What Do You Expect?
Posted on 08/04/2013 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
LORD i am knocking in your merciful heart please may you be allowed that Garrick David's problem in Malaysia Airport will end quickly and i hope and i pray to our LORD JESUS CHRIST he will get his clearance certificate for his baggage to continued to his journey.LORD please please give him strength and comport in his situation in Malaysia Airport i pray this in JESUS name our LORD.Amen
- Sylvia P.capacite
For our government to make the right choices.
Please pray my financial situation. The subframe on my car is nearly rusted out and the front end will come off when it lets go. So far, can't find parts for it and if not, will have to replace and I don't have the money to do that. We don't have public transportation here.
- StacyAnne Homewood
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
KING OF KINGS
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Jesus, Prince of Peace
Jesus, Prince of Peace
I SURRENDER ALL
All to Jesus I surrender
All to him I freely give
I will ever love and trust him
In his presence daily live
All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at his feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now
All to Jesus I surrender
Lord, I give my self to thee
Fill me with thy love and power
Let thy blessing fall on me
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all
HE IS LORD
For he is Lord, he is Lord
He has risen from the dead
and he is Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
For you're my Lord, you're my Lord
You have risen from the dead
and you're my Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Have you come today expecting something? I think we all have. Maybe you're expecting to hear a mildly interesting message. Maybe you were expecting to feel God during worship. Maybe someone here is a griefer and you're expecting to get some attention, and you just don't know how to get the right kind. Maybe it's your first time here, and you have no idea what to expect. Or maybe you've been coming for the past few months and you're expecting that I'm not going to be the one with a message to share. Or that I'm going to just read one of my past sermons word for word. Which of course I am. Including what I'm saying right now. That's your cue to laugh.
But most, if not all of us, came here expecting something. And chances are pretty high that what you experience here today will be significantly swayed by your expectation.
Even in laboratories, modern scientists have discovered that expectation, intention, and even simple observation, all have an effect on the outcome of their tests.
While Jesus was walking the earth, people came to him with certain expectations. Now, Jesus frequently surprised, shocked, and perplexed the crowd, and left their expectations running and screaming.
But how about the time He visited His home town? The Bible says that Jesus couldn't do any mighty works there because of their disbelief. He had grown up there. And they expected that He couldn't do anything miraculous.
How about the numerous encounters He had with the Pharisees? Sure, He constantly tripped them up, caused them to insert their feet into their wide-open mouths, and even led some of them to secretly believe. But for the most part, the Pharisees came looking for proof that He was a demon-posessed fraud. And that is exactly what they found.
Of course Jesus was neither demon-posessed, nor was He a fraud. But that didn't keep them from seeing Him that way.
How about the disciples? Did they have pre-conceived notions about Jesus? Did they have any false expectations? I mean, they saw the unexpected all the time. Surely they didn't try to put Jesus in a mental box. Did they?
Well, let's think about it. For thousands of years, the Jewish people had been awaiting their Messiah. The prevailing thought of the day was that when the Messiah came, He would overthrow the Roman government and would be their king. They weren't looking for someone to die, freeing them from the bondage of their sins, but someone who would conquer human foes, freeing them from external opression.
And after walking with Jesus for almost three years, Peter revealed this expectation in Matthew chapter 16.
At this point, Jesus had just asked His disciples who everyone said He was. Then He asked, "But who do YOU say that I am?" And Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," to which Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven."
Then, a couple of verses later, we read this:
Matthew 16:21-23 (NKJV)
21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"
23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."
First, Peter received praise because he was judging according to the revelation of the Spirit; a moment later, Peter was called Satan because he was speaking from the same expectation that ALL the disciples had.
But we should realize something here: When Jesus said "Upon this rock I will build my church," he wasn't talking about the man called Peter who he was about to call Satan. Instead, Jesus was talking about the revelation, by the Holy Spirit, of who Jesus Is.
Peter was called "blessed" because he was speaking, not out of human expectation, but out of a revelation of Jesus Christ, that revelation being the firm foundation upon which Jesus would build His Church. In fact, without a personal revelation of who Jesus is, you cannot be saved.
Next, Peter was called "satan" because he was speaking, not out of a revelation of Jesus Christ, but out of human thought and expectation -- expectation which was not in line with revelation of who Jesus was and what He had come to do.
How often do we do the same thing? One moment, we are blessed by heaven because, out of a revelation of who Jesus is, we repent of our sins and give our lives to Him. The next moment, we are speaking out of our carnal minds and human expectations, being presumptuous enough to even attack other Christians who we think are not speaking the words of truth the way we think they should be spoken.
But just maybe... Just maybe WE don't understand.
A few years ago, I ran across a video on YouTube which showed video of a well-known evangelist, and played a secular song for the audio, portraying a powerful time of ministry as a demonic side-show. The video then displayed the words, "Sola Scriptura," which means "Scripture Alone."
The one who posted the video is sincere in her belief that, since the Bible doesn't talk about New Testament Christians falling under the power of the Holy Spirit, at least not backwards (versus falling on their faces), then to see such a thing happen is to see the devil at work.
In essence, they are taking Jesus aside and rebuking him, "This will never happen!" Maybe some people who do this are right. Maybe they are wrong. But if they are speaking out of their own expectations, then just like Peter, they just might be acting as the mouthpiece of satan.
Of course it's much more comfortable for us to put the Holy Spirit in a box. If we have a clear, logical outline in our minds of exactly how the Holy Spirit works, then we don't have to develop true discernment, do we.
Just a quick side-note here about discernment: most discernment I see at work isn't true spiritual discernment. Rather, it's our own human mind resisting something that doesn't conform to our own mental image of how things are supposed to be. It's the same kind of discernment Peter was using when he rebuked Jesus. Maybe some day soon we'll have a refresher on the issue of how to learn to distinguish between the discernment of the Spirit, and the discernment of the flesh.
So we put God in a box. He can't knock a bunch of people backwards during worship, because that exact scenario isn't described in Scripture. Personally, I tend to question the services in which gold dust is reported as miraculously appearing. But just because that doesn't fit in with what I expect God to do, doesn't mean He can't or won't do it. And who am I to take Jesus aside and rebuke Him, simply because something doesn't fit in with my own expectations?
Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He promised to send the Holy Spirit.
Luke 24:49 (NKJV)
49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
Notice that Jesus didn't tell them what to expect. He only told them something was coming.
Now, when the Holy Spirit came, they COULD have said, "Wait a minute... The Holy Spirit is supposed to come as an unexpected catch of fish... or maybe as fish and bread being divided and fed to a multitude... or maybe as all of us walking on the water..." Thankfully, they were expecting the unexpected. And when the unexpected came, they knew it was from God.
Let's read this together.
Acts 2:1-21 (NKJV)
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?
8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?
9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."
12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"
13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."
Now, we would have to admit that none of this was expected. They certainly couldn't have known to expect a mighty rushing wind. Or tongues of fire. Or that they would speak in languages they didn't know. Or that people from every nationality would understand what they were saying.
But they knew that the Holy Spirit would come. And they knew that they didn't know what to expect. And because that first encounter with the Holy Spirit happened in so many unexpected ways, it was a little more difficult to try to put Him in a box in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
We also see the reactions of the people who were NOT expecting the unexpected. They were amazed, wondering what in the world was going on! And, of course, some of them made fun, saying they were just drunk.
Does that sound familiar? Some are amazed at what God is doing, even if they don't even pretend to understand. Others take Jesus, in whatever form He might be taking at the moment, aside and rebuke him for not conforming to how THEY expect him to act. And others just make fun.
Let's continue reading, starting with verse 14:
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.
15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.'
Peter went on to preach a message which was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and over 3,000 people answered that altar call... Over 3,000 people were saved!
Talk about building the Church of Jesus on top of the solid rock of the revelation of who He is! The Holy Spirit was there, appearing in a very unexpected way; and to those who did not stumble and fall because of this, the Holy Spirit revealed who Jesus is and what He came to do, and their lives were forever changed.
The human expectations of the disciples never saved a single soul. But when they allowed the Holy Spirit to work in His own way, free from the confines of their expectations and understandings, then the Holy Spirit did the work that only He can do, which is to reveal who Jesus is and what He came to do. And THAT is what saved over 3,000 people that day.
How often do we try to follow some sort of formula to get God to do something? Maybe if we just pray hard enough, our spouse will get saved. Maybe if we jump up and down a few times, that person at the altar will get healed. Maybe if we sing the right songs, the Holy Spirit will do something in the service. Maybe if we quote the right Scriptures, that sinner will get saved.
God might use some of those things. Or He might work in some way you didn't expect. That's why it is so important for us to break free from the prison of our human expectations, and allow God to be God in His own divine way.
Now that's not to say that we don't hold doctrine up to the Word of God. God won't contradict Himself. And He does not change. But to limit God to our own understanding of how He must work is to, as Peter did, have our minds set on the things of the flesh.
Oh yes, the flesh can be VERY spiritual. In fact, the mind of the flesh has EVERYTHING figured out. And if it encounters something it hasn't figured out yet, just give it a few minutes.
But we should remember what God told us in Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV):
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
How much higher are the heavens than the earth? Well, even at its highest points in the highest mountains, compared to the height of the universe, the earth is not high at all. It is nothing.
That's how our thoughts are compared to God's thoughts, and our ways compared to His. Once we think we have God figured out, we can be sure that we have just entered into delusion, just as much as a mountain would be in delusion if it thought it had reached even one distant star.
And yet, the bottom of the heavens touches the mountains, and even the valleys, just as God reaches down and touches you and me.
Sometimes, just because He touches us, we start thinking we have ascended into the heavens and can understand His mind. We might even think that, because we've seen Him move in our midst, we know how He will move tomorrow, or right now.
That's just as incorrect as the mountain thinking that, because it has danced with the heavens, it knows how the heavens are dancing with the dark side of the moon.
And we, too, as we experience life, we build expectation. And that which does not fit in with what we expect, we resist. Or even condemn.
Some people believe God wants to make everyone rich. And so they resist and condemn their lack of earthly treasures.
Some people believe God wants us all to be poor. And so they resist and condemn any extravigant material blessings.
Some people believe the Holy Spirit will not move upon people in such a way that they fall under His power. Some believe God does not miraculously heal. Some believe speaking in tongues is of the devil. Some believe ANYTHING supernatural is the work of satan, since their understanding of God is that He stopped doing anything unexpected as soon as John finished writing Revelation 22:21.
Other people believe that if people aren't raising their hands, or crying, or falling, or speaking in tongues, then the Holy Spirit isn't moving, or people are blocking His move. After all, the Holy Spirit doesn't move in invisible, non-emotional ways, does He?
And so if they leave a service in which no one got slain in the Spirit, and no one got healed, and no one got saved, and no one cried or shouted or jumped over the pews, then they might say to themselves, "The Holy Spirit wasn't really moving in today's service. I wonder what the people were doing wrong."
Just maybe, the Holy Spirit was moving in ways you didn't expect, ways that are beyond your human ability to understand. Who can know the mind of the Spirit? Who can understand His ways?
After all, the manifestation, or proof, of the activity of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And even these, we tend to judge with human judgment, not through divine revelation.
Even today's message, we will turn around and around with our human minds, trying to fit it in with our expectations, or even trying to change our expectations to fit in with this discussion.
But instead, let's just acknowledge that we tend to always get things wrong, to some degree or another. And that's okay. God didn't create us as humans in the hopes that we would not think and act like humans. Rather, in our frailty, let us recognize just how weak we really are, and instead of trusting in our expectations, instead of trusting in our perceptions, instead of trusting in our own ability to figure everything out, let's put all our trust in God -- and in His ability and faithfulness to work in and through us despite the fact we are sure to get things all muddled up.
God is God despite, not because of, our own efforts. And He will continue to be God regardless of how many times we fail, or how many times we think we succeed.
So today, let us agree in our hearts to let Him be who He is. Our mental definitions of Him don't change who He is or how He works, they only serve to blind us to what He is doing around us, and inside of us.
Lord, help us lay down our own human imaginations, and submit ourselves to the grand adventure of living life in full surrender to your Holy Spirit.
I'd like to open this altar for a time of seeking, and for a time of prayer and ministry.
And you're all invited to get of your seats right now and make your way to the front. If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to instant message one of us, or if you're listening outside of Second Life, you can go to almcyberchurch.org, click the prayer rooms or pastors' offices link, and contact us there.
Whenever you need to leave, you're free to go, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're all invited to make your way up the steps to the room on your left after you're done here, and we'll have a time of fellowship.
Come, and let's surrender our expectations to God, as we allow Him to be who He is, and to do in and around us what He wants to do in the way He wants to do it.
Lord God, we thank you for your word today, and for speaking to us by your Holy Spirit. I ask that you would not allow the enemy or the cares of life to steal away the seeds of life you've planted today, but that they would take deep root and bear fruit in our lives.
We give you permission, Lord God, to do whatever you want in our lives however and whenever you want to do it. May you and you alone be glorified, and help us to always give you all the thanks and praise.