Great Expectations

Keith Crosby

"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."  Psalm 119:18

A healthy relationship with Jesus Christ takes work on our part.  A healthy relationship with Jesus Christ (or anyone else) requires communication.  Communication takes work.  Communication not only involves talking to a person, but listening to that person.  Communication is a two way street that involves talking and listening. We speak to God through prayer (prayer is talking to God).  God speaks back to us through His word, the Bible.  If you want to know what God thinks, what God wants, or what God expects of people in general and you in particular, then read His word.  In other words: listen to Him.

Have you ever had someone in your life that talked your ears off always telling you what was on their mind, what they were up to, and what they wanted from you, but who never took the time to know your thoughts or even asked what they could do for you?  Sometimes, that’s the way people treat God.  They are like walkie-talkies with the button stuck on transmit, always on “broadcast” but seemingly never on “receive.”  These folks are always transmitting data but never receiving any data, knowledge, or wisdom.  The same can be said of you and I if we fall into the trap of praying without studying God’s word.  We fall into the trap of talking, but not listening.  Communication is a two way street and you cannot enjoy a relationship with God to the fullest extent possible in this earthly life if you do not listen to Him by reading His word.

You might be inclined to say, “Well, Keith, I’m just not a reader.”  I don’t mean to sound harsh, but don’t try that excuse on your spouse on Valentine’s Day by not reading the card they send you.  Don’t try that excuse on your boss when he or she sends you a memo about day’s off, company policy, or work rules.  Don’t tell that to the judge when you skip reading your jury duty summons.  Such an excuse won’t work with people and it can’t work with Jesus.  If you are not a Bible reader, if you don’t want to read the Bible, if you don’t want to know the will of God, or the mind of Christ, then maybe you should re-approach listening to God in this way with a different attitude.

Maybe you’re approaching the word of God as a dull chore rather than a great joy.  In the longest recorded prayer in the Bible (Psalm 119), King David, during a time of personal upheaval, expresses his joy at  being able read God’s word to receive God’s counsel.  “23 Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. 24 Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119: 23-24)  From these two verses, you can see the importance David placed in his Bible reading even under the most difficult (and potentially most deadly) of circumstances.  Given his circumstances, David understood the importance of receiving wisdom from God. Where did he go to get wisdom?  These verses indicate that David meditated on God’s statutes in this difficult situation.  He indicates that God’s testimonies are his delight and his counselors.  His testimonies and statutes refer to the written word of God.  You see, all of Psalm 119 is one giant prayer to God about the importance of reading and understanding God’s word.  It is both a prayer of request and thanksgiving.  David is speaking to God through prayer and expectantly looks forward to God is speaking back to David through His word, “23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,  your servant will meditate on your statutes.  24 Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”

How healthy of a relationship did David enjoy with God?  God called David a man after God’s own heart.  Can this be said of me and you?  Or do we talk too much and listen too little?  Remember, prayer is talking to God.  Reading God’s word is listening to what God says.  We talk to God through prayer and He speaks with us through His word. Are you listening to Him as you should?  Are you listening often, and daily?  

Whether you are a strong reader or not, you cannot afford to neglect the reading of God’s word.  If you are having trouble getting started or sticking with it, maybe it’s time for a spiritual attitude adjustment.  What’s the first and vital step in reading and understanding (listening)?  Pray and read with great expectations.

In Psalm 119:18, David models for us the right attitude toward reading God’s word---great expectations.  He begins by asking God to open his eyes to the big stuff: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” He has great expectations regarding what he might find in God’s word: “wondrous things.  And along with David’s great expectations and prayer for understanding, we find his humble acknowledgement that he, David, will have to dig diligently: “out of your law.”  With this phrase and with the verses that follow, David acknowledges (and in so doing teaches us) that listening to God by reading His word takes work because we have to diligently dig into it.  We read (listen) by looking beneath the surface for marvelous things.  We don’t just casually read it to check off our Bible reading “obligation.”  No, we excitedly approach it with great expectations, asking God to help us see into the depths of His wisdom and His ways, even “meditating” on it (v. 23).

If you want to listen to God and grow in your relationship with Him, then  read His Bible with great expectations. Take your time and seek to see, seek to dig, and extract extraordinary truths for everyday living as well as in handling difficult circumstances.  Pray to God expectantly before you read.  Ask Him to open your eyes to all He wants you to see.  Read and “listen.”  As you read (listen),  ask yourself these questions, “What does the text say, what does it mean; and what do I do?”  And then listen intently because communication is a two way street and your relationship with God requires you to actually and actively listen to Him as He speaks to you through His word.  Listen as God speaks through His word.  You’ll be glad you did.

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