Looking Ahead to God’s Work

Intro: Do you have plans for 2015? What do you anticipate? Diane and I were recently discussing that very question. We have grand anticipations… 2 new grandchildren are on the way. But in reality, we do not know the future, do we? We can plan and anticipate, but we are not in control. The 19th century politician Benjamin Disraeli said, “What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens.” Certainly we would have to conclude that the future surprises us many times – some are welcome, some not so much.

I. Looking Ahead to God’s Work. Despite our obvious inability to know the future, we do know God, the one who controls every aspect of the future.

  • Matthew 16:1-3 – “1 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.2 He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3 and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” Jesus was chiding the religious leaders of His day for not being able to see the work of God in their own lifetime. God had prophesied about the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom. There were definite signs to be read, but they rejected them and sought for other signs.

A. Although we do not live in a time when God is using miraculous signs to teach or predict, there is a point here to be made about the future. God is still working among us, and we should be able to see it, and even anticipate it. We Can Look Ahead to What God Will Do. What will God do in 2015?

II. We Anticipate God’s Grace – He Will Save! We have seen God save the lost. I know that God will continue to extend His grace to sinners.

  • 1Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. This anticipation is important in at least 2 ways:

A. It sustains my faith in the power of the word of God to convict the sinner. Even though things may appear darker and sin abounds, I know that God is still drawing people to Him. I know there are good and honest hearts who will respond to God’s call in the gospel. Nothing can frustrate or nullify God’s power to save sinners.

1. Remember Jesus’ parable about a man who invited many to a great supper, but they all began to make excuses why they couldn’t come. Luke 14:21-23 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. The negative thinking Christian can think of a hundred reasons why few are being saved today. But God would have us anticipate His grace and trust in the success of His work. There is yet room in the House of God!

            • Rom 8:32-39He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

B. It challenges me to sow the seed, anticipating the harvest. 1 Cor 3:6-7 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase… 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. When sinners are converted it will be through the work of God through the Holy Spirit. But I must plant the seed. 1 Cor 3:9 – For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

1. God will save the sinner in the same manner as before -He that believes and is baptized will be saved. (“We want to change the way you think about church” – When God changes, I will change.)

II. We Anticipate God’s Goodness – He Will Bless! Although I do not know what will happen in 2006, I know that God will bless us. I anticipate good things from His hand. It may not be what I desire or even specifically pray for, but God will give me what is best for me, because I know He loves me. God expects us to anticipate His blessings.

A. In John 11, Lazarus was seriously sick. Mary and Martha send for Jesus. They knew that He loved Lazarus and wanted the best for him. We may in her statement to Jesus after Lazarus’ death, but it was also a statement of expectation. John 11:21- 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. She anticipated a blessing, and so should we.

B. Do you anticipate spiritual blessings? If you expect a spiritual blessing, you must seek it confidently, through prayer and Bible study. James 1:5-8 – 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

        • Matt 7:9-11- Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
        • Paul promised the Philippian Christians, “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19) He made that bold prediction from a Roman prison.

III. We Anticipate God’s Guidance – He Will Lead! There are many who do not know what to do. They have no confidence in their leaders. But the Christian can have every confidence that God will lead the way.

  • Promise of God to Joshua, and the Israelites… Deut. 31:23Then He inaugurated Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”
  • David was confident of the Shepherd’s leadership. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
  • Psalms 48:14 – 14 For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death.

A. There are times when we struggle to know what to do. Difficult decisions must be made. The next year may be a time like that. But we can be confident of where we can find the answers. Gold will guide us through His word; the Bible. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1. How much time next year will you spend searching for guidance from God’s word? Will you be willing to respond to what God has spoken there?

2. When the young Samuel became convinced that it was God and not Eli who was speaking he responded with a true heart – “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.”

IV. We Anticipate God’s Sovereignty – He Will Rule! Will 2015 be a year of tragedy and suffering for this country? If so, the doubters and scoffers will cry out against God and ask, “How could God be active in the world today with such pain, suffering, and sorrow?”

A. But the Christian will continue to anticipate the rule of God in the events of the world. Psalms 66:7 – 7 He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations; Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Psalm 22:28 – For the kingdom is the Lord’s, And He rules over the nations. No political happenings, however unexpected, or unwelcome, will change this. Christ will continue to sit upon His throne.

V. Anticipating God’s Judgment – He Will Come! I do not say with any authority at all that Christ will definitely return in 2015. But I do say that He will come –at some point in time –of His own choosing. Believers have looked for Christ’s return for over 2000 years. It seems silly in the eyes of the skeptics for us to anticipate Christ’s coming even still. But if I am to live as God expects me to live in the coming year, I must live with a constant anticipation of Christ’s return.

  • John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
  • Read 2 Peter 3:4-14 – 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
  • John closes the book of Revelation with these words, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Like generations before us, we anticipate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! It could be in 2006! It could be today.

Conclusion: We can’t predict what 2015 will bring. But as Christians we can, and should anticipate that God will continue to do His work on earth. He will not be frustrated or defeated in His purposes. As His people we will share in His victories if we are willing to suffer in His name. And we look earnestly for His return. Are you ready?