God's Promise of a New Earth

When You Are Living For Jesus, You Will Desire To Please Him

Dan Franklin
Aug 14, 2022    39m
Do you struggle to see past your earthly trials to see God's promises? We can find eternal hope when we live with our eyes fixed on God's promises for the future, and never forget to be living for Jesus in the present. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] Who in here could quote back our mission statement as a church? Everybody. All right, I'm going to get us started. We exist to...All right, that was pretty good. Good job, Church. We exist, our mission statement as Life Bible Fellowship Church is that we exist to passionately pursue life in Jesus and to lead our neighbors to do the same. That's why we're here, that's what our church is about. And really, it's not just that we as an organization feel like, well, this is our unique calling as a church, this is just our unique way of putting what we believe is a calling for every Christian and every church, we exist to passionately pursue, to go after the new life that Jesus has purchased for us by his blood and by His resurrection, and to lead our neighbors to do the same.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:17] So Paul is going to be talking to us about getting from here to there, the there that we're talking about is a life passionately lived for Jesus. That that we're not just sort of casual Christians, we remember that God exists, so we show up on Sunday and then apart from that, we're not terribly aware of him, but that we are really living every area of our lives passionately for Jesus. That's the, there. But we all kind of know there's a gap between where we are right now and that. so the here is where we are right now in our lives. And the fact is, I think for many of us in here, it's not that we're looking at this, it's not that we're looking at a passionate life lived for Jesus and we're saying, I don't want that. It's that we're over here in the here, and we're feeling very distracted by things that are going on in our lives right now. We have all kinds of issues that are happening. So for some of you, it's school and its sports teams, and it's trying to find a group of friends. And for others of you, you're trying to figure out college and career and where you go with that. And then others of us are dealing with kids or grandkids or marriage issues or all kinds of things. We're dealing with work and we're dealing with finances. We're dealing with the battle against sin and habits. And so we're over here and all of those things are happening. and if we're honest, there are some of us and probably even some of us that would say we're pretty committed Christians, there are some of us that go days and maybe even weeks without thinking about Jesus or what his calling is for us. So we say yes, I say yes, I want to live a life passionately for Jesus, but I'm over in the here and I'm not sure how to get there with all of this stuff that I'm dealing with.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:02] And Paul's going to give us some directions, he's going to talk to us about how we get from here to there. In fact, what he's really going to say is, if we're going to get from here to there, we're going to need to focus on two things. We're going to need two focal points, and I'll put it up on the screen just to guide us for now. He's going to say to live passionately for Jesus, we need to be focused on the future and on the present. Maybe another way of putting it is that if we're really going to passionately live for Jesus, if this is really going to be not just a hobby in our lives, but if this is going to be the consuming thing that leads us in our lives, we're going to have to have one eye squarely fixed on God's promises for the future and another eye squarely fixed on God's calling for the present.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:53] And we're going to see that in these five verses that we're going to go through in Second Corinthians chapter 5 verses 6 through 10. And we actually start with the future. We start with Paul telling us, I want you to focus on the future. And when I'm talking about this, here's how you can translate that, focus on the future that God has promised to those who belong to Him. Now let's put up verses 6 through 8, I'll read through these and then we'll kind of get our bearings with it. But here's what Paul writes, he says, "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7For we live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

Dan Franklin: [00:04:42] Now, in many ways, what we're going through today is sort of part two from what we did last week. So some of you were here last week when we went through verses 1 through 5 of chapter five. If you weren't here, I encourage you at some point, to go online, go on our website and watch the sermon, it was really great. I always feel funny when I'm plugging my own sermons, you'll love it, but it's important because it really ties in. And Paul started off chapter 5 by talking about, he used an illustration of our bodies, sort of as this tent, of this temporary physical thing that we're inhabiting right now. But we're longing for the newness that God promises, which is not primarily about where we go when we die, but about the idea that unless Jesus comes back first, we all will die one day. But Jesus, because He has been raised from the dead, when he returns, He will raise up from the dead all who belonged to him, fit us with new, immortal, imperishable bodies, and put us on a new, resurrected earth. The ultimate Christian hope is not that we go to God, it's that He comes to us and makes all things new. So Paul says, that's what we're talking about, so he again kind of returns to this and you'll notice in both verses 6 and 8, he talks about being confident.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:55] Which I love that Andy started our worship time just by asking us that question, where's our confidence? So here Paul is saying, all right, I'll tell you about our confidence, our confidence is that we know while we're at home in this tent, while we're at home in this body, we're away from the Lord. And in some ways, we can just say, well, that's just observably true. We're not with the Lord right now as we're in our physical, mortal bodies. In a way you could say, well, we're always with the Lord because God's everywhere all at once, so he is always with us. And that's true, and that's why he says in verse 7, "We live by faith and not by sight." The nearness of God that we're experiencing right now is by faith, but Paul's previewing, one day, it's not going to be by faith, one day it's going to be by sight. One day we'll be out of this mode where we're filling in the gaps and we're trusting that God is there, even though we can't see Him, and even though we don't know all of what he's up to. We're living by faith right now, but one day we'll be living by sight. And that's what he picks up after he kind of goes into verse 6, interrupts himself in verse 7, and picks back up in verse 8, says, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

Dan Franklin: [00:07:10] So he says that there are two homes that we're going to experience where we're at home in the body right now and we're away from the Lord, but one day we're going to be away from the body and we're going to be at home with the Lord. And what he's talking about now is, is what some of us just kind of naturally will call heaven, other scholars will call it the intermediate state. We talked about some of this last week, but I want to make sure we've got our bearings. If our ultimate hope as believers in Jesus is that even though we die. When Jesus returns, he is going to raise us up to victory, we all know there's a gap between that time for probably almost all of us, or maybe all of us in this room, will experience a gap unless Jesus comes back first, where we will die, our bodies will be in the ground, and we'll be waiting for Jesus to return for that final resurrection. And then we ask what happens between that? And what we get is what's often called the intermediate state, and this is the question about where Christians go when they die.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:10] And I don't want this to get super academic, but I talked about this last week. I want to talk about four things that I think we do get from the Bible about this. We don't get as much as we'd like to, you're going to walk away from the sermon and you're going to be like, I still got questions and I'm going to be like, I might be able to answer a couple of them, but there's a whole bunch that we're not going to be able to answer. But four things that I think we can take to the bank, that the Bible does teach about this period of time for believers.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:37] Number one is this, we will be conscious, that there are some that will make the argument that during this time we're sort of in a hibernation state waiting for the resurrection. That's not impossible, but the consistent teaching from Scripture seems to be we are aware, even when he says we're with the Lord, we're not with the Lord in the sleep state, we are with the Lord. So number one, we're conscious, I already talked about it.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:00] Number two, we will be with the Lord. We're going to talk about this later, but this is the headliner, we will be with Jesus, we'll be conscious, we'll be with Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:11] Number three, it will be better, which to some of you may feel self-evident. But Paul says, not only here, you notice in verse 8, he says, We prefer this. "We prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." And he says in Philippians chapter 1, when he thinks that his death might be coming, he says, I kind of want to depart and be with the Lord, which is better by far. Think of a Christian that you know and love who has died and recognize right now, you might want them back here, but they wouldn't come back here if given the option. They are with the Lord, and it is better by far.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:48] And finally, number four, and this is a little bit of a head-scratcher to us, people who are with the Lord right now are still longing for the resurrection. What they're experiencing is better, but they still know that the best is yet to come. And this is hard for us to grasp because we're like, well, are they really happy if they're still longing for something? Try to remember some of you are young, so this will be easy, try to remember when you were a kid on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, were you sad? No, all right, good. Like, am I just the weird one? All right. Yeah, you're not sad on Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve is great, but you know that the best is yet to come. People who are with the Lord right now, they are experiencing the comfort of his presence, but they know that the best is yet to come. They know that victory is still to come.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:40] So this is what we get, so Paul says, alright, this is our longing, when we're looking at the future, when we're dealing with our problems, when we're frustrated about the present, we get to look at this and we get to say, hey, we are longing for final resurrection, which God promises, but we're also banking on the fact that even if the worst happens to us, even if we die, we will be with the Lord. And I want to highlight that, because that's really the headliner above all of this stuff, we will be with the Lord. Are we going to be in sort of a temporary body? Are we going to have a physical form? Not totally sure, but you know what? We will be with the Lord. Will we be totally aware of what's going on on Earth, and will we be able to peer down through windows and see what's happening with our loved ones? I don't know. But you know what I do know. All right, you're on to it. We will be with Jesus; this is the headliner. And I know I'm like all of you, I want to know the details, God apparently doesn't think it's profoundly important for us to know every detail. He wants us to know the headliner, that we will be with the Lord. And just think about this, think for a second, if this doesn't get your heart moving, just pause for a second and think about what it is that you know about Jesus. Think about the fact that no person who is desperate for grace ever came to Jesus and got turned away. And that there's never been a time that you've been in need of grace, and you've gone to Jesus, and He has done anything but receive you, that's who you're going to be with. Think of the fact that when there was a storm going on, Jesus could tell the wind and the waves what to do and they did what he said, that's who you're going to be with. You're going to be with the agent of all creation, and I love this because this is something that it's easy to miss, there's another reason why you can be excited to be with Jesus. Something that he said in John chapter 10, verse 14, he said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." Do you know what this means? Jesus not only knows everything, Jesus knows you. Jesus knows everything about you. He knows all of your deep desires. He knows your hurts. He knows your longings. He knows your failures that nobody else knows about. And guess what? He still loves you. This is who you will be with one day. And again, just think about it. If you're saying, gosh, I wish I was more excited about that, then whatever you're doing in your life right now, whatever habits you have set in place, abandon all those habits and just start reading one of the gospels again, because you might need a refresher on who Jesus is if the thought of being with him doesn't excite you.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:43] Have you ever had a time when you've been away from somebody you loved for a long time? Like maybe they've died, and you miss them, or they're in a different part of the country and you're not seeing them as much. And you might daydream, you might think, Oh, and you might even get specific, you might think, oh, if they were here, we'd be heading to the beach. Or if they were here, we'd be going to see a movie. Or you might think of what you'd be doing, but probably even more than that, you'd think if they were here, we'd be together. I don't know all of what's going to go on during this period of time, but what I do know is that we are going to be with Jesus and the rest is details. Whatever you're going through right now, whatever, as Jeff said, whatever is right before your face that blocks everything else, I want you to look at these verses and catch the promise of your future. Which is, first of all, that one day you will be raised to new life. But even before that, you will be with Jesus. And not only is that going to make every problem they have right now seem insignificant, but it also means that God has a way of wrapping all of our temporary losses into victory.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:02] September of 2001, there was a football game between the Patriots and the Jets. In this football game, the quarterback for the Patriots was a guy named Drew Bledsoe, who was a really successful college quarterback and to this point in his career had been a pretty successful pro quarterback, maybe sort of not quite a star, but had been a pro bowler multiple times, was a successful quarterback really the best offensive weapon that the Patriots had? And partway through the game, the Jets star linebacker Mo Lewis left a brutal hit on Bledsoe, took him out of the game. And you could tell right away he's not coming back for a few weeks, and he had an injured lung and was ruled out for at least a month. The Patriots lost that game and went to zero and two on the season and it looked like it was all downhill from there. And for the next game, they had to bring in their backup quarterback, a late round draft pick from the University of Michigan. Does anybody know who this backup quarterback was? It was guy named Tom Brady. Tom Brady, who not only came in and shockingly led the Patriots to the Super Bowl that year, but over the next two decades led the Patriots to dominance over the entire National Football League, going to nine Super Bowls and winning six of them. Now, for a second, if you were given the task, your job was to tell the story of the Patriots dynasty, of this great team over a couple of decades. Are you going to tell as part of that story, the Drew Bledsoe game? You might think, well, well, no, that was a sad day for Patriot fans. I mean, the quarterback went down, it was sad, they lost the game, things were looking grim, so we'll just skip that because that's a sad story. That's a sad part of the story, so we won't tell that part of the story. I'm going to tell you something for sure, if you're telling the story of the Patriots, you're telling that story, you're including the Drew Bledsoe game, because what you want everybody to feel is right when we thought we'd lost, we were set up for victory for the next two decades. What seemed like a bad thing ended up being a wonderful thing, and what was a loss ended up getting wrapped up in victory.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:19] Who knows how many of the losses you're taking right now, you're going to one day be with the Lord and you're going to be telling everybody those stories. You're not going to be skipping them, you're not going to be saying, don't talk about that, that was sad or don't talk about that, that was a failure, or don't talk about that, that was a really hard time. You are going to be telling the stories of every hard time you faced because you will have experienced that all of our losses get wrapped up in victory by the God who raises the dead. Your future is set, and so right now, whatever you're dealing with, whatever are those things right now that you just say, I'm just so consumed with the difficulties I'm facing right now, I want you to know that God is wrapping all of those up into victory.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:04] And one more thing before moving on. A couple of weeks ago, when Pastor Jeff brought us through the end of Chapter 4 of Second Corinthians, he gave us all an opportunity to fill out some cards that just talked about the burdens that we're facing and the trials that we're going through. And I just want to let you know that after we received those cards, and nobody's names were on them, we don't know who wrote what, but the staff and the elders spent extended time praying for every single one of those cards and praying specifically that God works his amazing victory in the losses that we're experiencing as a church family right now, and the God who got Jesus up out of the grave knows how to wrap all of our pain and all of our losses into victory.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:54] If right now you're blinded by the present, Paul says to focus on the future, focus on the promises of God, and focus on the fact that one day you will be with the Lord. And, you know, we could take that, and we could say, all right, I get it, the future is where I should look because the present is sort of the enemy, or the present is a distraction. But Paul is going to throw a wrench into that because he's going to say, no, focus your mind on God's promised future, but you've also got to have a focus on the here and now, you've got to have an eye on what he's called you to do now. And so he's going to tell us to focus on the present, and we'll go through verses 9 and 10, we'll go through them one at a time just to see how Paul leads us here.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:38] Now he starts verse 9 by saying, "So." Which should tell us, all right, here's what he's doing. He's saying all these great promises from God, so here's what we do, "So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." We make it our goal. Some of you, if you have a different Bible translation, another way to translate this Greek word for goal would be ambition. And I like that because ambition is sort of like you're after it and you're thinking about it and you're working hard towards it, we make it our goal, we make it our ambition, to please God, whether we're at home in the body or away from it.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:20] Now, just a quick question, just some of your minds go in certain directions, and so I just want to talk about this real quick. Some of you might be saying, so it's our goal to please him if we're in the body or if we're with him, does that mean if we're with him, we might displease him? Does that mean when we're with the Lord, we're going to have to work really, really hard to please him? And so a couple of things to say, the first is this, focus on the big point that Paul is making here. The big point that Paul is making here is, all right, right now in your life, focus less attention on the when of when you're going to be with the Lord and more attention on the fact that you are meant to live a life pleasing to him wherever you are, whatever you're doing, that that's the headline. But secondly, what I do want to say is this, whether you are in your physical body, whether you are with the Lord in the intermediate state, or whether you are in a risen body on the new earth, do you know what your goal is going to be? Your goal is going to be to please the Lord, that's going to be your ambition. Heaven is not about you, Heaven is about Jesus, and we get to be with him. The New Earth does not have you as the central feature, God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that is what is at the center of all of this. So wherever we are, whatever we're doing, our goal, our ambition is to please the Lord. And it's hard for us to think about, but even when we're with him and even when we're on the new earth, we're going to be thinking about this. We're going to be thinking, what can I do to please God, what can I do to meet his approval and make him happy? And again, some of you are like, but does that mean that we could displease him and these new resurrected bodies? No. But even though you can't displease him, do you know what you're going to be working to do? You're going to be working to please him. You're going to be looking for what are the ways that I can give glory and honor to God because He wasn't made for me, I was made for him.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:18] So he says, wherever we are, whatever we're doing, our goal, our ambition, is to please him. And this is important because when you boil it down, there are really three ways that we can approach life. The first is the way Paul's talking about, saying, all right, here's one way you can approach life. Paul's advice, Paul's command is, that we live our lives to please the Lord, to make him happy. But that's not the only option we have. We have a second option, and the section option is you live your life to please others to get their approval and to get attention from them. And finally, we have a third option, because really lately in our society, over the last couple of decades, people have recognized that there's a real danger to living your life trying to please others or get their approval. That can be empty and that can be oppressive and that can be really tiring and that can even feel enslaving, so don't live your life looking to please others, the only person's approval you need is your own, so live to please yourself.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:16] And what I just want to make sure we all understand is as empty as it can be, and as oppressive as it can be to live a life trying desperately to get the approval of others, it is even more empty to live your life with self-pleasing being at the center of your pursuit. It is bizarre that in our culture right now, we say you don't need anybody else's approval as long as you approve of you, that's all that matters. Let's just take a moment and realize how utterly narcissistic that is. I mean, can you imagine that we say that with a straight face? It doesn't matter if the entire world thinks one thing about you, as long as you think something else about you, that's what counts. This is delusion, and it's not only incorrect, it's empty, we keep thinking that we're going to get something from this.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:16] I mean, in fact, here's the deal, there are so many self-love books out there and some of them will tell you to do this, to do what exactly I'm talking about right now. Some of them will say, you know what? If you're discouraged, here's what you should do. If you're discouraged, you should write a letter to yourself or write a nice card to yourself. And in this card where you should say, if I'm writing it to myself, I would say, Dear Dan, I hope you're doing well today. Dan, I know sometimes you get down, but I want you to know you are a great guy. I want you to know that you are talented, you're intelligent, you're thoughtful, you're hardworking, I want you to know that even though other people don't always see those things, Dan, I see those things, and I want you to know how valuable you are to me and how much I think of you. Sincerely, Dan. Now some of you are laughing and I totally understand why, but some of you right now are like, that's sort of a thing I ascribe to. Maybe you're not laughing because you're saying, no, no, that's good. That's good, that's self-love or that's self-affirmation. What I want to say is that even as much as we might try to feel like that's going to help us, we all know the emptiness of that. Getting a card from myself, telling myself what a great guy I am. Here's the deal, we at the very least know, at the very least when we're living for the approval of others, we're closer to reality because we're at the very least recognizing we need it from an outside source. And I guarantee you, even if you write the nicest card to yourself, it is never going to be as meaningful as when somebody else sends you a card saying those same exact things. We know we need somebody outside of ourselves to help us know ourselves and know our value. It's not our self and it's not other people, we live to please the Lord. And we live with a sense of dignity and honor, not because we've come to the point of saying I've decided I'm valuable, but because we say, apparently, I am so valuable to God that he sent his own son for me. Apparently, I'm so valuable to God that he loves me even though I constantly screw up. Apparently, I'm so valuable to God that he made me in his image and redeemed me from hell by the death of his son. You have value not because others decided you had value and not because you decided you had value; you have value because the God of the universe has bestowed it on you. So we live whatever we're doing and wherever we are to please the Lord.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:03] And then Paul gives us a pretty good reason why we should do this, why we should choose option one here to please the Lord. He tells us that reason in verse 10, he says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." Paul says do you know why we should live to please the Lord? Because the Lord is the judge, and He says, we all will one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ. And this is a little bit of a tricky passage, so I want to give a little bit of background on this because we might be saying, what is it that Paul's talking about? What happens at the judgment seat? And here's the deal, what Paul seems to be referring to here is some event that is not determining where we spend eternity, he's not talking about that. He's not saying one day we're going to all appear before Jesus, and he's going to say, you go to the right, you go to the left, that's something else, that's not what he's referring to here, he seems to be referring to something that is just for believers.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:04] In fact, Paul uses the same word for judgment, you see it back in Romans chapter 14, verse 10, when he says, "You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister a ? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat." In other words, he's talking to a bunch of Christians, and he says, hey, Christians don't judge each other because every Christian will one day stand before God's judgment. He's talking about an evaluation that has not to do with where we're going to spend eternity, but that has to do with something related to rewards. He's not talking about you go to heaven, you go to hell, he's talking about sort of an awards banquet. Have you ever been a part of a sports team, and at the end of the year, you have an awards banquet? It's a little bit what he's talking about here. And the New Testament talks a lot about this, and it's confusing to us because it talks about rewards. Jesus says don't store up treasures here on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, store for yourselves treasures in heaven. So he seems to indicate this idea that what we're doing on Earth can result in rewards in heaven.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:14] And now we're going to have to do a similar thing here, what exactly are these rewards? I don't know. We don't get a lot, some people think, well, the reward is going to have to do with sort of being entrusted with authority in different areas. Or some people are like, you get a pretty good mansion, but I get a really great mansion. We don't get all of that information, and this is tough for us for a few reasons. The first is that some of us say, all right, here's the deal, if there are different levels of reward in heaven and my reward isn't as good as somebody else's reward, I could never be happy. And what I want to say is that is fallen, broken, jealous, petty, you talking, you will be free from that. And even in your best moments now, you probably can muster being happy for somebody that gets something that you want, you are going to be free from your fallen sinful nature and nobody's going to steal your joy. You're going to be happy for, if anybody is rewarded beyond you, you are going to be happy for them about it. Some of you, on the other hand, you're like, well, if my rewards are better than other people, I'm going to feel so superior and arrogant about that when I look at them. No, you won't, that is fallen, prideful, arrogant, insecure you talking right now, that's all going to be taken care of because you will be like Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:32] And then maybe another question that comes up is we're like, wait, wait a second, are we saying here, is Paul saying, that when we experience this judgment seat before Christ, that some of us are going to experience regret? And the answer to that in the New Testament, I think, is pretty clearly, yes. There will be a sense of regret, and honestly, it's possible, don't take this to the bank, but it's possible that the judgment that Paul is talking about, and the rewards and consequences are going to be no more than this. Maybe it's more, but it might be no more than this, it might be simply that the reward is that as we look back on our life at things that counted for eternity, we experience the joy of knowing that we were doing what mattered. And the consequences may be nothing more severe than looking back on the time we wasted and having regret that we didn't live more fully for Jesus. Now some of you are like, am I going to then feel regretful about that the whole time I'm on the new earth? No, you will not, that will be wrapped up in victory. And I don't know all the ins and outs of how it works, but what I do know is consistently, we're told, live in such a way that when you are standing before Jesus, you are as regretless as possible, because that is going to maximize your joy when we'll all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:55] You don't need to read this passage and worry heaven is not going to be very good for me. The New Earth is not going to be very good for you. It will be, you don't need to stress about it. But we also don't look at this and say, well, I'm not even going to worry about how I live now because God's just going to fix it all. He said, no, I want to live now to please the Lord because that's what I'm going to be doing for all eternity. I want every area of my life to be pleasing to the Lord. I want to be standing before Jesus and be used up for His purposes instead of frittering my time away at things that will one day fade. He says, live in such a way in the present, that when you're standing before Jesus, you won't have regrets about how you lived. Paul says you know what, if you want to get from here to there, if you want to get from where you are right now to living passionately for Jesus, man, you've got to have laser focus on the future promises of God to give you hope, and you've also got to have laser focus on your calling before God right now as you live.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:02] I want to invite a response to this today. In fact, on your seats, hopefully, all of you got one of these small little cards. And I want to talk, in fact, I'll put the next two slides up and just talk it through as we go. Clearly, all of us need to take Paul up on both of these challenges. We all have work to do to say, I need to figure out how I'm focusing on the promises of God so that I'm not overwhelmed by present trials. And also, clearly, all of us need to say, hey, and the here and now, I want to live my entire life pleasing the Lord. All of us need both of those. But I'm going to guess for most of us in here, one or the other of these is what you need most right now.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:47] For some of you, you are so blinded by your trials that you're saying, I can't even think about it, I need hope in God, I need to bank on the promises of God so that I know that I'm not going to end up losing in the end. And if that's you, then then the card they have before you that has some Bible verses on you relates to what I'm going to invite you to do about this. And the main thing I want to invite you to do about this, is if that's where you're at right now, you need to find a way to place God's promises before your eyes as much as humanly possible. On this card, we don't have the passages printed out, but we just have five New Testament passages. There are dozens of others we could have put up, but these are five passages that, in an evocative way, give us the hope of what God has promised for those of us who belong to Him. And so here's the deal, if you're looking at your life right now and saying, I need to find a way to have the future before my eyes, my challenge to you is to look up at least one of these later and do it, whether it's putting it on your phone in some way, where every 2 hours a reminder comes up and this verse pops up, whether it's writing it down or printing it out or putting it on your refrigerator or putting it on your car, find a way to get at least one of these passages before you. Maybe you make it a daily thing, you're like, all right, there are five weekdays Monday through Friday, I'm going to assign one of these passages to each one of those days so that I'm finding a way to keep God's promises before me because I'll be blinded by the present if I don't look at the future.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:18] Now some of you, you might say, yeah, I could use that, but really, honestly, I'm not crushed by what's going on right now, I'm just kind of ambivalent. I wouldn't say it's my ambition to please the Lord. Then I want you to look on the back of your card, on the back of your card, we have this beautiful white space. There's nothing on the back of your card, but what that nothing provides is an opportunity for you to write something. And if right now you're saying I need to focus on what does it look like in each area of my life to live pleasing to the Lord? I want you just to take a quick survey now, and it might be wise to take this time later, but we all know how distracted we get, so let's take a moment right now. And you might be thinking, all right, what are the different areas of my life work, school, relationships, you know, marriage, kids, money, you know, habits, time, all of these kinds of things. Maybe the Lord is bringing one of those areas in particular to your life, and you're saying, I need to do some things to dedicate this area to the Lord. It might be saying nobody would look at the way I spend money and think that Jesus has anything to do with it. You might say nobody would look at our marriage and think that Jesus is anywhere near this marriage. Nobody would look at the way that I talk or the way I spend my time or the way that I interact with my friendships and think Jesus has anything to do with my life. And so what I want to invite you to do, especially if you have a pen or something and some of those are going to be in the seatbacks just write down one word, friendship's, work, money, marriage, something that right now you feel like God is calling me to zero in on this and say, how do I make it my ambition to please the Lord in that area of my life. For when I'm standing before him, I'm as regretless as possible because I've made it my ambition to please him and that area of my life. I encourage you, don't wait to act on this, act on this today. Now, I sometimes write myself emails right on the phone saying later today, do this. If you need to do that, do this, because the enemy would love to snatch away whatever God is speaking to you right now before you've acted on it in a way that's going to bring life.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:35] So let me just close our time by praying for us right now. Father, thank you so much that you speak life at times when we are so lost and confused that we can't see how you're even a part of what's going on. Thank you that you wrap our losses up into victories, that you even wrap our failures up into victory. Thank you that you bring beauty out of ruins. And, Father, I pray for anybody facing those ruins right now that you give them the hope of your promises, that the beauty is coming. And Father, I pray for anyone right now who looks at their life and just says, I want to live more pleasing to the Lord and I don't want to be distracted by things that are going to fade away quickly. Father, I pray that you lead them by the power of your spirit to take just the next step that you're placing before them, the next step of faith that will lead to the next step of faith. Father, may you shine the light of Jesus powerfully through our lives and through our church as we fix our eyes on the promises that you've made for our future, and as we fix our eyes on the hope that you've given us for the present. I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:52] As we close, you're going to see some prayer team members on each side of the stage if you have a point of prayer that you'd like to have, don't leave without going there. Thank you so much for being here. God bless you the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848