sunday sermon

So, the sermon at church on Sunday was a challenge to me. While I am not sure if it had a title, the gist, as I heard it, was the examination of your expectation.

For me, I generally don’t like the concept of “expectation” in the Christan world… I think this is mostly due to my history of being in a more charismatic realm where the common question was, “what are you believing for (expecting) from God?” To which you’d get all kinds of answers… from healing to a new Mercedes. It was really annoying. So, over time I have grown to dislike the idea of expecting things from God. I guess the problem was I could not reconcile expectation and presumption.

Then, as the sermon went on, I began to realize that expectation is not a bad thing. Expectation is simply the knowing anticipation of that which we know will come. So, as a Christian, you can have expectation, however the limit is in the definition itself. The limit (or protection from presumption) is found in the phrase, “…which we know will come.” So, the question we (I) have to ask about expectation is, “do I know it will come?” If I answer yes, then I can be full of expectation for it.

Now, the trick here is to wrestle with the question, “how can I know?” The best answer I have so far is from my notes Sunday morning,

We can only know what has been revealed to us. Those things which God has given us to know, these we can expect.

So, how does God reveal things to us? Right, the scriptures. So, if God has made know to us that something will certainly come, then we can have legitimate expectation for those things. So, with that in mind, I sat out to jot down a few of my expectations… gospel expectations.

Gospel Expectations:

Expectations for my family:

  • I expect that God will be my God and the God of my family (Genesis 17:7, Acts 2:39, 1 Corinthians 7:14)

Expectations for struggles in life:

  • I expect that I will have tribulation in this world, but Jesus (my help and hope) has overcome the world (John 16:33)
  • I expect that God will use my trials and struggles to aid others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Expectations for my relationship before God:

  • I expect that God will forgive me of my sin (1 John 1:8-9)
  • I expect that I can not get to God by my own effort but that he will have to come get me (Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:1-10)
  • I expect that the result of the above will be seen in good works that he has prepared for me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 2:10)

Expectations for my livelihood (aka, money):

  • I expect that if God has clothed the flowers of the field and fed the birds of the air, then he’ll take care of me (Matthew 6:25-34)
  • I expect that if I am rich or poor, hungry or well fed, that I will be more than ok because of Jesus (Philippians 4:11-13)

Expectations for evangelism:

  • I expect that I can not reconcile anyone to God, but that God will cause the seeds that I plant and water to grow as he sees fit (1 Corinthians 3:5-7)
  • I expect that only one message will change people’s life and that is the only message I have to offer them (1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 1 Corinthians 9:16)

So, what about you? What are you’re Gospel expectations? Drop some in the comment section. The list I just gave was only a start for me. Like I said, I haven’t had any expectations until now… But I’m starting to get excited about the idea of gospel expectations. So, please share some of yours.

2 thoughts on “sunday sermon

  1. Do you mind if I challenge your theological stance a little bit? I’m not sure how you are so concretely coming to the conclusion that you can only “expect” what you “know is going to happen?”
    I believe that God has chosen to execute His will on earth through man. He gave dominion/jurisdiction to man. This is actually the basis of why we pray. We certainly don’t pray for things that “we know would happen” even if we didn’t pray. God acts through His agents on earth, mankind. The essence of true, new testament prayer, as taught by Jesus is to be the channels through whom His kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    God speaks. Everything He speaks is full of promise and direction. When He speaks to me I then have faith to pray for what He has said, and pray believing that what I am asking is going to happen. I might say that I am just as confident that if I do not make the deliberate choice to believe, it WILL NOT HAPPEN, at least not for me.
    Jesus commended many during His time on earth for their faith, suggesting to them that it was because of their faith that a particular miracle had just taken place in their life. I think we can build a very strong argument that these people were not merely expecting what they “knew was going to happen.” They were expecting from God what was capable of happening, based on His nature, character and will. Our faith in God’s Word (not just the written scripture, but the revelation, the Word made alive in us) is what releases the manifestation of His will onto earth.
    In a practical sense; when I gather with my church family to worship and praise God I expect to meet with Him. By that I mean that I expect to come into a place of nearness to God that I will come into a greater, conscious awareness of His presence and hear clearly His communication to me and the people I have been called to. I do not “know” that this is going to happen. In fact, I know that unless I deliberately engage my faith for what can happen- entering His manifest presence, experiencing His nearness- it will not happen. We will just wind up with more music, clapping, singing and no Him. The same happens when you pray over someone. You expect God to show you things that He desires to communicate/expresss to the person. He then may show you in one way or the other, which gives you the ability to pray spirit-led prayers, or share what you feel the Lord is saying to the person. If you do not deliberately engage your faith in such a way, I find you do not access the manifestation of that reality.
    Expectation is not just the for the inevitable, ie. the Lord’s return, it is primarily for the possible, as revealed to us by His Spirit.
    It is both beautiful and mysterious that God has chosen man to be His ambassadors on earth, His co-laborers, His agents, and He will not fulfill His purposes on earth but through man, which is the ultimate calling of the Church.
    I believe that in a place of yieldedness to God, not to our flesh (“I’m believing for a Mercedes”) we can expect to hear God’s voice directing our lives, and as He speaks it is then our responsibility to actively believe, take measures to express our faith in what has been revealed. Our deliberate choice of faith makes us a spiritual bridge linking what God has intended in heaven to earth. Thus His kingdom comes, and will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

  2. Wow… that was a long comment. Sounds like someone needs a blog :o)

    First, wow, thanks for all that. I think I’d agree that I might be a little too concrete with the expectation = knowing it is going to happen. A closer look at the definition of expectation shows me that expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” So, yes, expectation doesn’t require 100% knowledge of its certainty.

    That said, I think the real issue of the post was dealing with the issue of presumption. I think, far too often, we are presumptuous in our prayers before God. We presume certain things that may or may not be God’s will. We might “believe” that God wants to do XY&Z for us and we “believe Him for XY&Z.” We then pray and believe according to this presumption of God’s will. In the end, when God doesn’t answer this pray we get really confused. Presumption has led us astray.

    My point in the article was to say, “What can we have a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future?” I would argue that the only sure way to have this certainty is through the revealed will of God, namely Scripture. Now, this is not to disregard subjective experiences… however, subjective experiences are a lot less stable than God’s word. So, I guess I would rather cling tightly to what I know 100% to be God’s word and revelation than to what could just be my own wishes, will, or desire. So, I have great expectation for what God has revealed to us in His word… things I believe he has “spoken to me” I hold with a little less ferocity… This is the reason I listed my “expectations.” I believe that all those things in my list are God’s revealed will. With that assurance, I can have “a strong belief that they will happen or be the case in the future.”

    I guess I’ll close with your example of the worship service. You say that you must “deliberately engage your faith” and that “unless I deliberately engage my faith for what can happen- … – it will not happen.” I guess this is exactly my point… this issue in this example is that you don’t have to engage your faith for what can happen, but rather you can engage your faith for what God has said will happen. His word, not or works, then becomes the ground we stand on. We aren’t standing on this shifting sand of our ability to believe “something” can happen, rather we stand on the solid ground of what God has promised will happen. I am not saying faith isn’t needed, “for whatever is not of faith is sin.” Rather, in what are we placing this faith? So, we enter a worship service with the knowledge that God has said, “where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there with you” and we have faith that God’s word is true and that we have entered the place of His presence.

    One last comment to wrap it up. You said, “we can expect to hear God’s voice directing our lives, and as He speaks it is then our responsibility to actively believe, take measures to express our faith in what has been revealed.” My point, as stated above, is that we most clearly hear God’s voice in His inspired words to us in the Scriptures. Basing our faith and lives upon that will protect us from presumption and potential false hope. If I were to err, I would much rather err in that direction.