How To Face An Uncertain Future

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  1 : 1-11
Subject: New Year; Future; Faith; Christian Living
Introduction

It happens every year. Almost everybody does it. A few days before January 1, we begin to wish everyone a Happy New Year. We express this to family, friends and even strangers.

It is strange how people all over the world try to insure a good new year. For example, on New Year’s Day people in Japan eat a fish which is able to swim against strong currents, believing that this will enable them to move against the current which they anticipate will face them in the coming months. People in Hungry eat roast pig with with an apple or four-leaf clover in its mouth, believing that this will bring them good fortune and health in the coming year. In another part of the world, women eat chicken gizzards believing it will make them beautiful during the New Year. If such wishes and actions worked, we could all just buy stock in chicken gizzard futures. In America we eat black-eyed peas and greens in an attempt to provide a successful financial pilgrimage throughout the New Year. Of course we know that there is no meal consumed on New Year's Day that can insure a good year ahead.

What can we do as we face an uncertain future? And surely we do face an uncertain future right now in our world. I heard about a man who had a defective clock. One night it struck 13 times instead of 12. He woke his wife saying, "Wake up, woman, its later than it has ever been before." Indeed, it is later than it has ever been and it is getting later all the time. The economy is moving deeper into a financial recession, war seems to be almost inevitable in the Middle East and many problems face us personally.

Today we are going to look at a man who had just come through a crisis year and was facing an uncertain future as well. Let us learn from this spiritually successful man. He had several ingredients in his life that made him victorious even when everything around him seemed to be getting worse.

I. SURE REDEMPTION

We do not lose our salvation, even when we are disobedient. A farmer in Kansas had just gone through a terrific storm. He had an insurance adjuster to come out to survey the damage. The adjuster noticed that the roof of the farmer's barn had been lifted intact, moved about 50 feet away from the barn and placed on the ground by the wind. He remarked, "I see you lost the roof to your barn." the adjuster remarked.

"No sir, I didn’t lose it but it ain't where I want it to be," We may not be where God wants us to be, but thank God once we are saved, we are secure.
We do not know what this year holds, but we know who holds us in His hand. Every person who knows Jesus as Savior and Lord has something that war, a bad economy, illness and death cannot take away.

II. SACRED RESPONSIBILITIES

In the book Quo Vadis, Peter is fleeing from Rome and the persecution there when he comes upon Jesus. He calls out to Jesus saying, "Quo Vadis," or, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replies that he is going to Rome to stand beside His persecuted saints. Peter decided to turn back toward Rome and stand faithfully for Christ even though he knew it would cost him his life. We must have a God-given task that is sacred to us and which cannot be taken from us!

I’m not talking about some fantastic responsibility here; I’m speaking of living with sacred responsibilities. Let me give you an example. I read some time ago about a man in New York City who committed suicide. When the family and others looked into the reason, they discovered that all of his life issues were in good order. He was not on drugs, was not an alcoholic, didn’t have secret sins to hide and was not diagnosed with some terrible disease. Then they found the note on his desk – written is simple language and plain paper. The note read, “Not a word of encouragement in 30 years. I'm fed up". Here was a man waiting on somebody to encourage him, and apparently no one did – or at least he didn’t think so. Just the sacred duty of being an encourager can be so helpful to God's work and so meaningful to us.

Paul had a sacred duty. He mentioned in our text. This kept him moving forward and looking up. Without a sacred responsibility, we can become discouraged and backslide on the Lord. One responsibility Paul considered sacred was that of being an encourager. In his letters, he often encouraged the saints in their service for the Lord.

Christians can be cruel. They often point out everyone’s mistakes. If the singer, the teacher or the preacher makes a mistake, they make sure to point that out. But they seldom write the encouraging note or say something uplifting. If the Sunday School room is cold one Sunday, they will rant and rave and threaten to find a church where someone knows something about heating and air conditioning. But, those same people will never ask who is responsible for the heating and air conditioning and write a kind note to express how thankful they are that someone is taking care of this issue week after week. Somebody is waiting for you to share an encouraging word – we should take it on as a sacred duty.

If you want to live this New Year in an effective, exciting and productive way, find those little sacred duties and carry them out. Stop waiting for someone to do something for you, and do something for someone else.

One Christmas, an attorney gave his son a gift of 1 hour a day. He realized that he was just too busy and needed to be a better father. He did it that first year and then renewed it each year. In Moody Monthly some years ago, the son who was the recipient of that yearly gift, said it was the greatest gift his father ever gave him. I don’t know how much money that attorney made, and I don’t know if he was famous. I can tell you this; his son didn’t care about either of those issues. He was bragging on his father for duty his sacred duty as a dad!

III. STEADFAST REJOICING

The phrase, “the God of all comfort,” includes the word "paracletos," which means, “the God who stands beside us.” Paul could rejoice in every situation because he knew that God was with him.

William Barclay reminds us that between verses 3 and 7 the noun "comfort" or the verb "to comfort" occurs nine times in this passage. If you want to live facing an unknown future, be sure to focus on the Comforter. I think of Mary the mother of Jesus, and all she went through. She was carrying “God’s Child,” and there had to be a lot of people who whispered some really bad things behind her back – things that surely got back to her through people who let her know. Yet, she pressed on. Then the long trip to Bethlehem, while great with child. She could have just given up and returned to Nazareth. She gave birth in a cattle stall and laid her Son in a manger. At that point, she could have decided that God couldn’t be trusted. After all, if this Child was the Son of God, surely God would have provided a better entrance into this world than the one she was experiencing. Then, through a warning, she, Joseph and Jesus were off to Egypt. You don’t have any idea what that trip was like unless you have travelled over the desert from Israel to Egypt. My wife and I made that trip by bus and it wearied us to no end. They made the trip by donkey, camel or on foot – or, most likely, a combination of all three. She ended up some 33 years later standing in front of a cross watching her Son die a horrible death. But, Mary never gave up. In fact, when you read about the disciples meeting for prayer in Acts 1, right before the Spirit of God fell and inaugurated the Church, you find that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in the room with them. How could Mary endure all this and remain faithful and true? She remained close to God – close to the Comforter. She kept her eyes on the One you had given her the promise. She was looking at her circumstances; she was looking toward the Comforter.

You are living in an uncertain world. You will not be immune to sorrow and hardship. You will not dodge or be protected from troubles and difficulties. But, if you keep your focus on the Comforter, you will reach your own personal “Pentecost.” You will come to a day when you can say, “Now I see what God was doing! Now I know that He was weaving all the threads in the tapestry of my life. The dark threads, the glorious threads, and the neutral threads were placed in my life for His glory and to bless me.”

IV. SINCERE REPENTANCE

I saw a program on television some years ago that shared some of the things people around the world do when they celebrate a New Year. In Korea, they said, that the people tie pieces of paper to kites and launch them into the air on New Year’s day. Then, once the kites are high enough not to fall back to earth, they cut the string and let their sins float away on the breeze. If only it were that easy!

There is only one way to get rid of the sinful things we have done and the evil things we have said – we must take them to Jesus. He forgives them when we repent with sincerity. He forgives them because he paid for them at Calvary.

To live a good life this New Year, and a productive one, we must cut from us the weight that does so easily beset us. We need to seek forgiveness for habits and ways that disappoint God and hinder us. We must make commitments to improve and live more faithfully for our Lord.

V. SUBMISSIVE RELIANCE

"Life is a book in volumes three
The past, the present and the yet to be.
The first is written and laid away;
The second we are writing everyday.
The next and last of these volumes three,
Is hidden from sight - God holds the key." (Author Unknown)

If I live, God is with me, if I die, I am with God! I was not born to lose, but born again to win! So, we take our lives to the One who holds the key and we rely upon Him to guide us, enable us and use us for His good purposes. As we begin a year of uncertainty, we need to throw all our cares upon Him. We must rely upon the One who will never leave us nor forsake us.

Conclusion

A man was working on a building one night when he slipped and fell. At the last moment, he was able to grab hold on the edge of a board with the tips of his fingers. He cried for help, but amid the noise of the equipment others were using no one could hear his frantic cries. Finally, in total exhaustion, he let go and plunged six inches to a ledge he did not realize was just below his feet. He was six inches from peace and yet he was holding on in dread fear.

God wants us to let go and let Him hold on to us. He will not fail us. He will not forsake us. This is true in life and it is true in eternity. Just be sure He is holding you! You can do that today by turning to Him, admitting that you are a sinner and confessing Him as Savior and Lord. And, those of us who know Him, can make fresh commitments to trust the unknown future to the Unseen Hand. We don’t need to hold on – we need to let go and let God have His way in our lives.