Monday, November 26, 2012

Blessings, Not Expectations

One thing I realized during the Thanksgiving season...we have 365 days to be grateful for all that God is given us. Unfortunately, we don't use all 365 days. If we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that we often think we are entitled to the things in our lives. We think we deserve what we want, when we want it. And the saddest part? We have taken our blessings and turned them into expectations. Our health, our money, our happiness - rather than seeing them as gifts from God, we see them as things we deserve. Why?
This year with Matt's siblings, instead of doing a Secret Santa, one of my sister-in-laws suggested we give the money to charity. Together, we were able to give $100 to World Vision. We bought a goat and two chickens for a family in desperate need of basic life necessities. The recipients of our goat and chickens probably have a much better grasp of how EVERYTHING is a gift from God and that they are helpless without Him. We, on the other hand, have a false sense of control and an even falser view of entitlement. We begin to believe that we deserve and expect blessings.
How do you know that's you?
When you are robbed of something - happiness, material thing, relationship, health - does a part of you get angry and think you deserved that blessing?
So when we know God's truth, when we know what living out His will for our life looks like, when we know all of this and yet we look God in the eye and tell him NO are we surprised when we feel distant from him and his blessings? When we live like this and when we tell God no, I believe two things happen.
1. In our disobedience - we miss out on the blessings God had in store for us.
2. In our disobedience - we walk away from God's protection.
Just look at Jonah chapter 1. It's an incredible story.

(v. 1-3)The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.

(Note: Jonah's audacity!!! Looking God right in the eye and saying: no. And yet, how often are we Jonah? How often do we know God's will and God's truth and we look at Him and say: no.)

(v. 4-8)But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.
But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”
Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

(Note: In Jonah's disobedience, what do we see here? He walks away from God's protection and God's blessings.)
Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”
The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?”
“Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”
Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”
Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.
Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

(Note: After the storm, God not only rescues Jonah, but he also brings people to Himself. Sailors rescued spiritually, Jonah rescued physically. Our gracious God is in the rescuing business.) 

So which are you? Praising God and thanking Him for our blessings or looking at the gifts in our life as expectations?

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