Thursday, 9 January 2014


A new year.

I think after Christmas we often experience a slump, a sense of disappointment that the fun and light and sense of warmth and hope seems to have faded. We are still in the grip of winter and, indeed, the worst of the weather is still to come.

But we do not have to stay in the doldrums. God has given us His son and He has given us life, and the new year can be a chance take stock. We have hope in Jesus: the Bible says that “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed” (Romans 4:12) and Romans 5:2 “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:4-6 says that “character (produces) hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” while Romans 8:23-25 says “...hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

But what is the difference between hope and expectation?

I joined a facebook group initiated by a pastor friend in US, named 42 days of expectation. It has been quite inspiring, especially over the Christmas period. (Sharing some of the contributions)

Expectation is watching for God to act:

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:28 – 32)

Simeon saw not just a baby; he saw who the baby truly was and would become: a man of God who would bring peace between all men and God. Simeon’s years of faithful prayer and devotion to God had resulted in a deep-held conviction that he would see the Messiah, the king who God had promised would come to save Israel. Perhaps Simeon was surprised to find himself declaring that this was not only Israel’s saviour, but would bring the light of understanding to non-Jews as well.

We, too, often pray with firmly held beliefs in God’s power and promises, often with specific requests and answers in mind. Sometimes we may even have a deep knowledge of how God is going to answer our prayers. Most importantly, let us follow Simeon’s example, learning to look at God and see Him for who He is, with a sense of expectation in our hearts.

Expectation is setting our hearts on the right things. What have we set out hearts on having or doing?

Bob says: Scripture: “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21)

Word of Expectation: Your heart is the most important thing about you. It’s the real you, the life granted by God (in His image), destined to live eternally. Your heart has the capacity to hold onto things with affection. Right now, your heart has attached itself to a “treasure.” Jesus counsels us to place eternal valuables in your heart today.

As you spend this day, try to be aware of what you are treasuring. Try this question: What people or things do my thoughts drift toward without conscious effort? (Is it using up more heart-space than I give God?)

God’s Spirit knows our hearts better than we do. Jeremiah says (17:9 – 10) "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

We can ask Him to show us what we are treasuring, with open hearts – because, if you are at all like me, I often don’t want to hear it. But we do want HIM to be our greatest valuable and not chase after fool’s gold. Let us be open to Him so that he may purify our hearts.

This is a risky prayer. Purification may come through humiliation; disappointment; illness. Life’s difficulties and tragedies demand a reorientation of our hearts, seeking God with the right attitude.

Has anyone experienced this? It is often easier to see how others have become refined in the fire than it is to see it in ourselves, but sometimes we do.

Expectation is being thankful...for who God is and what He does. Do we realise how much we have to be thankful for?

Mary was highly favoured with a special calling to give birth to the Messiah. But God shows each of us favour every day and every hour. Yet so much of the time we are not aware of all the ways God is showing us favour. Is your heart beating right now? That’s God’s favour. Take a slow, deep breath. That’s God’s favour. Do you have something to eat today? A place to sleep tonight? Do you have family who love you? A place to fellowship with other believers? That’s God’s favour. And think of the spiritual favour you have received in Jesus. Salvation by grace through faith. The gift of eternal life. Forgiveness of your sins. Each day a new beginning. You and I are favoured.

Praise God

When you work in the 'world' as many of us do, people aren't always nice, circumstances don't cater to how you think they should be, people get hurt or offended, wrongs are done.

But we CAN choose to thank and praise God and expect His joy to radiate from us even when the chips are down, no matter what. We can expect those around us to see His joy and peace that can only come from knowing Him --that sets us apart! We can pray, praise and experience His presence.

So let us look forward this year with EXPECTANT hearts, looking for God to do a new thing:

Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.

Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me. Isaiah 42:18 – 21

And so we pray: Lord Jesus, open our eyes and hearts to truly see you in all your glory. To see you when our eyes have no hope in them and our hearts are hurting; to see you when life is good and we are happy. Keep us looking, Lord. Amen

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