James 1v 6-7 : “but when you ask God, be sure that you really expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
What are expectations? Expectations are the breeding ground for miracles. It is the fertile ground out of which miracles are borne. As we worship and draw close to God in prayer, we bring our needs to Him and trusting God in faith, we expect that breakthrough. Take a farmer for instance, who sows seeds into the ground. He wouldn’t just sow the seeds and go away. He will till the soil first in preparation, then he will sow the seeds and then he will water that ground and nuture that ground until the seeds burst forth in fruit. When he sows the seeds, he does so with an expectation that there will be a harvest. In preparation for that bountiful harvest, he nutures the ground and the seedlings. The farmer is expectant that his actions will yield fruit…he is not hopeful.
Hope and expectations are two different things altogether. It is like when you go into a restaurant. You order lamb chops and when the waiter leaves you don’t nervously bite your nails and hope that the waiter brings what you lamb chops and not a burger. You expect the waiter to serve you lamb chops because that is what you ordered. We serve a living God , not a genie, therefore we pray and believe in faith and don’t wish and hope.
In order to live in constant expectation of God, we must first take note of the following:
- We have to understand God correctly
Child of God, we serve a loving, giving and promise-keeping God. We serve a God of more than enough. Before you pray, say and petition God for anything, ask yourself one important question. Do you trust God? There are many negative influences around you that will make you doubt our loving heavenly Father. How often have we heard someone say, “maybe you should be grateful for what you have and not expect too much.” Talk such as this give rise to all our security and trust issues which cause us to doubt our heavenly Father and his perfect love for us. In order to expect the best from God, we have to believe the best of God. You need to trust God exclusively. When you keep your spiritual life fertile and you draw to God, you begin to understand God’s love for you and His desire to prosper you as His word says. When God says,” give and it will be given unto you,” do you trust God’s word?
- We often get what we expect in faith
Luke 11 v 2-13 : “ and so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You fathers – if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
We often get what we ask for in faith. What are we asking and expecting of God at this time? What is your level of faith? This does not mean that you go down on your knees tonight and beseech God for a Bugatti –“oh Lord can I please have a Ferrari . Lord I would really love to have one please. My neighbour who shows off with his Mercedes will really pop his eyes out when he sees my Ferrari. Please Lord.” Brother and sister, you are really going to be disappointed. Our God is not there to satisfy our selfish whims and fancies. The desires of our heart should not be selfish, but should be an enhancement of who we are in Christ Jesus.
God wants us to have good things. But we must humbly admit that we have needs and we must even be willing, if God directs us to do so, to ask for assistance. We cannot just ask God once for what we desire and then be done with it. We must be persistent and ask God repeatedly, confessing our needs to Him as they arise. We do this repeatedly and persistently because we EXPECT our loving heavenly Father to respond lovingly and perhaps even through the generosity of others. Genuine needs and desires of the heart that will glorify God will make you petition God repeatedly through prayer. Mere fancies that change with each day and which satisfy unholy motives, will cause you to ask of God but not repeatedly , because you have a different desire each time –“ Lord I know I asked you for a two bedroom house yesterday, but Lord I have changed my mind. I would really like to live on that golf estate Lord. All of my family is going to buy properties there Lord. I do not want to be the odd one out.”
To conclude this point, I would like to read the passage scripture from the book of Galations 6v9:
“Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you reap.”
- Whatever we face, keep our eyes firmly on Jesus
Hebrews 12 v 1-2 : “ And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
The circumstances in our lives are continuously changing. Failures, disappointment, ill-health, death and other setbacks often cause us to forget to focus on the saviour. The circumstances cause our eyes to wander away from the face of our Father. Suddenly our expectations of God has dropped – “ Lord I really wanted that 4 door sedan car, but it is ok I will settle for a scooter. That is all I deserve I suppose Lord. The finances are just not coming through.” Just because our circumstances have changed , does not mean that our God has changed.
The illustration in the passage of scripture, refers to the races of ancient Greece, whereby athletes would strip off their tunics and robes, so that they could run unencumbered. If someone tried to run in their robes, they would get entangled and end up losing both the race and the prize. It is God’s will for us to finish the race of life. The entangling robes of doubt and of our recurrent sins need to be laid aside. Running to win calls for exertion, but we are told to pace ourselves and run with endurance. It is helpful to remember, too, that others have also run this same race and finished – despite mistakes, hurdles and negative voices in their head – and are cheering us on!
- We must learn to shut out the negative voices
Mathew 20 v 29-34 : “ As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “ Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” the crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “ Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?” They said, “ master we want our eyes opened. We want to see!” Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession.”
As we see Jesus’ sensitivity to the plight of the two blind men, we are again reminded of how much God cares for those who need Him. There are many around us who will deride and mock us. Those who will make us doubt ourselves and also the power of the God that we serve. The negative committees in our heads and around us can only be effectively silenced through prayerful meditation on the Word of God. Despite the opposition, discouragement and criticism, never let go of the hem of His garment. Never allow these circumstances to drop your expectations of our heavenly Father. When you expect great things from God, you must expect great things from a great God!
- Constantly believe for something beyond what you can manage yourself
Luke 18 v 27 : “ What is impossible with man is possible with God!”
Now this scripture brings to mind the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, which is told in Luke 1 v5-80. They were a childless and quite advanced in age. Like many childless couples who long for children, their unfruitful attempts at conceiving, led them to become terribly disappointed. Any lingering hopes they may have nutured through the years, disappeared as they became advanced in age. They resigned themselves to their fate. When Zechariah was visited by an angel who announced that they would be blessed with a son, he was understandably shocked. He doubted the angels words and was thus rendered speechless until the child’s birth.
When the child was born and Zechariah wrote down the name that the angel had given him, his voice was restored.
Whether God blesses the childless with a child or the helpless with His powerful presence, we see that God is intimately involved in our pain and that He desires to fill the empty spaces in our lives.
What can we learn from this:
- God is fully aware of the disappointments in our lives
- He is intimately aware of the pain of hurting people
- God can use any factor – person or situation to fulfil His promise to us
- NOTHING is impossible with God
God’s priorities stand in stark contrast to the way our world thinks. How important it is, when life seems unfair and does not turn out the way we might have chosen, to realise that God’s ways are higher than our ways.
In conclusion, I would like to say: the fact that Jesus came in the flesh reassures us that our holy and Almighty God is a personal God. God is with us and for us. When we put our faith in the living God, his perfect loves expels all doubt and fear. Therefore live in constant expectation of God, believing for bigger, better and above and beyond all that we could possibly do for ourselves!!
- Bible Challenge 2015
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