in relation to God’s desires for you and to decide which demands should or should not be fulfilled.   

Following one of the busiest days’and nights’of his ministry, the book of Mark tells us that Jesus ‘awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.’  Is your life busy?  Are you feeling pressure from your work, your wife, your friends, or your kids?  Follow the example of Jesus.  Make solitude a priority in your life today. You’ll be better for it.

James And Jude

Steve Arterburn

Do you have an older sibling?  It can be difficult to live up to the high standards set by older brothers and sisters.  It can be equally difficult, and sometimes more painful, to live down the reputation of a notorious or embarrassing older sibling.  James and Jude are two men in the Bible who had to deal with both challenges.  Their older brother Jesus was both perfect and, in their minds, embarrassing.

Jesus must have been a hard act to follow, don’t you think?  It may have been difficult for James, Jude, and the rest of their siblings to feel close to their wonderful, though different, big brother.  

After Jesus’ public ministry began, his brothers James and Jude seemed to take a stand-back-and-watch attitude.  One day Jesus would do great miracles and be acclaimed as a hero.  The next, he would present a convicting message and offend the powerful religious and political authorities.  In the end, he angered too many people and was sentenced to death.  He’d claimed to be not only the promised Messiah but also God himself!  No doubt, James and Jude thought their brother had gone off the deep end.

Yet the resurrection of Jesus overcame the doubts of his younger brothers, who later became leaders in the early church.  Both brothers are remembered for the letters in Bible they wrote.

This same power that transformed James and Jude can transform you, too, and turn you from an unbelieving cynic to a faithful follower of Christ.

Worship

Steve Arterburn

Worship is a way of life.  Worship isn’t simply what you do for God in church; it’s also who you are for God in the world.  

So how can you bring worship into you daily life?  Let’s consider some suggestions from another man’the apostle Paul. In chapter twelve of his letter to the Romans he gives us some good counsel.

First he says you need to allow God to transform your mind.  In this way, your allegiance is transferred from the world to God.

Second, he tells you to serve others with your gifts.  This displays God’s glory as your Creator.  You should rejoice in these gifts and use them to accomplish God’s purposes.

And third, Paul says you need to be a reflection of God’s love and grace.  The second great commandment is that you love others as yourself.  Paul provides numerous concrete examples of how you can obey this commandment.  These aren’t simply humanitarian gestures.  They are acts of worship, acts that please and honor God.  Let me leave you with a few ways Paul says you’re to worship God.

Love each other with genuine affection
Never be lazy in your work
Be glad for all God is planning for you
Be prayerful
When God’s children are in need, be the one who helps
Get into the habit of inviting guests for dinner, or if they need lodging, for the night
Don’t try to act important but enjoy the company of ordinary people