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12-16-2012 message by Pastor Rich Doebler

Luke 2:4-5 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

“Mary…was expecting a child.” But in actual fact, she expected a child AND so much more! God sent an angel to raise her level of expectation to a supernatural high. God prepared Mary to expect and experience something far more than just a child. We read about it in Luke 1…

Luke 1:26-38 26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Mary was troubled and wondered. Do you ever wonder about what God is doing? Has God ever “troubled” you? I think being “troubled” is part of the process of allowing God to work in us.

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child [you will conceive (NASB); you will become pregnant (NLT)] and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. (Matt 1:21 says “…because he will save his people from their sins”; Jesus = Yeshua = Joshua = [The Lord] is salvation”). Because Mary obeyed, not only was a son born, but God’s plan to save the world was born.

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (The angel’s words gave Mary great expectations, though I doubt she understood all the implications. Later we read that she pondered the events in her heart [2:19]. Still she expected her son to be “great…the Son of the Most High”—to rule on a throne.)

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

When we see all that Mary was expecting, and all that God did through her, I think it’s good for us to ask ourselves: What are we expecting? What do we believe God wants to do in our lives? In our families? Where have we placed our faith? What are we expecting?

God wants to raise your level of expectation! God wants to lift your vision higher than it’s been! God did not call us to a mediocre Christian experience. He doesn’t want us to live with a haphazard kind of faith. God wants us to expect something much more, something better, something bigger.

Paul tells us to “live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1 Thess 2:12); “…to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph 4:1).

We should expect something more than a mediocre Christian life with puny, anemic faith. The problem is we have lowered our expectations. Our vision has been clouded. Instead of seeing God’s promises with clear eyes of supernatural faith, we look at things from the natural. We see problems, not promises.

Too many live in the basement of faith when God wants us to move on up to high rise faith. Too many people muddle around in the valley when God wants us to climb the mountain!

God wants to plant supernatural faith and vision in your heart. God wants you to believe more, conceive more, receive more, and achieve more!

What would happen if we heard from God, as Mary did? If we believed what Mary believed?

1. Mary expected God’s grace to come to her.

You are highly favored (1:28); You have found favor with God (1:30).

Favor = Grace! We also should expect God’s grace.

You also are highly favored! God wants to shower you with his grace—his free gift of grace, his undeserved, unearned favor. God wants to give you grace for better things! He wants you to have great expectations.

God’s word to us is what he said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

2. Mary expected God’s kingdom to come. She expected a supernatural kingdom for her son—something beyond a physical, natural dynasty.

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end (1:33).

We also should expect God’s kingdom. We know Jesus is coming back one day to rule as King over all.

But we also know that the spiritual dimension of his kingdom is already present among us. Jesus is Lord and rules over the hearts and lives of each individual who trusts in him and declares commitment and loyalty to him.

Some have resisted his lordship. They don’t expect his kingdom. They want to rule their own lives. They don’t want to surrender their will. They want to be in control, so they continue to sit on the throne of their lives. They call the shots. They make the decisions.

Jesus said, The kingdom of God is among (or within) you! His rule has already begun in the hearts and lives of people who surrender to him. (Luke 17:21—“in your midst” [NASB])

Another time Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Good question! Some want blessings without commitment. They want to be sons and daughters of the King, but they don’t want the King to direct their lives or tell them what to do.

We cannot expect the benefits of Christ’s kingdom if we’re not willing to submit to his rule as King.

Jesus said we should pray, “Your kingdom come; your will be done” (Matt 6:10). The kingdom has begun, but it is not yet finished. His rule and reign are not fully complete—not until this world and many individuals who still live in rebellion and rule from the throne of their own lives have bowed their knees.

C.S. Lewis writes about the cold, dark grip of winter upon the land of Narnia, under the spell of the wicked Queen. The land was held hostage under her control so it was “always winter but never Christmas.” Their hopes and longing for celebration were continually frustrated. Their expectations that winter’s grip would loosen and be replaced by the warmth of coming spring were continuously thwarted by powers that left the land “always winter but never Christmas.”

We can expect the coming kingdom!

3. Mary expected God’s Spirit to come upon her.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The power of the Most High will overshadow you. (Luke 1:35)

CEV: The Holy Spirit will come down to you…God’s power will come over you.

We should expect God’s Spirit. We all need to anticipate the coming of the Spirit to fill us and empower us. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8)

Left to ourselves, on our own, we are guaranteed to fall short. But when we put Christ on the throne and surrender to his rule, we can also allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us to lead us.

If we will allow him, the Holy Spirit is the One who handles the affairs of the King of our lives.

4. Mary expected God’s will to be done within her.

For God’s work to be done in Mary, she needed to surrender to his will. “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” (Luke 1:38, NIV2010)

Mary expected God to do something! So she surrendered her will to his. Do you expect God to do something? What are you expecting? What do you believe God is going to do? Will you surrender to him?

It may not be easy! It may, in fact, be difficulty. Challenging! It may require a sacrifice.

TEV & others: She was pregnant. You know what pregnant means! The dictionary says “productive, fruitful, full…abounding, filled with”—but you know what it really means! It means trouble. Discomfort. Hot flashes. Cold sweats. Water retention. Frequent trips to the bathroom. Strange cravings. Irritability. And that’s just the father!

In a spiritual sense, I think we can say that “pregnant” means opening yourself to challenge, difficulties, and troubles. It may cost you something to surrender to God’s will and purpose!

But also in a spiritual sense, we can say it means to be “filled with future reality.” We can be filled with promise, something that does not yet exist—but it will come about some day.

Mary was pregnant by holy, supernatural, miraculous means—by the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High. The angel told Mary: For nothing will be impossible with God. (1:37, NASB)

In the natural we understand the process: conception first, then pregnancy, then birth. But the process from conception to birth is filled with peril and stress.

The same principle or process is found in a spiritual sense: conception, pregnancy, then birth—all with a great deal of peril and stress. But the promise of something new or something better in the spiritual realm makes the risk worth it.

What problem do you face? What situation threatens to take you down or beat you up? Our problems are solved by God’s promises! Situations are changed by God’s strength! If we surrender we can see God’s vision and promise fulfilled. We need to:

  • Receive God’s promise. Surrender to his plan and purpose.
  • Conceive God’s vision. Allow it to develop and form within your spirit. What we conceive must come from the Lord—not from your own desires or wishes.
  • Believe until you’re “pregnant” (filled up) with God’s desires and plans.
  • Achieve God’s purpose. “Birthing” the vision means “labor”—a painful process (contractions, pushing).

God wants to plant his vision in your heart and mind, inspiring you to “conceive” his plan, his solution, his work. God wants your spirit “pregnant” with his vision. God wants to raise your expectations!

Great Expectations