Help My Unbelief   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We can become doubtful of God when he doesn’t meet our expectations. But God wants to change our limited view of him.

In an article from Mature Living from December 2000, we read:
Lorene's grandson was thrilled to receive a Superman costume for this third birthday. 
He immediately put it on and ran out the backdoor. 
With sheer excitement, he ran through the yard with his cape sailing in the wind. 
Soon thereafter, though, he came back inside with the cape in his hand. 
In disgust, he threw it on the floor and muttered, "This thing doesn't work." Mature Living, December 2000, p.7
Have you ever been disappointed?
That is probably a dumb question because I am pretty sure that all of us have been disappointed in something at some point in our life.
As we continue dealing with the subject of doubt in our series, Help My Unbelief, Dealing With Doubt, we are going to examine an issue that can cause many to have their doubts about either the existence of God and/or that if He DOES exist, that He cares anything about me.
The issue we will dig into together this morning is the issue of EXPECTATIONS.
We all have expectations in life.
In our relationships, we often have expectations of the other person and how that relationship is supposed to look.
The hardest part of life is when an expectation is not met.
If you have ever been let down by someone, disappointed in them, it is usually because they did not rise to your expectations in some area.
This happens in marriage. A husband or a wife has certain expectations from their spouse, and when those expectations are not met, disappointment follows.
If one is disappointed enough, then faith in the spouse will wain, and eventually, the person will doubt that their spouse even or possibly ever loved them.
We have all had something in our life that we once believed in, but because of unmet expectations, we start to doubt what we once believed.
Maybe our doubts concerning God happened because we lost a parent or loved one that we EXPECTED God to heal, and the healing never came.
Maybe that blessing we thought for sure we had in the bag never materialized?
Big Idea of the Message: We can become doubtful of God when he doesn’t meet our expectations. But God wants to change our limited view of him.
Today we will be in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16:20-23.
We will look at an event that illustrates what happens when expectations are not met.
Let’s turn to Matthew 16:20-21 to being our journey today.
Matthew 16:20–21 (CSB)
20 Then he gave the disciples orders to tell no one that he was the Messiah.
21 From then on Jesus began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.

I. Expectations ignore reality.

Just like the little boy who was disappointed his Superman cape did not get him off the ground when we have expectations that ignore reality, our doubt, disillusionment, and disappointments will grow.
The little boys' expectations were not rooted in reality, so he lost faith in his cape.
The context of this passage is interesting and important.
At the beginning of the chapter, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were duking it out with Jesus.
These leaders were there to test Jesus.
They wanted Him to show them a sign from Heaven.
Jesus basically says no.
Matthew 16:4 (CSB)
4 An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
Jesus did tell them they would get on sign, the sign of Jonah.
Jonah, if you remember, got to ride in the belly of the fish for three days before he was spat out on the shore.
The religious leaders put Jesus in a box of their expectations, and they could never seem to get past that flaw in their view of Him.
The view of the religious leaders was not based on reality.
After Jesus left the leaders, Jesus gives some warnings to His disciples concerning the religious leaders; then He turns His focus to something new.
He asked the disciples who do people say He is?
After a few answers, Jesus asks the disciples who they think He is.
Matthew 16:16 (CSB)
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Keep this in mind when we get deeper into the text.
After this pronouncement by Peter, verse 20 tells us that Jesus prohibited the disciples from sharing this information.
The most likely reasons for the prohibition were...
The information would endanger his life and hinder his work by exciting more prejudice in the minds of his enemies.
Secondly, the disciples were unfit to preach this doctrine; they did not know at this time what rising from the dead meant; they did not understand that Jesus had to die, be buried, and be raised from the dead before he could establish his kingdom.
They would preach that he would establish a temporal kingdom; hence it is best for them to remain silent until they had all of the facts necessary and could proclaim them by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Gospel Advocate Commentary)
In verse 21, Jesus tells the disciples in straightforward terms what would eventually happen to Him.
Jesus explained the reality of the situation so the disciples would not be disillusioned to the point of doubt when these things came to pass.
Of course, we know at the time when these events came to pass, the disciples were fearful because even though Jesus told them what was going to happen, they refused to base their expectations on the reality of what was going to happen.
When your expectations in life are not based on reality, you will be let down.
This happens in relationships.
One person will have a fairytale story image of the other that in no way matches reality.
When the person does not meet the fairytale, relationships are damaged.
If my wife wanted me to be 6’2’’, if that was her dream to have a man who was 6’2”, there is no way I can get there.
I have weighed as much as someone who is 6’2”, so I tried.
When expectations are not based on reality, you will be disappointed.
Jesus told the disciples exactly how it would go down; when it did, they were doubtful and disillusioned.
Now let's see what can happen when we try to force our expectations upon another!
Matthew 16:22 (CSB)
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!”

II. Expectations are built on my own desires.

Upon hearing the declaration from Jesus, Peter steps up.
Now, remember, Peter had earlier said that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
The Christian life is about our relationship with Jesus and our trust in Jesus.
But sometimes, we bring our own expectations to our relationship with God.
We create a schematic for how we think God should operate.
When God doesn’t perform the way we think he should, we become frustrated and doubt his loyalty to our relationship.
Peter was not going to stand for this declaration from Jesus!
The boldness of Peter amazes me.
Soon after confessing Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Peter has the gall to rebuke Jesus!
The word REBUKE means to warn forcefully as expressing strong disapproval.
A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 16:22)
Other possibilities are “scold him for talking like that” and “tell him he shouldn’t talk like that.
Peter actually takes Jesus aside to do this deed!
Have you ever seen kids play pretend?
Maybe they are playing superheroes or playing house. Inevitably, you will have one child tell another child (or the parent attempting to play with them), “You’re not doing it right! Do this! Sound like this!”
Sometimes the disciples did this to Jesus.
Jesus was constantly challenging the disciples’ expectations of what God was going to do in the world.
Peter was putting Jesus into his box of expectations.
This is not a good thing to do!
Jack Hayford – danger of putting God in a box
Nothing is more limiting than the self-imposed boundaries we clamp around our own lives when we require God to fit into our expectations.” Jack Hayford (b.1934, Pastor, author, professor) Prayer Is Invading The Impossible, Jack Hayford, 2002, p.31
The religious leaders put Jesus into a box, and when He did not fit into their box, they discarded Him.
Peter tried to put Jesus into His box, and later, when Jesus was on trial, Peter denied Jesus three times.
Why did Peter deny Jesus three times, since he said that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?
Because Jesus did not fit into the box Peter built for Jesus, Peter doubted.
Jesus was not meeting his expectations of what it meant to be a Messiah!
Peter’s rejection of any thought of the death of the beloved Saviour was perfectly in line with Satan’s purpose.
Note too that Peter assumed a new role, that of an instructor of his Lord in this case.
At that point, he appeared no longer as a disciple but as one to rebuke and contradict what Christ had just said. (Coffman Commentary on Matthew)
I think we all know that Peter was trying to protect Jesus; this is part of the reason Peter built the expectation box for Jesus.
No one would harm Jesus if He stayed in Peter’s expectation box!
However, Peter’s ignorance of God’s plan made him a tool of Satan.
Remember, Satan was trying to get Jesus off-mission; Peter was playing into that same theme.
Peter did not understand God’s will; God’s will ran contrary to HIS understanding of the mission of the Messiah.
He was acting and feeling as men do, and not as God wills.
Peter did not know just what he was doing; he was deeply agitated, and his words gushed out of a zealous, loving heart, almost without thought.
Look at verse 23 with me.
Matthew 16:23 (CSB)
23 Jesus turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”

III. We allow God to change our perspective.

Peter has an expectation of Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus brings doubt to that expectation, so Peter says, “You’re not doing it right, Jesus!”
But Peter’s mind was not set on God’s desire or perspective; he only saw his own.
We have to trust God and not be tempted to put God in a box.
Peter was thinking of Jesus from a selfish earthly view.
Peter did not believe Jesus deserved what was going to happen to Him.
To Peter’s credit, from an earthly view, he was right!
However, in verse 23, Jesus correctly diagnoses Peter’s mistaken perspective by telling Peter that he was not thinking about God’s concerns but rather human concerns.
Sometimes doubt can happen because of poor theology.
The 1991 Metallica song “The God That Failed” describes the struggle that lead singer James Hetfield experienced at the death of his mother from cancer (William Irwin, Metallica and Philosophy: A Crash Course in Brain Surgery [Malden, MA: Blackwell Publisher, 2007], 71).
In his frustration, Hetfield sings, “The healing hand held back by the deepened nail / Follow the god that failed.”
The song’s unmistakable title and lyrics brought about his mother’s belief in Christian Science that kept her from seeking medical treatment.
Christian Science is a metaphysical religion that reinterprets the Bible to stress the importance of conciseness and using mind and words to bring healing to the body (Matt Slick, “Is the Christian Science Religion Christian?” Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, https://carm.org/christian-science-religion-christian).
God did not withhold healing; bad theology did!
Whose fault is that?
We must ask ourselves: Is our relationship with God about him meeting all our expectations?
And when he doesn’t, do we doubt him? Or is our relationship with God about him shaping our desires, perspectives, and understanding of life to his will and learning to trust him?
What expectation of Jesus did you have that He did not seem to fulfill?
You prayed for the life of a loved one to be spared, and they still died.
The life of your pet?
What happened to you that caused you to doubt He loves you and was there for you?
Our application point today is...
Application Point: We have to let God change our perspective and our expectations.
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