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Introduction And The Expectation Of A Forerunner

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Christmas:  A Season Of Expectation

Luke 1:5-17

Introduction And

The Expectation Of A Forerunner

Looking For Trouble?

One dark rainy night a salesman had a flat tire on a lonely road.  But to his dismay he had no lug wrench.  Seeing a nearby farmhouse, he set out on foot.  Surely the farmer would have a lug wrench, he thought.  But would he even come to the door?  And if he did, he’d probably be furious at being bothered.  He’d say, “What’s the big idea getting me out of bed in the middle of the night?”  This thought made the salesman angry.  Why, that farmer is a selfish old clod to refuse to help me.  Finally the man reached the house.  Frustrated and drenched, he banged on the door.  “Who’s there?” a voice called out from a window overhead.  “You know good and well who it is,” yelled the salesman, his face red with anger.  “It’s me!  And you can keep your old lug wrench!  I wouldn’t borrow it if it was the last one in the county.”

What was this salesman’s problem?  He had negative or low expectations!  His negative or low expectations brought him exactly what he expected, because he didn’t put forth any effort to see if his expectations were accurate.

Some months ago God burned these words into my spirit, “We usually get what we expect!”  If we expect blessings, we usually get them!  If we expect curses, we usually get them.  Therefore, it behooves us to cultivate positive, biblical expectations.

But that begs a question, “Can we order our lives like the world by just adopting positive thinking, or does God have something else in mind?”  And furthermore, “If it’s that easy to facilitate positive results in our lives, why don’t we all just think positive or choose to have positive expectations?”

The answer to these questions is sad, but very obvious to me, we have been disappointed and rejected so often in this sin-cursed world that our expectations are mostly negative.  We have murdered our desire and our expectation, so that we won’t hurt any more.  Therefore, we look with skepticism upon most promises.  We have received so many free offers that turned out not to be free that we have given up on free offers.  And now we have seen scandal after scandal among the largest corporations and their executives.  Our expectations are very, very low, if not wholely negative.  Disappointment is sad!  But what is sadder, is that we are not just disappointed, but we have gotten used to disappointment and have accepted it as a way life!

(Is this the way God meant for His children to live?  Should this be the atmosphere of the Church, God’s community?  Should this be the mood of Christmas?)

       Not too long ago, I read an excellent book entitled:  The Gate Church, by Frank Damazio.  In this book, Damazio lists seven basic hinderances to a full release of the supernatural.  The fifth hinderence is particularly appropriate for our present discussion:

“5.    There has and still seems to be a suppressed attitude toward expectation for the supernatural.  Perhaps believers are afraid to expect much from God because they have been disappointed too many times in the past.  This is a stronghold of no expectation”[1] (emphasis mine).

A stronghold of no expectation…A stronghold of no expectation…A stronghold of no expectation.  The devil has used shattered dreams and disappointments to fabricate a stronghold of no expectation in the Church of Jesus Christ.  But, what is a stronghold?

“a stronghold is a mindset impregnated with hopelessness that causes the believer to accept as unchangeable something that he/she knows is contrary to the will of God.”[2]

A stronghold is territory that the devil has captured that does not belong to him.  The stronghold of no expectation is a mindset of hopelessness, with respect to our expectations, that causes us to accept as unchangeable something that we know is contrary to the will of God.  God does not want us to live a life of no expectation, but a life of great Biblical expectation.  The Bible word for this great Biblical expectation is “hope”.  Every believer should live with the blessed hope of the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, but alas…


       As I thought about this, I came up with a diagram that depicts two opposite strongholds with respect to expectation.

ß--------------------------------------------------½----------------------------------------------------à

No or Low Expectation      Balanced or Biblical Expectation      Unrealistic Expectation

  The Stronghold of                 Spirit-controlled                         The Stronghold of

     Hopelessness                       Full of faith                                 Spiritualism

                                                                                     (Burnout & Hopelessness)

       One of my favorite authors, A. W. Tozer, who lived and wrote about 50 year ago, wrote:  “We need today a fresh spirit of anticipation that springs out of the promises of God.  We must declare war on the mood of nonexpectation and come together with childlike faith.  Only then can we know again the beauty and wonder of the Lord’s presence among us” God Tells The Man Who Cares (A. W. Tozer) 168, 170.[3]  Anticipation, the promises of God, childlike faith are the antecedents, i.e. the necessary prerequistes, to knowing again the beauty and wonder of the Lord’s presence among us.  Tozer wrote this 50 years ago!

       So, it would seem that this stronghold of no expectation is not something of recent origin, but a tool that the devil has used before.  Why we could even go back further in history and see this same problem.  “In the years preceding the Civil War, one of America’s leading theologians, Horace Bushnell, summed up the spiritual dilemma of his day, and in so doing, seems to describe our own:  ‘Bushnell observed that Christian souls were falling into[4] ‘a stupor of intellectual fatality….Prayer becomes a kind of dumb-bell exercise, good as exercise, but never to be answered.  The Word is good to be exegetically handled, but there is no light of interpretation in souls, more immediate; all truth is to be second-hand truth, never a vital beam of God’s own light….Expectation is gone—God is to far off, too much imprisoned by laws, to allow expectation from Him.  The Christian world has been gravitating, visibly, more and more, toward this vanishing point of faith, for whole centuries, and especially since the Modern Era began to shape the thoughts of men by only scientific methods.  Religion has fallen into the domain of mere understanding, and so it has become a kind of wisdom to not believe much, therefore to expect as little.’”[5]  Surely, we live in a time of dwarfed and dashed expectations!!!

       But as Tozer exhorts, “We must declare war on the mood of nonexpectation!!!”  And that is what I am doing!  It’s a New Season and this New Season should be marked by expectation.  The word “expectation” means

1.     anticipation of something happening:  a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen[6]

1.     expectant waiting:  the feeling of looking forward, usually excitedly or eagerly, to something that is going to happen[7]

Again, A. W. Tozer said, “Every great movement of God in history, every unusual advance in the Church, every revival, has been preceded by a sense of keen anticipation.  Expectation accompanied the operations of the Spirit always.   His bestowals hardly surprised His people because they were gazing expectantly towards the risen Lord and looking confidently for his word to be fulfilled.  His blessings accorded with their expectations….”[8]  “Expectation has always been present in the Church in the times of her greatest power.  When she believed, she expected, and the Lord never disappointed her….”[9]

(But we have another powerful reason for great Biblical expectations:  The Christmas Season.)

       Christmas should be, according to the Bible stories, a season of expectation.  So, God gave me this short series of messages last Christmas.  He knew, last Christmas, where we would be this Christmas.  So, it is with great Biblical expectation and anticipation that we begin a four message Christmas series entitled:  “Christmas:  A Season Of Expectation!”

       These messages will point out the expectation that is resident in each of the major Bible accounts of the Christmas story, i.e. the birth of the Messiah.


(We begin today with Lukes account in Luke 1:5-17.  Would you turn there with me please.  May I read this out loud for us?)

       The expectation in these verses is the expectation of a forerunner.  In each group of verses that we shall cover, we shall follow the same pattern of expectation:

·        The Divine Announcement

·        The Divine Promise

·        The Divine Expectation

·        The Divine Fulfillment

(So, although we won’t have a lot of time for this first expectation, let’s get started.)

1.     The Divine Announcement.

We see here that an angel announces the coming birth of the forerunner of the Messiah.  Although this event was already scheduled on God’s divine timetable, this announcement was invited by the righteous and pious lives of Zacharius and Elizabeth.

       When God is going to do something extraordinary, He often announces it first.  If we are going to be ready to invite or welcome such an announcement, we are going to have to walk upright before God—we are going to have to be seeking His face and worshipping Him.

(We move from the divine announcement to:)

2.     The Divine Promise.

The angelic announcement entailed the divine promise of Jehovah God.  The divine promise was that they would give birth to a son.  He would not be an ordinary son, but his manner of life would be holy and his calling would be to be the forerunner of the Messiah, who would come in the spirit and power of Elijah.

       What a promise, and this divine promise was given in the midst of dire circumstances!  Zacharius and Elizabeth were advanced in years.  They had had no children up to this time, so it seems reasonable to assume that they couldn’t have children.  This is also close to the time of Herod’s evil and insane murder of innocent babies, in an attempt to kill the prophesied Messiah—the One who would bring salvation to the world and the kingdom of God.

       We need a promise right now, particularly in the midst of such dire circumstances, and we have a promise in Christmas.  Christmas is not just a holiday about what God did in the past, but about what He wants to do in the present, and what He will do in the future!!!

       We, like Zacharius and Elizabeth, are without children or hope and we have no expectation of any children, but Christmas is a promise of great expectations.  In spite of the devil’s attempt to murder our hopes, dreams, and expectations, we have the promise of Christmas and that promise is that there is coming a forerunner, who will prepare the way for the coming Messiah.  If you will allow me some license in the application of this text.  The forerunner to the Messiah is the person and power of the Holy Ghost!!!  He has come to lift up every valley and lower every mountain, to make the rough places smooth, and prepare the way of the Lord.  He is the Spirit of the Lord and He has come into our hearts to make real the experience of the Lord.  Jesus said in

John 16:13-14 (NASB-U), “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (emphasis mine).

(The angelic announcement and the divine promise should facilitate:)

3.     The Divine Expecation.

The divine expectation in these verses is wonderful, complex, and variegated or colorful.

       We see first the expectation of a child.  When we use the word “expect” or “expectant” with reference to a child, we mean

expecting a baby (adjective)

“expectant:  expecting a baby, expecting a happy event, parturient, fertilized.”[10]

parturient

“1.    giving birth:  about to give birth (technical)

2.     of childbirth:  relating to the process or time of childbirth

3.     about to produce: on the verge of producing something or coming forth (literary).”[11]

We need to become pregnant with expectation concerning what God is going to do through the Christmas Season and the New Season!!!  Am I showing yet?  I should be, because I am pregnant with expectation!

       Now, I know some of you men are saying, “I’m a man and I ain’t pregnant!”  Well, you are right and you are wrong!  You are not pregnant in the same sense as a woman, because you are not a woman, but when your wife is pregnant you are also pregnant—in a sense.  Women carry the life that has been sired, but men did the siring and protect both the mother and the child that is growing inside of her.  So, men we are pregnant, but we “show” our pregnancy in a different way than women.  We are pregnant in our “spirits” and we show that pregnancy through strength and protection for the purpose of facilitating birth!!!

       Next we see the expectation of a mood.  The angel says in verse 14 that Zacharius and Elizabeth would have joy and gladness at the birth of John, and many would rejoice at his birth.  That is marvelous indeed, because Zacharius and Elizabeth had reason to be trapped in a stronghold.  Why?  Because, they were long past the childbearing age.  Their mindsets could have been impregnated with hopelessness, but there was already something else that had impregnated them:  the divine expectation of God!!!

       I cannot be impregnated by the devil, when I have already been impregnated by God.

       The impregnation of Christmas should bring about a mood.  What mood?  The mood of joy and gladness!!!  There is so much to teach here that I cannot take time to elaborate.  But, let me at least give you the things that we are going to discuss in the future:

·        The mood of Christmas is one of expectation or anticipation.

·        The mood is not the result of human aspiration, but divinely imparted, planted, or sired expectation.

Expectation is spiritually sired.  Aspiration is humanly sired.

·        The mood is usually initiated through a divine or supernatural announcement.

In these passages, it is an angel or a celestial sign.

·        The mood is usually centered in the seed of a promise.

This is not only the mood of Christmas, but the mood of every great move of God.  Do we sense such a mood at this time?

·        The mood is nurtured or incubated in a heart of faith.

It doesn’t matter whether this heart is male or female, when God is doing the siring!!!

·        The mood usually enters a period of labor before it is born (this labor entails an act that is in keeping with the faith that it is incubating).

·        The mood is the condition that gives birth to the fulfillment of the promise and joy.

(That leads us to:)

4.     The Divine Fulfillment.

The divine fulfillment is recorded in

Luke 1:57 (NASB-U), “Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.”

Jehovah God is not only a Promise-Giver, but He is a Promise-Keeper.  He is the Covenant-Making and Covenant Keeping God!!!  He doesn’t raise expectation, without fulfilling that expectation.  He doesn’t promise, except He fully intents to fulfill that promise.  So, when we have divine expectation, we know that we are going to have divine gratification.  We will get or receive what we expect!!!

       Christmas is a season of great, divine, and Biblical expectations.  Let’s ask Jehovah God to increase our expectations.

(Now is the Day of Salvation!  Come to Jesus, Now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Frank Damazio, The Gate Church, CityBible Publishing, Portland, Oregon, 2000, p. 175.

[2] Edgardo Silvoso, taken from a memorandum to supporters and friends on “Plan Resistencia,” September 15, 1990:  p. 3.

[3] Tozer On The Holy Spirit, Compiled by Marilynne E. Foster, Christian Publications, Inc., Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, 2000, March 16.

[4] Frank Damazio, The Gate Church, CityBible Publishing, Portland, Oregon, 2000, pp. 175-176.

[5] Paul G. Chappell, Great Things He Hath Done:  Origins of the Divine Healing Movement in America, (taken from the unpublished manuscript), p. 10.

[6] Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

[7] Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

[8] Tozer On The Holy Spirit, Compiled by Marilynne E. Foster, Christian Publications, Inc., Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, 2000, March 16.

[9] Tozer On The Holy Spirit, Compiled by Marilynne E. Foster, Christian Publications, Inc., Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, 2000, March 16.

[10] The Original Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Americanized Version) is licensed from Longman Group UK Limited. Copyright © 1992 by Longman Group UK Limited. All rights reserved.

[11] Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

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