Expecting Vs Wanting

Wanting vs. Expecting

Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. – Daniel 2:12-18 ESV

I was watching a business training video online today and she talked about in it the difference between expecting success and wanting success. She said, “Expecting to succeed and just wanting to succeed are two very different things, because if you expect it, you act very different and you put very different steps in motion than if you just want it. Wanting is just like a pipe dream or a wish.”[1]

Our small group is studying Daniel and a topic that we discussed last time we got together seems to line up exactly with this definition. Daniel expected God to come to his aid, so he put different steps in motion than I probably would have in his place. I believe that we can and should apply this idea to our faith, just as he did.

In chapter 2 of Daniel, we find the King Nebuchadnezzar is demanding an interpretation to a vision he’s had. When he finds they can’t meet his demands, he orders all their deaths. Daniel doesn’t know about any of this, even though he is among the ones that have sentenced to death, so he goes to the captain of the guard to learn what’s happening.

When he hears that a dream is the cause of the trouble, Daniel immediately sets up an appointment with the king to interpret it for him. Then, Daniel goes to his friends and asks them to pray for him to receive the interpretation, which he receives in a dream.

The part of this story that is about expectation is the moment right after he talks to the captain of the guard about why he’s been sentenced to death. The moment that he heard the reason, he went to get an appointment with the king. THEN, he went and got prayers. First, he took action, then he begged before the Lord with his friends.

I’m sure there was prayer coming out of him the whole time, as this was probably a very intense time for him. I’m not trying to say that we should not pray before taking an action. I’m saying that I think we should trust our relationship with God enough to know when to take an action and when to stop and pray before taking that action.

Daniel didn’t stop and ask God if it was alright to go tell King Nebuchadnezzar that he would interpret the dream. He didn’t ask God for a guarantee about getting that interpretation. He didn’t try to beg for more time or ask, “Why me?!”

What he told his friends to do was to, “seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” That doesn’t sound like what you ask for when you’re confident of the answer. That sounds more like asking to get the answer, which means: Daniel didn’t have the answer when he set up the appointment with the king. He had no idea what the dream was and he didn’t know the outcome of the conversation that would happen.

Daniel knew something far more important. Daniel expected God to help in his time of need, not just wishing for it. He also knew that he had to ask for it from the Lord; he couldn’t just waltz into the king’s court unprepared and expect the Lord would hand answer to him. Daniel walked the line of expected God’s answers and taking the action that happens as a result of that expectation, while still staying humble before the Lord and seeking Him in all things.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. – Psalm 73:24 ESV


[1] Renae Christine

Do You Value a Trusting Relationship With God?

Disrupting Traffic – 4 Steps to Sin Removal

Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. – Nehemiah 13:17-19 ESV

Nehemiah was an Old Testament prophet who went back to Jerusalem and helped to begin rebuilding the wall and temple there. It was far more than just a physical restoration, however. The people hadn’t kept up on what the Law said and didn’t follow it, sometimes even when they did know what it said. Nehemiah came in to build the physical city, but also to begin restoring the spiritual state of the people’s hearts. One example of how he does this can teach us a great deal about what it takes to make Godly change happen in our lives.

  1. Calling a spade a spade.

When Nehemiah came back, he found that there was a thriving market happening in Jerusalem on the Sabbath. They were working and selling as if it were any other day of the week. Upset, Nehemiah challenged the leaders about and called them out on it. He reminded them that their fathers had done this and they had been punished for it.

Often we are afraid to challenge things in our lives, especially things that have gone on for a long time or are in some way bringing us benefit. Jerusalem was a wreck and while there was some returning of the economy, it was hardly the thriving city it had been. While the scriptures don’t tell us what the reaction to Nehemiah’s cleansing was, it is not difficult to image that there were many people who didn’t want to lose the market and the money that went along with it.

Nothing about the situation or any seeming benefit from it caused Nehemiah to see sin as anything other than sin. He knew that God wanted His people to keep the Sabbath holy, and he could also clearly see that they weren’t doing that. Instead of pandering or trying to convince people to agree with him first, he came out and talked about the sin.

In addition to this being a way of life, many of the merchants weren’t Jews. They didn’t have to follow the laws the Jews did. It might have been tempting to say that they could stay. But, since the non-Jews selling to the Jews was profaning the Sabbath just as much, Nehemiah didn’t even let that argument stand. Nothing would profane the Sabbath as long as Nehemiah had something to do about it.

  1. Disrupting everyday living.

In order to make the changes happen, Nehemiah locked the gates at the beginning of Sabbath (sundown on Friday). No one could come in to sell for the full Sabbath day. This is the crux of the change. Nehemiah didn’t start a petition or a committee to talk about ways to phase out the profaning of the Sabbath. He drew a line and said, no more. He found a way to stop the sin from continuing on.

We must be willing to do this in our lives. Unfortunately, it’s not often as obvious or as easy as locking a gate to keep merchants out. Our troubles usually are more entwined with people and circumstances. No matter how complex the situation or how much we really like what we’re doing, as soon as we are enlightened to the sin, we must be willing to draw lines and make changes. What do you value more: the benefits of sin in your life, or a relationship of trust built with God through obedience?

  1. Protecting our interests

This also isn’t just a once and done event. After locking the gates, Nehemiah saw that some of the merchants had set up camp outside the city. How often does this happen? Just as we feel we’ve made progress on getting sin out of the center of us, we find that it’s set up a place right outside the door. It’s waiting right nearby to tempt us and try to take advantage of the first slip up we make.

Nehemiah knew that wasn’t a good option either. He went to the camped out people and threatened them if they didn’t move along. Sounds extreme, but Nehemiah knew that concession to temptation, even if in and of itself it isn’t a sin, is the first step toward failure. The camping out merchants had to go because they only reason they were there is to take advantage of a mistake.

We need to protect ourselves with as much wisdom as Nehemiah. Don’t allow a backup plan to exist for if you mess up. Don’t keep a temptation close at hand for when you mess up; by keeping it close, it becomes a guarantee of your failure! If your heart wants your troubles nearby, it’s most likely because transformation hasn’t truly happened. Guilt may have happened, even conviction might have happened. However, transformation hasn’t.

Transformation happens when we encounter God and His presence alters our very being to make us want Him more than anything else. Transformation makes us take precautions that protect our best interests: obedience. No more fudging or hiding a reserve supply of whatever it is that we’re into in the back of the closet. We draw clear lines and we find ways to remove the lingering temptation. Accountability with others who love us and want the best for us is one way that we can do this.

  1. In it for the long haul

Just because they finally got the Sabbath issues ironed out when it came to the merchants, there were more Sabbaths ahead. We can’t just get things right for the day and congratulate ourselves on a job well done. This is about establishing habits that set us up for a deeper relationship with God. It doesn’t mean striving for perfection, that’s not the goal. The goal is a real relationship with God and real relationships require give and take and showing up day after day, messy or dirty or late or whatever. Show up to be with God as you are day in and day out and watch the power that He allows to flow into your life.

You Have Wholly Followed the Lord - Joshua 14:9

Be the Losing Voice

In Numbers chapter 13, we see Caleb, a strong man of God among the Israelites who left Egypt, choosing to be the losing voice in a pressure filled situation. Caleb was one of 12 men who were sent to scout out the land of promise after leaving the slavery of Egypt. They were told to look over the land God had given to them and report back to the Israelites. After their spying trip, they met up with the people and delivered a report: it’s good, but not that good. They agreed that it was bountiful land flowing with milk and honey, but it also happened to have big cities and big dudes in it (Numbers 13:32-33).

Imagine, if you will, standing in the stead of Caleb. Not only do 11 of the leaders of the Israelites disagree with you, the people are most likely going to side with them. Who wants to face giants and walled cities? Think of the most peer-pressured situation you’ve faced and how it felt to be up against it. Imagine the adrenaline and the physical pressure and stress of wanting to go against what the others are saying. If you go with the flow, no troubles. If you stand against it, even your own body reacts, sweating and shaking. There’s the fear of what others will say or even do if you don’t agree with them. I imagine that Caleb felt all that. He not only had the peer-pressure of the situation, but he’d seen the threats first-hand. He knew how big the cities were and how strong the enemy looked.

In spite of all that, he chose to be the losing voice and stand up for what the Lord had promised. He not only voiced his opinion, he made sure the whole crowd was quiet before he started speaking, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” His response showed no fear and sense of urgency. He wanted to go right now and occupy the land. The giants? The cities? No worries, we got this!

Caleb was the reminder voice. Caleb was God giving the Israelite a final choice to obey him. In spite of all the blessing of God and Caleb’s dissenting opinion, the Israelites chose to take the deceitful path that seemed safer, but really took them away from blessing. How heartbreaking for Caleb! His words make him sound like a passionate type of person and I can’t imagine how frustrated and disappointed he was that they’d chosen so poorly.

It’s easy to think that the story stops there, but it doesn’t. God isn’t done with his faithful servant. We find Caleb again in two places, Deuteronomy 1:35-36 and Joshua 14:6-15. First, in Deuteronomy, Moses tells us something special about Caleb.

‘Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the LORD.’ (Deuteronomy 1:35-36 NKJV)

God had seen the faithfulness of Caleb and he’d remembered him and let him enter the Promised Land when everyone else who had been his peer was condemned to die.

The next time we see Caleb, the Israelites have entered Canaan and started claiming the land. They’ve reached the part of the land that Caleb helped spy out and he goes to Joshua (the only other person who was allowed to enter the Promised Land from that generation).

“I [was] forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as [it was] in my heart. … “So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’ “And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.” As yet I [am as] strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength [was] then, so now [is] my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. (Joshua 14:7, 9-11 NKJV)

What a crazy life! He’s now 85 and he’s just as strong as he was at 40. Granted, people in this part of the Bible are living a little longer than we live, 100 – 120 years. But even with that slightly longer lifespan, 85 is still pushing the higher end. And to say that his strength is the same, and he’s ready to fight? Amazing!

I wish I could know the sweetness and victory in this moment for Caleb. He had to endure 40 years of wandering in the dessert with the faithless generation. But here, finally was the answer to the prayers he’d been praying, and he wasn’t going to miss out at all!

When we have to wait for blessings that we know God is holding for us, sometimes we can feel that it won’t be as good or we won’t be able to enjoy it as much, if we’re too old. But when God promises something he’s faithful and He doesn’t go half-way. He blessed Caleb and, on top of the blessing, he gave him the strength and energy to do what he was willing to do all those years before.

God is good and His blessing are amazing! It’s always worth the cost of obedience and God will never, ever forget His servants.