Did you know that your joy and your happiness is largely connected to one very specific word? It's called expectations. What you expect, whether they're met or not, can make all the difference in the world. Let's discover what God says about our expectations.
Don't go away. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Drouie, and today we're continuing our series, I Choose Joy, as Chip explains how we can survive challenging and trying circumstances and actually experience genuine joy in the midst of them.
Sounds good to be true? Well, let's learn how as we join Chip for his message, Understanding the Power of Expectations. Turn in your Bibles to Philippians chapter 1 verse 27. If you haven't lived very long, you may not know this, and if you've lived very long at all, you do. Life is hard. You know, life is hard. For some of you, you've been through some really, really hard things, and they can be hard relationally, family-wise, emotionally, financially, health-wise. And here's the thing, not to discourage you, but it's going to be hard. Your future, it's going to be hard. But what I don't want you to think is that choosing joy is about willpower. If I just have stronger willpower, that's not how it works. What we've learned in this series is that you can choose joy when something happens, when you get these windows of perspective, when you begin to see life not through the human lens, but from the divine lens.
Look on the front of your notes by way of quick review. When you're going through a difficult time in a relationship or finances or your health, one of your kids, or you're sick of being single or sick of being married, you know, you can turn inward and it gets from bad to worse. But if you'll pause and say, wait a second, where's my focus right now? Is my focus upward on God and outward on others or on me? You get perspective. If you can say, hold on, what's my purpose?
Is my purpose just that comfort and happiness and everything works out for me, which it never does? Or how could God leverage this challenge to help people understand who Christ is? How could he leverage this to change me?
How could he leverage this to build up some other Christians? And then you ask yourself, so where's my hope? Is my hope in this job?
Is it in this family? Is it in this person I'm going to marry someday? Is it that, you know, finally I'm going to get healthy again? Or is my hope in eternity?
Is it I have an anchor that won't change? See, when you begin to ask those questions, you get perspective. And God never promised that he would eliminate the problems. What he promised is that he would be with you, that he would supply grace, that he would help you, that he would produce things both in you and through you. That there's no explanation for other than the reality that Jesus is who he said he was.
The last question and the last key word that we're going to look at is the word expectation. And this for me is one of the most important ones. I have a good, really, really good friend. They're family. They've been at all of my kids' weddings.
They were sort of like the grandparents or aunts and uncles my kids didn't have because we live so far away. And it's a couple. She found out she has pre-cancer and some cancer, and she had surgery Wednesday, and I went to see her a couple of days ago. Walked in, Bebe, how you doing? She's bright and bubbly and great.
I said, but didn't you just have colon cancer surgery? She goes, yeah. And I said, well, I mean, I'm thinking I'm glad you're doing so well, but how are you doing so well? I mean, this joyful look.
She goes, wow. You know, when they, before they did the surgery, they said we're likely going to have to take about 12 inches out of your colon. They took four. And then if it doesn't fit quite together, there's a chance that you might have one of those bags on the side for a while, and then we'll come back and do another surgery. I don't have any bags. And not only that, but you'll be in here at least six days in the hospital. And that was Wednesday. She goes, I'm going home tomorrow.
No, just listen very carefully. Her expectations were a foot out of her colon, six days in the hospital, and the potential of wearing a bag on her side and another surgery. Her experience is only four inches.
I get to go home in a couple days. Contrast that with someone else who walks in. They do an examination. They say, oh, some possible cancer.
We're going to put you to sleep. The colonoscopy didn't show what we needed to show. We're going to take a long needle, stick it in there. We might have to do a short exploratory surgery. It doesn't look bad at all.
We think it's benign. I've seen this a lot of times. You only be under for less than an hour. It's not a big deal. And you wake up several hours later and they say, we took four inches out of your colon.
You're going to be in the hospital for four days. What's the difference? Oh, my gosh.
Your life and perspective and mine is geared around expectations. I had a young couple come to me, and they've been married about two or three years, and they were committed to the Lord. They were involved in ministry. We both waited.
I said, what do you mean? We did not have sex before we got married. We did it God's way, and we thought it would be great and we'd have great sex in our marriage.
It's terrible expectation. I remember playing golf with a guy a couple of years ago, driving around in a cart in Indiana, really nice guy, had done really well, had didn't start his family till late, had a couple of small kids and his wife had this burden for international kids. They adopted three kids from China. I mean, you know, money, time, energy, all that they've done. How could you do something better and more loving than adopting kids from China? And they just thought, you know, God's blessing, his favor.
Well, you know what? His blessing and his favor was there. But all three kids have been in counseling. They've been in counseling. The medical bills have been off the charts.
They've had two or three special surgeries. And he sat across from me and he goes, I just I didn't know if our marriage was going to make it. I didn't know if I was going to make it. And then he said this. I don't know if I would have done it if I would have known how hard it is. But my expectations were so out of whack. It's taken about four or five years to realize it's really, really hard. And then he smiled.
And it's really, really worth it. Here's the question. Where's your expectations? What do you expect from God? What do you unconsciously think, especially if you listen to some of the current teaching? If you love Jesus, your marriage will be great.
If you're single, this person is going to walk into your life. If you love Jesus and especially send some money to their ministry and just think positive thoughts, everything's going to be great. Your kids are going to turn out right.
Everything's wonderful. Do you know why so many Christians are disillusioned? Because here's the principle, the distance between your expectations and your experience is disappointment.
And if you have unrealistic, delusional expectations, you get devastated. Open your notes. Let's learn from the apostle Paul very specifically, what can we expect from God and what does God expect of us? He's in prison. He's chained to these Praetorian guards. He's wondering whether I'm going to be executed or whether I'm going to be released. His circumstances are terrible, but he has an upward focus and an outward focus.
He's asking the question, what's my purpose? And now he doesn't know whether he's going to get to see this Philippian church that he loves deeply or whether he's going to die. And he's gotten some reports from one of their members, Epaphroditus, and there's some disunity in the church. And there's also a culture in Rome and a culture in Philippi that is, I mean, anti, anti, anti Christian. It's described as these are the people that have turned the world upside down. And in Acts, it describes them as everywhere people speak of this sect negatively.
So if you feel like the world's getting a little harder for Christians in the United States, if you feel like there's some persecution happening, if you think that you're labeled, they've got this on steroids. And so in his final thoughts about choosing joy in chapter one, he wants he wants to set clear expectations. He wants them to understand, look, this is what God expects of you in terms of your behavior, in terms of your beliefs and in terms of your boldness. And then he's going to say, but but I want you to also know this is what you can expect from God, because if you don't get clear, accurate biblical expectations, you can actually have a pretty good life and be miserable because you think it ought to be a perfect life. In one of my deepest times of marital struggle and after lots of counseling and I had such skewed expectations the first few years, I remember reading a line by Francis Schaeffer in one of his books, and he just said in passing, you know, a lot of people give up on a good marriage because it's not a perfect marriage.
And I was one of those people that privately inside was it wasn't perfect, it wasn't what I thought every area wasn't. And so I want you to begin to ask yourself, what's the issue that you're struggling with or the person? And then I want you to listen carefully, because God's going to tell you this is what he expects of you. And by the way, when you give to God what he expects of you, there's this domino effect where he begins to provide for you what you need. And he changes what happens on the inside.
So with that, we pick it up. Paul says, this is my final lesson. What does God expect? He expects consistent conduct. Verse twenty seven, whatever happens, he's finalizing literally at all costs. Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Circle the little word manner worthy. It's an interesting New Testament word. The Philippians would immediately recognize where he's going.
He's he's kind of taking part of their personal experience and he's going to give them this little parallel. Philippi was a Roman colony. Now, it's not all that close to Rome, but there was a war earlier. And between some generals and Caesar and the little town of Philippi decided we're going to go with Caesar and Caesar won. And so Rome made them an official colony and to have citizenship was like, whoa, I mean, there were privileges. The Roman army, the Roman all the aqueducts, everything that that came with being a Roman citizen.
Philippi really felt like, wow. But there was also responsibility of being a Roman citizen. You pay taxes to Caesar. There are certain laws that you kept.
There was a certain way that you would be aligned. And so this word, really what he's saying is, here's what God expects at all costs, literally. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Understanding the Power of Expectations. You'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, I Choose Joy. It's safe to say that we all want to live life with a little more joy.
But what does that mean exactly? Is it just finding happiness or pleasure in something? Will those feelings really sustain us through the hard knocks of life? Well, in this eight part series, Chip explains why joy that comes from God is more than just an emotion. Discover how it can change your perspective on life and profoundly strengthen your faith in challenging times. To learn more about this study in Philippians chapter one, go to livingontheedge.org, the Chip Ingram map, or call 888-333-6003. Well, Chip's joined me in studio now. And Chip, right at the end of your message today, you said, The conclusion of the secular world today is there's not a niggles worth of difference between the average Christian and the average non-Christian. Now take a minute and explain why people think that.
I'd be glad to, Dave. We've got millions of people going to church, going through the motions, many of them sincere but ignorant about the gospel, about truth. Their lives don't change. We have a whole generation of young people saying, You can have your Jesus and your churchianity and I'm out of here because they don't see reality. And Living on the Edge has been called to declare war on religious activity that doesn't align with the Jesus of the New Testament.
But we can't do it without you. I grew up in that environment and I turned away from God. And I just praise God that he brought people into my life that clearly explained the gospel. But as importantly, they lived it out. And they lived it out in real life and loved me and cared for me.
And they were holy and they weren't weird. God longs to do that in our day. And the message of Living on the Edge is helping Christians live like Christians. We do it through teaching. We create resources.
But it requires a team. And for us to do it moving toward the future as God has opened more and more doors, I simply tell you, I need your help. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us today and kind of move that good intention? You thought about it. I ought to help them out. Yeah, I already decided in my head I would.
But the fact is you haven't acted on it yet. Act on it today. Let's make a difference.
Thanks, Chip. Well, if partnering with Living on the Edge is an idea that makes sense to you, we'd love to have you join us. Helping Christians live like Christians will change the world we live in. Now, to give a gift, go to livingontheedge.org or text the word DONATE to 74141. That's donate to 74141. Or visit livingontheedge.org.
App listeners, just tap donate. And thanks for taking the time to help others benefit from the work of this ministry. Well, here again is Chip with a few final thoughts he'd like to share. As we wrap up today's teaching, I'm not sure that there is a portion of this entire series that has more real application to today's believers than this section, because I think that over time, more and more, especially for those of us that live in the United States and have a Western mindset and have been bombarded literally by years and years and years of the prosperity gospel, we just unconsciously and sometimes very consciously expect if we do certain things, we pray, we live a good life, we're generous with people, you know, we give our money that God literally has made a commitment that our life is going to work out great, that we're going to be happy, that our families are going to be super, that our kids are going to turn out right, that if we're single, we're going to get married, that if we're generous with our money, we're going to be financially well off. On and on and on it goes, and yet the Bible talks about you have been called for this purpose not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake, and the reality of history is those 12 disciples were very faithful and they did exactly God's will, and yet 11 of them were martyred and one got stuck on a rock to write the book of Revelation. I want you to know that if your expectations are not in alignment with what the Bible actually teaches, it's so easy to get disillusioned with God, and the fact is you're disillusioned with a promise that he never made. Let me encourage you to open your hands and if you feel disappointed with God or angry at God or resentful or somehow thinking, I've done these certain things. You owe me. Could you just pause and say, Lord, you have given me life.
You've prepared heaven. You didn't promise to take away problems. You promised to be with me through them. God, I want to thank you and would you help me?
Would you wash over my heart and my mind? Would you realign my expectations with your word? And what I will tell you, that will change your attitude. You have a heavenly Father who sees you as his precious child, but that doesn't mean that everything's going to be great or easy, even when you're most obedient. It means he's a good God in the midst of a fallen world that will never leave you or forsake you.
Hang tough. As we close, if you're looking for a way to get more out of our teaching, let me encourage you to download the Message Notes. This helpful tool is available for every program. They include Chip's outline, all of the scripture references, and lots of fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning. You can get them at livingontheedge.org, under the Broadcasts tab. App listeners just tap Fill in Notes. Join us next time as Chip wraps up his series, I Choose Joy. Until then, I'm Dave Drury, thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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