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DEVOTIONAL: Keep Your Expectations Realistic

We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22 (NIV)

In life, expectations are important. One professor at a Christian university in California, perhaps seeking to set a low bar on Day One of class, liked to welcome his new students with this witty remark: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.”

For whatever reason, many people seem to believe that if you put your faith in Christ, all your problems will melt away and all will be hunky-dory until you die and go to heaven. However, neither the Bible nor first-hand experience back up that false claim. In fact, if you swallow that whopper, you are getting set-up for an enormous let-down.

As reported in Acts 14:8-23, the apostles Paul and Barnabas were on a missionary journey in the city of Lystra, now in modern-day Turkey. They saw a man who had been crippled from birth, and when they “saw that he had faith to be made well,” (v. 9), Paul told him to stand up and the crippled man jumped up and began to walk! At first, the crowd went wild and began to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods.

Aghast at such blasphemy, Paul and Barnabas said they were mere men, and that the miracle had been done by God and not by their own power. As evidence of human fickleness, soon the crowd turned from adoration and was stirred to hate Paul and they stoned him and dragged him outside the city and left him for dead. As the disciples stood around his body, Paul stood up and continued his preaching ministry. Verses 21-22 tell us, “And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made a good number of disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘It is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of God.'” (NASB). 

Note, after that harrowing experience, Paul did not indulge in self-pity or abandon his mission. Instead, he “preached the gospel,” made disciples, strengthened the souls of the disciples, and encouraged them.

Our daily walk with Christ is not a walk in the park. Quite the opposite, the more we seek to follow God, the more opposition we can expect. No, God has not promised to keep our lives trouble-free. Instead, God promises to walk with us through the hard times. In John 16:33, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words: “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (NASB)

Today’s actionable step for you: don’t expect life to be care-free, but know that Jesus has promised to be with you through the fire and the flood.

S.G.D/S.D.G.

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