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I Believe in Tomorrow (2 Timothy 1:7-11)Dr. Daryl Miller, October 2, 2016
Part of the The Positive Message of Christianity series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
SUNDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 2
Title: I Believe in Tomorrow
Text: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:7-11
The heroes of history and poetry may be cruel, violent, self-seeking, ruthless, intemperate, and unjust, but they are never cowards frightened by what tomorrow may bring. They do not falter or give way. They do not despair in the face of almost hopeless odds. They have the strength and stamina to achieve whatever they set their minds to do. They would not be heroes if they were not people of courage and of confidence in tomorrow.
We must stand by the heroes of the Christian faith and assert our belief in God’s sovereignty over tomorrow. The Christian has every reason and right to say, “I believe in tomorrow!”
I. I believe in tomorrow because of the failure of the past.
“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13).
“The good old days” never existed. Whenever we become discouraged about the present and the future, the best tonic can be found in history. Truly, God must be in history for man to have survived himself!
A. We can never retreat to the past. The longer Israel was away from Egypt’s suppression, the sweeter became the odor of garlic and onions (Num. 11:5?–?6)!
Because they misunderstand the past, some people desire to retreat to it. Israel misunderstood the past. God did not will for Israel to remain in bondage. Bondage was only one stage to pass through in the pilgrimage to the Promised Land.
Other people desire to retreat to the past as an escape from the responsibility of the present. Israel did not cherish the responsibility of fighting battles and running the risk of defeat. Life would have been far easier if Israel had done nothing in the past and thus had avoided the responsibility of the day (Josh. 7:7).
B. The past can help prepare us for the future (Prov. 24:30?–?34). The past teaches us that problems always have been and always will be with humanity. Contrary to history, we often think that the problems of today have never before been matched in history.
What about agricultural problems and food shortages? During one of the nation’s worst droughts on June 18, 1887, the newspaper in Mason, Texas, reported the words found on a sign attached to an abandoned farmhouse near Blanco, Texas: “250 miles to the nearest post office, 100 miles to wood, 20 miles to water, 6 inches to Hell. God bless our home. Gone to live with wife’s folks.”
We have political problems today?—?and so did people in the past. We like to predict national disaster because of our political enemies. An early president of Yale, Timothy Dwight, said against a certain presidential candidate, “We may see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution soberly dishonored and polluted; the outcasts of delicacy and virtue, the loathing of God and man.” Who was the object of his denunciation? Thomas Jefferson?—?the author of the Declaration of Independence!
Labor problems occur today as they did in the past. More than a century ago, a large department store required its employees to work fourteen hours a day, six days a week. The store gave them one evening off a week in which they had to go to prayer meeting. Employees with “the habit of smoking Spanish cigars and being shaved at the barber’s” would give their employer reason to doubt their integrity and honesty.
II. I believe in tomorrow because of pessimism’s folly.
Even good people get discouraged. Ezekiel said, “The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not” (Ezek. 9:9).
Too many people feel that, having come so far, humankind can go no further?—?all great discoveries have been made, and all noble accomplishments have been achieved. We restrict our vision to current movements of the stock exchange and votes of Congress. We need to say with Paul, “We are perplexed. But not in despair.”
A. Pessimism would limit God’s activity to our generation. God works on a large canvas and takes a long time to complete his masterpieces. Here we need to recall God’s words to Moses. “I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither” (Deut. 34:4). Similar to what God said to Moses, at times he must say to us, “You have accomplished much but my activity is not limited to your generation. After you are gone, Israel shall continue, and the greatest victory yet shall be won.” God refuses to suspend his laws to satisfy our childish impatience.
B. Pessimism creates anxiety but offers no answers (Eccl. 2:23). History abounds with illustrations of this fact. In 1851 the Duke of Wellington said, “I thank God I shall be spared from seeing the consummation of ruin that is gathering around us.”
Benjamin Disraeli said in 1849, “In industry, commerce, and agriculture there is no hope!”
In 1800 Bishop Wilberforce declared, “I dare not marry?—?the future is so dark and unsettled.”
“Our world is full of corruption. Children no longer obey parents.” These words were found chiseled on a stone tablet in Constantinople written by a prince to a friend 4,800 years ago!
We should not discount the serious problems faced today. Recognizing the long, painful journey of the human race helps us maintain faith, courage, and hope with which we can better face our problems.
III. I believe in tomorrow because of the faithfulness of God’s promises (Ps. 121:8).
“Tomorrow is as bright as the promises of God” may be an old saying, but it is still true.
A. God has promised to save us (1 John 2:25).
B. God has promised to bless our efforts (Ps. 126:6).
C. God has promised to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9).
D. God has promised to answer our prayers (Matt. 7:7).
E. God has promised to meet our needs (Luke 12:31).
F. God has promised to claim us in heaven (John 14:3; Matt. 10:32).
As a Christian, you need not fear for tomorrow. In God’s eyes and in the light of his promises, fearing tomorrow is an act of folly.
If you have not yet accepted Christ as your Savior, you have every reason to fear tomorrow. By turning your back on your sins and placing your future completely in the hands of Jesus Christ, you, too, can say, “I believe in tomorrow!”
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2 Timothy 1:7-11
7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (KJV)