Rick Warren - God's Promises About Your Future
Pull out your message notes. Today we're gonna be in part four of our series on God's Amazing Promises. As I told you, one guy's counted over 7,000 promises of God to you in the Bible. And we're gonna look at all 7,000 of them today, so sit back. Actually we've looked in the first three weeks, we looked at God's promises about giving and some of you, many of you became new tithers at that. Then we looked at God's promises of heaven and then we looked at God's promises of his Spirit, the Holy Spirit last week. Today I want us to look at God's promises about your future.
Now you ought to be interested in this for three reasons. First, the rest of your life is in your future. None of your life is left in the past or even today, all your life is in the future. And the two things I could say about that are number one, you don't know what it's gonna be and two, you can't control it. So I should definitely be interested in what God has to say about my future because I don't know, none of us know what's gonna happen tomorrow much less next year. And we can't certainly can't control it. One of the ways we try to control the future is worry but worry is worthless, it doesn't work. Now before we look at six promises of God and I've asked Buddy to help me with one of these promises. Before we look at the six promises about your future, I'm gonna give you four facts about your future. I know this is review, you already know this but it gives us a foundation for what we're gonna look at today.
Number one, four facts the Bible says about your future. Number one, God knows everything that will happen. God knows everything that's gonna happen in your life already. He knows the beginning and the end. This is called the omniscience of God. It means God knows everything. There is nothing that God doesn't know. Now, in a practical sense what that means is this. God is never surprised. God never goes, "Wow, I didn't see that coming". "Ooh-wee, you gotta to blow me over with a feather on that one".
Wow, really, are you kidding me? God never says those kind of things. God knows everything you're ever gonna say in life, God knows every thought you're ever gonna think in life, God knows everything you're gonna do in life already now. There is nothing that you do that He doesn't already know, He already knows the end of your life, why? Well, it's a little hard to get but follow me on it. God is not limited by time, God is timeless. You see, your concept and my concept of time happens to because we're on a planet that turns around every 24 hours and goes around the Sun every 365 days. If you were on a different planet, you would have a different concept of time and if you weren't on a planet at all, you'd have a totally different concept of time because you could be timeless.
This is what Einstein talked about in the space-time continuum. God is timeless. God can be in the past and in the present and in the future all at once because God isn't linear. It's all the same to him. He's in the past and the present and the future at the same time. I know that's kind of hard to grasp but it's kind of like this. If I were to take you to the Rose Parade up in Pasadena, California on New Year's Day and if you were standing there on the ground watching the parade all you could see is what's right in front of you. You can't see the parade that's already passed, and you can't see the parade that's coming in the future. All you can see is what's in front of you and that's the way we pretty much live our lives.
On the other hand if I were to take you up in a plane or a helicopter or a blimp, and we got up real high with a different perspective, you would be able to see the beginning and the end of the parade all at the same time. You wouldn't have a problem. You could see the beginning of the parade and the end at the same time, it's a matter of perspective. God is so high he can see everything in history. He can see the beginning and the middle and the end all at the same time, it doesn't bother him because he has a different perspective. Now, because God knows everything will happen and it's not limited by time, we know these verses. Hebrews 11:13, nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight, He can see it all. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before his eyes.
So there are no secrets with God. I wonder what secret you foolishly think you're hiding from God. You don't have any secrets from God. God knows every good, every bad, every ugly part of your life, still loves you, loves you unconditionally. But you don't have any secrets from God. He knows every thought you're going to have, you haven't even had those thoughts yet. But he knows what you're gonna think, because he knows everything that will happen. Psalm 139:16 says this, the days allotted to me, in other words my life, my life span, the days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book before, circle before, any of them ever began. God already knows what's gonna happen on every day of your life before you even took your first breath.
When you were in your mother's womb, God says I already knew every detail of every second of every moment of your life. By the way, this is why abortion is wrong. Because abortion short-circuits God's plan. God's plan for your life doesn't start the moment you take your first breath. Your life began when God thought you up. And when he thought you up before you ever took your first breath, every day of your life was planned before you were born. And so if you don't end up not being born, then God's plan just got aborted. That's why it's wrong.
Now here's the second thing that we know, second fact about the future. God's plan for my future is good. God's plan for my future is good. It's not a bad plan. In fact, God has no bad plans for people. God is a good god. And because God is a good god, all of his plans are good. He doesn't have any bad plans for you. All of his plans for you are good.
One of the most famous verses in the Bible, we've read it hundreds of times here at Saddleback is Jeremiah 29:11. Let's read it aloud together, okay? Read it with me. I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Now I want you to circle some words in this verse. Circle the word know. God says I know, I already know everything about you. And then he says I know the plans, circle the word plans. God has long-range plans for your life. He has a purpose for your life, he has a plan for your life. I know the plans and then circle the word future. God says I know the plans I have for your future.
Now what does this promise tells us? That's the promise of God right there. Plans to prosper you, plans not harm you, to give you a hope and a future. What this tells us is that God has thought more about your future than you have. You may have not even given much thought to your future. Some people have no plans for their future, they're just letting life happen to them. They don't have any plans, they don't have any goals, it's just like well I'd kind of like to do this but they're just kinda skating through life, kind of coasting through life. God has thought far more about your life than you ever have. He's thought about every detail, every thought, every part of it and he has a plan for your life and his plan is good for you. It's plan to prosper you, plan to give you hope, a future.
You say well can I miss God's plan? Well, of course you can. In fact most people do. They miss God's plan because they choose their own plan. You have to choose God's plan for your life, it's not automatic. You see, one of the greatest gifts but it's also a hindrance to us is the freedom to choose. God didn't wanna create a bunch of puppets. He could have made us where we don't have any choice. You couldn't choose to do bad, you couldn't choose to do other things but he made us in His image which means he gave us free will and every day you make choices. The problem is we often make bad choices. And God doesn't force you to do his plan and purpose. He created you, what God wanted is he didn't want puppets, he wanted children who choose to love him. And you can't say it's real love unless you have the choice to not love.
So God says hey, you can choose to love me or you can choose to not love me. You can choose my plan for your life or can you choose your own plan for your life. You can choose to obey me and trust me or you could choose to not obey me and trust me. He wants you to make the choice. Unfortunately, most people in the world make the wrong choice. And they choose, they say, you know what, I'm gonna do what I want to do and that causes all, and so they, most people die without ever knowing the purpose of their life and without ever fulfilling the plan that God created it for 'cause they didn't choose it. They miss it.
You say well how in the world would anybody miss God's plan? God's purpose for them? One way, one word, pride. Pride keeps people, keeps you from fulfilling the purpose that God made you for. Because pride shows up like this. I know God has a plan for my life but I think I know better than God and I think I know what will make me happy more than God so I'm gonna disobey what he says to do and I'm gonna do what I want to do. That's called pride. It's pretty arrogant to think I know better than God does. I know God says this about sex but I'm gonna do it my way. And I know God says this about money but I'm gonna do it my way. And I know God says this about my future and my goals and I know God says to forgive people instead of be resentful and retaliate but I'm gonna do it my way. That's called arrogance, it's called ego, it's called pride.
There's only one thing that causes you to miss the purpose you were created for, your own ego, your own pride. You think you know better than God. And this causes so much problem and instead of the plans to prosper and the plans to have hope and plans that are good plans for the future, you end up with a mess in your life. Now let me just encourage you. You can't miss God's purpose for your life if you really want it. If you say God I'm willing to do whatever you say to do, I'm willing to trust you, I don't understand it all and some of the stuff you may tell me to do may not make sense, it may be politically incorrect, it may be unpopular, it may be counterculture but I'm still gonna do it 'cause I want your plan instead of mine. If you do that, you can't miss God's purpose for your life.
Now to fulfill my created purpose, here's the third thing, I must choose to trust and obey God. God knows everything that's gonna happen in my life and he has a good plan for my life but I have to choose that plan. I have to choose to trust God and I have to choose to obey God. And every single day of my life, God's given me a free choice. And every day, every moment I'm gonna go with God's plan or I'm gonna go with my plan. I'm gonna choose what God tells me to do or I'm gonna do what I want to do. I'm gonna do what the Bible says or I'm gonna do what I think is the right thing to do, or is the most convenient thing. Every day we're making this choice. Here's what the Bible says.
God says this in Deuteronomy 30:19. God says today I'm giving you the choice, and this is, it's your choice. He's not gonna force you, God's a gentleman. I'm gonna give you the choice between life and death. You wanna really live or you wanna have a dead-end life? It's up to you, I'm giving you a choice between real living or a dying life, between blessings or curses. You want a blessed life? Well, do what I tell you to do. You want a cursed life, that's cursed with all kinds of problems, well just do your thing. I'm giving you this choice. And then he says I call on heaven and earth to witness. It goes I want all creation to witness the decision you make, the choice you make. I'm giving you the choice on what you're gonna do with your life. You're gonna go my way or the highway. You're gonna go God's plan or you're gonna go your own plan.
He said I want everybody in creation to witness this, the choices you're gonna make. And then you can hear the love in his heart when he says so, come on, choose life. I mean why would anybody choose a dead end? Why would anybody choose destruction, death and to be separated from the God who made you and loves you and created you, why would anybody do that? He says choose life. Then you and your children will live. He's saying that the choices you make in your life actually affect the next generation too. And the blessing that I put on your life can actually be blessing your next generation in your life, if you choose life, but it's up to you. I'm not gonna force you to do the right thing 'cause I want you to love me out of free will.
Now, here's the fourth fact and then we can start looking at the promises. God will be with me every step of the way. In my future, I don't know what it's gonna be like and I know I can't control it but I do know this, God will be with me every step of the way. How do I know that? Because in the Bible, one of the most repeated promises of God is this, you're not gonna be alone. I will never leave you, I will never forsake you, I will never abandon you, I'm gonna be with you, my presence will be with you. He says it hundreds of times, I'm going to be with you because God made you to be connected to him.
Now you may not always feel God's presence but God is not a feeling. So something doesn't have to be felt for it to be real. Right now through this airspace, there are radio waves going through it. There are TV waves going through it. There are internet waves going, they're going through my body and yours right now. I don't feel 'em but they're real. And if I have a receiver and I can tune in, I can see the color picture that's going through me right now. You don't have to feel something for it to be real. There are a lot of things that are real that you can't see. You can't see protons and electrons, you can't see atoms, but they're real. Everything's made up of atoms. And so I may not feel God, I might not sense God but he is always with me.
Now that's an encouragement because although I don't know what the future holds, I do know I'm not gonna face it alone. And God says this in Hebrews 13:5-6. Keep your lives free from the love of money. In other words don't be greedy, and be content with what you have. Because God has said never will I leave you and never will I forsake you. Now I looked up this Greek word in the Bible never and it means never. It means no way Jose, never never never never never never never, not in a thousand years, there's no way, you're never gonna be without me. I will, other people may abandon you, God says I won't. Other people may betray you, I won't. Other people may discriminate against you, I won't. Other people may walk out of your life, God says I'm not, never never never never never will I leave you.
Now why does he tie that to don't worry about money and be content? Well, he says if I'm here, what are you worried about? Don't you think I'm gonna take care of your needs if I'm with you? One of the things I learned growing up is always go to lunch with dad 'cause he always picked up the tab. I never had to pay if dad was with me. So I want to make sure I always had lunch with dad or dinner with dad. And your Heavenly Father says hey, if I'm with you, what are you worried about? You're worried about bills, don't you think I'm gonna help you through this? Don't worry. And he says I'll never leave you, I'll never forsake you so we can say with confidence, a lot of people are scared about the future. He says we can say with, Christians can be the most confident people when it comes to future, why? Because the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid because what can people do to me?
One plus God equals a majority. And if God likes me and I like me, you don't like me, what's your problem? God says I'll be with you and I love you. So no matter what happens in your future, you're not gonna go through it alone. Now this comforting truth that I just shared with you is called the faithfulness of God. That God is not only a good God, he is a faithful God. That means he keeps his word and he always does what's good in your life. And it's part of his character, he keeps every promise. Now I want you to write this down, just find a spot where you can write this down in your outline. If you're struggling with anxiety or worry in your life, write this down, every fear is a misunderstanding of who God is and what he's promised. Every fear is a misunderstanding of who God is and what he's promised.
If you knew what God is really like and you knew what he's really promised, you wouldn't be afraid. You wouldn't be anxious about the future, you wouldn't be worried or nervous about what's gonna happen tomorrow. Because if you really knew who God is and what he's promised to do in your life, you wouldn't be afraid. Pastor Buddy is gonna come and give you the first promise about your future. Now because God's Word is everlasting, then we know that we can trust his promises. Rick said we're gonna look at his promises about your future so here's the first one you can write down. God promises to guide me when I'm confused. God promises to guide me when I'm confused.
One thing that you can predict about your future is that you're gonna have a lot of decisions to make. You got a lot of choices and some of those choices are difficult, some of them are even confusing. Do I take this job? Do I move to this city? Should I buy this house? Should I marry this girl? There are some big life-changing decisions, and a lot of times we can be confused about them. We get confused 'cause they're scary decisions. And they're scary decisions because we're afraid. Well, what happens if I make the wrong choice? And we just sort of get stuck in our confusion and we think well who can I talk to? Is there anybody that can help me think this through? And I guess on one end you can think well I can talk to my friends, but one of the problems there is they probably think just like you do. That's why they're your friends. They're probably as confused as you are.
You can look at the media, talk to them but good luck there, their opinions change with the wind. There's only one authority, one authority who is always right and completely reliable and that is your creator. If you wanna know the purpose of something, you have to ask the inventor. And God knows the purpose that he created you for. Here's what the Bible says in Proverbs chapter three. Look at this verse. It says trust in yourself with all your heart. I'm sorry, I read that wrong, I'm sorry. It says trust in the Lord with all your heart. Let me ask you a question. Who do you really trust deep down in your heart? He says trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do and he will show you the right way. If you trust him with all your heart he'll show you the right way. Why trust God?
Well, think about it. He created you, he loves you, he knows everything about you. He gave His Son to die for you. If God did all of those things and cares that much about you why in the world do you think he would tell you to do something wrong? Why would he send you in a direction that was not the best for you? God wants the best for you. He is completely reliable and trustworthy, and he has a perspective about your life and your future that you desperately need to have. It's like if you were, if you're driving on a mountain road, a windy mountain road and you're trying to get to the top, and you're in a hurry, you wanna get there and then you get stuck behind some old guy in a camper, right? And he's cruising along about 10 miles an hour. He's in no hurry to get anywhere and he's just looking out the window and talking to his wife.
"Hey, look over there, Mabel. There's a stump". He's just not in any kind of hurry, you're going I gotta get around this guy but it's curvy road and I have no idea what's coming. And you think man, wouldn't it be great if I had that helicopter that Rick was talking about on the parade. Somebody up high who could see the whole road and who could radio down to me and say hey you know what, it's safe, you can pass the guy because I can see what's coming. That's a perspective that we need to have and the only way to get God's perspective is in his word, is in the Bible, the will of God is in the Word of God. If you wanna know God's will, you have to know God's Word.
Now, let's look at the second promise and Rick is gonna come and explain it to us but write this down. God promises to help me when I am tempted. Not only when I'm confused but he promises to help me when I am tempted. This is the second great promise about your future. God promises to help me when I'm tempted. Now another thing that's not gonna change in your future is you're gonna have the same old temptations. Hate to tell you that, hopefully you'll get better at resisting them but you're gonna have the same temptations the rest of your life. The weaknesses that you have today, you'll probably have to struggle with them the rest of your life. As I said, you'll get better but if you for instance have a predisposition to be controlling. In every situation you tend to try to control everything, the rest of your life you're gonna be tempted to try to control things.
As I said hopefully, you'll get better and not be, give in to it so much but you're gonna be tempted to do that the rest of your life. If you're tempted to be depressed, you're probably gonna have to deal with the temptation to be depressed the rest of your life. If you are tempted to be arrogant or not listen, or if you're tempted to, anything in life where you say I'm anxious, I tend to be anxious. Well, if you tend to be anxious the rest of your life you're probably gonna be tempted to worry a lot in your life. Hopefully you'll get better at it as you grow in Christ but you will be tempted. Or if you have an anger problem, you say I tend to blow up, I tend to lose my temper easily, you're gonna follow in that temptation the rest of your life. But God promises to help you, this is a good thing. So let me give you the bad news, the good news and the great news about temptation. The bad news is you're never gonna outgrow temptation.
Some people think well maybe I'll get to the point in my spiritual life I'm just not tempted anymore, fat chance. It's gonna happen the rest of your life. In fact I know this, I've been walking with the Lord, I've been a friend of Jesus for over 50 years. You know what I've discovered? The more mature I get, the more Satan tempts me. Because Satan doesn't bother with you if you're not doing anything, but if you can make a difference with your life, he's gonna really go after you. And so actually some of the temptations in your life, the more mature you get, the more you'll be tempted. You just have better resources, you know how to deal with it. Doesn't mean the temptations go away, just means you don't give in to 'em anymore. And so they will actually increase.
See, some of you are carrying false shame because you think I should be at the stage this doesn't tempt me anymore, I shouldn't have this thought, I shouldn't have this feeling, feeling this way. Well, that's just not true because you're not responsible for every thought that comes into your mind, you're responsible for what you do with it. When Satan gives you an idea and puts it in your mind, we call that temptation. When God gives you an idea and he suggests that in your mind we call that an inspiration. Temptation, inspiration. And then you have your own thoughts. Have you ever been praying, and like you're trying to be serious about praying at something, and you're praying and all of a sudden, the most awful ugly thought comes into your mind while you're praying and you go, where did that one come from? Anybody ever had that happen? Oh, come on. Anybody ever had that happen? The rest of you are liars.
Okay, because it happens to everybody. You're trying to pray and all of a sudden, something just comes out of here. You're not responsible for that, that was from Satan. It was just an idea. Martin Luther said you can't keep the birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair. I should not feel guilty about a thought that I didn't have, Satan just threw that in there real quick. I know where that one came from, get outta here and I just toss it. You get intimidated. The bad news is you're gonna be tempted the rest of your life. The good news is it's not a sin to be tempted. It's sin to give in to temptation, but it's not a sin to be tempted. The Bible says Jesus was tempted in every point as we were but he never sinned. Temptation is just a choice, that's all it is.
So don't get intimidated about like, why am I being tempted by this? Well, 'cause you're human, that's why. It's just a choice. And every time you choose to do the right thing, you grow. Every time you choose to do the wrong thing, you stumble, you fail and you go back. But temptation is just an opportunity to grow. So don't be intimidated by it and don't be ashamed of it. I meet Christians all the time who, they get a thought from the devil or they have an attraction or they have an arousal, and they go, I shouldn't be doing that, I shouldn't have that. You're not, would you write this down? Write this down. Attraction is not a sin, action is. Write this down, attraction is not a sin, action is. You are not responsible for your attractions. You are responsible for your actions. If we're walking down a buffet, I might see a certain kind of potato salad that's very attractive to me. And I'm salivating and everything. Where did that come from? It's just inside me. I hate potato salad and you just walk to the next one. We all have different attractions. An attraction or an arousal is not necessarily lust, it just means you're human.
Ladies, if today you walk out of church and you're walking to the parking lot and you just see some gorgeous sexy hunk of a man, kind of looks like me, you know? And you're going man, I find that guy attractive, attractive, but I'm married, I shouldn't be having that, it's just an attraction. It's not an action and it's not a lust. Lust is when you start going man, I'd like to, what would it be like to be married to him? And what would it be like to go to bed with him? And you're fantasizing on it. Let me say it another way, you might write this down. I can't control what gets my attention, I can control what keeps my attention. Hear the difference? I can't control what gets my attention. If I'm at a beach and a beautiful woman walks by, it's probably gonna get my attention, I'm just not gonna do anything about it. I'm gonna turn my mind and think about something else. I'm not gonna fantasize, I'm not gonna linger. "Wow, that girl's beautiful". "God, you did a good one on her". "Good God man". "Wow, good going God, she looks nice, okay"?
But that's not lust. Lust is when you sort of say I want that instead of who I have, does that make sense? A lot of people feel ashamed when they get attracted or get aroused. You can't control your arousals. That's part of humanity. It's what you do with it. Like I said I can't control what gets my attention, I can control what keeps my attention. And so I'm just gonna change my mind to something else. Now this could be heterosexual, it could be homosexual. You might have a same-sex attraction and you go, "I'm not supposed to have this, I'm a Christian". Well, it's not that attraction, it's the action. It's not a sin for what attracts you. Some people are attracted to barbecued ribs. That's no sin, eating five pounds of them is a sin. Okay? But am I am I clear on this?
Okay, so what I'm trying to relieve is a little bit of false shame that you shouldn't be ashamed things start getting your attention. I mean it could be a material thing. You walk past a store and you go, "Man, that's a pretty shopping bag," or that's a pretty suit or dress or something. That's not materialism, it's just it caught your attention. It just caught your attention, it's what you do with it. Now and I said, the bad news is you're never gonna outgrow temptation. The good news is it's not a sin to be tempted, it's a sin to give in. So you shouldn't feel well, I shouldn't feel this way but the best news is this, God has promised to provide a way out of temptation. The Bible says this in 1 Corinthians 10:13. Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experienced.
Now I know Satan tells you, nobody else feels this like you do, nobody's tempted this way and he wants to isolate you. The Bible says no we all have the exact same temptations. Now if they're common to humans, then there are common solutions to them. And here's the thing, if we all share the same temptations then if we talk about it with each other, they lose their power over us. When you have a temptation and you keep it a secret, then it's gonna get worse. For instance, if all of a sudden, you're being tempted at work by a co-worker to have an affair, if you keep that a secret, it's just gonna get worse. It would be better for you to tell, if you're a woman another woman, or if you're a man another man, or even tell your spouse. I'm being tempted right now.
If there were more confession of temptation, there'd be less need to confess sin. 'Cause we'd stop it early. And yet a lot of times we don't want to admit we're being tempted, that's setting us up for the failure. It would be better to say you know what, I'm being tempted right now. And tell your friend or your spouse or whoever, tell them and then all of a sudden, it lowers the tension. If you can't talk about it, it's already out of control in your life. If you can't talk about it, it's already scaring you. And so, it's not a sin to be tempted. It's a sin to give in but God says this remember the temptation that comes into your life, they're no different than the ones others experience. We all have the same one so let's talk about 'em. And God is faithful. And because God is faithful he promises two things. First he will keep the temptations from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it.
That's his first promise. Second, and when you're tempted, he'll show you a way out so that you'll not give in to it. Now it's comforting to know that God understands our struggles. And he knows exactly what you're going through when you're going through it, he's pulling for you. Jesus experienced the same temptation. He's prepared an escape route. He says I'll strengthen you and I'll prepare an escape route that's the promise of God. Now, sometimes people come to me, say, "Hey Rick, I just fell, I stumbled here, I couldn't help myself. The temptation was just too strong and I could not resist it". And when they tell me that I know they're not telling the truth and they're not being honest to themselves, why? Because God says I will never allow more on you than I put in you to bear it up. And God also says with every temptation I will make a way of escape, shouldn't get out of there.
It wasn't that the temptation was too strong for you, you didn't want to resist it. You wanted to give in, you're not being honest to yourself, you wanted to give in at that moment. Because if you had wanted to not give in, God said I'll give you the strength and I'll give you a way out. So it's just not true to say the temptation was too strong. You wanted to give in to that. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says this, the Lord is faithful, there's that phrase again, he keeps his promises and he will give you strength and will protect you from the evil one. I've noticed that a lot of believers are not only just afraid of temptation. They're actually afraid of the devil. What in the world are you afraid of the devil for? Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world is what the Bible says.
For the devil to get, if you're a Christian believer and you have Jesus in your heart, you have the Holy Spirit, you have God's love around you, for Satan to get at you, he's got to go through the Trinity, that isn't gonna happen. You got triple protection around your life. The only thing Satan can do to a Christian is make suggestions, that's all he can do. And if you buy that suggestion and you believe that fear, you just lost. If you buy that idea, you believe that fear, you just lost. But he can't do anything other than give suggestions and for Satan to get at a believer, he has to go through the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Bible says you're in Christ, the Bible says Christ is in you. The Bible says you're hid with Christ and God. The Bible says you're sealed with the Holy Spirit, that's triple protection. There's no way he can get at you if you're trusting in God at that moment, you're a believer. It's only if you believe his suggestion and you open the doorway. So he says don't worry about it, I'll give you strength and I'll protect you from the evil one.
Let's go to the third promise. The third promise about your future is another good one and it's this, God promises to support me in trouble. God promises to support me in trouble. He's gonna guide me when I'm confused, he's gonna help me when I'm tempted and he's gonna support me when I'm in trouble. Now what's the difference between temptation and trouble? Oh, a big difference. Temptation is inside me, trouble is outside me. Temptation is internal, trouble is external. Temptation has to do with my character, trouble has to do with my circumstances. And in life for the rest of your life, because we live in a broken planet, you're gonna have temptations and trouble. Internal temptations, external trouble. And Jesus said this, he said in the world, you will have trouble.
Now there's all kinds of trouble. There's relational trouble, financial trouble, physical, trouble in your body, there's mental trouble, there's all kinds of different trials and troubles and tribulations in life. Some people expect life to be heaven on earth. This is not heaven, they expect everything to be perfect. Well now that I'm a Christian, shouldn't everything be perfect in my life? Of course not. It is in heaven where there is no sorrow, no suffering, no sickness, no sadness, no trials, no tears, no tangles. There's nothing wrong in heaven, it's all great there.
But this is earth. That's why we pray thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven 'cause it's done perfectly. On earth God's will is seldom done. Sometimes you hear a big disaster or you hear a big, like a terrorist attack and people say must have been God's will. That wasn't God's will. God is not the author of evil. If I go out and I get drunk and I get an accident, kill myself, that wasn't God's will, that was my will be done. So don't blame God for evil. The Bible says God cannot do evil. God's will is not always done on earth, that's why we're to pray thy will be done on earth. But when that happens, that people expect it to be heaven, have you noticed that everything on this planet is broken? The weather's broken, the economy is broken, your body is broken. It doesn't always work right. Relationships are broken, you'll find brokenness everywhere. Why, because of sin. Because we make bad choices.
Now the Bible says God will promise to support me in trouble. In a church family our size, today in our 20 or so locations there's about 30,000 people in our church family, going to church, worship at Saddleback Church. In a crowd that big, the law of average is that some of us next year are gonna lose loved ones. And some of us this next year are gonna get cancer and some of us this next year are gonna get laid off or fired or go bankrupt, and some of us this next year maybe face a divorce. Bad things happen in this world but God says I will support you in trouble. One of the greatest promises in the Bible is the next one on your outline, Isaiah 43:2-3. And here's what God promises about your future. When you go through deep waters, notice he doesn't say if, it's a matter of when. Okay, you're gonna go through deep waters at times in your life. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. And when you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. And when you walk through fires of oppression, when the heat's on, you will not be burned up for I am the Lord your God.
Now look at that verse and what it doesn't say when you go through deep waters and rivers of difficulty, you won't get wet. Doesn't say that. It says you won't drown. You're gonna go through some problems that have pain, you're gonna get wet, you're not going to drown. And it says when you go through the fire, when the heat's on in your life, it doesn't say it won't get hot. It doesn't say it won't get uncomfortable, it says you're not gonna burn up. I'm gonna make sure you make it through. The next verse, Philippians 4:13. I have strength for all things, the good and the bad. Everything that's gonna hit me in the future which I don't know about. I have strength for all things, this is confidence. I have all strength for all things in Christ, not in myself, who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through him who infuses inner strength in me. That's a confident way to look at the future. I can do anything, I can handle whatever God allows in my life with the strength of Christ.
Now I know you're saying Rick, I don't feel very strong right now. In fact I'm feeling pretty weak right now. Write this down, very important, write this down. The strength I need will come when I need it. The strength I need will come when I need it. God doesn't give me strength today for a problem I'm gonna have next week. The Bible doesn't say where to pray give us this day our weekly bread or our monthly bread. It says God give me my daily bread. I need just enough strength for today. God's not gonna give you strength for tomorrow until it's tomorrow. And God knows what you can handle and he says, I will support you in trouble and the strength I need will come when I need it. God promises to repay those who hurt me. Oh baby, oh baby, let's just camp here for a moment, okay? God promises to repay those who hurt me. And he doesn't want you repaying 'em, he doesn't want you seeking retaliation, he says no, no, let me handle this.
Have you noticed that the world seems to be getting meaner? More hateful, more rude, more uncivil, more unfair. Do you ever listen to the news or watch the news and you go, man that's just not fair. On the other side of the world right now, there are people living in total poverty simply because they were born into that and we get to benefit from all the blessings here. Is that fair? Of course it's not fair. And we say well it just isn't fair. Well, you know what? The truth is life is not fair. God never said that life is fair. In fact it's unfair because of the sin in the world. Jesus came to make things right. And one day they will be made right but life is not fair right now. Sometimes bad people win, sometimes good people suffer. Come sometimes the innocent get hurt. Sometimes well-meaning people get abused and are betrayed and are cheated on and have their heart broken and on and on and on.
If you have been discriminated against because of your race or culture or language or gender, if you've been abused, if you have been harassed, if you have been mistreated, as your pastor, as your shepherd, that breaks my heart. I grieve for that and I'm sorry. I really am, I'm sorry for your hurt. That's not fair, it's just not fair and we should do whatever we can to correct injustice. But there's something even more important than the way I feel about it. It's the way God feels about it. It's the way God feels about it and God, you need to know that God has seen every hurt in your life and he grieves over it too. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked by somebody, "Where was God when your son died"? And I say he was at the same place he was when his son died, grieving. Grieving over man's inhumanity to humanity. God looks down and sees so much of what's happening in the world today and it hurts and it grieves. And the Bible says God grieves over and over and over. God has seen every hurt in your life, every mean word, every mean action, every injustice, abuse, prejudice, bias or anything like that.
You say well, why didn't he stop it then? Well God could stop all the evil in the world just like that, take away our freedom to do it. But if he's gonna be fair, he's not only gonna have to take away other people's freedom he's gonna take away yours too, if we're gonna be just and fair. And the fact is you've hurt people, you haven't always done the right thing to people. I've hurt people. Yes, God could get rid of all the evil in the world instantly, just take away our freedom to choose to not follow him. Take away our freedom to say I'm gonna do what I think is best. That would instantly get rid of all the evil in the world. So we can't blame God for that because he's given us the freedom to make that choice. God's never stopped me from hurting people, stopped you from hurting people. But I do know this, God is keeping a record. The Bible says very clearly that God is keeping a record of all the ways you've been hurt in life. Did you know that in Psalms 56:8, it says God stores up your tears in a bottle. You don't even know all the tears you've shed, God does. Says he's kept an accounting of how many tears you've shed and you're like that's how much your good good father cares about you. That kind of God says this, Romans 12:19.
Here's the next promise. Never avenge yourselves. In other words, don't retaliate, don't try to get revenge against the person who's hurt you. Never avenge yourselves, leave that to God for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Wow, now follow me on this. God is a God of love and because God is love, that's why we all have love in our lives. If our Creator wasn't loving there would be no love in the universe. God is the source of all love. Because God is loving, is a loving God, he is also a God of justice. God is a just God, God is a fair God, he is a righteous God, why? Because to allow evil to hurt his children and not seek justice would be unloving. Justice is sometimes the loving thing to do. And protection, sometimes if somebody tried to hurt my wife or my kids or my grandkids and I did nothing about it, and I didn't care about it, that's called being unloving.
Sometimes love fights, sometimes love defends, sometimes loves fights for the protection of other people. The Bible says greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. The greatest compliment Jesus ever gave he gave to a Roman soldier. He said I've never seen great faith like in this, why? The guy was giving his life for a cause greater than himself, and for the protection of other people. So God says this, never avenge yourself, leave that to me for I've said that I will repay those who deserve this. God says the people who've hurt you in your life, he says trust me I'll handle this and I've got more weapons than you do. And I can administer justice better than you can. And God says I don't want you wasting one second of your life on resentment and retaliation and revenge, and trying to get even because that's just gonna fill you with the poison of bitterness and I don't want you to waste your precious life being bitter.
Some of you are still allowing people who hurt you 10 years ago to hurt you today because you're holding on to the memory of it, that's dumb. That's just stupid. They can't hurt you anymore. Your past is past, they can't hurt you anymore. The only way they can hurt you is you're holding onto the hurt, you won't let it go. God says I want you to let it go. Not 'cause they deserve it, 'cause they don't. You don't deserve forgiveness either, I don't. You let it go 'cause you go, I want to get on with my life. Some of you today need to go I'm gonna trust this promise that God's gonna settle the score. I'm gonna stop trying to get even. And I think I've been thinking that I was getting even by holding on to the hurt 'cause they haven't gotten judged for it and so I feel like I gotta hold on do it so I can remember, somebody remembers how they hurt me.
That's faulty logic. Justice delayed is not justice denied. The Bible says there will be a day of reckoning, there will be a day of accounting, there will be a day of judgment. And God is very aware of what people have done to you and he's gonna settle the score one day, do you trust him? If you do you'll let it go, why? Because it's hurting you, it's eating you alive. And today to be the rest of your life for the first day of the rest of your life you need to just go I'm not gonna hold on to that hurt anymore, I'm letting it go. And every time that comes up, I've let it go, I forgive 'em, I let it go. God will settle the score.
Let me give you a fifth promise, number five. God promises to reward my service and generosity. God promises to reward my service and generosity. Now part of God's plan and purpose for your life is he wants you to become like Jesus Christ. Jesus is the model of perfect humanity. God wants us to grow up like Christ. He wants us to think like Christ, to feel like Christ, to love like Christ, to serve like Christ, to be giving like Christ. Well, if God wants me to become like Jesus, what is Jesus like? Well, in a word, in one word it's this word, unselfish. The whole goal of life is learning how to become more and more unselfish. Because to be unselfish is love. And God wants you to be like him, God is love.
So when you're born you are born as a baby, totally selfish. As a baby you're not thinking about anybody else. It's me, me, me, I, I, I want it and I want it now. Nothing is more selfish than a brand-new baby, okay? We coo and we ooh. Thank God they're cute but they're little selfish boogers, okay, all right? And it's only as they start growing up they start learning how to share and they have to be taught how to share. Because it's selfishness, it is my nature to only think of me and not think about you. You don't think about me, you don't get up and wanna go, "I wonder if Rick's okay today". Oh, you're getting up and thinking, "Is that a pimple"? So God wants us to become like Jesus.
What is Jesus like? Well look up here on the screen. Mark 10:45, I did not come to earth, this is Jesus talking. I didn't come to be served, I didn't come to live for myself. I came to serve and to give. I came to serve and to give my life for many. There are two verbs in that; to serve and to give. Friends, those two verbs describe the Christian life; serving and giving. Those two words describe what it means to follow Christ, to serve and to give. If you don't like serving and you don't like giving, don't call yourself a Christian because that's what it's all about. It's learning to be unselfish, it's learning real love and how do you spell love? G-I-V-E, you can't, you can give without loving, you cannot love without giving . You cannot love without serving. Love means I make your problem my problem. Love means I serve your needs not my needs. Love can always wait to give, lust can never wait to get. Love is all about giving and serving, giving and serving. That's real love. Lust is all about getting and being served.
And so we misunderstand what love is all about. Now in heaven, we're all gonna serve God joyfully. We're gonna enjoy it and do it. And God puts you on earth first so you can practice learning how to give and practice how to serve here so when you get to heaven, you're not a doofus. You know how to give and you know how to serve. Now that's how we learn real love. But the truth is most people in the world today are living completely self-centered lives. They're not thinking about how can I give to God and to others. They're not thinking about how can I serve God and others. God has wired the universe in such a way that your life will never make sense until you give it away. You're made by God and you're made for God. And until you figure that out, your life ain't gonna make sense. And God wired the universe that we're rewarded when we do what he does.
God is a giving and serving God. He's loving and serving and generous to a fault. Everything you have is from the generosity to God. So when you learn to give your life away and you learn to give your time away and you learn to give your money away and you learn to be a giver, not a taker in life, that's when you've began to fully live. And life takes on new meaning and new joy and new excitement. But most of us we make excuses that reveal our self-centered. I don't have time to serve God, I don't have time to serve others, my life's too busy with my stuff. You wanna reconsider that? Do you think God created you and put you on earth just to live for yourself? Let me say that again. Do you think God created you and put you on earth just to live for you? No, if you're living for yourself, you don't have a big enough God. Your god's too small. That's not reason enough to get out of bed, just for you. It's a very puny puny goal. God says I want to reward your service and generosity, because he wants us to become like that, he rewards it in a great way.
You know what I love the most about this church? Now I travel all around the world and I visit other churches but there's no church like Saddleback in two ways. Your spirit of service and your spirit of generosity. I don't know a more generous church and I don't know a more serving church on the planet. Over 20,000 people volunteer their time every week at Saddleback Church, at one of our campuses to help over 500 ministries to the community. And in generosity no church has ever been as generous. We've given hundreds of millions of dollars to help the poor and the weak and the sick and the aged and the mentally ill and the depressed and the addicts all around the world. No, no, I can't name any church that's given more money to like the Peace Plan. Certainly no people have sent more, spent more money themselves. With 26,000 of our members having volunteered to go overseas to 197 countries and serve people who needed help. That's unheard of, nobody even comes close to that.
I want to just brag on you for a minute, okay? It's okay for me to brag on you guys. And if you are serving in a ministry, you're a small group leader or you're a children's worker, student worker, college or weekend ministries or traffic or help at the office or volunteer work or Peace Plan, the 500 different ministries we do in the community, I want you to stand up right now and stay standing so we can applaud you, okay? If you're involved in ministry right now, would you just stand up? Whatever you do in some way. Stay standing, okay? Stay standing for a minute. Let me brag on you for a minute, okay?
Let me show you two verses about you. Look at this verse. This verse is for you guys standing. God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love for him by helping his people as you continue to do. God is gonna reward you. I'm proud of you, I'm grateful for you but that's nothing compared to the reward you're gonna get in heaven and that reward in heaven is gonna be based on what you did here on earth. One day we're all gonna stand for God. God's gonna say what did you do with what you were given? "Well, I've made a lot of money, retired and died". Wrong answer. No, you're here for more than that. Are you giving back in any way, in a volunteer way that you can't get repaid for? These people are doing that. God says you're gonna be rewarded. And by the way, same's true with with your giving.
Look at this verse. Generosity, Jesus said use your worldly resources, that's money, to benefit others. In other words, we don't spend all our money on us. We give some of it away to help other people, support the Lord's work, make friends for eternity. When we help spread the Peace Plan around the world, we're making friends for eternity. In this way your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven. You're gonna be rewarded. No service, no reward in heaven. No service, no reward. No generosity, no stored up in heaven. I'm not spending it all here, I'm sending it on ahead. Thank you, you guys can be seated. Thank you. Only one life will soon be passed and only what's done for Christ will last. I don't make any apology in saying that maybe the most significant thing you do is serve God at Saddleback Church and give and serve and be generous and do all that, why? Because it's gonna outlast everything else we're gonna do. It's gonna far outlast, what you do here is gonna for outlast your career and a lot of, your hobbies and everything else.
Can you imagine getting to heaven? 50 years from today, somebody comes up to you and says, "I want to thank you," and you say, "Thank me for what"? You say, "I don't know even know you". "You don't know me but you were one of the pioneers of Saddleback Church back there in the early 21st century and you prayed and you saved and you gave and you served and you sacrificed and you helped build buildings at that church and you helped send people on Peace Plan and you volunteered and you were generous and you built that church and 40 years after you died, that church treats me for Jesus Christ. I'm in heaven because of you, thanks". Do you think that'll be worth it? Do you know anything more important to do with your life? No, then help people come to know Christ, discover the purpose for life, grow in their maturity find their ministry and serve in their mission in the world. Now here is the last and the most important promise of all.
Number six, God promises for my future to keep me saved until heaven. He's gonna keep me saved until I get to heaven. I don't have to keep myself saved, thank God. Because if it were up to me to keep myself saved, I'm in deep deep weeds. There's no way I can save myself. God says it's not up to you. Once you put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters, you may wanna let go but he's not gonna let go. And once you are saved it is his job to keep you safe no matter what happens in your future. Three verses, three promises, and we'll close. John 10:28, Jesus said I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. It's a gift, he doesn't take it back. They will never perish and no one can snatch them out of my hand. When you put your hand in God's hand, there are times you're gonna want to let go. One time I took my kids to the Grand Canyon and my two boys were young and they were squirrelly and wiggly and I held onto their hands and we walked up to the edge of the Grand Canyon. And they wanted to let go, there was no way I was letting go of their hands. Not a chance, because as their father I love them too much.
And there have been times in my life when I have put my hand, and I put my in God's hand a long time ago, there's been times in my life when I've gone, "God it's not convenient right now to be a Christian, to be a follower of Jesus, to be a disciple. And it would be more convenient, it's politically incorrect, what I'm gonna have to do here will be unpopular. I'd like to go to this party or whatever and I'd like to kind of let go for a little bit". And God says well you might want to let go of me but I'm not letting go of you. You are in my hand and no man can snatch you out. I had a person say well to me one time well you can't be snatched out of God's hand but you can jump out. And I said, "How big do you think God's hand is? You think it's so small you can get to the edge of it"? His hands is bigger than the universe, you'll never get to the edge of God's love. You'll never get to the end of God's love, you'll never get to the end of him keeping you safe and saved.
Once you are born again you can't be unborn. Once your name is written in the eternal book of life, it's written in indelible ink and the blood of Christ, it can't be erased. Once I am saved, I am always saved. That's good news. I don't know what my future holds. I don't know how many years I've got left. And I might lose everything, I might lose my health, I might lose my wife, I might lose my family, I might lose my mind but I am never losing my salvation. That's the good news. And that means I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and I don't know what's coming, and I don't know how the world's gonna turn out but that's not my job. And the fact is no matter what happens there's one thing I can count on, he'll always be with me, he's never gonna stop loving me and he's gonna keep me saved until I'm safely home in heaven, that's good news.
You see what if I mess up and I like really sin and deny Christ? Yeah, well lots of people have done that. Next verse, promise, 2 Timothy 2:13. If we are faithless, he God will remain faithful for he cannot disown himself. Thank you God. I can be unfaithful but he's never gonna be unfaithful to me. That's how much he loves me. Last verse, Philippians 1:6. Being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. What God started in your life, he is going to finish. God never leaves anything half-finished. As Ethel Waters said, God doesn't sponsor flops. So you can be confident of this, that God who started something in you is gonna finish it in you and you're gonna make it to the finish line. So let's thank him, let's bow our heads. And in this prayer say God, I know you know all of my future, you already know how it's gonna end. Tell that to God.
God, you already know how my life is gonna end and God you know all the problems I'm gonna have, and you know all the mistakes I'm gonna make and you still love me and you have a good plan for my life. And I'm saying today I want the rest of my life to be on your plan, not mine. I want to live the rest of my life for you, not for myself. For you, not for me. And so I wanna thank you for these promises that you will never leave me alone, you'll never abandon me, I'll never go through anything in my future without you. (And then say this to God:) God thank you for your promise to guide me when I'm confused. And thank you for your promise to help me when I'm tempted. You know where I'm tempted and you want me to win, you're on my side. Thank you that you've promised to support me when I'm troubled. When I don't know which way to turn, you're gonna help me out, give me support. And Lord I even thank you that you've promised to repay those who have hurt me. And so today I'm gonna let it go. I'm not gonna waste any more of my time and life or energy on bitterness and resentment, on retaliation and revenge, on holding on to the hurt. I'm letting it go, I'm putting it all in your hands. I'm saying I'm trusting you for justice. Lord, thank you that you've promised to reward my service to you and my generosity to you and others. Every year for the rest of my life, I wanna serve more and I wanna give more. I wanna learn to be more generous every year and I wanna be more of a servant every year. I don't want to be stuck at this same level of maturity. I want to grow every year in the rest of my life. And most of all I thank you, that you've promised to keep me saved until I get to heaven.