January 9

What Do You Expect?

Philippians 1:19-20 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

When we hear “What did you expect?” it’s normally a mildly cynical response to our hope or expectation that something positive would happen, and it doesn’t. But the present-tense version—“What do you expect?”—is a powerful question, and one we should wrestle with from time to time.

We can claim to believe; we can claim to have faith. And there are many things we do believe, and deeply. We believe that His sacrifice on the cross has paid for our sin. We have faith that Jesus is the only way to heaven. We believe that He lived a sinless life, rose from the dead, and is coming again.

Yet these are past and future events. How about now—today? What do you really believe as you face trials and challenges, or as life moves you into a new season? What we really believe is what we expect down in the bottom of our hearts. According to John 6 (above), it is work to believe, and it is the work we are called to. We can’t take it lightly, nor can we assume that because we “believe” in general that we truly, profoundly “believe” every particular.

For instance, all good Christians say they believe that God works everything together for good, but some secretly expect that things won’t really work out at all. We say we believe Jesus when He said “It is finished,” but then some of us keep looking at trials as punishment (when Jesus took all the punishment we deserved); some sadly “expect” that God needs more from them to take care of their sin. We “hope” that God loves us and is for us, but secretly, down deep, we expect Him to ultimately be disappointed in us, and forsake us like people in our lives have done.

We shouldn’t expect that He will do things the way we want all the time, of course, or the way we envision things panning out. But there are things we can work to expect if we don’t believe them now: We can expect God to be faithful. We can expect God to hear our prayers, and that He is answering them somehow—saying yes, no, not yet, or I’m working on it and give me time and let Me do it My way. We can expect that He will work everything together for our good as we love Him and walk in His ways.

Check your heart. What do you really expect with God as you continue your walk through the ups and downs of life? What we really believe at any moment is what we really expect. The good news is that as we press into God, the expectations of our hearts will align more and more with the faith of our minds and lips.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be real with my faith. Show me what my expectations are as opposed to what I say I believe, but might not believe deep down. Touch my heart to expect in truth and in trust.

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