I vividly remember the excitement, the joy and the anticipation I experienced on every Christmas Eve of my childhood. I could hardly sleep because I knew there would be something great in store for me the next morning. Those feelings were so strong that I can still sense exactly how I felt. I tossed and turned and moaned and groaned until it was time to open the gifts Christmas morning. I remember leaping out of bed and running to the den to open my presents and the sense of fulfillment I experienced once I realized I had received what I had asked for.
“Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.” If you do not expect anything out of life, you will never be disappointed if nothing happens. Although this statement is not an exact quote from the Bible, it does convey a key Biblical truth. We will examine this truth with an incident involving Jesus’ disciple Peter.
Mark 11:12-14 describes Jesus as He was returning from Bethany and saw a fig tree that bore no fruit. Jesus cursed the tree and said that no man would ever eat of its fruit again. The next morning the fig tree was dried up to its roots. Peter marveled that the fig tree had dried up so suddenly and so completely. Jesus responded by telling him to have faith in God.
By saying, “Have faith in God,” Jesus actually meant, “Peter, what did you expect? Where is your state of expectancy? Did you expect God to do anything less than what He declared?” The disciples heard Jesus when He cursed the tree, yet Peter still marveled when he came back the next day and found that the tree had dried. If God says in his Word He will do something, expect that He will bring it to pass. God is not a liar, he MUST do everything that He declared in His word.
How Low Can You Go?
“What do you expect?” is the question that God poses to the church. God’s heart is broken because He sincerely wants to perform on our behalf, but our level of expectancy is too low. When you pray to God, do you believe that He will answer your prayer? Do you rise from your knees rejoicing and thanking Him for answering your prayer or is your mind filled with doubt? We hear the Words that God spoke thousands of years ago and yet we do not marvel until they come to pass. But, Jesus says to us, “Why do you marvel when you see my Word manifested? You should rejoice when I first speak it!”
What do you expect from God? What do you expect God to do in your life? Peter’s expectancy was very low. Here is a man who had seen Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead and declare His authority to the heathen, yet he did not expect the tree to die when Jesus cursed it. This bothered Jesus and that is why He reprimanded Peter by reminding him to have faith in God.
Peter had no expectancy when Jesus first cursed the tree. Some of us are the same way. Despite what we have already seen him do for us, we have no hope for future flourishing. If God has healed you of sickness before, don’t you think that He will do it again? We read God’s Word everyday and yet there is no expectation. We should jump out of bed everyday like a little boy on Christmas morning. Ask God every morning what He is going to reveal this day through you or for you. Look to the left and to the right expecting to see God in every aspect of your day. Spend your entire day in expectancy and at night thank Him for the marvelous things that He has revealed to you that day.
Lessons From The Desert
Let’s look at the definition of expect. Expect means “to look forward to the occurrence of something with little reservation.” When we expect to get paid on Friday, we send out our bills on Wednesday or Thursday. By doing so, we have already acted upon what we expect to receive. When we are in expectation, we walk about with an outstretched neck looking and expecting to see God at every turn! We expect every situation to be a blessing. We expect to touch lives and to bring people unto Jesus with every word we say. Expect, Expect, Expect! Spend your day at work expecting that you will receive financial prosperity. Spend your evenings expecting that God will send you a mate at any minute.
The children of Israel had seen God perform for them even before they were freed from Egypt. They had seen all kinds of miracles and wonders —- the 10 plagues with which God had cursed the Egyptians and the parting of the Red Sea, just to name a few. God revealed to them over and over again that they were His chosen people. Yet they continued to doubt Him. When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, they wanted to know how long they would remain in the wilderness and what they would eat and drink the next day. They mockingly asked God, “Have you brought us out here to die?”
Despite what they knew God could do, they did not believe Him for future flourishing. Despite the miracles that He had performed for them over and over, they worried for their lives. God has led each of us through our own “wilderness”. He has brought us out before and He will do it again. If you are facing problems in your life, don’t lament that God has placed you in those situations for no reason. Trust in Him and know that He will bring you out.
God was trying to show the Israelites that He was not finished with them when they left Egypt. Their liberation from the Egyptians was just the tip of the iceberg. He wanted to continue to bless them in the wilderness. If God had observed a greater level of expectation, He would have opened heaven up and rained blessings down on His people. Yet the Israelites did not expect God to rescue them.
God provided for the children of Israel throughout their 40 years in the wilderness despite their low level of expectation. What do you think God would have done if they were jumping up and down in excitement waiting on His next miracle? The miracles in Egypt were only a glimpse of what he could do, but since there was no expectancy, God’s hands were tied.
Many of you are sick or you know someone deathly ill. What do you expect — to be well or to go to your doctor the rest of your life in agony and pain taking all kinds of medicines? God says you are healed by the stripes on the back of His son Jesus Christ, and He will meet you at your level of expectation. Many women are lonely and feel their biological clocks ticking. What do you expect — to live the rest of your life with the Holy Spirit-filled man of your dreams or to die alone and unloved? Remember that God blessed Adam with a good thing — a wife. What do you expect — to be free of financial burdens or to live as a slave to credit and debt? God says I take pleasure in your prosperity because you are my servant. Wait only for God and expect all good things to come from Him (Psalm 62:5). Take these words to heart and God will meet you at your level of expectation.
Luke 10:17-20 gives the account of Jesus’ commission to the 70 disciples as he sent them out to preach and teach. The 70 came back rejoicing because of all the power that they discovered they had been endowed with. Jesus said, “Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you” and He was very adamant about it. It was as though He wanted to say, “What did you expect?” We learn from Jesus’ response that the time of rejoicing is not when His Word comes to pass, but when it is first spoken. This marvelous joy that they displayed in verse 17 was not their initial reaction. Your initial reaction when God reveals something to you either by revelation or by His Word should be JOY! Go ahead and thank God for answering your prayers from the moment that your prayers go up to heaven.
The Lord told the 70 to go out two by two and to take no shoes, no money or anything (Luke 10:1-4)! Chances are nobody rejoiced at this point. As a matter of fact, we know that the 70 did not rejoice until they returned to Jesus. The 70 disciples were probably asking, “What are we going to do with no clothes and no money? You mean we can’t take even a change in underwear?” The disciples could not take anything. What if God told you to go on a long trip in the mountains with no money, no heat and no change of clothes? Would you follow His directions or would you just remain at home? Although the disciples did not respond with the level of expectancy that was necessary, they did go out and complete the will of God.
A better response would have been one of expectation. The disciples could have said, “You mean we do not have to take any money or anything? Oh God, you’re going to provide for us everywhere we go? Oh, this is so exciting! You mean you will meet all our needs according to your riches in glory? Oh, Jesus, thank you!!” When God tells you to do something that might be out of the ordinary, rejoice that He has chosen you to complete this task. Thank God that by this experience you will be able to give Him all the honor and the glory.
Because this response was not the one initially displayed, Jesus told them not to rejoice once they returned. He said you should have rejoiced at the moment I gave you the assignment. He wanted them to have great expectancy. He told them not to carry anything because He wanted them to awaken every morning expecting to receive from Him. And, yes, God wants you to awaken every morning expecting to receive from Him. Do not think that you are so self-sufficient that you cannot receive from God; He is the ultimate source of everything that you have. You need God in every situation in your life. Make sure that your hearts and minds are open and expectantly waiting to receive Him.
Many of you are wondering how you will pay your rent or your car note or your insurance but God wants to know where is your expectancy? The Holy Spirit is crying out, “What do you expect from me? Do you expect something less than what I have proclaimed in My Word? Do you think I, God, am a liar? If I said it, I will perform it, If I spoke it I will bring it to pass!! Don’t you know the earth is founded on my Word and in Me there is no lie and no guile in My mouth? Have you forgotten who you’re dealing with?” God wants you to rejoice and thank Him before you see any results, not after you have been convinced by something you see. Thank Him even when you have nothing to go on but a Word from Him.
Watch Your Figure
“Be careful for nothing,” begins Philippians 4:6, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Again, we find that we should thank God before we receive anything. We have discussed Abraham, the Father of Faith, from the perspective of the Book of Genesis. Let’s discuss the response to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac from the perspective of Hebrews 11:17-19.
God told Abraham to kill his only begotten son and Abraham received this command. He was so compliant with this command because he knew Isaac was his promised seed and that all future generations would proceed from Isaac. Abraham said, “OK, I’ll kill him”, but he fully expected Isaac to live. He believed that God would literally raise Isaac up from ashes on the altar of sacrifice if he had to!
Just before Abraham went to the mountain top where he was supposed to sacrifice Isaac, he told his servants that he AND his son would return (Genesis 22:5). Abraham had such a great expectation from God that he told the men to wait and he and his son would be right back! Abraham had a vision, an inner picture, of Isaac being raised from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). That inner picture, which was conceived before God met Abraham’s expectation, convinced Abraham’s soul to wait on God because he knew his expectation came only from Him! I imagine that Abraham paused on that mountain and imagined the end result — his son being revived by God Himself! By being expectant, Abraham anticipated God’s next move and God says this is how you should revere Him.
Play Checkers With God
You must believe that God will meet you at your level of expectation and your inner image will be His manifestation. In a game of checkers, you study the board very carefully, anticipating your opponent’s move before you decide your move. You stare at the board and contemplate, “If I move to the left, he will jump me diagonally twice. I can’t go that way. I better look at my other checkers and figure out which move will be the safest. But, if I can’t make a safe move, maybe my opponent won’t notice and he won’t jump me after all.” As diligently as you study that board and carefully consider every possible move, you should diligently study the Bible very carefully, considering all His Word has to say and then anticipate with a high level of expectation, God’s next move in your life.
Summary — What Do You Expect?
1.Have faith in God. God will perform whatever He has spoken, so increase your level of expectation.
2.Act upon what you expect to receive.
3.Rejoice at the instant He speaks a Word into your life. Don’t wait until it is realized.
4.Act upon the figure, the inner image, of faith that is on the inside of you. Anticipate God’s next move.