Expectant Faith - Bob Sawvelle

Faith is tangible. Have you ever ordered something online? Consider when an order is placed online, the buyer is seeing only an image of the real item. There is substance to that image, it represents a product to be purchased and delivered. You, the buyer, have faith that the item you are purchasing online will arrive according to the description and image you viewed. That is faith!

By the way, don’t wait until the week of Christmas to place your online orders, shipping is an entirely separate issue. UPS, FedEx, and the Postal Service can only work so many miracles!

Faith holds on in hope of the promise that is made. God’s promises are sure; faith accepts as reality the manifestation of those promises. Hope undergirds faith, and postures the believer in joyful anticipation, while waiting for the promises to become reality. What is a mere image here is reality in the heavenly realm—faith sees what is invisible as reality on earth.

Did Jesus Leave?

I’ve been speaking and writing the last couple of weeks about the end of the gospel of Mark, chapter six. After feeding the multitude, Jesus sends the disciples across the Sea of Galilee and He departs to the mountain to pray. The disciples, late at night, are rowing against the waves. It seemed like Jesus left them, like “God’s presence left.” (Mark 6:45-52)

Have you ever felt like these disciples? Where is God in your midnight hour?

Following Jesus requires faith that is greater than human reasoning. To be His disciple, you must embrace uncertainty while maintaining hope amid contradiction.

YOU MUST KNOW that God is always with you despite what your emotions or feelings indicate. Jesus promised, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

Realize that God’s omnipresence and His tangible presence are two distinct characteristics. God’s omnipresence is a fact. He is always with us. However, His tangible or manifest presence is an awareness. We are to live by faith, resting upon God’s word, not just “Holy Spirit” goose bumps! Pursue God’s presence; you must value your relationship with God. But whether you “feel God” or not, rest on what He has promised in His Word.

Jesus appears to the disciples; they thought He was a ghost! He gets into the boat, the seas calm, and they were greatly amazed beyond measure!  Mark writes, “…they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:51-52)

The 12 had been with Jesus; they had seen many miracles: a storm calmed, demonized freed, the sick cured, the dead raised, and had just witnessed the miracle multiplication of the loaves and fishes to feed nearly 20,000 people. If that weren’t enough, they themselves had been used by God to heal the sick and cast out demons! (Mk. 6:12-13)

Unfortunately, they were unable to recognize who Jesus is because of their dullness of heart and unbelief. The result: they could not apply His power and grace to help them in their time of need on the sea of Galilee.

Is it possible that these disciples “knew” Jesus, but really didn’t “know” Jesus? That is, as the Messiah, God in human flesh. Many people claim to “know” Jesus, but I wonder, how well do they really know Him? So many today, who claim to know Jesus, live in fear and worry, instead of trusting faith in God’s care. Is He the great “I Am,” or is He just another historical figure to you?

Unbelief to Expectant Faith and Miracles

Mark begins chapter six by referencing the unbelief in Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood hometown. He could do no miracles, only heal a few sick because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6)

He now ends this chapter by describing the miracles accomplished by Jesus (Mark 6:53-56). Once again, the implication by Mark in his gospel is that faith is required to receive from Jesus. We need an “expectant faith.” A faith that is anchored in the love and hope of God.

When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.

Jesus and the disciples cross the sea from east to west, arriving in Gennesaret, a fertile plain south of Capernaum. They have only a brief interlude between the crowds.

Notice, “… the people recognized Him, and ran through … region.” The people immediately recognize Jesus (epiginṓskō: to discern something clearly and distinctly, to perceive, to understand). Those who were the closest to Jesus, His family and disciples, don’t discern who He is. Yet, the crowds clearly recognize Him.

The people heard the testimonies about Jesus and simply believed them as true reports. They had an “expectant faith,” came to Jesus, and miracles resulted. Their expectant faith caused them to run through the region carrying on beds those who were sick to where He was. (Mark 6: 55) Much like the four men of faith in Mark 2 who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing. Or similar to the story of the woman with the bleeding disorder in Mark 5, the people begged Him that they might just touch the hem (or tassels of His cloak) for healing (Mark 6:56).    

By the way, this passage in Mark seems to indicate that it is legitimate to be a “beggar” for God! Draw near to God, He will draw near to you—pursue Him expectantly.

In Expectation

Luke records, “Now as the people were in expectation (prosdokáō: to wait or look for, to expect), and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not.” (Luke 3:15)

Israel had not seen a prophet for 400 years. It was widely believed that when the Messiah would come, prophecy would reappear (Joel 2:28-29; Mal. 3:1; 4:5). When John the Baptist burst onto the scene, the people were excited and expectant. He was a great prophet, and they were sure the Messianic age had come.

Jesus came demonstrating the works of the Messiah, but the religious leaders, close family, and disciples were unable to recognize who He was. The people however, were filled with “expectant faith,” miracles would occur—the Messiah had come.

What about you today? Do you have expectant faith? Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God has come. He has made the way for salvation, healing, and miracles. But faith, as Mark continues to point out, is required to receive from anything from Jesus.

Twentieth-century healing evangelist Oral Roberts said this about expectancy as related to faith, “Expectancy opens your life to God and puts you in a position to receive salvation, joy, health, financial supply, or peace of mind – everything good your heart longs for, and more!” 

Principles of Expectant Faith

#1 The Power of Testimony

Understand, as Paul describes in Romans, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” (Rom. 10:17 NLT)

The crowds around the region of Galilee heard the stories and testimonies about Jesus. Every healing and miracle story confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah. Result, the people’s faith soared! Rev. 19:10b “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Every testimony about God’s power and miracles releases a realm of heaven that creates faith in the hearer. Expectant faith arises!

#2 The Power of the Word

God’s word and Jewish tradition foretold the coming of the Messiah. The people expected miracles to occur when the Messiah came. God’s Word and the testimonies created expectant faith in the hearts of the people of Israel to believe the Messianic Age had arrived.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) Faith is substantive in nature. Faith sees the promise fulfilled while positioned in hope. Faith is an expectant anticipation of the promise. Faith at its base level is simply trusting God and His Promises.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) God honors faith—it pleases Him.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) Faith moves God’s heart, grace (empowerment) is released to aid and help in times of need.

In the parable of the Sower, Mark 4, we read how God’s word is sown, some seed falls on hard soil and some seed falls on good ground. Understand that there is power in the seed—power in God’s promise. But, the promises must be heard, believed, and acted upon.

Mark 4:24 “Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.” More understanding, revelation, and faith given!

Faith is the connector to the promises and blessings of God’s kingdom. Faith is the key that unlocks heaven’s resources. Faith makes a demand on the promises of heaven. You can believe a promise, but at the same time not have the faith to appropriate it.

Smith Wigglesworth, twentieth-century healing evangelist, known for his strong faith in God’s promises, said, “God rejoices when we manifest a faith that holds Him to His Word.”

#3 The Need for Action

The people acted on the news of Jesus being in their area, they ran to be in the meetings with Him. They said among themselves, “If we can just get our sick loved ones to Jesus, He will heal them!” No doubting, just expectant faith followed by action. Faith is demonstrated through obedient action. James 2:18 says, “I will show you my faith by my works.”

They didn’t care how foolish they looked, they ran through the region bringing those who needed a miracle. Expectant faith looks odd to the merely religious. They positioned themselves to receive from Jesus. Jesus commends those who approach Him as desperate in spirit, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3)

#4 The Necessity of Intimacy

The people “knew” Jesus, they discerned He was the Messiah. Genuine intimacy with Jesus, not superficial faith, builds trust to follow, faith to obey His commands, and courage to believe His promises. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with faith. To prevail in spiritual power requires a lifetime of intimacy with God.

Learn to live out of your divine union with Jesus. “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Pet. 1:4 NLT)

Learn to live from the reality of the finished work of Christ, resting in His ascension victory and glory. Live from your union with Him and trust His promises.

Your life in the Spirit empowers you to see beyond this earthly realm. The sufferings in this life are real, but hold onto hope, with an expectant faith. Jesus is the resurrection and the life—trust Him, resurrection life awaits the follower of Christ! (1 Cor. 15:20)  

For a more in-depth look at Expectant Faith, watch this Passion Church Sermon, “The Book of Mark: Expectant Faith”:

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Bob Sawvelle

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