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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - Seeing Your Future With Faith, Not Fear

Rick Warren - Seeing Your Future With Faith, Not Fear

Rick Warren - Seeing Your Future With Faith, Not Fear
TOPICS: Future, Fear, Faith, Expectations

Happy new year everybody. The first thing I want to say in this brand new year is congratulations to you for surviving this last year. You did it, congratulations. 2020 was a difficult year, but you made it through. The second thing I want to say is I want to thank all of you personally, who volunteered in ministry in any capacity at Saddleback Church in 2020. Our Light of the World Christmas experience, all of you who volunteered for that, our food distribution, all of our other ministries, thank you, thank you, thank you. I want to thank our worship teams who did an amazing job this past year, every single week, they just kept growing and giving us more and more beautiful worship services.

Now, you know as a church, we didn't merely survive 2020, we actually thrived. Yep. In terms of ministry, evangelism, and mission, it was actually our most productive year out of all of our history. 2020, the number of people participating in worship at Saddleback, actually more than doubled, it more than doubled as you invited your friends to watch online. And in serving our community, God opened doors for us to get a dozen new ministries started including ministering to more than half a million people who needed food. And while we couldn't meet on the weekends, our campuses were busy seven days a week, serving our community. And as a result, get this, 24, 404 people committed their lives to Christ for the very first time and found forgiveness and salvation and their purpose in life. That's amazing, that's a record for Saddleback Church in one year.

Now listen, 5,560 of these new believers came to Christ through these online worship services. But three times that amount, 18,844 other new believers were led to Jesus through your personal one on witnessing, the witnessing of our members during COVID. And I'm sure there's no other church that could claim that, that's a record for Saddleback's 41 year history. More people came to know Christ through Saddleback church last year than in any other year. So I ended this year being very grateful for your faithfulness, being amazed at your compassion and being astounded at your creativity. Now, in a normal year, Christmas time, about 60,000 people attend Saddleback Christmas services. But this year just at the Lake Forest campus, over 120,000 people experienced our Light of the World drive-thru presentation. It was the talk of the community and that doesn't even include all the other Christmas events that we did at our other campuses.

Now, as we start this new year, I want to begin with a mini series on clarifying God's vision for your future. So I'm going to teach a short series on vision, the power of vision. And before we launch into our major book study of 2021, which is by the way going to be the Book of Acts. And I'm super excited about that. But one of the stories we'll learn from acts is the results of Paul giving his testimony, a courtroom testimony to King Herod Agrippa an official of the Roman Empire. And Paul explains how Jesus transformed him from being a religious terrorist who was out murdering Christians to becoming a Christian missionary. That's pretty big U-turn. And he details the vision for his life that Jesus gave him. And then he concludes by saying this in Acts chapter 26, verse 19, he says, "So King Agrippa," this is the guy he's talking to. He says, "I have not been disobedient to the vision God gave me".

I have not been disobedient to the vision god gave me. In the message paraphrase Paul says it like this, what else could I do King Agrippa? I couldn't just walk away from a vision like that. So I obeyed it. Now, I want you to listen as your pastor who loves you deeply. I want to help you, particularly in this new year, 2021, I want to help you get to the place that you're able to say the same thing one day. When you stand before God to give an account of your life, I want you to be able to say to God, I fulfilled the vision that you gave me for my life. That's why we're going to do this mini series. You can't fulfill your life vision, of course, until first you see it. And then you understand it.

Proverbs 29 verse 18 says this, "where there is no vision, the people perish". Now, what does that mean? Well, there are at least three results of not having a vision for your life. I want you to write these down. An unclear vision leads to three things. It leads to indecision, it leads to division, and it leads to a collision. First, an unclear vision leads to indecision. Do you remember this verse from our study of James James chapter one verse eight, double-minded people can't make up their minds, they waver back and forth in everything they do without a vision for your future, you're just drifting, you wander, you ramble through life. You're not really living, you're just existing. You don't have any goal or purpose or plan or meaning. You just kind of let life happen to you.

I don't want you to do that in 2021. When you don't have a vision, you waste time and you miss opportunities. You don't make the most of what you've been given. And without a vision, you're a poor steward of life. You end up just coasting and you know when you're coasting, you're always headed downhill. So it causes this indecision. Second, an unclear vision leads to division. Division, it causes people to go different directions in different ways, divided on things. If you aren't sure where you're headed, don't expect anybody else to go with you or to marry you or to agree with you or to partner with you because everybody's just going to head off in a different direction because no one has clear path. This lack of clear vision is one of the causes of all the division in America right now.

Here's an interesting verse from Proverbs 28 verse two, in the message it says this, "When a country is in chaos, everybody has a plan to fix it". They're all going in different ways, different directions, division. But it takes a leader of real understanding to straighten things out. Vision is the answer to division. The third thing that happens when you don't have a clear vision for life is a collision. In other words, without a clear direction for your life it is inevitable that at some point in your life you're going to crash into some kind of dead end. And you know, for many people, when you think about it, I've met a lot of people, life's just a series of collisions, relational collisions, confrontations, financial crashes, personal crisis, just one after another, they go from one dead end relationship to the next or from one dead end job to the next. Life's kind of like a bumper car ride, you just keep bumping into everybody else and you get hit from all sides.

Now the Bible warns us of the damage of not following God's vision for our lives. First Timothy 1:19 says this, God's word translation, "some people have a refuse to let their faith guide their conscience and their faith has been destroyed like a wrecked ship". That's a collision. On the other hand having a vision for your future requires hard work. That's why a lot of people don't have one, it requires faith, it requires thinking, it requires prayer and seeking God, all the things we're going to talk about in this series. If you just make up a vision for your life, well that's no better than coasting. What you want is God's vision for your life. That is the result of seeing things clearly. Seeing with eyes of faith, rather than eyes of fear. We're going to look at that today in just this introduction message. In the Bible, Jesus has a lot to say about your vision, about how you see things and about blindness.

In fact, in the Bible blindness is always a metaphor for having a closed mind. When he talks about people who are blind, he's talking about their minds are closed, they're not open to new ideas, they're not open to what God wants to say. Matthew chapter six, verse 22 and 23 is a verse we'll come back to in this series on vision, because Jesus said this, listen closely, look at this verse, "Your eyes are the lamp of your body and if your eyes are open and good your whole body will be full of light". But if your vision is bad, I just got new glasses I've got good vision again. If your vision is bad, your whole life will be full of darkness. And he says, "if the light that you think you have is really darkness, it's the worst kind of darkness you can have".

Now, Jesus is saying that if you don't really see things clearly, correctly, truthfully, you may think you're living in the light but you're not. You're really living in the darkness and you're missing all the wonderful things that God has in store for you. All the wonderful things that God has in store for you, for your future, because you just can't see it. Now, we've all heard the expression, "What you see is what you get". And in many ways that's actually a biblical statement. We're going to look at the implications of that idea through many scripture verses during this series on vision. But what I want to do today is just introduce a series on God's vision for your future. And I want us to go back to a story in the Old Testament that involves Moses and the Jewish slaves who had been freed by God from 400 years of slavery in Egypt.

Now, here's the background of the story we're going to look at Numbers 13 and Numbers 14. Here's the background. In the Book of Numbers, God had promised these freed slaves a homeland of their own, and he calls it The Promised Land. "I'm going to set you free from Egypt, and I'm going to take you to The Promised Land". It represented their future. It represented their inheritance that God wanted them to enjoy. It would become the land of Israel. Now, after crossing the desert, they've gone through the Red Sea, crossing the desert. All these freed slaves, they come to the edge of The Promised Land and Moses chooses 12 representatives, one from each of the 12 tribes, to go ahead of everybody else and spy out the land. And he says, "I want you to go in and check it all out and return with a vision report".

This is a fact-finding mission. In other words, it's a vision trip. And Moses says, "Go into the new land that represents our future and find out everything you can. Find out what it's like. See everything you can see. Then come back and report to us on everything you have seen". This is a vision trip. Numbers 13:17-20 says this, Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the new land, "Go northward through the Negev into the hill country and see what that land is like and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? Do the towns have walls? Are they unprotected? How's the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Enter the land boldly and bring back samples of the crops you see". If you're taking notes, circle that phrase "you see".

Now, why did Moses do this? Because Moses was a great leader. Why did he send these spies on a vision trip and ask for a report? Here's the reason. Listen to this. If you're a leader, this is really important. Before people can succeed with a goal, they have to see the goal. If you're a leader, you need to understand that. We can only accomplish the impossible if we first see it in our minds. Everything that's ever been accomplished in history started as an idea in somebody's mind first. You have to imagine it. You have to see it. Sometimes you have to taste it, but you definitely have to visualize it. And that's why I'm going to teach you as the beginning of this year, a new series on getting God's vision for your life.

Now, Numbers chapter 13:21-23 says this. So they sent spies in. "They spied out the land all the way from the wilderness up to Hebron and there they saw," circle that word, they "saw," "the Ahimanites, and the Sheshites, and all the Talmites, all the families descended from Anak". Now, by the way, don't confuse these tribes with the termites and the parasites and the satellites and the stalactites. Those are different tribes completely. But it says when it came to Eshcol, they cut down a cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it back on a pole. Can you imagine that a cluster of grapes? They also took samples of pomegranates and figs. This Promised Land was so fruitful and so incredibly prosperous. They're bringing back giant fruit. I grew up in northern California, in the redwoods, and in the wine country. And as a kid, every season, I cut grapes in vineyards at harvest, but I never saw a cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it. This is supernatural. This is miracle grows crop.

Numbers 13:25-26 says this, "After seeing," there's the word "seeing," this is a vision trip. "After seeing the land for 40 days, the men returned to Moses and Aaron. And the people of Israel waiting at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran". They reported to the whole community what they had seen, and they showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. Now, all of this sounds really promising, but there's a problem, and it has to do with their vision. That's why we're sharing this story. Two of the spies, there were 12 spies, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, looked at their future with eyes of faith. But the other 10 of the 12 spies looked at their future With the eyes of fear. And I want to contrast that today as we start 2021, are you looking at this new year with eyes of fear or with eyes of faith? After experiencing the year 2020, are you looking at this new year with fear or with faith? Are you expecting more of the same? Are you expecting God to do something great in your life this new year?

How you see this year will make all the difference in the world. And this story shows us what happens when your vision of the future is based on fear instead of faith. Okay? So let's get into this. Now, you know the story. Looking at the future with fear, which 10 of the 12 spies did, causes all kinds of problems. In fact, this story illustrates five or so of the traps, maybe six, that we fall into. Why don't you write these down? Here's what happens when you look at the new year or you look at the future with fear instead of faith.

Number one, we learn from this story, I overemphasize the negative. When I look at the future in fear, I overemphasize the negative in life. Verses 27, 28, it says this was their report to Moses. "We arrived in the land you sent us to to see. And it is indeed a magnificent country. The land flowing with milk and honey. Here's some of the fruit as proof, but," now circle the word "but," because now that you get to "but" you're going to see with eyes of fear. Here's the conflicting information. "But the people living there are powerful and their cities and towns are fortified and they're very large. And we also saw the Anakim, the descendants of Anak who lived in the desert".

Now, the Anakim were of the tribe of Skywalker and the force was strong with them. If you believe that I've got some land to sell you too. When you overemphasize the negative, it creates a lot more stress in your life. When you were looking at everything with fear, you worry that the glass is always half empty instead of being happy and grateful of the glass is still half full. Look at what you have left, not what you've lost.

Now, of course, life is filled with negatives. Everything is broken by sin on this Earth. Not all news is positive, but you do have a choice in choosing what you're going to focus on, what you're going to emphasize, and that is going to directly affect your happiness in this new year. So the spies brought back conflicting news. Two of the spies had eyes of faith, and they gave positive news. But 10 of the spies had eyes of fear, and they delivered negative news. By the way, I think that ratio in news is probably still true today. For every one positive news story, you're going to hear five negative news stories and experts tell us negative news spreads about 10 times faster on social media than positive news. So I focus on the negative when I'm looking with eyes of fear.

Number Two, second trap, I pay too much attention to what other people are doing. I pay too much attention to what others are doing. Numbers 13:29 says this. They're focusing not on the beauty and the value of the land. They say the Amalekites live in the Negev and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. And the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan, the Jordan river. What are they saying here? What's the point? It's a scarcity mentality. What they're saying is there won't be enough for us this year. All the good land is already taken by other tribes. There's really no room for us in this Promised Land. There aren't enough resources for everybody. We heard a lot of that this last year, panic buying during the pandemic. There's not enough. Everybody's trying to get it for themselves. Why did God bring us here?

Now, if you look at this new year with eyes of fear, you too are going to develop a scarcity mentality, which is going to create stress in your life like there's not enough. And you're going to say all the good experiences are gone, all the good jobs are already taken, all the good houses are already bought, all the good husbands are married. You're going to look around as a scarcity mentality. Now, you got to look with the eyes of faith.

Number three, third trap that we see from this story, when we look at the future with fear instead of faith, I underestimate the abilities... Excuse me. I underestimate the abilities that God has given me. I underestimate the abilities God has given me when I look at the future with fear, because seeing life with eyes of fear causes you to bury your talents. You know that story that Jesus told. Numbers 13:31, the men who had gone with Caleb said, "We can't," circle that, "We can't attack those people. They are stronger than we are". They're underestimating their own ability. Did you know that people who always say, "I can't," and the people who always say, "I can," are both right? Why? Because fear creates self-fulfilling prophecies. You got a vision based on fear, rather than faith, it's going to limit you for your entire life. You're going to miss opportunities. You're going to waste talent that God has put inside you, and you're going to set yourself up with self-fulfilling and self-defeating predictions. This happened... Job says in Job 3:25, he said, "What I have always feared has happened to me, and what I have dreaded has now come to be".

Let me ask you a very personal question. What are you setting yourself up for in this new year? What are you setting yourself up for in just with your attitude? How are you seeing yourself? Are you looking at your own abilities as, "I'm inadequate, I'm incapable"? Are you looking at your life in faith or in fear? The Spies, with fear-based vision, saw themselves as inadequate. Verse 32 and 33, they said, "The land we explored devours those living in it". What a hyperbole, the land we explored devours those living in it. He says, "All of the people we saw there are of great size". He says, "We saw giants there". The Hebrew word is Nephilim, for giant. By the way, the Hebrew word for handsome is Pastor Rick, in Hebrew. "We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them".

Do you see what they're saying here? We see ourselves as insects, waiting to be devoured. That word devour in Hebrew actually means to eat up. They said, "These people are going to eat our lunch, and they're Nephilim, they're giants, they're bullies, they're tyrants, they're NFL linebackers". It's a great size. And they say, "We saw ourselves as grasshoppers in our own eyes". That's a pretty pathetic self-image, we're insects, we're bugs, they're going to squash us, we're going to go smash against the windshield. Then they says, "We saw ourselves". Notice in that sentence, "We saw ourselves as grasshoppers, and we look the same to them". What are they doing? They are projecting their fears on others. That's one of the problems of a fear-based vision, is you project your fears on everybody else. If you think you look a certain way, you think everybody else thinks you look that way. That's a problem. It's a trap.

Number four. The fourth trap of vision with fear instead of faith is, I infect others with my negativity. I infect others with my negativity. Did you know that fear is contagious? Did you know parents can pass on fear to kids? And it can actually be passed from generation to generation. In verse 32 it says, "They spread a bad report about the land they had explored". They didn't just keep it to themselves. This is what happens when you become afraid, you start talking trash, you start talking negative, you start complaining, you start griping. This is by the way, why the Bible tells you to not hang out with negative people. Did you know that in Proverbs it says that many times, "Don't hang out with scoffers and cynics. Don't hang out with negative people, critics and complainers".

One of the things I noticed in 2020, you probably noticed it too, how many conspiracy theories popped up during the pandemic. Oh my goodness, we had more conspiracies in one year than we'd had in a decade or decades. And the problem was many Christians were falling for those theories too, and they were actually passing them on. Why? Because they were hanging out with the wrong people. They were listening to negative reports. They were listening to negative news sources. You know what? If you start hearing some conspiracies this year, let me give you a verse to build back to. It's Isaiah 8:12. Here's what it says, Isaiah 8:12, "Don't say that everything people call a conspiracy is a conspiracy. And don't fear what they fear. Don't let it terrify you". That's what God wants you to do. Don't think every conspiracy is a conspiracy. Don't fear what they fear. Don't let it terrify you.

Number five. A fifth trap, if you don't have eyes of faith is, I make myself miserable. When I look at my life and I looked at the future with eyes of fear, I just make myself miserable. Here's what happened after they came back with this fear-based report. Numbers 14:1 and 2, "Then, all the people began weeping aloud". They're crying. "And they cried all night, and they grumbled, and they complained in a great chorus against their leaders". Moses, the guy had led them out of slavery, against their leaders; Moses and Aaron. And they said, "We wish we'd died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness". Are you kidding me? They wailed. They're having a full-blown pity party. "We would have rather stayed slaves, then have to face what we're going to face in the future. We would have rather died in the desert than have to face the future, because we're so afraid".

Now, that's very important verse because you can know that you're looking at life with eyes of fear when the four warning lights that are in that verse show up in your life. When these four things show up in your life, you know I'm not looking at the future with faith. I'm looking at the future with fear. Notice the four things; your sadness increases. It says, "They cried all night". They were depressed, and sometimes our depression is caused by fear. Depression can be caused by a lot of different things, but one, sometimes it can be caused by fear. Your sadness increases. Number two, your complaining increases. Has your spouse noticed you complaining more lately? It says, "They grumbled and they complained". Why? Because they were afraid. They were afraid. Third, you start second-guessing your leaders. It says, "They grumbled and complained in a great chorus against their leaders, Moses and Aaron". They said, "We wish you hadn't led us here. You're doing a lousy job of leading us".

And forth, you want to go back, backwards. You want to go back to a prior time. They said, "It would have been better for us to have died in Egypt". You don't want any of those things. But those are signs that you're living based on a vision of fear, than a vision of faith. What's the antidote? Well, that's what we're going to look at in the days ahead. This is just an introduction. But the antidote in a sentence is, you need to develop a life vision of faith. You need to develop a life vision. You need to see with eyes of faith, not eyes of fear. And I'm going to teach you how to do that during this series. As I said, this is just the intro. Now, there were two guys who were the minority report and they were Caleb and Joshua. They were the only two guys who eventually got to go into The Promised Land. The rest of them died in the desert. God let them die out there.

Numbers 13:30, here's what Caleb said in faith. "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and he said, we should go at once. We should take possession of the land right now. We can certainly do this". He said, "Well, let's do it right now. Stop defeating yourself with the paralysis of analysis. Do it now. You defeat fear, not by arguing against your fears. You defeat fear with movement, not by discussing it, not by focusing on it, but by opposing it, doing the thing you fear the most". That's what Caleb said. Then in verse 6 to 9 of Numbers 14, here's what Joshua said. He's the other guy who had eyes of faith. He said, "We saw the land ourselves and it's very good". He said, "The future looked great. If we obey the Lord, he will surely give us that land, rich with milk and honey". In other words, we're depending on the promise of God. So he says, "Don't rebel". He said, "Don't rebel. We have no reason to be afraid of the people who live there. The Lord is on our side and they won't stand a chance against us".

One, plus God is a majority. God plus you, if God is for us, who can be against us? Now here's the problem. Sadly, they chose to believe the majority report of fear, not the minority report of faith, and they all died in the desert over the next 40 years until a new generation grew up and they would be allowed to go into the Promised Land. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Hebrews 3:19 that says this: "So we see that they," the people who were the slaves that had been freed, "they were not able to enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief".

That's one of the saddest verses in the Bible and it makes me wonder, when I read it, what blessing of God am I missing out on, me personally, because of my unbelief? What blessing of God am I missing out on because of my own unbelief? To me, hell would be if God were to show me what He could have done in my life if I had believed Him just a little bit more. I want to ask you this question as we start a brand new year: What blessing of God are you missing right now simply because you don't believe? You don't believe it. Your unbelief. You're looking at the future with eyes of fear, not the eyes of faith.

Now the starting point, we're going to get into all the details in this series, but the starting point for getting God's vision for your life, obviously, is to first put your trust in Jesus Christ, if you haven't done that. You need to ask Him to put His spirit into your life. It's the only way you'll ever be able to see with eyes of faith and it's the only way you'll ever be able to get God's vision. John 3:3, Jesus said this: "Unless you were born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God". You can't see it. You can't see God's vision unless you're born again. So you need this. You see, when you're born again, when you're born physically, you get five senses: hear, taste, touch, smell, okay, see. When you're spiritually reborn, born again, you get a new set of eyes. You can see things you didn't see before. You could hear things you couldn't hear before. You sense things you didn't sense before. Unless you're born again, you can never see all that God has in store for your life.

So here's the first step that I want you to start just this week: stop listening to your feelings, and stop looking in fear, and start living in faith. Believe that God's going to help you in this new year. Believe. Believe God will help you and you will see God help you. I'll end with this story. Jesus had some friends: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They're two sisters and a brother, and Lazarus died and Jesus raised him back to life. When He did, He reminded Mary and Martha, in John 11:40, He said, "Didn't I tell you that you will see God's glory if you believe"? You will see God's glory if you believe.

So here's my question: How badly do you want to see God's glory in your life in 2021? You got to stop nursing your worries, they just get bigger. You got to make some commitments in faith. You got to step out and move against your fears. I want to pray a prayer and I want to pray for two different groups. First, if you have never given your life to Christ, it's time to be born again, then you can start seeing with spiritual eyes. If you are already a Christian, would you stop listening to the negative reports? Would you re-go over these five things we just talked about and say, "God, I don't want that in my life in 2021. I don't want that in my life in this new year". Let's bow for prayer:

Father, I thank you that you took us through 2020. I thank you that you have a great new future for us. You said, "I know the plans I have for you, plans for good, not to harm you, but to prosper you," and so I pray that, today, as we start a new year together, that we would lay aside the eyes of fear and we begin to see with eyes of faith and that we would get your vision for our lives. We don't want division in our lives. We don't want a collision in our lives. We don't want the negativity of indecision in our lives. What we want is You.

If you've never invited Christ in your life, why don't you say this:

Jesus Christ, I want to be born again. I ask you to put your spirit in my life. I realize I need you. Forgive all my sins and help me to follow you. I want to learn to trust you and love you, and I want to see your vision and your purpose and plan for my life in this new year. Please accept me into your family.

For those of you who've already prayed that prayer, pray this:

Father today, I want to switch from eyes of fear to eyes of faith and I don't want to fall for any of these traps that we just looked at in today's text. Instead, I want to trust you and expect great things from you and attempt great things for you. I want to be a man of vision. I want to be a woman of vision in 2021, and I ask you to give me your vision in Jesus' name. Amen.

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