I have been reading a book by O.S. Hawkins entitled More Good News for Great Days. It is a book he offers on his website as a free resource. It is a collection of some of his sermons for special days of the year. The first one, obviously, is a New Year's Day message. One of his points in the message inspired me to discuss the topic a little more at length. In this message he is expositing Joshua chapter 3. He is referring to the Israelites as "cross over people" because in this passage they are getting ready to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. On pages 19 and 20 he addresses the point that cross over people possess a determination to "Be Futuristic". His comments awakened that reality in me. My thoughts began to flood with the truth that the times we get in the biggest trouble as believers are when we are either living in the past or living for today.
The whole premise of our ministry as followers of Christ is to look forward to the future: to the coming return of Christ. Our great desire is to be delivered from the hardships of this physical life and swept into the eternal rest. However, our sinful nature is one that likes to look back. The Israelites spent 400 years in Egypt and most of that time they were slaves who suffered a tremendous amount of oppression. However, when they were delivered by God, their continuous longing was to return to that which was familiar. They preferred to go back and suffer for the rest of their lives rather than endure a short time of difficulty and hardship for a long-term blessing. Sound familiar at all?
We tend to look at the difficulties Christians face when they live the "separated" (sanctified) life and we look at the "fun" people are having when they live however they want and we start contemplating whether or not self-denial is really worth all that we were told it was. "Why wait for pleasure when we can get it now?" However, here is what Paul has to say about it in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
We must remain focused on the prize that awaits those who endure (Matthew 24:13). We cannot look back because when Israel looked back, they lost hope and then they rebelled against God. This means you don't need to look back with longing or regret for your past life of selfishness and sin. We believers need to do three things in order to be forward-thinkers:
1. We Must Eagerly Watch. We must live with great anticipation of the coming of Christ. This keeps our hope up. (Romans 8:23-25, 1 Corinthians 1:7, Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 9:28)
2. We Must Enduringly Wait. When things get tough, and they will, hang on to the first point above. Consider the greater things God has in store. Don't lose hope, don't be shaken by circumstances and keep working. This keeps our head up. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
3. We Must Earnestly Work. God has privileged us to be part of His plan. Ultimately, it is not about us. It is about giving God glory. However, God loves the world so much that He desires none to perish. So once you are a believer, everything about you dies. The mission is to lead others to God for their salvation which magnifies God's goodness. This keeps our hand up. (Philippians 3:13, Luke 9:62)
We must keep our eyes forward on the future. It is the lost person that dwells on the past and the present. On a very cursory review of scripture, it appears that most if not all references to "today" are aimed at calling the lost to immediate repentance. Once the decision has been made to follow Christ, it's all about the future. We already know that what happened in the past is behind us and is only a distraction if we place our focus there. Believer, be a forward-thinker. Hang in there and call as many as you can to the great and glorious future!
I am interested in your comments. Leave some below for me.
For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet