For the last several Sundays we’ve been talking about what the Church is. For years we have had the how discussions and they are effective. I believe that they will be much more effective when we understand the reasons behind why we do what we do. As I told FBC, “I don’t question your love for the Church. I want us to understand why we love the Church so much.”
This last week we talked about the Church as a place of expectation. We looked at John’s ministry in Luke 3 and how his preaching created great expectation (3:15) among the crowds. Everyone was asking what should be done to get right with God. After spending some time with this text I asked our congregation a simple question, “What do you expect God to do in Hope, AR?”
The gist of the question is simple. If our greatest expectations for God’s activity here in Hope never exceed Church attendance and the fulfillment of the current operating ministries we will not see much more happen. Plus, if our expectations never exceed the gathering of a Sunday morning crowd and the staffing of a handful of ministries our prayer life shrinks to only lifting up those in crisis. I’m all for crisis prayer (especially when I’m in crisis myself!) but there is so much more in prayer that God invites us to! What do you expect God to do here?
John took his hearers to another place when they expressed their expectations to him. Their hearts were right. Their strongest desire was to see Jesus and they wanted to know if he (John) fit the bill. John’s immediate answer was “I baptize you with water but HE will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire!” In other words, “Your expectations of a Messiah will come true AND I am not Him! His ministry will be so much more than mine. I can’t even touch what he will offer.” I’ll ask again, what do you expect God to do in Southwest AR?
If your expectations are misguided, that is, if you are looking to a personality to accomplish Kingdom things here, you will be disappointed. No man can deliver on this task. If your expectation is to buy or persuade the Kingdom into existence, you will be disappointed. No amount of money or power can bring the Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Strong preaching and faithful living can prepare the way of the Lord, but only fervent praying will invite Him to come.
Can I share with you my expectations for the area God has called us to shepherd? I fully expect God to bring revival here. I expect our Churches to be filled with wonder and awe as God works miracles among us that we have never seen. I expect our Churches to be one in the way Jesus prayed in John 17. I expect the believers here to be filled with the Holy Spirit; with a fire that causes them to preach and live with excitement and passion. Those are my expectations, but they do not end there. That is just the beginning.
I fully expect and pray to the end of awakening here. I expect people who do not know the Lord right now to meet Him and be transformed by Him. I expect the Church to lead the Way in introducing lost people to Jesus and teach them all that He has commanded us. I expect the baptisms to be filled often enough that we will have to take up special offerings to cover the water bill! I expect there to be such an influx of new Christians walking around our area that jobs will have to change as personalities and skill sets begin to change. This is a larger circle of expectation, but it does not end here.
I fully expect what happens in Southwest AR to have an ever widening influence on the broader world. I expect believers in other parts of our country and in other parts of the world to visit here in hopes that they could glean and recover pieces and parts that they could return and implement in their hometown. I am not joking in my expectations. This is how I pray. This is what I believe God wants to do. I am pressing on towards this goal. What do you expect God to do here?
Great expectations in the Kingdom realm coupled with the faithful prayers of the saints result in great things happening here. Will you join me in these first steps? We are seeing the expectation level rise. More and more people are seeking the Lord, asking searching questions and finding answers. More and more lives are being changed. The atmosphere is shifting. Let’s go with God and see just what He wants to do with us! His intentions will blow even our greatest expectations away!