Now that we’re well into the New Year, and past the disappointment of broken resolutions, it’s a good time for Christian families to think seriously about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. In Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV), Paul gives us a formula for doing this: “Forgetting those things which are behind (the past), and reaching forward to those things which are ahead (the future), I press toward the goal (the present) for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” In other words, we must put the past behind us, consider the prospects of the future, and keep moving steadily forward day by day.
There is a lot about the future we cannot know. But one thing we do know – it is very unpredictable. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. The future is as bright as the promises of God. My sister-in-law used to put it this way: “The future is looking gloriously dark!” If we know anything about Bible prophecy, we understand that things have to get worse before they get better. But, if we know Christ, we also know that the best is yet to come.
As we consider the future, we know we can’t stop the hands of time. We all must face the future. For some it may be longer, for others it may be much shorter. As we face it, it’s helpful to consider some passages of Scripture. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow; for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” And we don’t! James 4:13-14 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.” These verses give us a realistic perspective on the future with all its uncertainties. What do we need in order to face the unknowns that await us?
We Need Courage
Without courage the future will most likely overwhelm us. How would we ever face a job loss, a serious illness or the death of a loved one without courage? But where can we get the courage we need? In Isaiah 41:10 God tells us, “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” God gives us all the courage we need in His abiding presence. He is the source of our courage.
We Need Commitment
Commitment is the measure of our determination. It is our refusal to be distracted, discouraged or defeated. In the future we will have to face many influences that have the potential to destroy our families. Only as we maintain an unswerving commitment to the Lord, His Word, prayer and each other will we be able to overcome these destructive forces. Concerning the things that awaited Paul, he testified, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24). That’s the kind of commitment we can have with Christ’s help.
We Need Conviction
Our belief system is made up of the convictions we are willing to live for and, if necessary, die for. It is not only important that we know what we believe, but also why we believe. In a constantly changing world, we need to anchor our families to the unchangeable standard of God’s Word. We must believe rightly so that we can behave rightly. Those who believe nothing will fall for anything. In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed unto Him until that day.” It is that kind of conviction that will keep us on course.
We Need Concentration
An intense focus is indispensable for facing the future. He who aims at nothing usually hits it! Without clearly defined goals for our families there will be a tendency to drift. Tragically, many Christian families are missing the mark. Remember that Peter was able to walk on the water to Jesus until he lost his concentration (Mt. 14: 22-31). He became more aware of his circumstances than of Christ. When we take our eyes off of Christ, we too will become a victim rather than a victor.
We Need Confidence
If we take the future at face value, it will probably look hopeless. Politically, morally and spiritually, the world is a mess. And it’s not going to get better. There is no lasting hope in man’s solutions. The greatest number of suicides are among teenagers and young adults because they have no hope. When people lose hope they have lost everything. But God’s people have hope: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13). Because our confidence is in our God, our families can face all the uncertainties of the future without fear, knowing that God is on His throne and has everything under His control.
We Know Who
We don’t know what the future holds, but because we know who holds the future, we can face it with great expectation. Our families can have a better future because of Him.
By Jack Palmer
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org