Some years ago I did a teaching called What Do You Expect? In it I said that having the biblically proper expectations in regard to God, Jesus, the Devil, and people is absolutely critical if we are to maximize our Christian potential during our days in this “present evil age” (Gal. 1:4). You must always be expecting nothing but good from God and the Lord, nothing but bad from the Devil, and a mix of both from humans, depending upon their mindset and behavioral track record. To “expect” means to be “looking out” for something, and thus you are not surprised or caught off guard when it happens.

Too many Christians today are being deceived by a short-term “health and wealth” gospel that is out of touch with reality, i.e., the Truth of God’s Word. Many Christian leaders wrongly teach that if you have enough faith you will always be “more than a conqueror” in this fallen world. They misunderstand that the “more abundant life” of John 10:10b has nothing to do with the material realm. For many brethren, the unrealistic expectation of “cruising with Christ” in perfect health and material prosperity has been dashed by the cruel reality of “life,” and they have turned away from the Lord. Some have blamed God for not keeping His promises; some have blamed themselves (or their spouse) for not having enough faith. Once upon a time some of us might have heard: “Where’s your believing?” I think I will be leaving that kind of teaching.

Consider the record of Job (Don’t Blame God!, Chap. 6), a believing believer who got hammered by the Devil. What did his friends say? “Come on, bro, you must have done something wrong. What’s your secret sin? Are you tithing?” Job, however, maintained his righteousness. Because Job could know nothing about the Devil, he thought it was God who was afflicting him, yet he never hardened his heart toward God nor lost faith in Him. See 1:21–22: “Job sinned not nor charged God with injustice.” Some versions read: “nor blamed” God. And what happened? God honored Job’s “faith-full-ness” and mightily turned his situation around—partly in his lifetime and partly in the life to come when his first ten offspring will be resurrected. Ditto for you and me.

Because both Jesus (Matt. 5:11-12; John 15:18-21, 16:33) and Paul knew that the “world” under Satan’s domination is hostile to godliness, they prepared their followers to endure short-term suffering and hardship in this life that would bring them long-term rewards in the next life. If we want to maximize our spiritual potential, we too must prepare our minds and hearts to live with “PMS” (Persecuted Minority Syndrome). Please listen to the May 2013 WWF teaching, Living with PMS, which elaborates in depth on these indispensable truths.

Only a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ will generate the kind of Christianity we see in Paul, our paramount example of a Christian. The Lord Jesus told Ananias to tell Saul that he was signing up to suffer (Acts 9:15-16), and he did suffer great persecution throughout his ministry. When Paul besought Christ to take it off him, what did the Lord say to him? “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” In other words, when we allow opposition to drive us into the arms of Christ, he infuses us with his strength and we experience his grace, which enables us to go farther than we ever thought we could.

In truth, the “more abundant life” is all about relationships—first with our Father and our Lord Jesus, and then with our brethren in the Body of Christ. As one stalwart saint said to me: “The more abundant life is being in the trenches with Jesus Christ.”

In Colossians 1:24, Paul writes: “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” The Greek word for “fill up” means, “to complete for someone else,” and it appears only here. About this verse, the Holman New Testament Commentary says:

Paul isn’t saying that Jesus’ suffering on the cross was insufficient. Paul was enduring suffering on behalf of Christ. The world hated Jesus Christ; and now that he is not around to persecute, they persecute his followers. Paul’s attitude is: Jesus took the blows meant for me; I’ll take the blows meant for him.Suffering brings about an [intimate] identification with the Savior that nothing else can [see Phil. 3:10].

In 2 Timothy 1:8, Paul encouraged “Timbo” (Rambo’s cousin) as follows: “…join with me in suffering by the power of God.” That aptly describes true Christianity in this world ruled by the Devil and his minions, both demonic and human (1 John 5:19). When we realize that we signed up to stand in harm’s way for Christ’s sake, we are prompted to press deeply into his heart for comfort, strength, and endurance (Matt. 11:28–30). And that is when we can see his mighty hand of deliverance, just like Paul did time after time.

The erroneous “more than abundant life” mentality carries with it the idea of always being “victorious” in the sense of overcoming circumstances, always coming out on top. But that’s not what Scripture is communicating. It’s not about always being delivered from suffering, but instead living with a victorious mindset amidst trials and tribulations. Properly translated, which it seldom is, Romans 8:28 assures us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”

Speaking in tongues [Segment #21 ofOne Day With The Creator] is your indisputable proof that, no matter what happens, you will have everlasting life in Paradise. It is also proof that you are filled with power from on high and that you can heal the sick, raise the dead, and perform miracles. Amidst relentless persecution, that is what the first-century saints did, and that is what we can do today. Biblically, we see that our FAITH plays a huge role in accessing the power of God. Matthew 13:58 (NASB) says that “…[Jesus] did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief [lack of faith].”

Faith (trust) is not a force; faith accesses The Force. Faith is the simplest thing God could require of people so as not to make us robots. Faith comes by hearing and obeying the Word, and one’s faith can grow or become shipwreck. As per Job, Paul, and Jesus, great faith does not totally exempt one from suffering and hardship. Rather, as Hebrews 11:32ff vividly expresses, faith is what gets us through such trials, often with an evident miracle, the possibility of which we never give up on. And the bottom line is that we are assured of the ultimate deliverance, healing, and victory “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear” (Col. 3:4).

In the meantime, the “more abundant life” is about loving and being loved by our Father, our Brother, and our Christian family members. It is about joyous self-sacrifice and interdependence, sharing our own strengths and partaking of the gifts of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is about finding true love in the camaraderie of the committed. It is about understanding that people will either love us or hate us (2 Cor. 2:14-17), and choosing to love those who hate us. Consider what Paul said to the Philippian brethren:

Philippians 1:27–30
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

With the truth of God’s Word and the inherent power of the risen Lord Jesus, you and I can not only endure whatever comes our way, but also manifest the joy of the Lord as our strength. The following verses are an appropriate way to close this letter from my heart to yours:

Acts 5:40–42
40 His [Gamaliel’s] speech persuaded them [sort of—he actually said to let them alone]. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

That is the more abundant life! There is no COEXISTing with evil. Rather, we must meet aggressive opposition with aggressive faith, and count on our GREAT BIG WONDERFUL GOD for all things. Stop for a moment and consider this fun fact: GOD, THE CREATOR, is your FATHER. Think about that, especially if you are a parent. How much do you love your children, and how passionate are you about doing anything you can to help them? Multiply that love by infinity, and that’s how much GOD LOVES YOU. Always remember that your prayers are like sweet smelling incense to God and the Lord Jesus, who absolutely LOVE to hear from you any time about anything.

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