John Avanzini addresses the City Harvest congregation from the position of a spiritual father.
Contributed by Yeap Yixuan
John Avanzini, known to millions of Christian television viewers as “Brother John,” is the most widely-published author and teacher on the subject of biblical economics and debt-free living.
A familiar face in City Harvest Church, Avanzini delivered yet another inspiring sermon on May 22 to the congregation. The title of the message was: “Expectation precedes manifestation.”
Avanzini expounded on the importance of having expectation, stating that even prophets have to operate with great expectation.
He gave an analogy for expectation: “If a bunch of you are going to go out and pray for rain, but nobody brings an umbrella, you’re not going to get your rain.” The umbrella is a symbol of your expectation that the rain will come.
“Expectation,” declared the preacher, “is the twin sister of faith. Faith is merely a wish if it is not accompanied by expectation.”
Referring to Daniel 10:12-15 from the Bible, he said, “As long as the expectation is there, the angel can come.” The prophet Daniel had prayed, expecting an answer from the Lord—an angel finally came to him 21 days later.
The preacher, who turned 75 that Saturday, peppered his sermon with wit and humor. In the case of the widow spoken of in 2 Kings 4:1-7, Avanzini joked that if the widow had not stopped pouring the oil into vessels “there’d be no shortage of oil in the world today!” Behind the humor was the message that if one’s expectations are high enough, the miracle received will exceed expectations because “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.”
Avanzini maintained that expectation is so powerful, it even works for those who are without Christ. Going into Acts 3:1-6, Avanzini shared about the expectation of a crippled man that was so huge he drew down a healing miracle from heaven. He said, “Prayer is nothing but a wish if there is no expectation in it. We are not to just wait for a miracle to happen; but we are to do something and expect it to happen.”
Avanzini also warned the crowd that expectation can fade into unbelief, as was the case in Judges 6:11-13. “If you’re not walking in miracles, your expectation has fallen and you are in danger of unbelief.” From there he urged the congregation not to “camp around [your] little wheat and corn; but to lift your eyes and fix them on the harvest.”
Reading from Genesis 15:1-3, in which God gave Abram a vision for the night, Avanzini exhorted City Harvesters to have “night vision”—to ward off the devil’s discouragement at night. A progressive vision is required to keep expectation strong. “When there’s no vision, the people perish”, he quoted. “Without a progressive vision, nothing will happen. Your circumstance is the circle you’re standing in; you need to step out of it.”
In closing, Avanzini challenged the congregation to have expectation in their giving, and they will see the blessings of the Lord upon their lives.
The message left its mark on members like Christine Lim, 48, a teacher, who said, “I like the part about having a progressive vision, and stepping out of our circumstances by faith. Through that, we will see God’s miracles in our lives.”
“I learned that we need to have bold expectation that God’s greater promises will come,” said Lim Hun Leong, 49, a regional vice president of an IT company.
Gerald Wong, a 20-year-old student, plans to take the sermon further by applying its principles in his cell group. “Our target is to have 20 people in the cell group by June. At the moment there are 18 members, but by faith, we ordered two extra cell group jerseys in the expectation that our vision that will come to pass.”