Futurologists are people who make predictions about the future. One prediction is that some babies born now are likely to live to the ripe old age of 150. Wired magazine recently predicted that meal replacement patches (taking nicotine replacement patches a step further) will be in existence by 2018, and that by 2020 there will be a new financial currency introduced for purchases in space.
Some look to futurologists to know what is coming. Others go further. Many people read their horoscopes because they want to know what the future holds. Jeremiah warns in the passage for today, ‘Don’t for a minute listen to … spiritualists and fortune-tellers, who claim to know the future’ (Jeremiah 27:9, MSG).
As the one who holds the past, present and future in his hands, only God truly knows the future. Much of it is hidden from us. However, there are certain things about your future that God tells you.
1. Your future with God begins with an honest look at your past
The study of history helps us to predict the future. As Winston Churchill once said, ‘To understand the future we need to understand the past.’
I love the psalms. There is an honesty, reality and authenticity about the way in which they are written. The psalmist does not disguise his feelings. He speaks openly and vulnerably about them: ‘I am feeling terrible – I couldn’t feel worse!’ (v.25a, MSG).
We all face temptation, sin, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes and desires. The psalmist says, ‘I recounted my ways and you answered me’ (v.26a). He spreads his case before the Lord, opening his heart with sincerity to him. There are times of deep sorrow: ‘My soul is weary with sorrow’ (v.28a).
How does the psalmist respond to all these difficulties? He prays, ‘Preserve my life according to your word’ (v.25b). He meditates on God’s word (v.27b) and prays: ‘Strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law’ (vv.28b–29).
Resolve to follow God’s ways in everything, but not out of a sense of obligation or guilt. Choose to run in the path of God’s commands, for he has set your heart free (v.32).
May The Lord help us to run in the path of His commands IJN.Amen!
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
2. Your long term future is totally secure
Jesus is coming back. The second coming is the most important thing to know and believe about the future. It changes everything about how we live our lives now, and infuses every moment of the present with hope. No one knows exactly when it will happen, but we are to live every day as if he were returning today – doing what he would want us to be doing.
Paul begins this letter with the assertion that ‘our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you’re to be’ (v.2, MSG). He thanks God for their growth: ‘Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully …We’re so proud of you’ (vv.3–4, MSG).
There is a great deal of emphasis in the New Testament on spiritual growth. We are not meant to stand still. Our faith and love should grow. God is trying to increase the muscles of our faith. Is our faith getting stronger? Is our love increasing? Do we react differently from two or three years ago?
So often, it is our struggles rather than our ‘successes’ that make us stronger. The Thessalonians’ faith and love was growing in spite of – maybe even because of – the persecution and trials that they were enduring (v.4).
Paul tells them that in the future God will put things right (vv.6–7). ‘Justice is on the way’ (v.6, MSG). When Jesus returns he will execute a perfectly just judgment: ‘This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels’ (v.7).
God desires that all people repent and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). But he warns those who consistently reject the knowledge of God throughout their life, and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8) – as was the case with those who were persecuting the Thessalonians – that there is a judgment to come. They will miss out on the possibility of eternal life.
The opposite of eternal life is ‘destruction’ and being ‘shut out from the presence of the Lord’ (v.9). Those who know God and obey the gospel will experience his presence and his majesty into eternity, ‘on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed’ (v.10a). Paul says this includes the Thessalonians ‘because you believed our testimony to you’ (v.10b). Their long-term future is totally secure.
Their response to the gospel determined their future. The gospel message is urgent. As Carl Henry put it, ‘The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.’
As far as their short-term future is concerned, Paul writes, ‘We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith’ (v.11).
We are not simply sitting around waiting for Jesus to return as some of the Thessalonians seemed to have been doing. God has a ‘good purpose’ for our life. He has called us. He puts ideas into our heart. He works in us both to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).
In all this, Paul prays that the name of Jesus will be glorified: ‘If your life honours the name of Jesus, he will honour you’ (2 Thessalonians 1:12, MSG).
3. Your future is one of hope, not harm
This passage contains one of the most wonderful and often quoted promises of God about his future plans for our lives. Jeremiah was a true prophet. He heard the word of the Lord.
But there were false prophets around, like Hananiah. Jeremiah says, ‘The prophet who prophesies peace will be recognised as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true’ (28:9). Hananiah’s predictions did not come true because the Lord had not sent him (v.15).
Jeremiah’s prophecies did come true. The people of God did go into exile as he had warned.
Now, Jeremiah speaks the message from the Lord to his people in exile. He tells them, ‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’ (29:7).
There is an important principle here. Generally we should seek the peace and prosperity of the place in which God has put us and pray for it. This includes places where we may work, our local church, our city and our nation.
There is an expression: ‘Bloom where we’re planted.’ This passage encourages us to make roots even where we feel uncomfortable or isolated (like in exile). Sometimes the place where we find ourself is not where we want to be but, if God has led us there, then that place must be fertile ground for God’s work in us to thrive.
God promises his people that the exile will come to an end: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place’ (v.10).
This is the context of the wonderful promises: Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ (vv.11–14a). Hallelujah!
God has good plans for you and i. They are not plans for us failure or defeat. They are plans to ‘prosper us’. They are not average or mediocre plans. They are good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).
But God will not force his plans on us. All God’s plans require our cooperation. If we want his plans to be fulfilled in our life, we need to seek him. He promises that, if we do so, we will be found by him (Jeremiah 29:13–14b). As we spend time with him, we will become like him and he will lead us into the good plans he has for our life.
May He help us to walk in His paths and fulfil the purpose He have for us. IJN AMEN.