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A Confident Expectation

September 1, 2011

There is nothing wrong with expectations.  Now listen, there might be something wrong with some of the expectations that you have…if you expect to be rich and powerful, or expect everyone to capitulate to whatever whim, or desire you have…those are more an issue of idolatry than expectation.  And Exodus 20:3 leaves no room for idolatry when God says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  But expectations are a part of faith…an essential part of faith.  Without expectations, faith finds itself rather meaningless, and at best impotent.

 Pause from the daily schedule, take a moment, and read through Acts 17:1-15 today.

 If you track Paul on his second missionary journey, and particularly Luke’s recording of it in the text, you’ll notice that Paul has developed sort of a system for evangelism.  Now in Philippi, he had to break from that system because of the nature of that city and the challenge that it provided.  But in every city that he travels to, the first place we hear of him going, is to the local synagogue.  Verse 2 points this out when it says, “And Paul went in (the synagogue), as was his custom.”  He understood that there was a distinct possibility that in presenting the Gospel to those who were at least seeking, the Spirit might bless that preaching, and move in their hearts.  I guess what I am telling you, is that when Paul went in to preach…he had expectations…confident expectations.  Essentially, he had faith.

 In our text today, he’s in Thessalonica, a major city of the time, a city with a population somewhere around two-hundred-thousand people at the time.  And when he gets there, it says that for three Sabbath days, he “reasoned with them from the Scriptures.”  Here’s our first application.  Not only did Paul have expectations…he was prepared.  Every time that a survey is done among Christians as to why they don’t share the Gospel, the number one response is because we are afraid that we don’t know enough.  We’re afraid that we’re going to sit down with a friend, forget what the beads on the bracelet stand for (if you grew up in the 90’s, you know exactly what I mean), they’re going to ask a question that we don’t know an answer to, and then they’ll laugh at us, and leave us sitting there, wallowing in our own ignorance.  Let me say this; you might be justified in thinking that, because, you might truly be unprepared.  Paul knew the Scriptures.  He knew that the promise of a Godly seed in Genesis 3:15 was pointing to Christ.  He knew the story of Abraham and Isaac…the “Where is the lamb?” story pointed to Christ.  He knew the serpent that Moses lifted up on a pole pointed to Christ.  He had expectations…and he was prepared.  The simple questions are; why don’t we…and why aren’t we?

 As he moves into Berea, he encounters another culture, a culture that Luke calls, “more noble than those in Thessalonica.”  The people of Berea were anxious to hear, but also meticulous in their desire for true understanding.  Verse 11 says, “They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  This is incredibly convicting to me.  All too often, I’ll listen to a sermon, or read a Bible commentary, and that will be it.  I take it in…I sort of ingest it…but I rarely, if ever, test it.  Luke’s driving home a point here.  He’s giving this example for us to follow.  The Bereans represent something that has been lacking in our American, sub-cultural Christianity far too long…diligence in faith.  And listen…don’t take my word for it…look to the text.  Christianity is not a text of one’s ability to stay awake each week during a sermon.  Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ…a Christian is a “Christ-one.”  The Bereans took that seriously…we should too.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Alba Eckstrom permalink
    September 2, 2011 9:26 am

    Wow, Adam! This is enormous. I love your statement – “…Without expectations, faith finds itself rather meaningless, and at best impotent.” (I’m going to pirate that!)

    • September 2, 2011 10:04 pm

      You are free to use that any time you want. Thanks for the comment. I think the topic of faith is one of the most glossed over in the church…sort of a blanket assumption…while a lot of the time it’s exactly what is missing.

  2. andy towson permalink
    September 9, 2011 12:55 pm

    I agree Adam…Heb 11:6

    • September 9, 2011 3:23 pm

      “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

      Great verse Andy…there is no reason that we should see those in the “roll call of faith” as characters. They were people…chosen by God…who lived by faith. And the world was never the same…

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