Intro: Harvard social psychologist Robert Rosenthal’s classic did a study of children to see how they responded to expectations. All the children in one San Francisco grade school were given a standard I.Q. test at the beginning of the school year. The teachers were told the test could predict which students could be expected to have a spurt of academic and intellectual functioning. The researchers then drew names out of a hat and told the teachers that these were the children who had displayed a high potential for improvement. Naturally, the teachers thought they had been selected because of their test performance and began treating these children as special children.
And the most amazing thing happened – the spurters, spurted! Overall, the “late blooming” kids averaged four more I.Q. points on the second test than the other group of students. However, the gains were most dramatic in the lowest grades. First graders whose teachers expected them to advance intellectually jumped 27.4 points, and the second grade spurters increased on the average 16.5 points more than their peers. One little Latin – American child who had been classified as mentally retarded with an I.Q. of 61, scored 106 after his selection as a late bloomer.
(Kay Kuzma, Family Times, Vol 1 No. 3, Fall, 1992, p.1.)
Our expectations of the possibility within a person or situation have a dramatic impact on the result. In the spiritual realm our expectations can place limitations on God!
Mark 6:5, 6 “So He (Jesus) was not able to do any miracles there, except that He laid hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
I. Great expectations are built on God’s perfect promises (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Psalm 89:34 “I will not violate My covenant or change what my lips have said.”
Joshua 23:14 “Not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed." (ESV)
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?”
God’s promises are rock solid. They are not like the promises of people. They are not forgotten, or forsaken. God made a promise of a redeemer for our sin in Genesis 3 and fulfilled in the birth and death of Jesus. God promised in Ezekiel 18:20 “the soul that sins will die.” Every day this promise is kept. Romans 3:23 clearly tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Looking at everyday life we can see the promises of God.
It has been said that there are 3573 promises in the Bible. There are promises of salvation, healing, help, promises for the family, the individual, promises for our attitudes and relationships, promises for our needs, finances, food, friends, there are promises of judgment and difficulty.
Our expectations of our daily situation can be strongly built on these certain promises of God.
DL Moody said it well, “God never made a promise that was too good to be true.
It is easy to be disappointed with God because we think He didn’t follow through on His promises. What usually happens is we don’t fully understand or trust His timing and faithfulness. We must know how they are and how they work and trust He will work them out in His timing. To help set our expectations we need to understand there are conditional and unconditional promises.
A) God’s unconditional promises
God’s unconditional promises have no dependence on our response. God’s unconditional promises reveal God’s purposes. His promise of a savior, His unconditional promise to multiply Abraham’s children. We cannot alter these promises with our choices.
B) God’s conditional promises.
1) Who are the promises meant for?
2) Why does God make us promises?
He gives us promises because of His unconditional love for us and desire to provide for us. He gives and fulfills His promises in a way that displays His character of wisdom, power and grace. (Philippians 4:6-7 the if of peace, John 3:16 – the if of salvation, if you believe) When an if is involved in a promise of God it depends no our response.
II. Great expectations are built on God’s proven character
How do we know God will keep His promises? We look to His character.
God is truthful, unchanging, all powerful, all knowing, ever present and completely good. We discover His character as He is revealed in the Bible and in the life of Jesus. It requires a personal relationship to experience the faithful character of God.
Have you ever made a promise and then broken it? That happens because we as human beings have wicked weak hearts. We are not strong enough, smart enough or loving enough to keep all our promises. God is strong enough, smart enough and loving enough to keep His promises.
There is no situation that God cannot solve and there is question that God cannot answer.
Let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 1:20, All of God’s promises are yes and amen in Jesus. If you want God’s promises they are tied directly to a relationship to His son and the Savior Jesus.
If we use scripture as our compass and guide the Holy Spirit will show us how to live. God’s promises are vital to our lives as Christians. God’s word sits waiting for us to find God’s promises and answers to every area of life and living. It is the promises of God that build expectations and give great joy.
III. Great joy is built on great expectations
The root of joy is a relationship with a promise keeping God. Psalm 16:11 “In the presence of the Lord is fullness of Joy.” We are promised the presence of God through salvation in Jesus and filling by His Holy Spirit.
Dr. Charles Stanley, God’s promises are like a treasure chest. When you realize how much He wants to bless you with, you can’t help but be amazed.
Joy is not a perky personality or positive attitude. It is possession of the promises and person of Christ. In His presence is the fullness of joy. Our expectations and actions can either heighten or hinder. Joy has nothing to do with how we feel. Our joy changes how we feel.
According to scripture Joy is the settled inner confidence that God’s promises are true, God’s presence is permanent and God’s control is absolute.
A) The promises of God show us our present circumstances will not last forever
God is with us and this will not last forever. When circumstances seem to crush us we need to remember. 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 “We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; 9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh.”
Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I’ve said it before the issue is never will God change my situation. The issue is always will I trust God even if my situation never changes. Joy is a result of believing or trusting and accepting God’s character of faithfulness and promise keeping even when I can’t see it!
As we see the land of the Bible unravel we can look up with great expectation and overwhelming joy and gladness because the promise of the return of Jesus is drawing close. 80 Year old woman burned to death by Isis.
B) The promises of God show us our present circumstances will be used for good
Romans 8:28 All things work toward the good. All things press us toward God. Example of flees in Cory Tenbooms barracks.
C) The promises of God show us our present concern is to know and live the promises.
If we expect God according to His powerful, faithful character to keep His promises as we trust and obey it will result in overwhelming joy.
Our entire life as a Christian is built on God’s promises. I will never leave you or forsake you, through Me you can do all things, you are the light of the world, Hell will not overcome God’s church. I will be your healer. I will guide you.
When we learn to expect God to be faithful with His promises the result is joy. Joy is a response deep within our inner being when we receive God’s grace by expecting and receiving God’s promises. Hebrews 11:1 the expectation of things hoped for. Ephesians 3:20 (read)
So how do we go about claiming God’s promises and God’s Joy?!
1) Discover God’s promises in the Bible 2) Determine to expect God to keep His promises 3) Decide to obey the promises and principles of God 4) Discover God’s peace that comes from living in His promises 5) Dedicate your life to Jesus, His kingdom, & Mission (Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.”) Expect God to change lives this year, expect God to grow this church spiritually and numerically. Expect God to restore relationships, break addictions, save lost souls.