How Do I Approach the Future?
How Do I Approach the Future?
I want to know what to do.
Mr. Robinson’s business had suffered reverses; for the first time in years, he had actually lost money. The problem was that he really did not know why this was happening. An offer was made to buy the firm from him. Should he sell it for immediate cash or hold on to it, hoping for future profit? If only he could know the future!
Mr. Robinson did what others have done. He went to a fortune-teller. If he could know the future, he would know how to act. The fortune-teller claimed to “see” a dishonest employee, a trusted person near him, who would soon try to become owner of the business. In fact, said the fortune-teller, this person was responsible for the temporary loss in the business.
Mr. Robinson acted quickly. He fired Mr. Casey, his associate. He had trusted Mr. Casey for years, but he felt that the fortune-teller could not be wrong.
That night Mr. Robinson went to his church. There the Holy Spirit convicted him. He repented of going to the fortune-teller and called Mr. Casey to ask forgiveness. To his horror Mr. Casey had committed suicide! Later, Mr. Casey was proved to have been totally innocent of any wrongdoing. What is this thing in humankind that always wants to know the future? Is it wrong? In this lesson you will discover how God wants you to view the future and what He has revealed about it.
God’s Design for the Future
It is important to understand that humankind is the only creature that gives any sign of being able to think about the future. Animals act by instinct to gather food for the future, but humanity thinks of the future and even tries to control it for his own purposes. Humankind did not develop the ability to think about the future on his own; it was given to individuals by God. It is part of human character as a creature made in the image of God.
The danger lies not in people’s desire to know the future. The danger lies in the fact that sometimes human knowledge of the future can lead him to unwise rather than wise actions.
There is a difference between praying to know the future and praying to know God’s will. We normally want to know the future so we can decide what to do. But when we want to know the will of God, it is so we can do what He wants us to do.
What God Has Revealed
God has chosen to reveal to us some of the future. Coming events are unfolded as a panorama or series of pictures in the Revelation to John, the last book of the Bible.
Many times John described what he saw in detail. Yet in spite of what he wrote, Bible scholars find it difficult to agree exactly on what is going to take place. Perhaps when God shows the future, it is hard to accept because of the present.
How can we imagine the real, personal return of Jesus Christ to earth or a thousand-year reign of righteousness (Revelation 1:7; 20:1-6)? It is no wonder that many of John’s descriptions seem so unreal. Because we cannot adjust to seeing events in an unfamiliar setting, we find it hard to
interpret his message correctly.
But though there are some problems in interpreting John’s message, several things about the future are clear. When God’s time has come, the world will be changed. Human civilization will be destroyed, but humanity will survive. Christ will intervene and will set up a kingdom.
Evil will be judged, and the scars it left will be removed from the earth. Satan, the author of evil, will be eternally cast away and punished.
We will be changed! Our bodies will be glorified, our knowledge perfected. Salvation will be completed. You individually will be perfect. You will also be in the perfect will of God. As the Master Builder, Christ will have finished His work on you; His kingdom will be complete.
It is easy to understand why God did not tell us more. We find it hard to imagine what He did tell us.
God’s Purpose for Revelation
With the little bit we know of the future, we still try to “help” God. If you would like to read an example of this in the Bible, you can find it in Genesis 16 the story of Abraham and Hagar. Our efforts to bring about God’s promise often lead to sorrow, not blessing. God has shared with us a glimpse of the future so we might have hope, not o we would try to devise a method to make future events happen.
Jesus saw the ultimate joy of the plan of the Father for Him. This joy that was set before Him caused Him to endure the cross and even despise its shame (Hebrews 12:2). Satan’s plan was to use the knowledge of the future that Christ possessed (that the kingdoms of the world would become Christ’s) to get Jesus to determine an easy way to obtain them. He would get Christ to simply bow down and worship him (Luke 4:5-8). But Jesus refused Satan’s offer and followed God’s way for Him.
God has shown us the future to help us deal with the difficulties of the present. The very impossibility (in the natural) of reaching the goal He has set for us of becoming perfect should cause us to look to Him for daily help. He wants us to draw on His strength and His grace to obey what He has told us to do.
Why God Limits his Revelations
Why does God not show everything to us beforehand? Can He not trust us? The question is not His trust of us but our trust of Him.
If we saw all the steps needed to arrive at a future goal, we would hurry to take some and try to avoid taking others. The very drawing back we might do would not fit into God’s plan for us. We see this pattern of hurry or avoidance in the lives of some people we read about in the Bible.
Joshua had completed the Jericho conquest. Ai was clearly next. He was eager to finish the job (who doesn’t enjoy winning victories?), and so he hurried to Ai without the direction of the Lord. The result was disaster (Joshua 7:2-5).
David tried to hurry the ark (the sacred box containing a copy of God’s covenant with Israel) back to Jerusalem. The right goal looked so inviting. He did the efficient thing and put the ark on a cart instead of having it carried as it was designed to be (Exodus 25:12-14; Joshua 3:2-4). Again, the result was not the speedier progress of God’s kingdom but disaster (2 Samuel 6:6-8).
Peter found the sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross to be an intermediate step he could not accept (Matthew 16:22). He wanted to fight with the sword rather than walk with Christ through that experience (John 18:10-11).
Sometimes what is really meant by saying I want to know the will of God for me is this: I want to know God’s plan so I can decide what is to be done. We must accept the limits of what God has revealed and be sure that our motives for wanting to know His will are right.
God’s Design for Today
What is God’s will for your life today? What does He want you to do?
There are different kinds of spiritual experiences. Certain kinds of experiences in Christ are meant to be once-and-for-all or onetime. The new birth is one of these, for God offers eternal salvation.
Other experiences seem to be of a seasonal type. Just as there are certain cycles in the natural creation, so these experiences reoccur at particular times or periods of our spiritual lives. Revival a special time of spiritual renewal is one of these. We do not live in a perpetual state of revival. We seek “rain” spiritual renewal in times of rain. God makes the nature of these seasons clear through the ministry of His Word and the Spirit. Usually there are signs that indicate both a need for revival and God’s desire to send one, just as in nature there are signs of the coming seasons.
But along with once-for-all and seasonal experiences, there are those which are meant to occur on a daily basis. God has placed us in a world into which He has built a daily cycle. Because we live day by day, there are certain spiritual principles He intends us to follow day by day. To do His will in its most basic form is to do each day those things that we know to be His will for that day.
Let us look at what God wants us to do each day and then see what He promises.
When the tabernacle or tent of the Lord’s presence was the center of worship during Old Testament times, there were duties assigned to certain men called priests and Levites. These duties were to be fulfilled daily. Without the practice of that daily obedience, the celebration of the great annual festivals would have been absurd.
It was while Zechariah was doing his daily priestly duties that the angel Gabriel told him he would have a son who would prepare God’s people for the coming of the Lord (Luke 1:8-17). It was while Anna the aged prophetess was at her daily prayers in the temple that she was given a great privilege. She witnessed the dedication of Christ himself, the salvation of the world (Luke 2: 36-38)!
What are we to do daily?
After the Day of Pentecost, the church experienced great success (Acts 2:40-41). The behavior of the believers was marked by daily action that caused God’s blessing to remain on them. It was as though they continued by their spiritual worship the daily ceremonial worship practiced by the priests in Old Testament times. What was their pattern? Let us examine it as it is described in Acts 2:44-47.
First, they kept their relationships with their fellow believers right daily. They were in close fellowship (vv. 44, 46).
Nothing will distort your hearing of God’s voice so much as a wrong relationship with one of God’s people. Bitterness, resentment, jealousy, or other wrong feelings will surely lessen your ability to be freely responsive to God. It is best to daily check your relationships. The Bible says that if a relationship is spoiled or broken during the course of the day, let the end of the day mark the end of the strife (Ephesians 4:26).