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THE POWER OF EXPECTATION - REV. FUNKE EWUOSHO
To expect means to look forward to, to regard as likely to happen, to anticipate the occurrence or the coming of, to look for with reason or justification.
The man at the Gate Beautiful gave Peter his attention, expecting to receive something from them. (Acts 3:5). Though he was expecting to receive alms, he got more than that- he got his legs walking and leaping! A lot of people don"t get anything because they expect nothing. Though God usually goes beyond our expectations (He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or think- Eph. 3:20), He still needs our expectations to work with. He said His thoughts towards us are of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jer. 29:11). David asked, What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? (1 Sam. 17:26). Though David fought against Goliath to remove the reproach from Israel, he looked forward to the reward also! The Bible says the ploughman ought to plough in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in expectation of partaking of the harvest. (1 Cor. 9:9-10 AMP). God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Heb. 11:6). He said, I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek Me in vain"; (Isa. 45:19). The Amplified Bible is more explicit, I did not call the descendants of Jacob [to a fruitless service], saying, Seek Me for nothing [but I promised them a just reward]. No wonder in Malachi 3:14, when the people said it was useless to serve God and wasn"t of any profit that they have kept His ordinance, God said their words were harsh against Him! He said He was going to make a difference between the righteous and the wicked; between one who serves Him and one who doesn"t. God has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant. (Psa. 35:27). Through religious spirits, Satan has lied to people that there are no benefits in serving God and that it"s wrong to serve God expecting benefits; but nothing could be further from the truth than that! The Bible says, Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, (Deut. 28:47-48). The NLT says, If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received. On the one hand, this seems to explain why some people have lost their joy and enthusiasm in their service to God; they have no expectations of any benefits from Him. It also infers that God, indeed, has and does give benefits! The psalmist told his soul not to forget God"s benefits and he went on to list them: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle"s. (Psa. 103:3-5). Also, So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. (Exo. 23:25-26). And, But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from Me. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isa. 54:17 NLT). When we serve or seek God, we can therefore expect these and other benefits He promised us. Jesus said when we give, fast and pray, (as we should), and our Father who sees in secret will reward us openly. (Matt. 6:1-4,6,17-18). Truly, God didn"t ask us to seek Him in vain! Cornelius was a devout and God-fearing man who gave alms generously and prayed to God always. He was told by an angel in a vision that his prayers and alms have come up for a memorial before God. (Acts 10:1-4). The prayers of the saints are offered as incense before His throne (Revelations 5:8;8:3-4), so, they can"t be forgotten. The Bible says, The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (Jas 5:16c NIV). Hannah prayed and made a vow asking for a male child from the Lord and the Lord remembered her. In the process of time she conceived and bore a son whom she named Samuel, saying, Because I have asked for him from the Lord. (1 Sam. 1:19-20). Zacharias was told by the angel that his prayer was heard and his wife Elizabeth was going to have a son that will be named John. (Lk 1:13-14). God never forgets our prayers and our gifts, or anything we do in service to Him, even when we or others have long forgotten; because they are before Him for a memorial! The Bible says, by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, and through it he being dead still speaks. (Heb. 11:4). Paul said the gift the Philippians sent to him was a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Php.4:1819). Hope (expectation) is the cornerstone of Christianity. The Bible has a lot to say about our spiritual hope which, most unfortunately, many have lost sight of! (1 Cor. 15:19). First and foremost is the hope of spending eternity with the Lord! (1 Thess. 4:17). We were saved in the hope of the redemption of our body. (Rom. 8:23-24). The Bible says we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (1 Cor. 15:51-52). As children of God, we have the hope that we shall be like Him when He is revealed, for we shall see Him as He is. This hope has the power to purify us, if we would retain it in us. (1 Jn.1:2-3). We were born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for us. (1 Pet. 1:3-4). Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians that the eyes of their understanding being enlightened; may know what is the hope of God"s calling. (Eph. 1:17-18). The Bible says when we were without Christ, we were also without hope and without God in the world, but, praise God, we now have Christ. (Eph. 2:11-13). This implies we now have hope and are with God in this world! Hope in Christ isn"t therefore, only in the life to come, that is, in the sweet by and by; but also in this present life. The Bible says training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. (1 Tim. 4:8b NLT). The righteous shall also be rewarded on earth. (Prov. 11:31). The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. (Prov. 10:22 NLT). The man who fears the Lord and walks in His ways is blessed; and those blessings are also here in this life! (Psa. 112, 128). The word translated as hope in the Old Testament means: expectation; something yearned for and anticipated eagerly; something for which one waits. It comes from the verb meaning to wait for or to look hopefully in a particular direction. Its original meaning was to stretch like a rope. In Joshua 2:18,21, it"s translated line or cord where Rahab was instructed to tie a scarlet (cord or rope) in her window as her HOPE for rescue. In Hosea 2:15, God"s blessing on His land will transform the Valley of Achor (trouble) into the door of hope. The psalmist said, When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. (Psa. 126:1,6 NIV).
I. THE BASIS OF OUR EXPECTATION
Every expectation must have a basis, a foundation, a reason or reasons. You can"t just randomly expect something from someone or something to happen; there has to be a basis for your expectation. In the New Testament 'hope" is not in the sense of an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking without any foundation, but in the sense of confident expectation based on solid certainty. Biblical hope or expectation is, therefore, based or founded on certain factors:
1. GOD"S WORD AND PROMISES:
The psalmist said, You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. (Psa. 119:114). The expectation of a brighter tomorrow, of good health, of a long and prosperous life etc is based on God"s precious promises. And through those promises, we have become partakers of His divine nature and have escaped the corruption that is in the world. (2 Pet. 1:3-4). We expect answers to our prayers because they are based on the Word of God. Jesus said, If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (Jn. 15:7). The Word of God reveals His will to us and we have the confidence in Him that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 Jn. 5:14-15). Note that it didn"t say, 'we think" or 'wish"; rather it says, we know! The Word of God moves us from the realm of uncertainty, insecurity, doubt and fear into the realm of certainty, assurance, security and faith. Abraham was fully convinced that God was able to perform what He had promised. (Rom. 4:21). God didn"t only promise but also bound Himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that He would never change His mind. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. (Heb. 6:17-19a NLT). The hope we derive from God"s promises and oath to us can be relied on for support, stability, security and mainstay, in times of trouble or contrary circumstances. Jesus said we will have troubles in the world; but we should be of good cheer, because He has overcome the world. (Jn. 16:33).
2. GOD"S CHARACTER
God is just. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (Heb. 6:10). It would amount to injustice on God"s part to forget our labour in Him! The Bible says it shall be well with the righteous, and they shall eat the fruit of their doing (Isa. 3:10); they will also be rewarded on earth; not only the hereafter! (Prov. 11:31). But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord"s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in Him! (Psa. 92:12c-15 NLT).
It is God"s justice that ensures people reap what they sow; either good or bad! Don"t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. (Gal. 6:7 NLT). God is also faithful, so we expect Him to do just what He says! Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Heb. 10:23). The NLT says, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. If we confess our sins, we expect God to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, because He is faithful and just. (1 Jn. 1:9). We can always count on God"s faithfulness at any time to do what He says; knowing that He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thess. 5:24). Moses attested to God"s character saying, He is the Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are law and justice. A God of faithfulness without breach or deviation, just and right is He. (Deut. 32:4 AMP).
3. GOD"S LOVE FOR US
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5:5). The NLT says, And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, God"s love is unfailing; it never ends. God"s love is unconditional; it"s not based on our own goodness, but on His! We can always count on His goodness; the psalmist said, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; (Psa. 23:6b). Another word for love is mercy or compassion. Blind Bartimaeus cried out, asking Jesus to have mercy on him and Jesus healed him of his blindness. (Mk. 10:46-47).
Paul, speaking about Epaphroditus said, For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (Php. 2:27). People often come to God based on their own goodness or some come asking for 'justice" or their 'rights", when they should be asking for mercy! If God would mark iniquity, the Bible says nobody will stand; but thank God mercy triumphs over judgment. God gave Jesus to the world- not because we deserve Him but because He loved the world. (Jn. 3:16). We are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:37). It is through His mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions don"t fail. (Lam. 3:22). The multitudes who had come against Judah were all defeated as the singers began to sing and to praise saying: Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever. (2 Chron. 20:2122). Judah spent three days gathering the spoil because there was so much; there was an abundance of valuables and precious jewellery, more than they could carry away! The Bible says, He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord"s delight is in those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love. (Psa. 147:1011 NLT). We are told to come boldly to the throne of grace, expecting to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16).
4. THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST FOR US
Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole. (Isa. 53:4-5 AMP). Jesus took our place on the cross; He became as we were, so we can become as He is! He became sick, that we might be well. (1 Pet. 2:24). He was broken, that we might be made whole. He became sin, that we might be made righteous. (2 Cor. 5:21). He bore our shame, that we may share His glory. (Col. 1:27). He was rejected, that we might be accepted in the beloved. (Eph. 1:6). He became poor, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich. (2 Cor. 8:9). He became a curse that we might be blessed. (Gal. 3:1314). The curse of the law is threefold; spiritual death, sicknesses / diseases, and poverty; and Jesus bore them all for us on His cross. If we would base our expectations on the sacrifice of Jesus for us, instead of on our own power or holiness, then we could be sure of always being victorious. We can always overcome the devil and his cohorts by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ! (Rev. 12:11).
II. THE FOCUS OF OUR EXPECTATION
The focus of our expectation is as important as the basis or every other thing. If your focus is wrong, you can"t hit the right target. Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame; and is now seated at the right hand of the Father! The Bible says we should consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Heb. 12:2-3). Our focus determines our strength; if you focus on the wrong thing, you are going to become weary and then give up. Satan knows that if you don"t give up, you will win- as long as you are standing on a solid ground. So he, being the god of this world, manipulates things in the natural, including people, just to make you give up! Jesus said people ought to pray and not to give up. (Lk. 18:1). We are told not to grow weary while doing good, because we shall reap in due time if we do not lose heart. (Gal. 6:9). Abraham"s faith wasn"t weakened because he didn"t consider the deadness of his body or of Sarah"s womb. Rather, Abraham considered the promise of God; and he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God. When it comes to biblical expectation, our focus must be God Himself and His Word because He is the source of every good and perfect gift. The psalmist said, My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. (Psa. 62:5-7). If God isn"t your focus, you will be moved by the negative and discouraging things around you. The psalmist said, I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. (Psa. 16:8) Our focus also influences and governs our motives- And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. And whatever you
do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:17, 23-24). If your focus is success, fame, money, etc then you will be driven and motivated by those things. This explains why some folk"s motivation doesn"t last! We must rather be driven by the love of God (2 Cor. 5:14)- and not by the love of money! The Bible says the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. God was Abraham"s focus. He also saw God as his source. He said to the king of Sodom, I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, and he refused to take anything of his, saying, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich" (Gen. 14:22-23). And the Bible says, AFTER THESE things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your Shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great. (Gen. 15:1 AMP). The Scriptures say he who believes in, trusts in and relies on Jesus- the chief Cornerstone, shall never be disappointed or put to shame. (1 Pet. 2:6).
III. REALISING OUR EXPECTATIONS
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12). Truly delay is not denial; but after a long time of waiting and unrelenting disappointment, we all need that good break that can turn our lives around! What then do we need to do or how do we position ourselves, to make our expectations become realities?
A. AFFIRM THE CERTAINTY OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS:
Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off. (Prov. 23:17-18 AMP). The Bible says those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. (Psa 126:5). As long as the earth remains, planting and harvest shall not cease; and whatever a man sows, that also shall he reap! (Gen. 8:22; Gal. 6:7). The Bible says it shall be well with the righteous; because he shall eat the fruit of his doings. (Isa. 3:10).
B. STAY IN FAITH:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1). The NLT says, it is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen! We don"t hope for what is seen, but for what is unseen; and hope that is seen isn"t hope. (Rom. 8:24). And because what we hope for hasn"t yet materialised, we must walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7). To actualise what we hope for, we must stay believing. But if we look forward to something we don"t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently. (Rom. 8:25 NLT) Faith and patience go hand in hand; faith opens the door and patience keeps it open! Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: (Heb. 10:23,35-36). It is through faith and patience that we inherit the promise. (Heb. 6:12).
C. MAINTAIN THE RIGHT FOCUS:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:1618). We must keep looking at the unseen and we mustn"t give up. Moses endured because he saw Him who is invisible! Christ, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. (Heb. 12:2). The Word of God is unseen. The Bible
says, the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Heb. 11:3c). We must, therefore, focus on God"s Word- rather than the contrary evidence around us, if our hope is to be a reality. Proverbs 4:20-23 says, My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. To keep our heart, we must watch what we constantly look at, who we constantly fellowship with and the teachings (or words) we constantly listen to because those things govern our thought-life, and our thoughts influence our outcome in life! God told Joshua, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Josh. 1:8).
D. LEARN TO MAINTAIN YOUR JOY:
Understand the powerful connection between hope and joy! not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (Rom. 12:11-12). The MSG says, cheerfully expectant. Don"t quit in hard times; The secret of not quitting is to maintain your joy. As long as we maintain our joy, no matter what trials we may face, we will abound in hope, instead of giving up! (Rom. 15:13). Joy keeps our hope alive and as long as our hope is alive, we will not be disappointed- and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, (Romans 5:2c-5a). Rather, we will become mature and complete, lacking nothing. (Jas 1:2-4). Amen!
God bless you.