great expectations

by DANA JOHNSON

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous.

Hebrews 11:4 (KJV)

Love Expressed

Have you ever been in a worship service and thought: This is great, but I feel like something is missing. If you have, I can relate. I’ve been there many times … singing my heart out and doing my best to express what I feel for my Lord. But when the last note sounded, I still had that “not quite fulfilled” feeling.

While it’s possible for that feeling to be caused by a number of different things, the reason is usually this—you got what you expected. That may sound harsh to you, but understanding the connection between your expectations and worship can completely turn around your worship life.

A classic example of this expectations/ worship connection can be seen in the life of Abel. Hebrews 11:4 (NLT) tells us: “It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed His approval of Abel's gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.”

The definition of “faith,” according to Hebrews 11:1, is “the substance of things hoped for.” In other words, Abel was hoping for something when he brought God an offering. I wonder how many times we worship God and don’t realize we can offer Him something with an expectation in our heart and mind. All too often, we worship God with the subtle idea that singing, giving and living out a life of worship to the Lord is a one-way street. We lay it down. He says, “Thank you.” And then we go on about our lives having done our duty. But if we take a closer look at Abel’s life, we’ll discover there is so much more to worship!

Abel grew up with parents who had it all and lost it all. Adam and Eve experienced the greatest loss in recorded history. Can you picture Abel and his brother, Cain, growing up hearing the stories of how it used to be? Most of us have heard our parents talk about “the good old days” at some point. Well, more than likely, those stories about “the good old days” first started with Abel’s parents. When Adam and Eve told their sons about how it used to be, they truly had something remarkable to talk about. Their experiences were far beyond reach and full of wonder; it truly had to be amazing to hear.

When do you suppose Abel first began to think about getting a taste of that complete freedom Adam and Eve had once experienced? I’m sure he desperately wanted to regain that lost status of righteousness—of right standing—in the eyes of His Creator. And that’s where faith shows up in the story.

Can you picture it? Day after day, Abel probably thought to himself: I want what I’ve heard my parents speak of—that place of intimacy with the Creator, that friendship, that sense of being clean in His sight. With that in mind, Abel offered up a sacrifice of a firstborn lamb. Can you imagine what God saw as he looked at Abel’s offering of worship? It was a perfect picture of the plan of redemption, already deep in the heart and mind of God the Father, and God found it to be beautiful.

Abel truly made God an offer He could not refuse, and so can you and I. As you worship, take a look at what you’re hoping for, what you’re offering and what you expect from God in return. Be bold enough to ask for whatever the something is that has been missing in your life. Sound impossible? Not with our God. At times, our God is waiting for us to expect Him to respond to our act of worship. Hold an impossible hope up to your Father as you worship, and then watch and see what happens!

There is nothing our world needs more desperately today— in individuals, families, businesses, churches and communities—than God’s saving, supernatural acts. And He’s ready to act if we will be bold enough to ask, not just for a good day or a better life, but for the impossible.

STEVEN FURTICK

Prayer

Father, let a divine hope grow in my heart. Show me how to bring a sacrifice full of faith. Let my expectations be far above what I know to be possible, except through You. I want to bring You an offering of worship You will not refuse. I believe You are able to do above anything I can ask or think. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Activation

  • Close your eyes for a moment and think about what you are really hoping for. Is there an “impossible” in your life or family? God awaits your request.
  • According to Romans 10:17, hearing God’s Word brings faith. Keep God’s Word before your eyes and heart, and faith will follow.

For Further Study

  • Psalm 62:5
  • Philippians 1:19–20
  • Acts 3:5
  • Hebrews 11:1
Psalm 62:5Philippians 1:19–20Acts 3:5Hebrews 11:1
DANA JOHNSON
Hebrews 11:4 (KJV)