What Are You Expecting?

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There’s probably not another time of year when expectations run higher than around this time of year… just look at the lyrics of Christmas carols.

It’s the most wonderful time of year…

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…

Santa Claus is coming to town…

All I want for Christmas is you…

EXPECTATIONS run HIGHER at this time of year than any other time of the year! And they’re often fueled by FANTASIES that can do nothing but lead to DISAPPOINTMENT, FRUSTRATION and DISILLUSIONMENT.

What are you expecting this Christmas?

I expect to drink a few peppermint mochas from Starbucks…

I expect to have to sit through hours of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies…

I expect to have to listen to Christmas music almost non-stop until January…

I expect to wrap a bunch of gifts…

I expect to watch Elf and Christmas Vacation two or three times…

I expect to attend Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion…

I expect to have the family over on Christmas Eve and to hang out together on Christmas Day…

I expect to give a few presents...

I expect to get a few presents…

I even expect to gain a few pounds…

So, again I ask, what are YOU expecting?

Now… how will you feel if some of those expectations aren’t met?

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There’s a huge difference between EXPECTATION and EXPECTANCY.

EXPECTATION usually carries a predetermined concept of a certain “outcome” — of what we believe will or should happen — and sometimes even that the “outcome” will come about in a certain way.

EXPECTATION says, “God, I expect you to do ‘X’…and I expect you to do it in a certain way…” And if God doesn’t “perform” or “live up to” our expectations, it leads to disappointment and frustration.

But EXPECTANCY, on the other hand, is an ATTITUDE.

It’s an attitude of FAITH, HOPE and TRUST. It doesn’t cling to its own expectations, but instead says, “God, I don’t know how or what You are going to do. I don’t know when You’re going to do it. But I know You’re going to do something with my situation, and I know it will be good. Because You are good, and everything You do is good. So, I choose to trust You. I trust Your heart and I will wait on You to do what You’re going to do with an attitude of expectancy.”

Here’s the difference…

EXPECTATIONS can become an IDOLEXPECTANCY is an ATTITUDE.

Genesis 3 is all about a couple of people who, instead of coming to God with an attitude of EXPECTANCY, followed their own EXPECTATIONS.  They made an IDOL out of their expectations and ended up being frustrated, disappointed and very broken.

In Genesis 3, Satan lies to Adam and Eve about the goodness and trustworthiness of God. Adam and Eve buy the lie. They make an idol out of their expectations and end up devastated.

GOD said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?”  The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?”  “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”  So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. I’m declaring war between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring's heel.  To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. 19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return…”  The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them… - Genesis 3:11-19, 21

OUR GREATEST PROBLEM DOESN’T COME FROM OUTSIDE US.  IT COMES FROM INSIDE US.

This entire story is about something we hate to talk about… it’s about SIN.

One of the reasons EXPECTATIONS can be so dangerous, is because they are often the by-product of our own SIN and SELFISHNESS.

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Our greatest problem is SIN.

Our greatest problem isn’t fragile marriages, jacked-up kids, failing health, sexual exploitation and harassment in the work place. All of those are just SYMPTOMS of the problem. Our GREATEST PROBPLEM is SIN.

THIS WORLD AND THE PEOPLE IN IT ARE BROKEN.

Broken people behave in really BROKEN and JACKED-UP ways.

When Adam and Eve bought the lies of the evil one, they willfully chose to rebel against God. They placed their own EXPECTATIONS about what God should do, what their lives should look like and how God should respond.

When Adam and Eve sinned, their sin wasn’t horizontal. They’re greatest sin wasn’t against each other. This wasn’t a case of domestic abuse.  Adam didn’t hit Eve and Eve didn’t hit Adam.   They both HIT GOD. They didn’t hit him with their fists, they hit him where it hurt the most… they hit him in HEART.

At that moment, not only did Adam and Eve’s rebellion affect them, it affected everything! It affected the entire cosmos and everyone in it!

Roman 8:20 says that all creation was subjected to frustration and futility. Before SIN entered the world, there were no “natural disasters,” deformities, miscarriages, injustices, loss and pain.   All of that was a result of what went down in the garden.

We were not meant to be SICK.  Kids were never meant to go HUNGRY.  People were never meant to be HOMELESS.  We were not meant to DIE.

Sickness, death, disease, hatred, racism, poverty, hunger, homelessness, shame, addiction and lost-ness are part of the BROKENNESS that occurred the moment Adam and Eve sinned.

•          A broken relationship with God. - Gen 3:7-10

•          A broken relationship with ourselves. (Guilt, shame and fear.) - Gen 3:7-10

•          Broken and jacked-up relationships with people. (Shame, blame, selfishness, power, manipulation, betrayal and relational idolatry.) - Gen 3:11-13

•          A broken relationship with our physical body. (Sickness, pain and death.) - Gen 3:16

•          A broken relationship with nature and the world around us.

•          A broken relationship with our calling, career, purpose and vocation. - Gen 3:17-19

Nothing works the way it was intended to work because of SIN.

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YOU CAN SPEND YOUR LIFE RUNNING FROM GOD, BUT GOD WILL NEVER GIVE UP PURSUING YOU.

We’ve become HIDERS. We HIDE from God and we HIDE from each other! We’re afraid and ashamed.

But the good news is that no matter how far or how long you run away from God… No matter how long you hide… God will keep on constantly pursuing you. He is reckless and relentless in His pursuit and if you will ever stop running long enough, you’ll discover that He’s right there. 

He hasn’t been pursuing so He can hurt or judge you, He’s been pursuing you so He can HEAL YOU.  When you turn around to face Him, His arms will be wide open. He’s ready to embrace you and forgive you!

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. —Psalm 23:6a MSG

HOPE IS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE IN THIS BROKEN, JACKED-UP WORLD BECAUSE OUR HOPE IS IN A LIVING PERSON.  OUR HOPE IS IN JESUS!

Reading Genesis 3 at the start of Advent, can seem really odd, unless you read it closely.  If you read it closely, you discover that Genesis 3 actually contains the first reference to JESUS in the entire Bible!

Right on the heels of Adam and Eve’s sin -- after they rebelled against God and disobeyed His command by taking the serpent’s bait introducing incredible brokenness to the universe -- God didn’t’ waste a moment.  He came down, looked at the brokenness and mess their sin had created and God Himself preached the proto-evangelium or FIRST GOSPEL to our messed-up parents, this jacked-up world and “…that ancient serpent called the devil…”

GOD: “I’m declaring war between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring's heel.” —Genesis 3:15

Pay attention to the phrase, “between your offspring and hers.”  Some of the older translations read, “…between your seed and her seed.” Scholars say that this phrase is interesting because whenever the Bible refers to “seed” or “offspring” it always refers to “seed” as belonging to the man. But Genesis 3:15 refers to the “seed of woman” or the “offspring of woman” crushing the head of the serpent.

Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring's heel. —Genesis 3:15

Why does the Bible refer to the “offspring / seed of woman crushing the serpent’s head, and the serpent biting at his heel”?

The answer is part of the Christmas story. It’s the only time in history this has ever occurred!

A woman — we know her as the Virgin Mary -- became pregnant by a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit.

A “seed” was planted in the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit and that “seed” grew to become the Son of God who would one day CRUSH the head of the serpent.

The NIV gets it right in Genesis 3:15 when it translates it, “Her offspring will CRUSH your head…”  In other words, right from the start, God said, “This thing isn’t going down to the wire. We’re not going to have to wait on ‘the selection committee’ to figure out who wins this one. Sure, Satan will make some noise… he’ll attempt to do his thing… but his rebellion will not be permanent.

The brokenness he has perpetrated will not be permanent.

One day he will go down.

One day he will be defeated.

One day your redeemer will body slam him and he will not get up.

He will attempt to bite at Jesus’ heel, but even as he bites, Jesus will deliver the crushing blow and completely CRUSH the head of the serpent.

Your redeemer is coming! HOPE and HELP are on the way!