Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
So today I graduate Liberty Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Religion. The focus is on church planting and evangelism. Ever since the day I was born, God has had a plan for my life. Ever since my divorce, I have been quiet enough in my spiritual walk to hear what that plan is.
I’ve been a Christian since the age of 12. April 25th, 1982 to be exact. I’m not one of those folks who believe that you must know the exact moment that you were saved by grace, but for me, that is how it was. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a special moment of having my pastor and my dad both in the room with me.
Fast forward from that a few years and the fire of revival in my soul was doused by the excitement of the world. From that point until my divorce, I ran at a thousand miles an hour trying to climb the corporate ladder and be the family with the wife, 2 kids, dogs, and a big house on a lot of land.
James 4:13-16 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Unfortunately, I realized that when I arrived at that point, there were simply bigger hills to climb. The corporate positions and the money they awarded were not satisfying. The big house with lots of land was not satisfying. And in the end, my wife thought that all my time away from home trying to build my career and make enough money to support our lifestyle wasn’t satisfying. I pretty much lost it all.
I gave almost everything to my now ex-wife. I moved into a small rental house with nothing. Taking almost 2 weeks off work, I spent the entire time on my face in tears. When I was too tired to cry, I would sleep. When I awoke, I would cry. That went on for almost a week. I fasted and prayed. But then the last three days of my hibernation is when I finally got it.
You see, the first seven days were all about myself. My misery. My pain. My. My. My. But the last three days were in pure silence. I still cried, yes, but these were tears that realized Jesus’ sacrifice for me. I still slept, but it was so soundly that I had opportunity to dream. The silence I sat in while fasting for those final three days led to me being able to hear God speak.
The Bible spoke to me.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
I know what you are thinking. Fred, you have just been through a stressful time, you have been fasting for over a week and now you are hearing talking Bibles.
The message in the Scripture I was reading hit me hard. And for the first time in my life, the Bible was clear.
We all hear the stories of the Bible about the prophets, the flood, the Creation, the Revelation, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Peter, and especially Jesus and they just roll through us as we rehash them in our memories. But it is only when God becomes real to us that those stories are truly understandable.
After hibernating for almost 2 weeks, I came out of the house refreshed. The future looked awesome with Christ by my side. Finally on the same team. Excited!
Luke 12:32 – “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
I enrolled in seminary and started to get a degree. Almost immediately things changed at church. Going from substitute teaching some Wednesday night classes to becoming a trustee then last year becoming an elder. I met an amazing Christian woman. It is so easy to see God’s hand at work in my relationship to her. Talk about a once in a billion chance of finding each other! Crazy story!
And back in August I started planting the seeds for removing myself from the corporate world and going into business for myself, using the free time to grow ministries. With my current job, I am unable to spend the time needed to build anything because I travel all the time. Working a 9-5 from a home office will give me the flexibility I need to do God’s work in the community in which I live.
As of yesterday, the funding was approved for the business.
1 John 3:22 – And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
I have learned something amazing over the past few short years. When we give our lives completely over to Christ, then we begin to see an amazing change inside of us. It is a change that should cause us to question our worldly pursuits. It is a change that will bring about great joy for anyone who is willing to follow Christ. It is a change that is beautiful. Not always easy, but beautiful.
God never leaves us nor forsakes us. It is us who do the forsaking and leaving. But when we come back home to Christ, the life that follows will be one where God is in control and we will be content in the power of the Holy Spirit, the grace of Christ, and the mercy of the Father.
I read an article today that said, “Christ isn’t looking for a girlfriend, we are His bride.” When one is in a marriage, they are completely committed to that person. Everything must become one in a marriage: hearts, finances, possessions, friends…everything. As I move forward into bringing everything in my life under the umbrella of God’s control, I find that, while this is a little scary, God has this in control.
So again I am asking my readers for prayer. Not prayer for worldly success. If I stay focused on God throughout this then success is guaranteed. And I’m not talking success in business or making a name for myself. I’m talking success in the Kingdom. That more people will come to Christ. That they will see Christ’s work and the power of the Holy Spirit in my life and realize that God IS in control.
When the people of God live as if God is first in their lives, other people come to know Christ.
Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
That is success.
I pray that I make enough money to support my family, but I mostly pray that lives will be changed to know Christ.
So as I look forward to the future I know that God is in control.
And as you look forward to the future, whether you are riding high on success or lurking in the pit of hell, know that God has overcome this world. He can give you the peace throughout any time in your life. He can bring you through your despair. He can bless your success. He can make all things possible.
Just stay focused on Him.
And if you aren’t yet in a relationship with Him, why wait? Now is the time. Call out to Him. Simply pray to Him that you are tired of your life of sin. That you realize you need Him in your life. That you want to know the love He has for you.
He loves you.
He always has.
It is the purpose for Christmas.
He came to die…
He chased us in our sin so that we would not give up the relationship.
Reach out to Him.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness
If you want to know more about what Christmas truly is and how it impacts YOUR future, I want to give you some Bible verses to read through.
I am going to challenge you to read these aloud and then, to yourself or someone you know, explain them as to what you believe in your mind those verses mean. If you get stuck, reach out to a pastor or you can reach out to me.
Here are the verses:
2 Corinthians 5:15
Read them. Memorize them. Share them.
That is the meaning of Christmas. That is what it means to look forward to the future.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.