Great Expectations, Part 3

As we’ve seen over the last few posts, expectations influence effort.  Holding to God-sized expectations is key to engaging God-empowered ministry.  Behind all this, however, is the discipline of refreshing those expectations by leaning upon God’s promises.  Remember expectations are a matter of faith, and if faith comes by hearing the Word (cf. Rom 10:17), then keep looking to the promises of God’s Word that fuel faith-filled expectations.

Let’s look at 3 prophecies that can keep raising our expectations bar, particularly as it relates to the way we envision the impact of our ministry efforts.

KNOWLEDGE SHALL INCREASE

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”  Daniel 12:4, NKJV

The ancient prophet Daniel was given several apocalyptic visions, the fulfillment of which spanned from 500 years before the time of Jesus all the way to the 2nd coming of Christ.  Naturally, because this far-reaching scope, portions of these prophecies didn’t make sense to Daniel and really wouldn’t make sense to many throughout history until the fulfillment of the predictions could be seen in retrospect.  Though sealed to many generations, there would be a time when many would “run to and fro,” like rabbinical pupils searching the stretched out scrolls, going from one end of ancient Scripture to the other in an eager pursuit of connecting the dots.  In this snapshot of Daniel 12:4, we can expect not just a few but many people in our day both searching and understanding the prophecies of Scripture, particularly the book of Daniel.  Though it may appear that our culture is steeped in secularism and materialism, we can expect genuine and widespread interest in the truths of Scripture and the hope of these prophecies that this world cannot offer.

 

NO ONE CAN COUNT

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  Revelation 7:9, NIV

When the apostle John was given a vision of God’s people on the other side of eternity, he discovered that those impacted by the gospel of Jesus Christ would be beyond measure — beyond numbers, beyond boundaries of culture, geography, and language, beyond imagination.  In taking up the work of the Lord, we can know for certain that our “labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58, NIV).  This prophecy gives rise to the expectation of immeasurable impact and influence.  We may not see it now, but we can work now with the certainty that the revelation of Jesus we seek to make known in our ministry efforts and outreach initiatives will truly draw all people to Him (cf. Jn. 12:32).

 

GREAT AUTHORITY

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. Revelation 18:1, NKJV

In the broader context of Revelation, this particular vision anticipates a time when God’s saving message to the world will need to penetrate an unprecedented climate of spiritual darkness and deception.  But the darker the night, the brighter God’s glory.  Maybe you find yourself in environments where your desire to spiritually influence people is not reciprocated by others’ openness.  Maybe you’ve found yourself uncertain about whether your outreach efforts will be received, whether the message feel burdened to share will be appreciated.  Maybe you’ve even become embarrassed or ashamed about the gospel, especially as it calls others out from what’s familiar or cherished in their lives. This snapshot from Revelation 18 reminds us that we don’t have to hang our heads in ministry.  Instead, we can expect that our ministries align with a heaven-appointed mission to light up the world with God’s glory, and that means we too can speak and share and serve with great authority.

The list could go on.  Promise after promise could be expanded upon.  Though we won’t articulate them here, may we each sense a renewed sense of hope in God’s promises and eagerness to keep these fresh in our memories.  May the promises of God’s Word continue to fuel our expectations for God’s work.