Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT)
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
What do you expect? I mean really when you came to Jesus Christ, what was your honest expectation? What did you look forward to? What did you think was likely to happen? Did you anticipate a certain occurrence or outcome? Expectancy is an attitude of hope. It is in the beginning stages of building a confident relationship with Jesus Christ. We all enter the arena of life with certain expectations based on experience. Those with little experience usually have greater anticipated outcomes because they are naïve to the probabilities of life. No child wants to grow up to be homeless, a panhandler or a convict. Life happens. For some it defines the outcome before they reach their full potential. Expectation without hold will not take us very far. Hope makes human expectation probable.
We attended a wedding last night. It had all the makings of a modern day fairytale. A beautiful princess bride walking down the aisle to meet her waiting groom followed by a wedding feast of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese with wedding cake. It was a southern event. At the end of the night, the happy couple hopped in a horse drawn carriage and rode off into the night. For the other young ladies waiting for their “prince”, it was the kind of story they dream about. But the couples who have been married for longer than a week know that the days of head while wonderful will pose challenges to the ones who choose to endure. It is all fun and games until someone’s dirty clothes are on the floor, the toothpaste is smashed down the middle or the toilet roll is on backwards. Everything was supposed to be perfect and happily ever after. At least that is what we thought it would be like until the day of “I Do!” Oh, please don’t get me wrong. I married the love of my life. We have been together well past a decade. I would do anything for my man. But my expectation of marriage is a little different than it was on during the honeymoon phase. There is a reason for the words “until death do we part.” Marriage is defined by love. Love is not an emotion but rather a commitment. The couple looked into each other’s eyes lovingly and longingly but did they hear the pastor define “love” according to I Corinthians 13. Love is patient. Love is kind. And so on. So I ask you again (and me as well), what did you expect when you came to Christ? Do you feel the same way now? Or somehow jaded have you drifted back into “reality”? We are to live in great expectation.
The young couple who got married are now in the midst of a transition, where the rubber hits the road so to speak. Marriage is a process of conveying our trust to another. Without trust, a marriage will quickly fall apart. The expectations that people have when they are united will often change over time. This is not a bad thing. It is a life thing. Our expectations are often defined, molded and shaped by experience. When we encounter Jesus Christ inviting Him to live with us and in us as our Lord and Savior, the expectations that we have are often not the reality of the hope that we have found. At first, things may seem as though nothing has changed. Often it will look like things become increasingly more difficult in the process as the enemy brings hell against us in order to try to separate us from the love that we have found. True love is commitment. Without a commitment to Christ, one will never experience the fulfillment of their expectation. After years of “serving” God, Saul finally met the Lord and went on to become Paul. He gave up religion for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Gone were the fancy dinners and rich lifestyle of the old man, as it gave way to the one who lived as the man who would say, “I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed…” The same man who would write much of the New Testament from a jail cell and bound in chains. He went on to say that because of the great expectation and hope that he had found that he would “continue to be bold for Christ.” So what about you? Do you live with great expectation? Do you have confident hope?
Proverbs 10:28 (NLT)
The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.
Coming to Christ must change our expectations. We must change what we anticipate the outcome to be because the Lord does not change. The expectations of the “wicked” come to nothing. The “hopes” of the godly result in happiness. The difference in our expectation is hope. Hope defines the outcomes in our life. Before we came to Jesus, we were dying so no matter what happened everyone had the same ending. However, by accepting Jesus as our Savior AND Lord, we now have the potential for a totally different outcome defined by hope. We must have confidence in the Lord to put our trust in Him and change our expectancy. God did not predestine you to have a good life but to have a glorious life. There is a difference. We will lower our expectations many times to experience immediate gratification. But God will never lower His Standards for us, no matter how much we bed. He has a great plan for us with a future and hope. He has already provided for every single need. The Lord has decided to do more than we can even think to ask for. With all this in mind, we must raise our expectancy until we expect nothing less than God’s Best.
Psalm 119:130-131 (NLT)
The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.
To pant with expectation and longing for the Lord’s Commands may seem a bit extreme, that is until you desire something from Him. Today is September 11th. This is the day etched in American History when our homeland security was comprised. We did not engage the enemy on foreign soil but he snuck in and attacked us where we live. Game changer. Just try to catch a flight with too many ounces of shampoo and conditioner or make a pass through the x-ray machine with rivets in your jeans or an underwire bra and see what happens. When the twin towers fell, something changed around us. People began crying out to God for help. Suddenly life and death took on new meaning as a threat arose in our midst. God’s Word is the go-to for people when threatened with a problem that they cannot handle or when their feel their life is in danger. When our son was first diagnosed, I didn’t just bow my head and say a quick healing prayer. No sir, I busted down the door to His Presence, armed with His Word and fully convinced that this was not in His Plan.
How did I know God would heal our son? How did I know what to expect? How do we know what to expect as believers? What is realistic? What is required? When our son was diagnosed with a terminal disease, I knew where to go because I had been there before. Our youngest daughter developed rapid onset asthma as a toddler. I knew nothing about faith’s potential at that time. I didn’t really even know the Word of God. I had heard that the Lord was our healer, but up until that moment really had no need to trust Him in that area of our life. Over the next several months, she got worse and worse. Our family was turned upside down by her illness until the day that the Lord touched her body and healed her in an instant. Her illness required more than six medications to give her a few hours of relief. The doctor warned us that this would be a “forever” thing for her. God said, “No!” The doctor wrote “forever” on his prescription pad and underlined it. Something inside of me snapped as Heaven and hell collided. The enemy had overstepped his bounds and the Lord swiftly took care of it. During the course of her illness, I devoured the Word regarding healing and wholeness in Jesus. I prayed for more faith to believe she would be healed to fortify my hope. When the test was over, she was completely healed and it has been more than a decade. Our son would battle cancer five times. He entered the realm of hope because no one survives that many rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He did. It has been over a year. I fully expect the Lord to take care of my children because that is my experience…now.
The Word of God is the definition of our hope in Christ. We must know what God allows and disallows to know what to expect in life. The world will tell us something different. We must learn to live in and by the Word of God. It will change our expectations and align them with His Will which is always for a higher standard of living – a glorious one.
2 Kings 5:10-14 (NLT)
But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
Naaman had a problem. He went to the Lord through the prophet Elisha. Naaman expected the man of God to come lay hands on him and call on the Name of the Lord to heal his leprosy. Well, that is not what the Lord planned. When Elisha told Naaman to go wash in the dirty river called Jordan, he flew into a rage. He was ready to remain in his infirmity rather than swallow his pride and be obedient. Not only that, it seemed too simple. It was anticlimactic. Naaman’s human expectation almost caused him to remain in his current state. This happens to us all the time. We think believing in Jesus is too simple. Calling on the Name of the Lord not enough. We are not confident in our hope so we try other things to help God out. We use words like “but” and “if”. Your relationship to Christ is clearly defined by His Word and reinforced by His Spirit. If the Lord tells you something, you can count on it hanging on every single word. Do you? Believers must make words like “but” and “if” obsolete in their vocabulary concerning the Lord. If God said it, He meant it. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. We must simply know the Word of God and obey it to change every outcome in our life big and small. This is what it means to live with great expectation.
Matthew 24:42-47 (NLT)
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.”
The faithful, sensible servant lives by what he believes. He lives expecting the return of his master and thus preparing for his arrival at any moment. Do you live in expectation of Christ’s arrival? I’ve got news for you. He comes to us every day when new mercy allows us to draw near. His Grace is enough to allow the holy inhabitation of Jesus to permeate our existence now AND forever. We do not have to wait to stand before Him to experience the reward of confident hope. The faithful servant did a lot of things for the master. The only difference between this servant and the other one in the story is that the faithful and sensible servant lived in great expectation of his master. He did not want the master to arrive to a state of disarray where his estate was out of order. He lived expectantly. Do you live in full expectation of Christ’s arrival every single day? The Lord lives in us. He sees our heart every single day. He hears every spoken and unspoken prayer and longing that we have. He wants to meet us here but is our life in order. Are we ready when He comes? Do we live what we believe? What would happen if we chose to live each day in great expectation and confident hope that created an inviting place for our Master in anticipation of His Coming? The Master will put us charge of all He owns. You want to see your hopes and dreams fulfilled? So do I! The key is take God’s Word and live obediently always anticipating the arrival of our Savior, Lord and Master – Jesus Christ!
I Peter 1:2-5 (NLT)
God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
My advice to the young couple who got married last night. Put your expectation in Christ alone not your partner, He is the hope that will cause your marriage to grow and prosper. His Love is enough to allow you to love each other despite every imperfection. To those who will remember September 11th and the tragic events of that day, put your expectation in Christ and not the security of this world. The world came together for a single day. It doesn’t have to be like that only when bad times befall us. Just as those two towers exploded and crumbled, this life is fragile and on the verge of collapse under the weight of sin and darkness. There is hope. His Name is Jesus. The Light of His Love can change every outcome in our life. We are to live with great expectation. It is called confident hope. The only requirement is faith that believes our Master is indeed coming.
James 1:6-8 (NLT)
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.