This week’s blog is inspired by a good friend and fellow victorious educator, Lindsey Nelson. With her permission, I want to share with you the powerful words Lindsey sent me this past week.
I keep feeling the Lord is saying to our VEM educators, “Approach this year with expectancy! Expect God to show up. Expect God to do big things. Expect God to walk with you when you are running on empty. EXPECT! We have a God we can expect great things from and who doesn’t disappoint!”
I couldn’t agree more! I have to wonder. In our attempt to empathize with our current circumstances (the ongoing COVID saga), have we lost our sense of expectancy? Are we focusing too much on the threat(s) around us and not enough on the power of our GREAT GOD? It’s so easy to do, and it is not unique to our generation.
This is exactly what transpired during Biblical times. God’s people often found themselves in hopeless situations, facing insurmountable odds. Throughout Scripture we read stories of how the masses repeatedly became despondent, fearing defeat. However, there was always one person who didn’t buy into the narrative, one who confidently expected God to show up. There was one who lived expectantly.
David was such a person. We all know the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). While the Philistines were at war with Saul, their giant, Goliath, taunted the armies of Israel daily. None of the Hebrew soldiers had the courage to face Goliath one-on-one…until David came along. Most scholars believe David was a teenager, between 16-19 years of age. He was definitely too young to serve in the army, but that didn’t stop him from confronting the giant. While everyone else was fearful, David was outraged. How in the world could someone be allowed to defy the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26). David didn’t focus on his limitations or the power of his enemies. Instead, he expected God to be God. When he was threatened by Goliath, he claimed, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you” (1 Samuel 17:45-46a). We know the rest of the story.
David lived life expectantly!
Do you remember Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 13-14)? Joshua and Caleb were selected along with ten other men to explore the Promised Land and give a report to Moses and the people. After a 40-day exploration of Canaan, the explorers gave a mixed report. The land was bountiful, but the cities were fortified, and the people were powerful. They even saw giants! Ten men were adamant. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” (Numbers 13:31).
However, Joshua and Caleb—like David—had different expectations. They didn’t look at their own strength but believed in the strength of their God. This gave them confidence to implore the people, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30). When this didn’t work, they became even more determined. “Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 14:9)
Joshua and Caleb expected God to be God!
I want to be like David, Joshua, and Caleb. How about you? As I read through these accounts, I searched for the “how.” How were these men able to live with such expectancy? After all, they were human just like you and me. What did I conclude? Apart from God, they were nothing special. They simply chose to live their lives expectantly. If they could do it, so can we! What does it take to live life in this manner? Let’s take a look at three essentials.
1. CONFRONT UNBELIEF
Doubt and unbelief are really at the root of most of our issues. I wonder how much we limit God simply because our faith is weak. When life gets hard, the enemy uses doubt to challenge our confidence in God’s Word. We tend to rely on our own reasoning, which overshadows our expectant faith in what God can do. Henry Blackaby calls this a “crisis of belief.”
When God asks you to do something you can’t do, you face a crisis of belief. That means, you must decide what you really believe about God. Can God and will God do what He said He wants to do through you? Can God do the seemingly
impossible through your ordinary life? The way you respond to God’s invitation reveals what you truly believe about God, regardless of what you say. This is the crisis point where so many people miss out on experiencing God’s mighty power working through them. (1)
David believed God could conquer Goliath. Joshua and Caleb believed God would deliver them as promised. They expected Him to answer. They expected Him to be faithful. They knew He would show up just like He had so many times before!
It all starts here. If we don’t deal with our unbelief, we won’t live life expectantly. Please know that if you are struggling with doubt or unbelief, you aren’t alone. We all do. In fact, I just did today! We are in the process of making Victorious Educator Ministries a non-profit organization. I am nervous about what this entails. While I was writing this section of the blog, I received the agreement from the attorney. It is a big next step, and as tears filled my eyes, I literally felt the Holy Spirit say, “Yes, this is bigger than you. Yes, this seems overwhelming. Expect me to show up. I’ve got this.” I felt like the desperate father in Mark 9:24 who called out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus told this desperate father, and He is telling us today, “Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23). The first step to living life expectantly is to confront any issues of unbelief.
2. SEEK IN EARNEST
In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “seek” or a form of the word occurs over 300 times. There is no doubt that seeking God is an expectation for a believer. One of the most familiar verses in the Scriptures is Matthew 6:33. This statement is the centerpiece of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Seek is an imperative. The word means to actively seek, search, desire, and demand. Those are pretty strong words. Our seeking should be in earnest, diligent and passionate. Jesus doesn’t mince words here. He implores us to make His kingdom and His righteousness our FIRST priority—not our second or third—but FIRST! The kingdom of God is about what happens internally in us through the Holy Spirit.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
Righteousness is God’s standard for being in right relationship with Him. A heart that is right with God results in a life that bears fruit as we earnestly seek Him (John 15:1-2). This doesn’t mean everything will be rosy. Tony Evans says, “Prioritizing God’s kingdom in this way doesn’t mean you won’t experience challenges and suffering, but your life will be aligned under His kingdom authority so you can experience His provision.” (2)
In the times of David, Joshua, and Caleb, when life got hard, many people put their blinders on and quit seeking God. All they could see was the problem. You can’t see what you aren’t looking for. God was there long ago in the midst of their circumstances, and He is still here today. His Word reminds us why we can live expectantly. “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17
3. ACT IN OBEDIENCE
What impressed me most about David, Joshua, and Caleb was their lack of hesitation. All three were out-numbered, yet they did not pause or waver. They believed in God, they sought Him out, and they expected Him to show up. As a result, they took immediate action and obeyed Him. How often I catch myself delaying action while I “think through” the situation. I’m not advocating for us to be foolish, but sometimes I wonder if we talk ourselves out of obedience. Living life expectantly requires faith, and faith means we won’t have all the answers ahead of time (Hebrews 11:1).
When we truly believe God is who He says He is, and we earnestly seek Him, acting in obedience gets easier. It’s a process, but we don’t have to make it more complicated than it actually is. Acting in obedience is simply doing the right thing (John 14:23, James 1:22) for the right reason (Proverbs 16:2). When we fail, we repent, get back up, and start over again (1 John 1:9).
Each step of obedience not only yields blessings (Deuteronomy 5:33) but also builds our level of expectancy as God proves Himself faithful every single time! David, Joshua, and Caleb acted in obedience, and God showed up. The same promise is true for us today.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Being an educator today is tough. There is no other way to describe it. A friend of mine recently said that it feels like she is walking on shifting sand every day. I’m not going to deny there are problems. However, we can expect God to show up in the midst of our problems when we confront our unbelief, seek Him in earnest, and act in obedience. God is ready to give us victory! Let’s be the one who lives life expectantly!
Expect God to be God!!
2. The Tony Evans Bible commentary, Holman, Nashville, TN pg. 876