How You Can Move from DUTY to EXPECTANCY
Most churches would be thrilled if 120 people showed up at one of their prayer meetings. Well, the truth of the matter is that most churches no longer even have prayer meetings. Attendance was so meager that the churches lost heart and concluded it wasn’t worth the effort.
In contrast, 120 people gathered together to pray for an entire week preceding the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus had instructed His followers to “wait for the Promise of the Father,” when they would receive the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-8).
You would certainly think no one would want to miss out on such an offer. Who wouldn’t want to receive “power from on high” (Luke 24:49), enabling them to perform miracles and be a bold witness for Christ?
Yet there’s a sad, and somewhat bewildering, back story here.
Hundreds of people presumably knew of Jesus’ promise, but failed to show up and join the others in prayer. We can infer this from passages such as 1 Corinthians 15:6, where we learn that the risen Christ was seen by over 500 people on one occasion.
Surely they all would have been told about the coming outpouring of the Spirit. Surely they all would have dropped everything else in order to experience such a transformational event.
But only 120 people showed up to pray.
Why were so many people absent when the Holy Spirit came? Were they simply too busy? Did they think they had “better” things to do? Despite Jesus’ promise, were they skeptical that anything of significance would happen?
We can only imagine what their reasons were. But whatever the reasons might have been, they look rather silly in retrospect.
I’ve been thinking lately about how important it is to “show up,” whether in our personal prayer times with the Lord or in our gatherings with other believers. I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t see much happen when I show up. And sometimes I probably just give up too early—right before some breakthrough would have occurred.
I’ve concluded that there are two primary motivations for why we show up for things. One is DUTY, and the other is EXPECTANCY. Although duty isn’t necessarily an improper motive, expectancy is clearly a much better motivator.
Most of us go to work more out of duty than out of expectancy. The same is true of showing up for our six-month dental checkup.
But duty shouldn’t be our primary reason for going to church. We should come with great anticipation, expecting to meet with God, even as we are meeting with fellow believers.
I don’t know if Peter, James, and John were expecting much to happen the day Jesus took them up the mountain to pray (Matthew 17:1-8). Perhaps they assumed it would be just an “ordinary” day. But to their surprise, “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (v. 2).
It was no ordinary day.
Prior to climbing the mountain with Jesus, the three disciples may have felt they had “other things to do.” However, they chose to show up—and the Lord met with them in a powerful way.
Is there somewhere God is calling YOU to show up…some divine appointment He’s asking you to keep? Then don’t go just out of obligation or duty. Be expectant that He will meet with you and change your life!
Thank you, Jim. I really enjoy reading your devotionals. You are an excellent writer.
Good to hear from you, Bill. I would love to see you the next time I’m back in Ohio. Jim