What you expect in life often affects the way you live. At Christmas, families expect to get together, so they make all kinds of preparations. When the weatherman says there is going to be severe weather, people make the necessary preparations. What about the things of God? What has God said and do you prepare yourself for His good works? Or do you just expect “business as usual”?
The Christian life should be one that is full of anticipation and expectation. There was a period of 400 years between the time of the Old Testament and the New Testament. There had not been any notable prophets in the interim, so imagine the buzz when John the Baptist came on the scene. In the first chapter of John, he declared, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). Could it be? Has the time come? He’s claiming to be the one prophesied by Isaiah! Imagine how this stirred Israel with hope and anticipation.
And then it climaxed. One day John shouted: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (vs.29). From that point on the disciples started to gather to Jesus- expecting great things. Later, they would see great things and even do great things themselves. They expected, so they followed.
Then they told Nathanael, and Nathanael scoffed, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (vs.46). Have you ever said the wrong thing at the wrong time, like something sarcastic and the person you were talking about was right behind you? Jesus wasn’t right behind him, but he knew. Nonetheless, he addressed Nathanael as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (vs.47). Such is the grace of God- He does not bring up our sins but speaks good words over us.
Do you expect this? Or do you expect God to be constantly nitpicking at your flaws and failures? Jesus passed over those and impressed Nathanael, and He will you too if you believe.
Jesus revealed that He had seen Nathanael previously and supernaturally. This amazed Nathanael. Then Jesus said, “Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these” (vs.50).
It Should Only Get Better
Great things ahead! Too many Christians start well and get so excited serving the Lord. Then after a while they simmer down and it becomes routine. They sang Amazing Grace and meant it in the beginning, but later their amazement has waned. This should not be! The reason this often happens is because they have no expectations. They do not believe they shall “see greater things than these,” so they fail to pursue them.
Whether you are young or old, spiritually or physically, you are not finished and God has not run out of power! Your best days are ahead. But you will not experience them if you are only expecting the usual or worse.
No longer say, “I’m getting old,” or “this is just what happens when you get old.” Instead say, “Praise God, Moses was healthy and strong at 120 and so can I be!” You have to believe that God is not finished with “greater things than these.” That sounds so contrary to the way life is, but God works differently than life in the natural. He is supernatural and He has put His life in His people. But you have to expect it.
“What if I get my hopes up and I’m later disappointed?” Be brave. That’s a possibility. But as Confucius said, “If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot.”
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). What are the works of Jesus? He set people free, cast out demons, and healed the sick. We can do that too, but so many don’t. They don’t believe. Or they are afraid of failing. Again, why not shoot for the stars? The Scripture has given us a warrant for doing so. You may or may not see results, but you certainly won’t see results if you don’t even try.
William Carey was an uneducated shoe cobbler who became a Professor of Languages, founded numerous schools and translated the Scriptures into 36 dialects. He became known as the father of the modern missions movement. He expressed all of this well saying, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” God used him and God can use you too.
“But I’m…” (fill in the excuse). Yes, perhaps, but I don’t think that can tie God’s hands. Your condition cannot drain the resources of heaven! Trust God!
Expecting in Prayer
Your praying should change. Someone said about prayer, “Sometimes God answers yes, sometimes no, and sometimes maybe.” That sounds so spiritual and so reasonable. It conforms well to our experience. But it is not what the Bible says. The Bible says: For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us (2Cor.1:20).
Instead of begging God and praying “If it be your will…” start praying according to His promises in the Word and make faithful and confident declarations: “Thank you God that you provide for your children! I have a need…Thank you for the provision you have already prepared for me!” It is yes and amen, amen meaning: “so be it.” Start expecting great things in your prayers because He has made great promises in His Book.
At Christmas we remember the amazing event that took place: God came to earth as a little baby. But as amazing as that was, greater was to come! He dwelt among us and healed the multitudes. In all of Israel’s history, that was certainly amazing. But there’s more: He died and rose again! What is more amazing than the resurrection? Yet He didn’t stop there. He ascended to the right hand of the Father and sent the Holy Spirit. And that’s not even the end! His kingdom is coming, a new heaven and new earth which will exceed anything we’ve ever known! I believe that God for eternity will be outdoing Himself with “greater things than these.” I’m expecting it. How about you?