Living with Expectation | PREPARE
Monday— After Jesus was born…during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem. Matthew 2:1
How many years had he sat at this window, studying the stars? How long had he searched the ancient scrolls, gleaning hints about a King who would be born in a far away land? It had consumed him since he was young and he’d studied astronomy for this very reason. He yearned to see the day God sent this amazing King; yet, year after year his prayers went unanswered.
He lifted the glass to scan the heavens once more and his breath caught. What was that? “Hanni!” he cried. “Come quickly!”
All we know about the wise men (there were probably more than 3) is what we read in Matthew 2. But much is implied. They lived far from Judea, but these astronomers had studied scripture. They wanted to be ready when God gave them a sign. The same star was visible to other people, but they didn’t see it for what it was. Only the men who lived with expectation, educated themselves, and prepared to follow got to experience what God was doing. Even though following meant leaving their comfort zones, inconveniencing themselves with months of travel, and offering costly gifts, they were ready to go when God gave the sign. Their goal was not to get a selfie, alert the media, or sell tickets. They longed to be a part of whatever God was doing. So they lived with expectation that the One worthy of worship would make Himself known to them. They weren’t disappointed.
Final Thought: The One worthy of worship makes Himself known to anyone who lives with expectation.
Prayer: Lord God, teach me to live with eager expectation of what you want to do in my life, in my world. I want to be ready when you have something to show me. You are worthy of worship and worth any sacrifice I make. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” Luke 12:40
Very few people were ready when Jesus came the first time. The arrival of the Messiah had been prophesied for centuries, but when it happened, no one expected it. Mary was stunned, the shepherds were terrified, and King Herod was outraged because this was not what they’d pictured. Messiah was supposed to ride in on a white horse, kick out the Romans, and give everybody a tax break. That’s the Messiah they wanted, so when the real one showed up, there was no room in the inn.
Very few people are ready for Jesus to come the second time either. He talked about it all the time, prophets before Him wrote about it, and the New Testament writers told us exactly what to expect. But people react in two extremes: they either pack suitcases and stand on a hill with binoculars OR they ignore it and live like He’ll never come. Neither is the right approach. Being ready means we wake up every morning and think, “It could be today.” That thought influences every choice we make—and that’s the point. If we live every day thinking, “Do I want Jesus to catch me doing this?” we make better choices. We grow up. We wise up. And we pursue holiness the way God commands us to. The goal is live with expectation so that when Jesus appears, we greet Him with open arms, open hearts, and open lives. No shame, no excuses, no regrets when we’re ready.
Final Thought: If Jesus should come today, are you ready?
Prayer: Jesus, you said that only the Father knows the day and the hour when you will come, but you also gave us clues, and according to your word, it could be any moment now. All prophecies have been fulfilled. Help me live in readiness. Amen.
Wednesday— “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware.” Luke 21:34
Carousing and drunkenness. That summarizes 21st century America, doesn’t it? We know about drunkenness. Carousing is everything else going on at the party you shouldn’t attend. “Carousing,” in Bible language, is a word God uses to describe behavior that disgusts Him. He doesn’t think partying, sleeping around, and out-of-control actions are cute or excusable. You won’t find “boys will be boys” or “girls just wanna have fun” in the Bible under “It’s Okay.” You WILL find them listed under “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:20-21). Why? Because it dulls our hearts.
God knows how He wired us. He’s the top tech designer in the universe and it offends Him when we abuse His brilliant creation. It’s like using the Mona Lisa for a drop cloth or giving a Lamborghini Veneno to a rebellious teenager. Such a waste. That must be how the angels view us when we live in ways contrary to our design. We were created to know and be known by God. We’re more like Him than any other created being; yet, He allows us to reject Him if we choose. But we also reap the consequences of that choice. When we dull ourselves with evil, we can no longer respond to Him correctly and we’re unprepared to fight off the enemy of our souls. Dulling ourselves with worldliness is the opposite of living with expectation.
Final Thought: Is your life characterized by dullness or by expectation of what God is going to do?
Prayer: Father, how sharp am I? What am I allowing into my life that dulls me to what you want to do in and through me? Show me how to value the way you made me and live the way I’m designed to live—with expectation. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. Luke 12:37
“I will be giving the final test at any point during the semester,” announced Professor Dunlap. “You won’t have any warning and it will cover all material we have had thus far.” Tony turned wide eyes to Ellie. “I don’t believe it,” he whispered. “Jock had him last year and there was no test ‘til finals week. Jock crammed all semester for nothing. I’m blowing this off.” Ellie frowned. “I don’t know. Sounds like he means it. I need this grade for med school. I’m not taking a chance.” And she didn’t. She kept her studies current while Tony partied. Then, on a morning in late October, they arrived to see a ten-page test on every desk.
Jesus sounds like He means it too. He is eager to reward those who’ve been waiting for Him, and He knows who they are because He gets the ongoing transcript of our life choices. He accepts no excuses. It will be sudden and unexpected. The ready and waiting servants will be swept up in a flash and taken to the party to beat all parties. He will weigh our deeds on His scale and whatever we did for selfish reasons will blow away like dust. But those choices we made simply to please and obey Him will start to shine like pure gold coming out of the fire. In God’s heavenly refinery, that gold is molded into crowns, treasures, honors, and positions of authority that we will enjoy forever. The God who created Mt. Everest, the Caribbean Sea, chocolate, laughter, beauty, and joy knows how to create rewards better than anything we’ve ever known. He told us to stay ready, to live with expectation, spiritual bags packed, treasure sent on ahead. Wise people take His word that it will be worth it.
Final Thought: Ready means we plan as though Jesus won’t come for a hundred years, but we live as if it is today.
Prayer: Jesus, you warned us to be ready for your return because none of us knows when that is. But in living with expectation of your second coming, I’ll also live with expectation of what you want to do through me now. Help me get ready. Amen.
Friday— Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks…for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15
Let’s eavesdrop on these two conversations:
-“You seem different lately,” Ross said to Caroline. “You start drinking?” She laughed. “No, I, um, well I…I’ve been going to this church, you know, the new one…um, you know by the old Harris place? It’s pretty good…um…no, nothing new…exactly…”
-“All religions are the same,” Elias stated. “Bunch of fables, myths, some invisible being up there watching over us. Stupid. Right, BJ?” BJ swallowed hard and looked at his shoes. “Uh, well most of them, yeah, but not all…I dunno…my opinion…”
If you see yourself in either Caroline or BJ, take another look at this verse. Satan ties us in knots by convincing us that we need a PhD in physics to defend our faith in Jesus. But that’s not what this verse says. It tells us to be ready to give the reason for our changed lives. We don’t have to know how Jesus changed water into wine; we just need to know how He has changed us. Every Christian has a story, but they’re not the same. The world needs our stories, so God expects us to speak up when people ask why our sins are forgiven or we expect to go to heaven. People want answers; we should prepare to give them.
Final Thought: If Jesus has changed your story, put into words what happened you so you’re ready to give an answer.
Prayer: Father, when I look back on who I was before you, my story has changed a lot. Help me prepare answers for people who ask so I don’t stammer around. I’m not ashamed of you and I want to be ready with good answers. In Jesus’ name, amen.