Saturday, June 17, 2017

When What We Expect Is Not What We Get

Expectation and reality. They don't always turn out to be the same, do they? No one knew that more than Jesus' disciples. 

Scripture makes it clear the disciples expected an earthly kingdom and that Jesus would sit on the throne of David. The kingdom would be reunited. Wealth and power would abound.

The crucifixion wasn't what they expected.

The resurrection wasn't what they expected, either.

Forty days after Jesus rose from the grave, their expectations still weren't in line with reality. (Leanna Paraphrase coming up.)

The disciples were all gathered together, and Jesus was giving them some last minute instructions. 

"Don't leave Jerusalem until you get what My Dad has promised you. I've already told you about this, so wait for it. You're going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (from Acts 1:4-5)

"Oh, good. Is this when you finally overthrow the Romans and restore the kingdom to Israel?" the disciples asked.

I imagine Jesus shook His head in amazement at that question. "Don't worry about that. I'm telling you what's going to happen. You'll receive power and be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea, Samaria, and all around the world."

Without so much as a see you later, Jesus ascended into heaven. The disciples stood there in open-mouthed amazement. They were probably wondering how they'd get their palaces now.

What came next is very wonderful, but it still makes me laugh a little. The disciples heard the words "power" and "around the world" and you can well imagine what they thought. Power = kingdom and military might. Around the world = ambassadors of the new king.

Instead, they were in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, waiting for power and ambassadorships, when a loud noise sounded. Tongues of fire suddenly danced over everyone's head. 

Pause to visualize that in your mind's eye for a moment. They must have been dumbfounded.

They all started speaking in different languages and spilled out the building into the street. 

Preaching broke out. Salvations. Baptisms. Thousands of people believed in Jesus that day.  

The Pharisees just thought they had trouble with Jesus. When the Holy Spirit descended, the real trouble began. None of it was what the disciples had expected.  The reality was so much better.

People were healed with a word. Blind men saw. Lame men walked. Demon possessed girls were set free. There was more power in their handkerchief than they'd ever known before.

The Holy Spirit had come, just like Jesus promised. They'd been given power, just as He'd said. 

Pretty soon, persecution began and the disciples had to flee Jerusalem to save their lives. They told everyone they met on their travels about Jesus. They became ambassadors (witnesses) around the world, exactly as Jesus told them they would.

It's a good thing their expectations weren't met. They were exceeded in ways they could never have imagined.

We, too, have expectations of what life will bring and what following Jesus will mean, but what we expect is seldom our reality. Today, let's surrender our dreams. Invite our Lord to replace our desires with His. Ask Him to do His will in us. 

That's when the real fun begins. 

What God has planned is not likely to be what we expect, but it will be worth it.

"I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Learning to Let Go

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