Expected Surprises

by Rev. Thomas E. Engel

2007 April SerachingA few years back, I was facing a tough decision. A friend advised me not to do anything for a while. He said, “Just sit back and let yourself be surprised by what comes your way.”

Some decisions can sit for a while and, before you know it, the answer pops up in front of you.

The Lord has many surprises for us. Sometimes He lets us get in situations where we get unexpected answers. We usually have desired outcomes to our situations, but the Lord may take us in another direction. Making U-turns requires faith in God’s promises.

The best promise the Lord has made to us is that He will save us from eternal death. Read Is. 53:2-7. The people of the day would naturally relate this sacrifice of a man to the animal sacrifices they offered.

  • In what new direction was God taking His people by telling them that a man should now die?
  • How do you think they responded to learning that a man would be sacrificed for the sins of all?
  • Read Luke 1:31-33 and Luke 9:22. How does Luke tell you that Isaiah was talking about Jesus?
  • When Jesus talked of His death and resurrection, what do you think was the immediate response of the people around Him?
  • Read Rom. 5:12-17. How do these verses show the U-turn from heading straight for eternal death because of sin to heading toward eternal life?

Recently, another pastor told me about an Easter children’s message. He asked the children what Jesus might have said when He walked out of the tomb. The children looked at each other with blank faces. Finally, one smart little girl raised her hand as she remembered that day’s Sunday-school lesson about how unexpected Jesus’ resurrection must have been to the women who thought they would find Jesus’ body still wrapped in burial clothes. She shot up her hand and, when the pastor called on her, she shouted: “Ta-daaah!”

Jesus probably did not say, “Ta-daaah!” But He could have. The women were surprised to hear from the angels that Jesus was indeed alive. Before His death on the cross, Jesus told how He would rise from the dead. None of His disciples nor the women who followed Him should have been surprised by His resurrection. But they were.

  • Read Luke 24:1-12 and think about the women’s and the disciples’ reaction to the empty tomb. How could it be that even strong believers are surprised whenever they meet God’s grace and power?
  • How does believing that Jesus died and rose, thereby defeating death, sin, and Satan, help you face your trials in life?
  • Not all of our problems solve themselves. Come up with situations how our brains, good sense, and faith can work together to solve problems.
  • Where in your life do you need to make a U-turn?
  • What can you expect God to give you as you go through changes?

Think how leaving all things to God’s direction can give you confidence to move forward in life.

We don’t have all the answers to life, but we don’t need them, either. When we have Christ, everything will work out for us better than we could ever imagine.

In Christ Jesus, life is full of expected good surprises.

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