- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently at Cherrydale Baptist Church by the Rev. Steve King:

Expectations tend to destroy relationships. This is true in our relationships with people and also with God. The disciples of Jesus and thousands of His followers were full of expectation. Their view of the Messiah was that He would come in with power and destroy the enemies of the Jews — the Romans — and usher in a new day of righteousness with His people on the top, not the bottom.

A week after acting on their expectations of a coming Messiah — by placing Jesus on a donkey and throwing down palm branches and their coats for a path and declaring Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of David — they were standing at the foot of a bloody cross and watching Him die in agony.

Can we overstate the tidal wave of loss, disappointment and dashed hopes that came rushing like a dirty 30-foot wave of destruction into the lives of the disciples of Jesus when they saw Him draw his last breath on the cross? Do you think any of them at that time were thinking, “God is surely doing His most amazing work on our behalf?”

Their expectations of how the Messiah was supposed to act caused them to view everything that happened on the cross as loss, not gain; as defeat, not victory; as utter disappointment, not vibrant trust in a promise-keeping God.

Maybe you are in a place where your faith has grown weak because you are disappointed. What you hoped and prayed for did not come true — yet. Maybe you need Jesus to come triumphantly into your life and revive your faith. Let’s ask God to open our eyes so we can see that even when it looks like He is “dead,” and certainly not at work, that He is alive, He is good and He can be trusted even in the dark.

Jesus said in John 5:17, “My Father is working until now, and I myself am working.” May God give us faith to truly believe this and to habitually frame our lives with the truth. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So let’s go to the word of God for the purpose of strengthening our faith in the fact that the God of the Bible, the only true God who is perfect in all His ways, is always at work.

When you believe that God is always at work and that He is good and can be trusted, then you find life indeed. This perspective will infuse you with hope and enable you to break through many quitting points. C.S. Lewis trusted God when it looked like he was getting the short end of the stick and that no good could come from the unfair treatment he received.

C.S. Lewis was an Oxford scholar and strong defender of the Christian faith. He graduated from Oxford with honors in three subjects: classics, philosophy and English. This was done at the time by only five people in the whole history of Oxford. He became an instructor at Oxford from 1925 to 1954. In 1931, he became a follower of Christ and wrote a book about it called “Pilgrims Regress.” This was not politically correct at all, and he was scorned by his fellow faculty.

As a result he was passed over three times to be promoted to full professor. He remained an instructor, which meant low pay, long hours and working with students face to face. He was passed over even though he made the cover of Time magazine. He was so popular that when he lectured, the bicycles of the students were lined up five deep, parked outside the lecture hall.

Lewis was eventually vindicated. Cambridge made him a full professor. Oxford then offered him the same, but it was too late. Lewis was not bitter. He saw it all as God at work for good. He said the low pay caused him to improve his memory because he could not afford books and had to remember what he had studied from the books in the library. His constant interaction with students and long hours grading papers taught him how to communicate complex issues in ways that connected with them. His writing for the cause of Christ still carries a punch that compels people to listen. Lewis filtered his “dark days” through the grid of a good God who is always at work to accomplish His purposes.

The disciples of Jesus at first saw His death on the cross as a disaster, not a dynamic display of God’s glory. Their expectations of a political Messiah who would rush in and destroy the Romans blinded them to the mighty hand of God at work through the death of Christ on the cross. Maybe your expectations have blinded you to the love and power of God at work in your life. Even in the darkest times, look to the cross of Christ.

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