Saturday, November 5, 2011



What would you be willing to bet on a game which had already been played?

What would you do if you had a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper?

Revelation 21

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

John, the son of a fisherman from Galilee, a disciple of Jesus, Apostle of the Lamb and writer of the Fourth Gospel of Christ, saw the future. His description as recorded in the Book of Revelation paints a picture of the wondrous world to come where there will be no more sorrow nor crying, no more pain or death.

This New World will be the dwelling place for God and His family throughout eternity. The tabernacle of God will adorn the Holy City of New Jerusalem as God sits on His throne among His children forever and ever.

John the Revelator tells what he plainly saw and describes a future that is both certain and secure. He records the words of Him who is Faithful and True, the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, The Beginning and the End, Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, He who holds the future in His hands.

This future spoken of in the book of Revelation is not just a dream or hope or a figment of God’s imagination … rather … this future recorded by John is a reality. John saw the future and this is it!

Just as the voice from heaven said to John recorded in verse 8, “It is done!”

These words from heaven are not unlike the words which were earlier spoken by Jesus when He hung on the cross of Calvary some 70 years earlier. John 19:30 … He said, “It is finished!” …

There is no doubt at that point in history Jesus expected His followers to encounter continued persecution and tribulation in this world. Nonetheless, Jesus saw beyond the battles of His moment to the time when all the trials and troubles of life would cease. Jesus saw the future and knew He had won.

When Jesus spoke these words at Calvary, He was referring to more than just His time on the cross. The words, “It is finished”, encompass God’s entire plan for all eternity. Since that day:

Every battle we face is but one part of a war we have already won.

However, it is not the future that we are here to discuss today. It is rather the present and how we can overcome the current trials we face in this life. Jesus said:

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

How can we be of “good cheer” when we are in the midst of trials and tribulation? It’s a matter of perspective …

All of my life I have noticed that there are some who see the glass half full while others view it half empty. Some people see things as easy and others see those same things as being hard. I have known those who imagine all that is wrong with a situation while others look to see how they could make things right. Some people seem to have a negative disposition while others have a positive outlook. Some people are by nature pessimistic while others are by nature optimistic.

Through all of my observation and experience I have noted that many things in life, including happiness, peace, joy, and cheerful contentment, are controlled by one’s perspective.

So often people fall prey to the confines and cruel dictates of the world’s measure of happiness and success. The world says, “When things are wonderful, I am great. When things are ok, I’m ok. But when things don’t go my way I will quickly lose my joy. And, if you’re around me when things aren’t going my way, chances you’ll lose your joy too!”

It’s often all about perspective … it’s how we see life and what we believe about our future.

What would you do if you had a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper?

What would you be willing to bet on a game which had already been played?

God knows the end from the beginning. He is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

This is why God can confidently say, “This light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we do not look at things which are seen but things which are unseen, for things which are seen are only temporary but things which are unseen are eternal.”

We can ill afford to get stuck in our present circumstances.

Six months ago a Pastor I had been acquainted with for several years shot and killed himself one morning while sitting in his pickup in the driveway of his palatial 5 acre California estate. I was shocked to get the news that day and I have been grieved over that incident ever since. Jerry was a flamboyant, bigger than life kind of guy with broad shoulders, a bright smile and a good heart.

Several years ago, just after I first met him, he invited me to teach a men’s conference in San Diego and stay over for a few days to preach at his church. When I arrived at my hotel he was there to meet me and wanted me to have lunch with him and the elders of the church. While we were eating I noticed he was nervous and seemed somewhat pre-occupied. Afterwards when we were alone I asked him what kind of trouble he was in and offered him a chance to unburden himself, pastor to pastor.

Over the next few days Jerry told me about a dilemma in his life and the added pressure he faced with his wife who was in the last stages of long bout with cancer. Not only was he tired and weary but he was also feeling very alone and he was in trouble. That Saturday I suggested to Jerry he meet with his eldership, resign his church and spend time working on his life. I did not expect he would immediately embrace my counsel or move so quickly but that evening I found myself at another meeting with the elder board where he resigned as Senior Pastor of the church.

The following Sunday morning was an interesting day at that Church of 1500 people in San Diego as I stood at the door and greeted people whom I had never seen before, shaking their hands and welcoming them to church just like I had been there for years. It surprised everyone when the praise and worship ended and I ascended the steps to the platform and greeted the people. I could see the questions written on their faces … “Who was this guy, why was he in the pulpit and where was Pastor Jerry???”

It was my duty that morning to inform the people that the founder and Senior Pastor, whom they had all come to love through the years, had resigned and would not be coming back to the church. It was further my responsibility to console and encourage the congregation and feed them the gracious Word of God so that they could be spiritually strong enough to endure their disappointments and the difficult days ahead. If ever a congregation needed God’s perspective, that one did.

Through the years I remained a source of periodic encouragement to Pastor Jerry. Later, after the death of his wife and subsequent remarriage, he was asked by some friends to move to another city and begin a new church. It just so happened that this new church was only 45 miles from the AFB on which my son and his family lived. On one of our trips to visit them we made the effort and went to a mid-week service with Jerry and I took that opportunity to introduce my son to him.

Jerry followed up by continuing to reach out to Ashley and Traci and their young family and eventually Ashley began leading praise and worship for this growing congregation. The drive was a bit long for them so they were often invited to spend the day with Jerry and his family at their home. We visited on occasion and always felt welcomed and blessed to be there.

When Ashley and Traci decided to exit the military, Jerry and the church leaders offered them a full time job at the Church and did everything in their power to persuade them to stay on in California. However, God had different plans and visited Ashley with a dream which directed him to return home and help here at our Church. I remember talking on the phone to Jerry at the time joking with him to leave my son alone and quit enticing him to stay in California. He and I laughed and he kept offering Ashley more money.

It really surprised Jerry when Ashley moved his family back to Southeast Texas and went to work at one of the local hospitals so he could volunteer at our church. After a few months Jerry and I stopped talking so often and the business of life offered us less time to communicate. When I heard of Jerry’s death in May of this year I stopped to realize that it had been almost two years since I had last talked with him.

Yesterday was the first time I managed to read the suicide note Jerry left behind that morning.

In his suicide note he wrote how he could “no longer endure the accusations … that had influenced the public.” It crushed him.

No longer endure … This horrible pit of misery is a place where people too often find themselves today. Depression, worry, fear and utter despair robs a person of peace, joy and all desire to face the future. This darkness comes to destroy a person’s will to live and traps them in a hopeless sorrow. Unable to see beyond the moment their future seems unbearable.

How does life get to that point? Perspective … how do you imagine your future? Believe me when I tell you –

If it’s bad, God is not finished yet!

Some people give up too quickly and don’t give God time to work. Yet farmers who plant seeds today don’t expect a harvest tomorrow. Seeds take time to grow. Don’t give up on your miracle too quickly.

The Bible says that we should remember Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.

My encouragement for you today is to endure. Continue to trust God and give Him time to work. Check, challenge and change your perspective when you realize that it does not line up with God’s hope for your future.

Matthew 24:13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Every battle is but one part of a war which we have already won.

What would you do if you had a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper?

What would you be willing to bet on a game that had already been played?

Put your trust in God and if you don’t want your life anymore, give it to Him … His has a plan for your future.

1. Don’t make it worse than it already is

2. Give God more time to work