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Great Expectations

The people were waiting expectantly. Luke 3:15

I read about a man who left a relative $1 million. In return, the relative thoroughly cursed the man. The reason—the man was Andrew Carnegie and he left $365 million to public charities. A problem of expectations—he expected more.
          One day a father told his son, “don’t swim in that canal.”
          “O.K. Dad” That evening he came home caring a wet bathing suit.
          “Where have you been?” demanded the father.
          “Swimming in the canal,” answered the boy.
          “Didn’t I tell you not to swim there?” asked the father.
          “Yes, sir.”
          “Why did you?”
          “Well, Dad,” he explained, “I had my bathing suit with me and I
          couldn’t resist the temptation.”
          “Why did you take your bathing suit with you?” he asked.
          “So I’d be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted.”

So, our expectations affect our satisfaction with life and with people and how we act. Therefore it should not surprise us that expectations play a large role in our lives—spiritually.

Notice the first words of our text, “As the people were in expectation.”

It is no accident that promises play such a large role in God’s dealings with people and his plan. Every major event in the history of God’s redemptive action is preceded by a promise. People were told over and over to expect certain actions on God’s part—at times against overwhelming odds.
          God is THE God of Promise,
          His People, THE people of Expectancy

The expectation often had bearing on the event. Expectation has a close relationship to desire and is an element of faith. How much do we want God? What do we expect from him are important factors in our spiritual health.

Even a John The Baptist could not bring spiritual renewal without the people’s response. Someone has said, “The greatest preaching cannot prevail unless the minds and hearts of people reach out with welcome toward whatever it brings of truth.”

It is of course true that what happened was different from the details of what was expected—God’s surprises—but it was believing God would, as we say, “do God’s thing.”

As we have already seen, there are good and bad expectations–we might say holy and unholy ones. The unholy ones, when frustrated, can cause bitterness, disappointment, frustration, and anger. Or they can lead to sin.  Worry is a form of unholy expectation. It was Robert Frost who said, “The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.”

The holy ones, the real GREAT EXPECTATIONS, can make a profound difference in our lives. Three of them are:

EXPECT TO BE RID OF YOUR SINS. John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress) heard a voice: “Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or wilt thou have thy sins and go to hell?” What is of God will be cleansed, what is not will be destroyed.

EXPECT TO GROW. It was Spurgeon who said, “We are not born giants.” Faith begins as a grain of mustard seed, a spark. We are on a long road. There is no sudden success. We experience temporary defeats, partial victories. But expect Christ to take you to another stage in your faith.

EXPECT TO SEE GOD WORK. We can know renewal and ultimately victory. So worship God with heart and mind, and spirit. Tell Him you love Him, praise His glory, His goodness. Keep on singing, praying, listening, believing, expecting.

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