“According to my earnest expectation and my hope”
Not just expectation, but earnest expectation. Not just hope, but earnest hope. Earnest means showing sincere and intense conviction. Paul had no doubt that the gospel message could change people’s lives. He had seen it in His own life. He was a persecutor of Christians, going from town to town, house to house, dragging Christians out and throwing them in prison, even killing them. He terrorized the Christians in every sense of the word as we know it today.
But one day, on his way to capture Christians in Damascus, he had an encounter with God that is recorded in Acts chapter 9. A bright light shone from heaven and Paul was thrown from His horse. The Lord Jesus made it very clear that Paul was persecuting Him, not the Christians, and Paul was struck blind. He was told to go to a certain house where his sight would be restored. Paul changed direction that day. The church, of course was skeptical about this conversion until they heard Paul preach several times, and heard his story. Paul knew that if he could be turned around, anybody, no matter what their belief, could be turned around as well. Therefore, he was sincerely and intensely convicted that preaching the gospel would bring the expected result.
He also had earnest hope. Hope that the gentiles would hear the message and believe. Hope that all would come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, and know the blessings that Paul had seen in people’s lives. Hope that his fellow apostles (today we would call them evangelists and missionaries) would find the joy he had in winning souls to Jesus. Hope of a growing and lively church.
What kind of expectation and hope do we have when we preach the gospel? I know there are times for me when I am delivering a message, and I don’t have that type of conviction about it. Maybe I didn’t prepare as well as I should, or get all the notes in that I wanted to. Maybe I didn’t pray enough over the people I was going to preach to that morning, asking the Holy Spirit to touch them before I spoke. Or maybe just not enough personal prayer time during the week in preparation. There are all kinds of reasons my hopes and expectations for a message might not be like Paul’s.
But I desire that kind of passion – that kind of anticipation for what the gospel can do in a person’s life. It’s amazing! I was a drug bound, drunken hippie in the 70’s when I met Jesus, and he turned my life upside down. It took time to get all the bad things out, and He’s still working on me 40 years later, but I am so glad I found Him then. I want others to know the freedom, joy and peace that He can bring to their lives. I should have that same earnest expectation and hope!
Lord, fill me with an earnest expectation and hope every time I share the gospel. It is such a powerful message of mercy and grace, and yet I have been less than enthusiastic too often to deliver it. Help me to never get behind a pulpit again without have the conviction that I am sharing the most powerful message ever given to man.