Summary: Our expectations can bring limitations on people or on God. Jesus works in the realm of faith. He freely limits Himself based on our expectations of Him. It is our expectations of His faithfulness that create and sustain Joy in us.
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.