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Embed code for: Advent Week 1: Expectation
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The relationship between faith and expectation
Expectation Luke 1:26-45 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed, for there shall be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Everyone who has any degree of familiarization with Christianity will know of Gabriel’s visit with Mary. It is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide salvation to all mankind. His intent was to first provide this new life to those who had earned the privilege of being His chosen people. But the Jews were more intent on keeping peace with their captors and maintain their position in the community. After their rejection, God made His offer of redemption to the rest of the world. Thus the great tragedy became that the Jews failed to recognize the very hope they had been waiting for throughout many generations. Webster’s Online Dictionary defines hope this way. It is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. The Greek word elpizo, which is translated as hope, is defined as expectation. Expectation and faith, though similar, are not the same. True faith is always accompanied by expectation. The one who believes the promises of God expects to see them fulfilled. Where there is no expectation there is no faith. It is, however, quite possible for expectation to be present without faith. The mind is quite capable of mistaking strong desire for faith, what some call “hope-so faith”. Indeed faith apart from God is little more than desire mixed with optimism. We’re not talking about “positive thinking” faith which is said to create a positive as opposed to a negative mind. Real faith is not the stuff dreams are made of; rather it is tough, practical, and altogether realistic. Faith sees the invisible but it does not see the nonexistent. Faith engages God, the one great Reality, who gave and gives existence to all things. God's promises shape our reality, and whoever trusts them enters a world not of fiction but of fact. Science teaches that we arrive at truth by observation. Whatever can be verified by experiment is accepted as true. Carnal man believes the report of their senses. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. And if its eggs hatch into little ducklings the test is complete. Probability gives way to certainty; it is a duck. This is certainly a valid way to deal with our environment. No one dares to complain about it because everyone does it in some form. It is the way we manage to relate to this world. But faith introduces another radically different element into our lives. "By faith we understand" are the words from Hebrews 11:3 that lifts our knowing to a higher level. Faith engages facts that have been revealed from heaven and by their nature they often do not respond to scientific tests. The Christian knows a thing to be true, not because he has verified it in experience but because God has said it. His expectations spring from his confidence in the character of God. Expectation has always been present in the church in the times of her greatest power. When Mary believed, she expected, and God never disappointed her. "blessed is she who believed, for there shall be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." (Luke 1:45). Because she believed what God said, God brought it to pass. Every great movement of God in history, every extraordinary advance in the Church, every revival, has been preceded by a sense of keen anticipation. Expectation accompanied the operations of the Spirit always. His miracles hardly surprised His people because they were gazing expectantly toward the risen Lord and looking confidently for His word to be fulfilled. His blessings came according to their expectations. The Jews lost that expectation as Jesus lamented in Luke 19:41-44, 41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” They had corrupted the words of the prophets and no longer were looking for God’s promise but rather were looking for a savior of their own creation. Because of that they totally missed the Blessing of God when He came. One characteristic that hinders the church today is lack of anticipation. Christians when they meet do not expect anything unusual to happen; consequently only the usual happens, and that usual is as predictable as the setting of the sun. A psychology of non-expectation pervades the assembly, a mood of quiet boredom. Paul wrote to Titus, 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14) We need today a fresh spirit of anticipation that springs out of the promises of God. We must declare war on the mood of non-expectation, and come together with childlike faith. Only then can we know again the beauty and wonder of the Lord's presence among us. Jesus is coming again. Do we, as Mary, look for it with great expectation? sed to a negative mind. Real faith is not the stuff dreams are made of; rather it is tough, practical, and altogether realistic. Faith sees the invisible but it does not see the nonexistent. Faith engages God, the one great Reality, who gave and gives existence to all things. God's promises shape our reality, and whoever trusts them enters a world not of fiction but of fact. Science teaches that we arrive at truth by observation. Whatever can be verified by experiment is accepted as true. Carnal man believes the report of their senses. If it walks like a duck,