Today is the final day of our sermon series called “Love Reigns”. Throughout this series, we have been challenged to allow the love of God to reign in every aspect of our lives: the past, the present and the future. The first week on Easter, we celebrated the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fact that the resurrection is proof that Jesus is the true King who has authority over all things.
The second week, because of His authority and reign over all things, we looked at how God’s love reigns over our past. Though our mistakes and sins can be a heavy burden on us, we embrace the love of God that forgives us our past and offers us a fresh start. And I’ll say it again because if you’re like me, sometimes we need to hear it more than once to believe since we’ve been telling ourselves these lies for so long…your sin does not define you. It no longer has a grip on you. Jesus covered all of your sins with His blood and now God looks through His blood to see you, which means you are forgiven!
Last week, we discovered that God’s love gives us strength and promises for our present time. God wants us to be a living sacrifice that no longer conforms to the patterns of this world. The world around us is deceptive, selfish, angry, and foolish. As followers of Jesus Christ, those cannot be the patterns we live by. Instead, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can make choices that create healthier patterns in our lives and renew our minds to live in obedience to God. And although this may not always be easy, because a living sacrifice will be tempted to crawl off the altar, when you crawl off, recognize it, own it, and get back on. Get back up and live for Christ as a living sacrifice because the decisions you make today determine who you will be tomorrow.
In this final week of our series, I want to speak about allowing the love of God to reign over our future.
I remember as a kid playing with a little toy that was supposed to help us know what the future held. It was a Magic 8 Ball. I didn’t have one of my own likely because my parents didn’t want me to get caught up in believing in something that is not real, but I had friends that had them.
I remember asking it all kinds of questions that I had about the future. You would shake up that mysterious little triangle floating in the blue liquid inside. I’d ask it things like whether my middle school crush would like me. Oddly enough, it would give me the answer “Don’t Count On It”. I’d ask if I would be rich one day to which it would respond “Better Not Tell You Now” or “Ask Again Later.” Obviously, this toy was not very reliable. But this toy that came out in 1950 and that they still sell today, does tell us that our culture has a keen interest in the future.
We all have wondered from time to time about what the future might hold for us. Sometimes we wonder because our current situation is painful, and we want to get on the other side of it. Sometimes we wonder because we are excited about the possibilities before us. And yet our curiosity about the future can very quickly slip into an unhealthy obsession about what is to come, that ends up turning into worry and even fear.
On the back of your bulletin, I would like you to take a moment to write down one worry or fear in your life about the future that you have right now. Once you write it down, keep it near you until the end of the message today.
Worry is an all-consuming use of our time, energy, and attention on things that we cannot control. We worry about our finances, we worry about our family, we worry about our job, we worry about getting sick, we worry about everything. The problem is that our worrying does not improve our situation at all. The only true way to cure worry is to trust in the love of God and let it rule in our lives.
Jesus spoke to this struggle with the future in Matthew 6.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
Even though this passage was written nearly two thousand years ago, man is it so applicable to us today. This scripture shows that’s it’s human nature to sense anxiety about our future. And Jesus knew it and knew He needed to address it because worry can quickly rule our lives. But what Jesus tells us is…
POINT #1 – GOD SEES YOU
Jesus tells us not to worry about our life. Don’t worry about your daily needs. Don’t worry about your daily wants. You don’t need too, and Jesus proves it by pointing to the birds. He says these tiny winged animals are not anxious about their needs, they don’t even plant, harvest and store up because God provides for their needs every day.
If God takes care of the sparrows of the world, then surely He’s going to take care of you. If God cares so wonderfully for the wildflowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, He will certainly care for you.
Don’t ever forget that you are valuable. You have incredible worth well beyond your everyday physical needs. And God sees us. We are SO loved by God, and therefore He will provide for us. Our future is in good hands. So we’ve got to allow ourselves to trade what we don’t know about the future for what we do know about the love of God for us.
It reminds me of the line in the Lord’s Prayer that is prayed in churches all around the world every week. We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Give us what we need today. Not too much so that we might forget about trusting you for our future. Not too little that we are tempted to take matters into our own hands. Just enough for today, God. It’s how we learn to trust God, even when we don’t know what is around the corner. Trusting God for the future instills deep hope that He is there before we ever get there, that He’s already in tomorrow.
Jesus is telling us our Heavenly Father’s got this. You do not need to drag the concerns of tomorrow into today because your Heavenly Father will be what you need Him to be today and tomorrow.
Then Jesus adds this question, “Besides can all your worries add even a single moment to your life?” In other words, does your worry have the power to give you any benefits?
The answer is a BIG NO. Instead, worry sucks your time right out from underneath you. The only thing worry can add is more hurt and pain. It takes so much time and energy that it’s by far not worth it. Yet we all do it.
We all have a sense in our human nature to worry. What matters is what we do with it. Worry is going to come. You may get a call that sinks your heart, or you may get a diagnosis that no one wants to hear. Life is uncertain. Worry is going to come. But what you do when it comes is what matters.
I’ve often been in those moments where I had to remind myself that God sees me, and that He’s going to take care of me. Remember the hymn, God Will Take Care of You? God sees every single person on earth, and He has a great plan for each of us. He will take care of you. You can trust Him. One of the most quoted scriptures of all time, next to John 3:16, is Jeremiah 29:11. It’s honestly one of my favorite scriptures because I’ve had to resort back to it so much in life. It’s a beautiful promise from God that’s He’s got this.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
God has a preferred future that He longs for you to live into. We experience it when we begin to let go of trying to control everything, and we start to submit to Him and follow His lead. Worrying about the future does not have any positive effects. It only causes us to become paralyzed by fear.
The question is how do you know when opportunities in the future are God’s plan? There are three simple questions you can ask yourself to help you determine God’s leading in your life.
Does this opportunity align with scripture? Would you be violating some kind of direction that has already been given to us in God’s Word? If so, then this is not a part of the plan God has for you.
Will this opportunity make me more like Jesus? If you take part in the activity or make this decision, will it make you more Christ-like? If it will help shape you and mold you into the person God desires for you to be, then there is a good chance this could be a part of God’s plan for your future.
Will this opportunity benefit others? Will this decision result in blessing other people around you? God is always looking to use willing people to help serve others in need. If so, then this thing may be a part of God’s plan for your life.
If it lines up with scripture, if it is an opportunity to be more Christ-like, if it benefits others, and if the Holy Spirit is laying it heavily on your heart – meaning you took ample time to pray on it and it’s still burning in your heart – then this is very likely what God wants for you.
To discover God’s plan for your future is to live into the purpose for which you were born. Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days of your life are the day when you are born and the day you find out why.” Your future is tied to your purpose and God’s plan. And Jesus gives us a way to ensure that our future falls in line with His will for our lives. It’s about priority.
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Jesus gives the key in verse 33. Seek first the Kingdom of God. This should be our priority.
POINT #2 – SEEK GOD FIRST
What does that mean? Put God before everything, but before I get into that, let me also tell you it means that living to see the Kingdom of God come to earth should be the defining aspect of our lives. Instead, many of us are more focused on increasing our own popularity and status, finally getting that house on the lake, or finding true love. These things are not bad within themselves, but they can cause us to veer off track from the purpose of our lives – to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, to build the Kingdom of God. If we’re seeking God first, we are seeking His will first which is to see everyone make it to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.
Jesus says if we seek God first, above all else, that everything else will have a way of falling into place.
When we seek God first, then come across a new relationship, they’re most likely the kind of person that God would want for us. When we seek God first, we live life with humility and that becomes what we are known for. When we seek God first, our wants and desires look more like the things God would want for us. Because when you seek God first and you spend time with Him, you know Him and you know His will and purpose for your life.
Let’s say this glass jar is our future. When we fill our lives first with the worldly wants and desires….the dream job, money, popularity, people’s approval, children’s approvals – sports and activities, all that takes our time, and our energy and our attention from God, (add the rice first) our life becomes so cluttered that we don’t have space for all the things God wants to bring into our life and our future. (Try to put the larger stones in the same jar. Some stones will be left outside the jar.)
However, if you were to fill your life with God first, things fit a bit differently. (Put large rocks in first, then the rice.) Somehow, they have a way of all fitting now. This is why Jesus says to put the Kingdom of God first. Everything else will be then added.
Seek God first and you can let go. So if we are putting God first, then we don’t need to worry about your future. It’s in God’s hands. Besides, Jesus says today has enough things to be concerned about without worrying about things that don’t exist yet. Most of the things we spend our time worrying about never come to pass anyways. So don’t waste your energy and…
POINT #3 – USE YOUR TIME WISELY
We all only have so many days in our lives. And we must steward them well. The author of Psalm 90 had this concept in mind when he wrote verse 12.
Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Our time on earth is limited and we are to use it wisely, not living for the moment, but with our eternal home in mind. The author, which is Moses making it the oldest of the psalms, is writing a prayer asking for an awareness so that he uses the days of his life wisely in a manner that honors God and honors people. He knows he can’t do it well by himself, so he’s asking for God’s wisdom.
A survey years ago revealed some astonishing information about how people spend their lives. In a lifetime, the average American will spend:
- Six months sitting at stoplights
- Eight months opening junk mail
- One year looking for misplaced objects
- 2 years unsuccessfully returning phone calls
- 4 years doing housework
- 5 years waiting in line
- 6 years eating
(Survey of 6000 people polled in 1988, US News and World Report, January 30, 1989, pg. 81)
As you live your life, it’s important to ask yourself if the places that your time, energy, and attention are going are the most important places they could possibly go. Your days are numbered and none of us know how much longer we will be here. The only thing that matters at the end of each person’s life is their relationship with God.
And so as the psalmist said, we should be using our time wisely, using our future not just for ourselves, but to ensure that as many people come to experience and trust God as possible.
We do not have control of the future however, we have a Heavenly Father who is looking out for us and will provide for our needs. So turn your worries into prayers and trust in God’s plan for your life. God sees you. Seek God first. Use your time wisely.
Take the worry or fear that your wrote at the beginning of the message and take a moment to pray about how you want to spend your time and how you want God to turn your worry into worship.