Facing the Future with Confidence
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Genesis 13:14-18; Jeremiah 29:11
Sunday 21st July 2013
From the first of our foundation scripture, we read of God’s command and promise to Abram:
"After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, "Look as far as you can see in every direction - north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted." (Genesis 13:14-16 NLT)
This scripture had been preceded by the separation of Abram from Lot, his nephew, on arriving in Canaan. A family feud had led to a breakup that was really painful especially for Abram.
Tehrah, Abram’s father had left Ur of the Chaldeans with Abram, Sarai and Lot to journey to Canaan, shortly after Lot’s father, Haran died in Ur. Tehrah also lived and died in a place called Haran, en route to Canaan, seemingly connected to his inability to forget his son’s death; we discussed this in detail two weeks ago.
The trio remaining, Abram, Sarai and Lot travelled together from Haran to Canaan, on to Bethel and Egypt and returning to Bethel. Meanwhile God had blessed Abram and Lot and the land they finally settled in and occupied in Canaan was no longer big enough for them. Can I draw your attention to the blessings in divine association, which we read about in this passage? Abram was in covenant with God after God spoke to him in Genesis 12, and the blessing promised by God was also manifesting in Lot’s life. I pray that the Lord will open your eyes to people you must connect with in order to experience the blessings of God.
The servants of both camps, Abram and Lot began the dispute that led to the separation. Thus, Lot about 50 years old at this time separated from Abram. Abram was disappointed, discouraged and in pain from the separation. It is rather similar to our experience as a church in this season. I imagine Abram sitting down, full of pain and regret. It was at this point that God showed up again and spoke to him, saying ““Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are”. God challenged Abram to come out of the place he was; a land of pain. Abram obeyed God.
Is there something you are dealing with presently? Can I re-echo those words God spoke to Abram – Lift up your eyes from where you are, because this is not the end. In life, there would be some setbacks, but setbacks don’t spell the end.
God told Abram that it was time for him to change his focus and move on and do things differently. In other words, God was saying that Abram could not afford to stay and dwell on the pain of separation from Lot. This is what God is telling us now. Why? Because pain has the potential to incapacitate you and bury you under; because pain has the tendency to overwhelm, and steal away our future. Remember that whatever you give your attention to, you have given energy to and become your reality. Besides, there is the possibility that such a problem begins to grow bigger and bigger before your eyes.
God further encouraged Abram to look at the possibilities to the north, south, east and west. Remember that the devil doesn’t want you to experience the blessings of the future. Little wonder, he enjoys reminding us of the past. Your past and your present can never be compared to your future. And so as to put it plainly; your future is that which God has in mind for you that you have not accessed yet. Jeremiah 29:11 puts this aptly: " the thoughts that I think toward you is to give ou a future and a hope" (paraphrased).
Here is another point to take note of in Genesis 13:14: The word ‘now’ – there is immediacy, urgency interwoven with a change of focus. You can’t afford to drag your feet about this. Remember that you are contending with the unseen evil one who enjoys seeing you dwell on the past in order to steal your future. It’s time to ‘Go forward’ – look ahead, look beyond, look further and change your perspective. What do you see when you think about your destiny? To embrace the future, you must be willing to leave the past behind.
According to Ecclesiastes 3 there is a time for everything. Therefore whatever represents ‘the place’ God is saying to us “lift up your eyes” and stop dwelling on the pain. Why? There is a legacy that has been left behind for us all, it is time to lift up our eyes.
After mourning, God expects us to rise up because there is a race set before us that must be completed. Whatever pain you are dealing with, be encouraged, it is not the end, it is really a comma. There is a destiny to be accomplished and fulfilled. God is calling us to see the possibilities, vastness of the horizon ahead of us. To embrace the future, we must be willing to let go of the past. Genesis 13:14-16 places the responsibility of embracing our future on us. It says “you lift up your eyes and see” We must lift up our eyes and look. No one can do this for us. We must look for ourselves; towards the horizon and see the future from where we are; the future that God wants us to see.
God says “whatever you see, I give to you”. So if it’s your pain that you see and think about constantly, then that is what you will be receive, but if it’s the promises that God is showing you that you see, that is also what you will receive; the choice is yours.
According to Jeremiah 31:17 it says "There is hope in your future, says the Lord that your children shall come back to their own border". Indeed, there is hope in our future; today is not all there is. We can only achieve in life what we perceive. So again, let me ask “What do we see”? What you see determines what you do and your entire destiny.
The ability to see beyond the present was one of Pastor Tayo’s strength. Here is an excerpt from ‘The Church I See’ – the 21st century Church, written a couple of years ago:
The church I see is a vibrant, dynamic body of wholesome believers – pulsating with the life of God and exuding the very fragrance of His beauty and His love.
The church I see is a mighty, flowing torrential river, flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit – undammable and unstoppable. Not a stagnant cesspool of religion and tradition, not a tiny ankle-deep stream, not even knee-deep or waist-deep; but a mighty river with an incredible current. Once you jump in – it takes over – you are no longer in charge. It is a river that carries the life of God with it, wherever it goes.
The church I see is both numerically large and spiritually deep. A replica on earth of the general assembly in heaven – the church of the first born, whose gatherings are attended by an innumerable company of angels. It’s a church that does not lose its depth because of its largeness – a church where the members are accountable to God and to one another. Where each person enjoys a deep, refreshing personal encounter with God at every meeting.
The church I see is an international worship centre, consisting of people from every race, tongue, tribe and nation. Where racism and every form of ungodly discrimination is forever banished. It’s a church where people are free to be themselves knowing that their ultimate identity comes from their personal relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I believe that God is calling us to see the church of the 21st century. Unless we see it, we cannot conceive it. And unless we conceive it, it cannot become our reality. We have a mandate to pick the baton and run the race set before us.
There is a future ahead of us, new horizons and new possibilities. There is a land to take and there are places and people to reach for God, and I declare that all God has sent us to do, we will accomplish in Jesus name.
Just like David proclaimed in Psalm 57:2, we must be confident about our future. The passage reads “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfil his purpose for me.”
The fulfilment of our purpose is not in situations or man; it is in God and it is fully secured in His hands. God works all things out according to the counsel of His will God works all things according to his purpose, manoeuvring and shifting all things – pain, sweat, disappointments according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). This truth is further buttressed in Romans 8:28 – All things work together for good to them that love God. If you have ever been to B&Q and not been able to find a desired paint, all you need is a mixture of some colours. God is also in the business of mixing the paint of life to achieve His desired purpose in your life.
To help us fulfil our purpose, God has made provisions for us. He has provided us with a great helper. John 14:16 reads " And I pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever." Verse 18 reads: " I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you"
During the times of trials, God said He will give us another comforter, one who will stand beside us and walk with us to the place of our destiny. God said he will not leave us orphans. The Holy Spirit is with us at this time, therefore we are not orphans. Where and when we are weak, He steps in and give us a hand. He creates a way where there seems to be no way. God is in the midst of His people. God is in the midst of us. When we go to a shop and pay a deposit on an item and receive a receipt for it. The receipt is the guarantee that the good is yours. The Holy Spirit is the assurance that our inheritance in God is guaranteed, and that the future is secure.
The Holy Spirit is always there for us – it is not by power or might, but by God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). The Spirit was the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night for the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness. For us, God has promised to make a river in the desert and a way in the wilderness (Isaiah 43:19; 40:4-5)
The word ‘helper’ means to stand with you at all times, and walk with you that you may fulfil the purpose of God.
Just like Abram, we will obey God’s counsel today. We will lift up our eyes and see beyond our circumstances, our trials and tribulations and we will run and complete the race God has set before us. We will face our future with confidence and assurance that God is with us.
There is a ‘Going Forward’ for you and for us as a church and the word of God will be fulfilled in our lives. You are destined to make an impact and bring about change to your generation in Jesus name (Amen).
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