Finishing Strong – Embrace The Future

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What a year 2013 has proved to be! It began with the elections in April (most years begin in Jan but this one began in April!) The election split the country into half with lots of hard feelings. The ICC case has had its twists and turns and no one knows how that will go. The shocking attack on Westgate was an affront to all of us. No one’s quite sure if our police have their act together. Road accidents have claimed the lives of thousands. The struggles with the Judicial Service Commission are now center stage. The short rains seem to have failed. On the other hand, we confirmed oil and huge water deposits in Turkana. And Gor Mahia won the Premier league for the first time in 18 years! So what should we expect of 2014?

 In one sentence, describe how you feel about 2014…

Last week we began a brand new series called ‘Finishing Strong’. As the year comes to an end, we’re asking ourselves, how we can finish strong, not just in the year but in every area of our life. How can we finish strong in our journey of life and of faith? That’s the focus of our messages this month. Some of us have had a terrible year – so much has gone wrong that we can’t wait for the year to end. Others of us have had a very average year – the year wasn’t horrible but we expected a lot more from it. And yet others have had a great year, and are preparing ourselves for an even better 2014. Regardless of what season you’re in, this series is for you! I believe this month will help you be better positioned to finish strong.

Last week we learnt that one of the biggest hindrances to finishing strong in life is our past. Rather than deny or ignore our past, we need to position ourselves so that it benefits our future. We learnt the amazing truth that regardless of who you are, God can turn your past into a present for your future.

Today we look at the flip side of the coin. Can our view of the future also prevent us from finishing strong?

The problem with the future for some of us is that the future can be…

Uncontrollable – some of us like to be in control. We like to plan everything to the detail and we don’t like it when things throw us off or are out of our control. But the fact that we cannot see the future means that we cannot control it. That can be unnerving and even scary.

Overwhelming – for some of us, we have so many issues and problems from our past or in our present reality that it’s too much effort to even begin to think about the future! They say, ‘once bitten twice shy – twice bitten never again to try!’ Let me live just one day at a time!

Uncertain – you see, some of us like it where we are. It may not be perfect but it’s manageable. We’re comfortable. The future holds too much uncertainty and we don’t like that!

Unrealistic – even for those who are excited about the future, sometimes it’s because we’re so unable to manage our present reality that we see the future as an escape. Anything is better than this! And so we have this fanciful dream of the future that is not based on reality. We’re basically fooling ourselves that things will somehow just get better!

A definition of the future: when we talk of the future this is what we mean – “The future is everything that happens after now.”

When we have a faulty view of the future…

It can make us fearful. When we are afraid of what the future holds, we cannot be bold in making decisions or commitments. We can become resistant to change and to the future. Our mantra becomes ‘let’s just leave things as they are; life is complex enough!’ ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ Our fear of the unknown makes us lethargic, non-committal, not open to God’s direction and unwilling to take risks.

On the other hand, it can also make us overconfident – When we are grasping towards the future because we don’t like our present, we can end up jumping into the future blindly or on our own bravado and strength.

So how do we keep our view of the future from destroying our destiny? Let’s turn back to Philippians 3 where we read from last week.  One thing that’s helpful to know about the context is that Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians when he was in jail. The jail system back then didn’t work like today; their sentences were not time bound. Once you went into jail it was up to the authorities to decide when it was time for you to get out – if ever. This was the kind of prison that Paul was in. He therefore wrote his letter when his future was very uncertain. Let’s read again Philippians 3:12-14

According to Paul, one of the most important keys to finishing strong, one of the most important keys to not allowing your view of the future to sabotage your destiny is ‘straining toward what is ahead’. Straining here means ‘reaching out towards’, ‘extending yourself to take a hold of,’ ‘clutching at’, or ‘making every effort to get to’ what God had for you in the future. Even though Paul didn’t know what the future held, He was convinced that what God had in store for him there was what was best for him. So here’s the lesson I learn from our text today. It was true for Paul and it needs to be true for all of us who want to finish strong. I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future!

Straining towards what is ahead is a very Christian activity. The reality is that the future will always be obscured from us. Only God can see the end from the beginning. What if my child fails his exams? What if my business never makes it? What if my marriage fails? What if I never get married? What if I don’t succeed financially? What if I take a risk and trust God and then I fail? All these are very real fears. I mean don’t you wish before God asked you to do something that He would show you exactly how things will turn out in the end? But you know the reality is that we will probably never know the answer before we take the risk!

As Christians we have a word for trusting God as we embrace what is unknown in our future – that word is FAITH. The nature of the future is that it is unseen, obscured, and not clear – that’s a given! But as a Christian I am still to reach out for it, to joyfully embrace what God is calling me to be or do. That’s what it means to have faith! Hebrews 11:1 says ‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’. Faith is a fundamental part of our relationship with Jesus. Faith is the attitude that says I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future! 

Hebrews 11 is full of stories of people who strained towards what is ahead, even though their future seemed very uncertain; a wide variety of people, from Abraham the rancher, Joshua the army general, Rahab the hooker, David the shepherd king and so on. What they had in common is that they all tapped onto faith to keep them going when they could have easily given up. They each faced an uncertain future, but they KNEW Who held that future!

Abraham was certainly a man with an uncertain future. He was the man who chose to trust in God’s promise even when all the odds were against him. The bible records this dramatically in Romans 4:18-21, let’s read it together… ‘Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Faith is what energizes us as Christians. It gives us a sense of confidence and trust in the God who holds our future. Faith – enables us to keep going even when things are difficult. Faith is a kind of fuel that helps us to strain toward what is ahead, reaching out towards, extending yourself to take a hold of, clutching at, making every effort to get to where God wants us to go. And, very importantly, faith – pleases God. In fact Hebrews 11:6 says, ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’. Having trust in God for our future is something that pleases God.

So how can you position yourself so that your view of the future doesn’t sabotage your destiny? How can you do what Paul challenges us to do; ‘straining toward what is ahead?’ Some practical pointers (A, B, C, D) 

Acknowledge your reality – faith is not being in denial! It’s important to first of all face the facts that things aren’t working out. That you don’t have what it takes to do the things God is calling you to do. Abraham acknowledged that at 100 years old, things just weren’t working any more, either for him or Sarah. Faith is not fantasy, it is always grounded in realism!

Bring it to Jesus – once you acknowledge how impossible your future looks, bring your plans to God in prayer. Be completely open to Him. Allow Him to direct you in the way to go. One of the most reassuring things in life is to know that you are where God wants you to be. That confidence comes through prayer. Abraham knew God’s promise and against all hope, he held on to it.

Confess Responsibility – this basically means you do away with defeatist and negative language over yourself. Change your perspective and start looking out for your future. One of the ways you can sabotage your own future is by having a negative, defeatist attitude and language about it. ‘Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God’. You need to shake of fear and negativity and chose to trust God.

Declare God’s Goodness – Just as we learnt to do with our past, begin to declare God’s goodness over your future. We must speak well over our future. Abraham ‘was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised’. Yes the future may be uncertain, but God will never leave you or abandon you! When you know that, you stop being afraid of taking risks and you are able to be bold and courageous.

It’s time to stop running away from the uncertainty! It’s time to stop engineering your life so that you no longer need God! It’s time to step out in boldness and trust in Him! Yes, the future may turn out differently from the way you are currently envisioning it. You might not get married, or you might not get that degree or you might not succeed in that business. The risks are definitely there. But whether things in the future work out how you thought or not, remember He KNOWS the plans He has for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope! And so rather than fear, embrace the future knowing that God knows how things will turn out. What is unknown to me is known to Him! He will never be caught by surprise. And because He loves me, I will make it through whatever happens. Remember, I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future!

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13 Responses to “Finishing Strong – Embrace The Future”

  1. erm..waiting on the video on youtube?!
    ETA??

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    • we apologize for the delay with the YouTube video of yesterday’s sermon due to technical issues beyond our control. We are working to have the sermon up as soon as possible. Thank you.

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  2. Pastor M, It was very humbling to see you admit that you are going through a very challenging time and i will keep the Mavuno Leadership in my prayers and ensure that i fulfill my pledges.

    As per the sermon, it was like you were reading the script of my life. I am the kind of person whose future was definitely going to affect my finishing until today’s sermon.By being perpetually worried about tomorrow, the devil has managed to steal my today, over and above that he also lies to me and i start engineering my life by borrowing money all over to ” sort ” myself.

    Instead of waiting patiently for my Isaac, i have been creating Ishmaels with a lot of painful consequences, I loved the part that i can truthfully tell God that i do not trust Him – i even worry about the level of my faith and how i must be a big disappointment to God.

    After today i have got this sense of peace that is guarding my heart and mind against worry and anxiety coz all i have to do is follow the ABCD. Oh and i am also trusting God for more children so that prayer was also very timely. God Bless You and mavuno.

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    • Hey Bio,
      I have always been on the same path, mine goes further to believing that all that has been happening this year is because of my past sins, a punishment.I have gone from a person of trusting God to a person who lives in fear and worry, I cant seem to let go and surrender of my finances and relationships to God.
      This sermon was such an eye opener.
      God bless Mavuno to continue its great transformation in our lives.

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  3. @ Bio and Bagz, joining you in prayer and trusting God to take all the mistakes, hurts and pains of the past and make it into something so beautiful for his glory. Many times the devil wants to keep us in the busyness and worrying for today that we fail to see the fulness of just what God has given to us! And whenever the enemy condemns us let this be our declaration in accordance to God’s word: “if any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.” “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” “To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” And so be encouraged that the Lord is in control of everything, in spite and despite of our past mistakes and lack of trust. His word says that he is faithful even when we are faithless. Ours is to hold onto his word on a day to day basis and watch his word transform to be more like Jesus. Be blessed!

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  4. Hi Pst M.
    The 1st sermon on Finishing strong was trully mine. But thinking of last weeks sermon… mmmh.
    why do I say this? I’ve Faith as recorded in the bk of Hebrew but I’m starting to think why the loooong wait? hacking 25 yrs like Abraham is a case of one star amongst the millions in the sky. Today I asked just like you did.. am I a case study?? but your openness answes the que. TK u

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  5. On Sunday morning I was up at 3am not to pray but give God a piece of my mind. I felt he had let me down, I plainly told him He was subjective and I didn’t trust him. He reminded me what he had done in the past for me which calmed me down though I still felt angry. I had purposed not to attend church so I watched one of the sermons on TV; it happens that it was about words, what we should speak into our lives. By the end of the sermon my anger had dissipated and I hurriedly walked to church. As they sung ‘God is able to do just what He said He will do’ I kept telling myself, ‘this is for you even if you are finding it hard to believe.’
    The previous Friday I had handed in my resignation; I have been in this job for a year but I knew deep down it was not the path I wanted to take. It has been an emotional struggle since may coupled with sabotage & opposition. I knew it was time to leave because in the past month I felt depressed, always crying and had a bad attitude; I was clearly not representing God at my workplace.
    All but 3 people told me to hold on till I got another job but I knew if I did, i will sink into depression.
    Handing in my resignation was a scary moment but deep down I felt still and knew I had made the right decision. However when I thought about school and other bills to pay I got fearful. I held onto my tithe & count me in money. ‘This is my second last steady pay check’, i thought.
    I am glad I made it to church because God just wanted to remind me that he knows the plans he has for me and my duty is just to trust him. My heart was broken and softened and I am full of desire to be like Abraham, to trust in his promise.
    This stormy period has been very difficult but it made gave me the courage to take a detour and follow the path that God has called me to. I want to walk in his will in every area of my life including my career. I am trusting not in a steady pay check but in the Source, so I will give my tithe and pledge.
    I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me as I adhere to His call. Thank you Pastor M for being used of God. Be blessed

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    • Praying with you Tina through the moments you are facing. God surely honours our surrender to his will and trust him completely, just like you are doing. May the hand of the Lord move mightily in your life as you trust him to lead you in this season, in your career and in your life. And he will, because “he will never leave you nor forsake you”. Remember that when our faith cannot reach up to God, his grace reaches down to us. He always does that. Be blessed.

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  6. OMG. what a month , what a series. Pst M, I am so humbled to be part of Mavuno. I thought I was fearless until I came to Mavuno and I am becoming more fearless. I will keep praying for you and the leadership at Mavuno, in the meantime,just know that God’s grace is sufficient and remember when one faces adversity,one just needs to be reminded that whatever is trying to defeat you could very well be what God will use to promote you.

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  7. Thank you Pastor M for your timely message and I pray that God may continue working through you and Mavuno church to bring His word into our lives.
    I don’t want this to be a boo-hoo-woe-is-me post, but honestly speaking things have been quite tough… and sometimes it makes me wary of the future. I wonder – “How will things shape out? Will things get better? How? When?”
    I cry and beg and grovel to God to change my life, then immediately afterwards go back to worrying if my prayers have had any effect. Its a sad cycle :/
    Through this sermon however, I have learnt that I may not have all the answers, I may not be in control but my future is in God’s hands. I just need to surrender it to Him… step back and stop worrying about every little detail because He holds my future and has a great plan for me.
    Thanks again Pastor M and the whole Mavuno fraternity. You’re all a blessing.

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  8. It has taken me 4.5 days to figure out my answer to that qt pst m askd abt nxt yr….

    This sermon is just being directed to me now am scared. I feel exposed. I think every statement during the sermon sends my boyfriend thinking “sounds like he is speaking about you….” except am always seated by his right so he is never really able to do the facials rest i drop drama

    its now 11 months since I met Christ… in a night club ( Apparently He does visit those places as well)
    And it has been a struggle.
    That night I made a list of all the stuff i was gonna change. They totaled to 27.
    Good news is i look at that list now and it is 73% ticked off!
    Bad news is; The remaining 27% has become unchangeable God I have struggled with it waaaah
    I dont feel fully saved for this reason
    I keep asking myself was I ready for this new life for this salvation for this God????

    Well here is my answer to pst ms’ Qt:
    I know am not where I should be at, but I sure aint What I used to be. Thus next year to me is an opportunity for us (God and I) to fix me more. So yes, am exited for 2014

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    • Crashed, I must say i admire the openness and honesty with which you approach God 🙂 That is a commendable thing to do, because God doesn’t need us to put a face just to impress him, but to be real and seek his intervention, because only he can fix us and sort us out.

      Let me encourage you that your search for God and for his blessings will definitely be answered. He says that we will seek him and find him when we seek him with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13) So keep seeking him with an undivided heart and you will experience him in a powerful way. That is his promise and he will do it for you.

      As for your salvation, be sure of one thing: He who started the good work in you will bring it to completion. It is God who looked for you in the club and convicted you and led you to salvation, and he will sustain it to the end. Interesting what the Bible says in John 6: 44 “No one comes to the me unless the Father draws him to me” Many times we think that we chose Christ, while it is actually him who chose us and led us to himself! So you can be sure that he chose you, called you, and he will finish his work of salvation in you! Every so often he enemy will whisper things in your ears about how messed up you are and all that. He is the accuser, but you know what, Jesus is our advocate before the Father. And tell you what, there are many people who have been saved years on, and even then the enemy never stops accusing and pointing fingers and calling them names. Its a battle we fight everyday, and one of the most powerful ways to do that is to take in the word of God and let it replace the lies of the devil. The more you expose yourself to the word of God and his truths the more you will overcome the accusing voice of the devil.

      And so keep pressing on Crashed. Focus on God and not the opinion of your boyfriend which is contrary to God’s word. You keep going. Indeed as you look at 2014 look at the grace that God has availed to you to accomplish all things. Remember that how we view life is dependent on how much of Christ we have been exposed to. Am praying with you. Feel free to come to the prayer tent any of these Sundays the Prayer Counselors will pray and encourage you. You are a blessed girl by the grace of God! Keep walking on to victory.

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  9. Yes i can trust for my health he is a healer,he is the saviour but when it comes to finances i don trust him that i will have to figure out stuff.

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