Wisdom for Life: Dealing with the Future

This morning, we’re going to talk about the future. You know, it struck me that I don’t really believe that we realize how living in the present is so significant in our lives. But what we’re, I think profoundly unaware of is this present life that we live because of our preoccupation with the future.

Now, I don’t know how many of you have ever read, in fact, I’d be curious, how many of you have ever read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis? Anybody? Fascinating book. Some people think it’s the best book he’s ever written. It’s real unusual. It’s about a senior devil or demon, whatever you want to call him, whose name is Screwtape. And he writes a series of letters to his nephew, Wormwood, and he’s always giving him advice. And what he’s trying to do, he says, ‘this is how you handle the enemy’. And the enemy that he refers to is God and Jesus.

And he, I guess you could say, and Christians, and the goal, what they’re trying to do is to destroy the faith and the spiritual life of Christian believers. And you get some really terrific insights in this, but listen to, in the 15th chapter, listen to what he says. This is Screwtape writing to Wormwood. And he says, “My dear Wormwood,” and he makes a few opening remarks, then he says, “the humans,” that would be us, “the humans live in time, but our enemy, God, destined them to eternity. He, therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things. First, to eternity itself and to that point of time which they call the present. For the present is the point at which time touches eternity. But our business, Wormwood, is to get them away from the eternal and from the present, because it’s far better to make them live in the future because in making them think about the future, we make them think of unrealities.” 

And he’s talking about what goes on in our imagination, which I’m going to talk about in just a minute. He says, “He does not want men to give the future their hearts to place their treasure in it. But we do. We want a man hagridden by the future. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbows end.” Always chasing the rainbow. The grass is always greener on the other side. “Because if we do, they’ll never be honest with themselves, they’ll never be kind, and they will never be happy.”

That’s right on target with what I want to speak on this morning. I want to share with you a thought about the way we handle the future. And I’m going to read it to you twice, because I think it’s so significant. “We have this tendency to live out the future in our imagination before it arrives.” I’m going to read it again. “We have this tendency to live out the future in our imagination before it arrives.”

Guys, our lives are truly out of sync with time because we’re always anticipating the future. And we do this in two ways, and we do it again in our imagination. And the first way we do this, as we all are always trying to re arrange our lives around future expectations of happiness. Listen to what Blaise Pascal says about this.

He says, “We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and were trying to hurry it up… We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do not think of the only one that does… We almost never think of the present and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light it throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone, our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.”

You see, Pascal believed that human beings are the most paradoxical of all God’s creatures, because what he recognized is that human beings are the grandest of all God’s creatures. But what’s interesting is that we also experienced the greatest misery of all His creatures. And the reason is, is because we can think and reflect upon our lives and on our existence, which is one of the reasons we’re so grand, but it’s also the basis for our misery. And what often makes us so miserable is that no matter where we are in our lives and no matter how well things are going in life, we always seem to contemplate a better life in the future than we are currently experiencing in the now.

I mean, think about your life today. You probably do this a lot. I know I do. Couldn’t you find ways to make your life better? I mean, think about your circumstances. Couldn’t they be better? Maybe your relationships. I know some of you are not married. You know, you probably think, when I get married in the future, then life will be good. Or you’re thinking, wait until my kids get to college, then boy, then life and our marriage will be better. I mean, think about your children. You know, there’s something about your children that you’d like to see better in the future. Then you’ve got the financial issues of life. You know, when I get to this place financially, then I can pull the plug and relax, and your health, you know, one day I’m really going to get in good shape. I’m not right now, but I will.

And then, think about the demands on your time. You make, we make all these plans in the future, and we think in terms of I’ll do this when things settle down, you know, when the kids are gone, that’s when I’ll do this, and that’s when life will be good. I mean, don’t, we often think we will one day be happier or better off than we are right now?

What I realize guys, is that we can always seem to dream of a better life in the future, but, over time, what happens, it begins to dawn on us that we will never have and never achieve all that we want in this life. And this is when I see despair began to settle into men’s lives and they experienced this pervasive discontentment. So that’s the first way that the future is an impediment to living life to the fullest today. We’re always planning on being happy in the future.

And then of course, there’s a second way we’re always anticipating in the future. And that is, we fear it. We worry about it. Listen to what David Wells said. He said, “The world intrudes upon us as it never has before. One of the surest indications of this is that the levels of anxiety have never been higher. And why are we more anxious? There are, no doubt, many reasons, including a heightened tempo in the workplace, greater economic insecurity, too many choices, and perhaps family breakdown. What is more, the extraordinary rapidity of change in our society powerfully fixes our attention upon the future for, we need to anticipate events that are in the making in order to avoid what will be harmful and to capitalize on what will be beneficial. Anxiety, however, is nothing more,” listen to this, “anxiety, however, is nothing more than living out the future before it arrives, and modernity obliges us to do this many times over. The future is there by greatly intensified for us.”

You see, guys, fear and anxiety is created by uncertainty over the future. And we find ourselves living out, in our minds, in our imagination, the future, before it arrives. You see, fear operates in the realm of the imagination. And most of what we fear never comes to pass. Nevertheless, we struggle with it. In fact, the greatest fear comes into our lives when three things happen. One we’re faced with circumstances where we’re uncertain over what the outcome’s going to be. Two, it’s completely out of our hands, in other words, there’s nothing you can do about it. And three, the outcome can be potentially devastating to your life.

And so, what we ended up doing is playing out the outcome in your imagination, and it does incredible harm to us. This is why God, the number one imperative in Scripture is to fear not. Let not your heart be troubled. Don’t be anxious because it’s amazing what fear and worry and anxiety and stress does to us physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

Now, let me say this, a couple of years ago, I did a four-part series here on fear, worry, and anxiety. Four sessions. It’s all recorded. If you want a copy, send me an email and I’ll shoot you a set. I was going to bring a bunch of them this morning, but I realized we’re almost out. They go like hotcakes. It’s a huge issue. But you know, before I give you the real application of why you came here this morning, I want to mention one other thought on fear in the future. In that four-part series, we focus in on Matthew chapter six, verses 25 through 33 (Matthew 6:25-33), where Jesus gives us some wonderful instruction on fear and anxiety. And right when He’s finished with giving us this instruction, He gives us this important verse. It’s Matthew 6:34. He says, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

You see, fear, guys, is about tomorrow. It’s about tomorrow. What’s going to happen tomorrow. And Jesus said, I don’t want you to worry about tomorrow. I don’t want you to focus on today. The present has enough problems itself. Don’t worry about what’s down the road.

You know what I believe Christ clearly lived this out. He lived this way, otherwise He would have been weighed down by what awaited Him at the cross, which He knew was in His future. I mean, He talked about it. He knew it was coming and you know, He doesn’t experience the stress until He’s in the garden right before it happens. Otherwise, you see this peace and tranquility in His life. He lived this way focusing one day at a time.

Many of you have heard me share this, but for you who haven’t, I just want to mention it because it had such an impact on me. I had a good friend, Dr. Jim Collier, who died of cancer a couple of years ago. And about six months before he died, I went to see him. And I was just amazed at the peace in his life because he knew, as he said, I know my prognosis isn’t good. He had lung cancer. And he said, but you know, Richard, he says, God has blessed me. He’s given me the grace to live in the joy of the moment to live my life right now, one day at a time. And what I learned from him in that meeting was what he did, where most men would be in despair, he looked to God each day to live in the present one day at a time. And it made all the difference.

So, we have two problems with the future. One, we’re always planning to be happy in the future, not in the now. And we fear the future. We worry about it. We’re anxious about it. And this morning, I want to share with you two words from the Scriptures that is very pertinent to this discussion. And these are the two words, contentment and hope, contentment and hope. When these are both a reality in our lives, the tendency to live out the future before it arrives, will diminish in your life and will live more fully in the present.

In the book of Philippians, Paul speaks of discovering the secret of finding contentment. You see, guys, one of the reasons we’re always arranging life in the future and thinking of a better life in the future is because we’re not content with our lives right now, in the now. And Paul, in the book of Philippians, says this about contentment. And you have to realize he writes these words from prison. He says, “I am not saying this because I am in need for, I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances, I know what it is to be in need. And I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether I’m well fed or hungry, whether I’m living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11)

As I said, he wrote this from prison. He didn’t have, he had no idea how long he’d be in prison. He had no idea what the future held. And yet he says, I’m content, I’ve let, and he says, I’ve learned the secret. Now that word secret comes from the Greek word muo, which means to learn the mysteries or the secrets. You know, when you say ‘I’ve learned the secret of’, what you’re really saying is what I’ve learned. It’s not, self-evident, it’s not real obvious. And it’s not found where most people would look. So, what did Paul learn?

Well, very clearly, he says, contentment is not based, true, contentment’s not based on my outward circumstances. You see, for most modern people, when my circumstances are good and positive, my life then is going well. But when my circumstances are negative, then life is not good and I’m discontented. So, you see, the problem here guys is so many of life’s circumstances are out of my control and if that’s the case, I have no control over the contentment in my life.

I shared this illustration to kind of point this out. Back in 1990, I went to the first football game of the season of Gene Stallings’ career. I don’t know if you remember it. They played Southern Miss. I went with my godson, his dad, and a buddy. My godson was about five and it was an unbelievably hot day, and I spent a lot of time going to the concession stand to get nachos for these kids. I was miserably hot, and Alabama lost the game, and I’m an Alabama fan. It was kind of a miserable day, to be quite honest. Fast forward to the end of the year. Beautiful day, cool, Alabama, Auburn game. You can’t, it doesn’t get better than that. I went with another friend, no kids. And my team won first time in, I think, four or five years, and I was ecstatic. I was elated. I was euphoric. But think about it. You have two separate football games. You go with the intention of enjoying them. And yet, one of them was a miserable experience. And one of them was a fabulous experience, all based on circumstances, circumstances that I had no control over.

 And so, if you look to life and the world for contentment, you’re not going to find it because you’re going to look to your circumstances. And ultimately guys, we don’t have control over so much of what happens in life. So that’s the first thing Paul had learned, but part of this, or I guess, secondly, you could say, Paul, you know, was a Pharisee, and so, he knew the Old Testament well.

And I believe he knew well, Jeremiah 29:11, where God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. I have plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” You see, God says to each one of us, you have a future and a hope on the plan that I have for your life. But He tells us our big problem, in Isaiah chapter 30 verse one (Isaiah 30:1) is that we, His people, often never find His plan for our lives because, He says, we seek to execute a plan for our lives, and the problem is, it’s not My plan, it’s your plan.

Paul, on the other hand, he lived, you can read his letters and you see, he lived his life with a sense of mission, a sense of calling. He was seeking to execute God’s plan for his life. And therefore, he understood and believed in God’s good and sovereign hand in his life and his circumstances, even if it meant prison. Listen to what he says, again, in the book of Philippians in the first chapter verses 12 through 14 (Philippians 1:12-14), listen to what he says. He says, “Now I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. As a result, it’s become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

You know, clearly when you read this, you don’t hear Paul or see Paul complaining that his life is so disappointing in this nasty prison, or you don’t see him say, you know, once I get out of here, then I’m really going to spread the Gospel. Then life will really be good for me, nor do you see him complaining or even asking, God, Lord, why don’t you have me out in the streets of Rome or in Athens, Greece proclaiming the Gospel. Instead, you have me in this prison. You see, Paul was content in prison. Because at that moment, he believed that the good hand of God had him there for a reason and his imprisonment was advancing the Gospel. And he believed that God had him there for a reason. And therefore, this is where God has me. There’s no other place I’d want to be.

I love to share this story, it happened to me a number of years ago, I was in New York City. I was catching a cab to go somewhere, and I got in this cab and there was this little old guy he’s probably late fifties, early sixties, big glasses, accent, as most taxi drivers have up there. And I get in the back seat of the cab and staring me, you know, the back, of the front seat, I don’t know what you call the recliner there, staring me in the face, a bumper sticker, big yellow one. Couldn’t miss it. And the bumper sticker said ‘Jews for Jesus’. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it; it’s a national organization of Jewish people that have converted to Christianity because they believe Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament and it is a very large organization.

And I was familiar with it, but I thought I’d kind of play dumb and ask him. So, I did. I said, tell me what this bumper sticker is all about. Well, it’s like I flipped a switch, and his hot button went on as he starts telling me about what had happened in his life and how God had changed his life, how he found Jesus as the Messiah. He was now a completed Jew. As we’re driving down Park Avenue, I realize, you know, this guy is trying to convert me. And I finally shared with him. I said, listen, you know, I’m a Christian and we’re on the same team. And he just went on and he was telling me about how he just had Jackie Onassis as one of his passengers and how he’d shared Christ with her, and I told him where I wanted to be let off, and as we pulled up, he said something, guys, I will never forget. He said, God has blessed my life. He has called me to drive a taxi in New York City and every day I get to serve people and drive them to their destinations. And every day I get the opportunity to tell people about the Good News of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. He said, I am a blessed man.

You know, this guy didn’t want to be anywhere else. He wanted to drive a taxi. Why? Because he said, this is where God has; this is what God has called me to do. And I wonder, as we look at our lives this morning, do we see ourselves that way? I’m right where God wants me. I’m doing what He wants me to do.

A third thing Paul learned. One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is in Philippians chapter three, verse eight (Philippians 3:8). He says, “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

You know, Paul had been a wealthy Pharisee. And as a Pharisee, he was, not only was he brilliant, but he was important. He had all the fine things of life as a Pharisee. But of course, being a Pharisee, you had to be Jewish. And so, when Paul came to Christ and met Christ on the road to Damascus, everything changed. He had to give up everything, but it says here, but everything that I had to give up, I consider it rubbish in comparison to the great value of knowing Jesus personally. Paul lost all of his power, all of his wealth, all of his prestige and considered it rubbish in comparison to the priceless privilege and surpassing worth of knowing Christ. And if you read all of Paul’s other letters, he recognizes that most people do believe that material wealth is the source of contentment. You know, once I have this much money, then I’ll really be content. I won’t have any worries.

That’s what you read in the rich fool in Luke chapter 12. I can sit back. I won’t have any worries. I’m secure. Then I can be content. And guys, I can say this, I have seen many Christian men sit before me in my office with contempt for God, because they believe God has dealt them a bad hand, that he has discriminated against them financially. And maybe some of us feel that way this morning, but you know what? In the material realm, God has discriminated. Jesus says, yeah, the poor are always going to be with you, but you’re going to care for them. But you’re always going to have people who are poor. You’re going to have rich. That’s what you see in the parable of the talents. But Paul points out something very significant in I Timothy 6:8.

He says, “If we have food and covering in this life, with this, we shall be content.” Now what he’s trying to say here guys, is that all that’s necessary materially to find contentment in this life is to have food, clothing, and shelter and in our culture, maybe some type of transportation to get to work. He says, that’s all you basically need. He doesn’t say, that’s all you can have. But he says, that’s all you really need materially to find contentment in this life. But you know what Paul goes on to say, God has not discriminated when it comes to the true riches of life. In Ephesians 1:3, it says, “God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”. And so, this is what Paul had learned as he learned to be content. He says whether you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, you’re some big shot, or you’re a nobody, whether you’re black or white male, female, he says, God offers you life’s great treasure. What Jesus described as that Pearl of great value. And he says, once you find that Pearl, you will realize that you have found the one thing your heart has really been looking for. Paul clearly had learned that. And that was part of why he was content.

And the final fault or the final thing I believe that he learned, and there probably are other things, but this is what I abstract from the book of Philippians. In Philippians 1:21, he says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me and I don’t know which to choose, but I’m hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ for that is very much better.”

Paul reveals here that as a Christian, as a child of God, death is better than earthly life. I know we don’t see it that way, but that’s what he’s revealing. And I believe this allowed him to live more abundantly and with a real sense of freedom because he was delivered from life’s greatest fear, death. And I contend this is a great obstacle to living a truly content and peaceful existence. The problem is guys, and you know, we’re continually reminded about our mortality, but the key question that I really want to ask and consider is how could Paul make this kind of assertion and really believe it. Because you know what he was saying is, the worst thing you could do to me is the best thing you could do to me. Take my life, because everybody was trying to kill him. There were so many people that wanted him dead. And the reason he could say something, make that kind of statement is because he had real hope about the future.

I want to make a couple of remarks about faith and hope because they’re vitally linked together. You see guys, faith lives in confidence about the future. Faith is our response to what God has said and done in the past as it relates to our lives and our circumstances. Faith is extending…listen to this, this is so important…Faith is extending confidence in what God has said, what God has revealed and what God has promised to us, His people. You know, in that four-part series on fear and worry and anxiety, I talked at length about what it means to walk by faith.

But as I was thinking through this, what to share, because there’s so much, and I only have a limited amount of time, let me just share with you three promises in Scripture that we should really hang on to and build our lives on. The first I’ve already shared with you in Jeremiah 29:11. Think about it. That God has a plan for your life. A plan for welfare, not calamity. He wants to give you a future and a hope. In other words, He says, and I have a plan that leads to your wellbeing. But outside of that plan, outside of the will of God, He says there is all types of trouble and stress and fear.

So, He says that I have a plan for your life and it’s so important that we find and make sure we’re in the center of it, but it does exist. A second one, and I would just say this, even if you’re in the right, in the middle of God’s will, you may find times where storms enter your life. He makes a great promise about storms, and this is pertinent to only Christians, to His children, when he says in Romans 8:28, he says, “Whatever’s happening in your life, we know that all things are working together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.” In other words, whatever trouble that you’re going through, it has purpose in it.

You know, Paul talks about the thorn in the flesh that God brought into his life. He said, but God, he did it to keep me from exalting myself. There’s purpose in it. God is causing all things to work together for our good.

And then, one final promise that I think is just powerful. And it really relates to what Paul says here. He says, this is Jesus talking. He says, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself. That where I am there, you may be also.” You know, Jesus says, in the face of death, don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in me or believe what? In my father’s house are many dwelling places. I go and prepare a place for you. Well, why should we believe this? He says, because I’ve told you so.

Again, this is what faith is, guys. Extending confidence in what God has said and what He’s promised. Faith is always looking forward. Faith produces hope, and as your faith grows and develops, so does your hope, and hope is all about the future. In Hebrews 11:1, we’re given a definition of faith. I’ll read it to you. “Now, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The problem with that word hope is it’s not a very reassuring word in our vocabulary as Webster’s gives us a definition. This is the modern definition of hope. “Hope is a desire of something good with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it.” Is that what we’re looking for with at least a slight expectation it may happen?

You see, in the Bible, the word hope is the Greek word elpizo, which means to expect with certainty. Biblical hope, guys, as a life-shaking certainty of something that has not yet happened, but that we know one day will.

Listen to what Tim Keller says about hope. He says, “We underestimate the power of hope in our lives and just how much our belief in our future determines how we live today. Human beings are clearly hope-based creatures. We are unavoidably shaped by how we view the future because it impacts the way we process life in the present, in the now. What we believe about our future is the main determinant in how we process, how we experience, and how we handle circumstances in the present.”

You know, as we said, guys, fear is produced by uncertainty and ultimately, fear comes because you don’t know the final outcome. It produces fear. I was reading some remarks of Woody Allen in an interview, and I’ve always liked Woody Allen’s movies because they’re always very philosophical. He describes himself as a hopeful agnostic, whatever that means. But in this interview, he says, “You know, it’s hard for me to enjoy anything because I’m aware how transient things are. Yes, there are times when you think my God life is sweet. It’s nice. And thoughts of mortality are in abeyance. You know, watching the Marx brothers or a Knicks game or listening to great jazz, you get a great feeling of ecstasy, but then it passes. And the dark reality of life starts to creep back in.” You see, Allen says, when he dies, the problem is he doesn’t know what’s out there. He doesn’t know what the final outcome is. He has no hope because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen when he dies.

He doesn’t know the final outcome. You see, hope guys, has to do with certainty, where you know the final outcome. There’s a great illustration of this from Philip Yancey. When he describes Allied soldiers in a German prison camp in World War II. These guys lived in great despair, wondering if they would ever survive, wondering if they’d ever see their families again. A very difficult situation because this guys, this was the problem. They didn’t know the final outcome. They had no idea what was going on in the outside world. They didn’t know how their lives would end. So, it caused incredible amount of fear and anxiety and stress.

But one day, some of the Americans in the prison built a makeshift radio, and one day news came that the German high command had surrendered ending the war, a fact that, because of the communications breakdown, the German guards did not yet know. As word spread, a loud celebration broke out. For three days, the prisoners were hardly recognizable. They sang, they waved at the guards. They laughed at the German shepherd dogs. They shared jokes over meals. On the fourth day, they awoke to find that all the Germans had fled leaving the gates unlocked. The time of waiting had come to an end. You see, for three days there, after they got the word of this, for three days, nothing really changed in the prison, did it? Food was the same, the guards were the same, German shepherd dogs were there, they were enclosed in this prison area, but you know, they were transformed. And why were they transformed? Because they knew the final outcome. And so, instead of despair, their hope produced incredible joy. You see, this is what faith produces in our lives. And what you notice guys about Paul’s life is that he knew the final outcome. And you know how you described it? Death was going home, going home to be with your Father.

You know, my son Dixon, we just took him to camp on Monday. He’s going to be gone for almost two weeks. And I was talking to him. He was all pumped up. It’s a sports camp. And I said, you know, son, when I was your age, a little older, I went to camp for five weeks up in North Carolina. And I said, I had a ball. It was one of the best camping experiences I ever had. I said, but you know what? Every day that went by, I was always kind of getting excited because I was always thinking about going home. I said, and that’s what will happen to you. As wonderful as life might be at camp, there’s always this excitement about going home, and the closer you get to it, the more excited you get. And that’s the way Paul lived. The closer he got to the end, the more excited he got because he realized, I’m going home. He knew the final outcome.

Now, I’m about finished. I want to make one comment though, about the future that’s important, or I say a comment, a couple of comments, and then I want to, I’m going to pull this all together and I think, and it will just really make a lot of sense to you. But I do want to say, just take a couple of months to make this comment. You know, everything I’ve said does not mean that we should stick our heads in the sand and have no regard for the future. That’d be foolish. In fact, I could speak for an hour on this. There’s a great deal about the future we need to keep in mind. You know what Lewis said in The Screwtape Letters is, talks about Christians should have their eyes on eternal things. That’s about the future. We should have an eternal perspective on life because, as you’ve heard me say before, the longer term your perspective, the better the decisions you’ll make today. Because the decisions we make today are gonna always impact our future. You know, the Bible does say we will reap what we sow. Reaping is about the future.

In Proverbs, the Bible says we should plan for the future. We should be like the wise aunt who stores up for the future and prepares for what’s ahead. The apostle Paul says, we’re running a race. At the end of the race, there’s a prize, it’s a prize that we’re pursuing. It’s where Stephen Covey, I think, gets his idea. If you’ve read The Seven Habits, the second habit in that book changed my life. And that habit is, “Begin with the end in mind”. In other words, determine what you want your legacy to be, because we will all have a legacy at the end of our lives, determine what you want your legacy to be, and at the end of your life, you know, what is it you want your life to have been all about? And he says, it’s important to plot a course to make sure it becomes a reality.

So, guys, there’s much instruction about the future. It’s important that we live with an eye on eternity. It’s important that we think through, that planning is a good thing, but we’re not to do what I said right at the beginning, we are not to plan on being happy in the future because we never will be. And we’re not to live with fear and worry. That’s where this contentment and hope comes in.

But let me tie all this together and I’ll let you go. Last week, we talked about the past. We talked about anger. We talked about bitterness. We talked about hatred, guilt, shame, regret. These are all about the past and God wants to heal our past. He wants to set us free as we talked about. But think about what we’ve said today, living out the future before it arrives, fear, worry, anxiety, stress, it’s all in the future. God desires for us to be content in the now confident in what’s in store in the future.

But take those 10 words, anger, bitterness, hatred, guilt, shame, regret, fear, worry, anxiety, stress; take those 10 words. And if we could truly rid our lives of these things, think about how well we could live right now in the present. Think how much richer and more full our lives would be.

And, as we said last week, the past is important though, because when it comes to our, particularly when it comes to our faith, because spiritual truth and the foundation of our faith is built on the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that happened in the past. And in the future, we have hope, we have certainty. We know the final outcome.  And this is what’s so beautiful guys. If we have dealt with our past and we live at peace with our future, as we look to the future, you know what C.S. Lewis tells us, then you’re able to truly love in the present, in the now. He says, why? Because you will have dealt with all of the obstacles to love. Now think about it. The past our faith is built on. The future, there’s hope. In the present, there is love. If you’re familiar with the great love chapter, Paul says faith, hope and love. He says, this is the essence of life.

Let me close in prayer, Lord, we do thank You for just the great wisdom You give us in the Scriptures. As You teach us how to live our lives, the way they were designed to be lived, Lord help us to realize when we malfunction that we generally were departing from Your design for life. Help us Lord to deal with the past, to confront any issues from the past and help us to learn the secret that Paul talks about the secret of contentment that we might live well in the now in the present. And that we might experience that abundant life that You promised us in John chapter 10. Lord, I’m grateful for each of these men. We do thank You for all of the friendships that exist in this room. And we pray all these things in Christ’s name. Amen.


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