Be Confident About Your Future
What does the future hold in store for you?
Futurologists predict what will happen in the future. For example, it has been predicted that some babies born today will live to the age of 150. Some of their predictions may come true. Others may not.
In 1962 Decca Recording Company rejected the Beatles. They said, ‘We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.’
In 1977 Ken Olson, Chairman of Digital Equipment Co., said, ‘There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.’
There are certain things about the future that we don’t know and that we are not supposed to know. However, there are other things that you can know about the future and that makes a real difference to your life now. Today we see three reasons why, if you put your trust in the Lord, you can be confident about your future.
1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
The plans of the Lord
‘The plans of the Lord stand firm for ever’ (v.11). God has plans. God has a good plan for your life. He has ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11).
The psalmist’s confidence about the future comes from looking back on the past. He reflects on what God has done through ‘the word of the Lord’ (Psalm 33:6a).
As we read this psalm through the lens of the New Testament, we see that it was through Jesus (the Word of God) that the whole world came into being (vv.6–9). He is the one who is the source of all that is ‘right and true’ (v.4a). He is ‘faithful’ (v.4b). He ‘loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love’ (v.5).
It is on this basis that the psalmist can be confident that ‘The plans of the Lord stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations’ (v.11). Governments and people make plans. These may fail (v.10). Yet you can be confident in God’s good plans for you and for your life.
The appropriate response to all this is worship – to sing joyfully to the Lord and to praise him with different instruments, to write new songs, to use every musical skill and ability, and even make lots of noise (!) (‘shout for joy’, v.3b).
Jesus Has Risen
16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
\[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20.\]
9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
The power of the resurrection
The resurrection of Jesus did actually happen. When the women arrived at the tomb they saw the huge stone, which had been blocking the entrance, rolled back. Jesus had been raised up. He was no longer there. They saw for themselves that the tomb was empty (vv.6–8).
Jesus repeatedly liberated and affirmed women – treating men and women as equals. Women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb – the first to be entrusted with the news of the resurrection of Jesus.
It is significant that the first witnesses of the resurrection recorded in all the Gospels were women. Women’s testimonies were widely seen as unreliable (in most Jewish courts it was not even allowed). Yet in appearing first to them, Jesus affirms the importance and role of women in his new community.
This also gives the story the ring of truth of an eyewitness account. The early church would never have invented this feature of the story.
The fact is that the resurrection was, initially, as unbelievable for the first disciples as it is for many today. When other disciples were told of Jesus’ resurrection, they did not believe (vv.11,13) until they saw the risen Jesus for themselves. Yet when they witnessed his resurrection, either at the tomb or in one of the many subsequent resurrection appearances of Jesus (vv.12,14), their lives were transformed. They moved from fear to faith, from alarm to action and from despair to hope.
As a result of the resurrection you can face the future with confidence:
- Confident about your eternal future
This life is not the end. There is life beyond the grave. As Jesus was raised from the dead, so in Christ you will be raised with him (see 1 Corinthians 15).
As Tim Keller writes, ‘Why is it so hard to do the right thing if you know it’s going to cost your money, reputation, maybe even your life? Why is it so hard to face your own death or the death of loved ones? It’s so hard because we think this broken world is the only world we’re ever going to have... But if Jesus is risen, then your future is so much more beautiful, and so much more certain, than that.’
- Confident about your future life
Jesus is alive. He is with you as you ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’ (Mark 16:15). You, like the disciples, are commissioned to go out and preach the good news to the whole world. You can be confident that God’s power will be with you. You can expect powerful signs to accompany your message – driving out demons, speaking in tongues and healing the sick. This is what occurred (v.20) and this is what we should expect today.
Healing, for example, is not confined to those who have the special gift of healing but is for all ‘who believe’ (v.17). It is God who heals, but he involves you in his plans: ‘The Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it’ (v.20).
There are a variety of models in the New Testament, but they are always simple. Healing comes ‘in \[Jesus’\] name’ (v.17). The most common model is the one Jesus speaks of here – the laying on of hands: ‘They will place their hands on people who are ill and they will get well’ (v.18).
The Sabbath Year
25 The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. 3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. 6 Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.
The Year of Jubilee
8 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then sound the trumpet everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
14 “‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. 15 You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. 16 When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops. 17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.
18 “‘Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. 20 You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” 21 I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. 22 While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.
23 “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. 24 Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.
25 “‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold. 26 If, however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves, 27 they are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then go back to their own property. 28 But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.
29 “‘Anyone who sells a house in a walled city retains the right of redemption a full year after its sale. During that time the seller may redeem it. 30 If it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and the buyer’s descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee. 31 But houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered as belonging to the open country. They can be redeemed, and they are to be returned in the Jubilee.
32 “‘The Levites always have the right to redeem their houses in the Levitical towns, which they possess. 33 So the property of the Levites is redeemable—that is, a house sold in any town they hold—and is to be returned in the Jubilee, because the houses in the towns of the Levites are their property among the Israelites. 34 But the pastureland belonging to their towns must not be sold; it is their permanent possession.
35 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. 36 Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. 37 You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
47 “‘If a foreigner residing among you becomes rich and any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to the foreigner or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, 48 they retain the right of redemption after they have sold themselves. One of their relatives may redeem them: 49 An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in their clan may redeem them. Or if they prosper, they may redeem themselves. 50 They and their buyer are to count the time from the year they sold themselves up to the Year of Jubilee. The price for their release is to be based on the rate paid to a hired worker for that number of years. 51 If many years remain, they must pay for their redemption a larger share of the price paid for them. 52 If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, they are to compute that and pay for their redemption accordingly. 53 They are to be treated as workers hired from year to year; you must see to it that those to whom they owe service do not rule over them ruthlessly.
54 “‘Even if someone is not redeemed in any of these ways, they and their children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee, 55 for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Reward for Obedience
26 “‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God.
2 “‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
3 “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
6 “‘I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. 7 You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
9 “‘I will look on you with favour and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. 10 You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. 11 I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.
The promises of God
Although you cannot know the details of the future, you can be assured of God’s blessing on your future. In chapter 26, God promises that if you obey him you will enjoy fruit (v.4), satisfaction, safety (v.5), peace (v.6), no fear (v.6), growth (v.9), the presence of the Lord (v.12) and confidence ‘to walk with heads held high’ (v.13).
God says, ‘If you live by my decrees... you’ll have... a place of peace – you’ll be able to go to sleep at night without fear... I’ll make sure you prosper... grow in numbers... I am God, your personal God... I ripped off the harness of your slavery so that you can move about freely’ (vv.3–13, MSG).
This is God’s long-term plan for your future. You will face trials and difficulties in this life as you seek to obey God, but through Jesus you can enjoy some of these blessings even now.
In chapter 25, we see some of the things we need to do in order to obey God. Some of these, of course, are specific to ancient Israel but some apply for all time.
I love what Joyce Meyer writes about the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) in which all debts were forgiven and all debtors were pardoned and set free: ‘In Christ, every day can be a year of Jubilee. We can have our own sins forgiven continually through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We can enjoy a continual year of Jubilee. Our trouble is either that we are trying to pay our debt to the Lord, or that we are still trying to collect debts from others. Just as God cancelled our debt and forgave us so we can cancel the debts of others and forgive them what they owe us.’
The key to this chapter is ‘do not take advantage of each other’ (vv.14,17). It is not enough to be honest – we must also be considerate.
This is radically different from the world’s view. The world admires a person who makes money – however ruthlessly. They may be successful in one sense. But God cares about how we treat others more than how much we own and he cares especially about how we treat the poor (vv.25,35,39).
We are only stewards. The Lord says, ‘The land is mine… you reside… as foreigners and strangers’ (v.23). This is how we should regard property and possessions. They belong to God. They are on loan to you. God was teaching his people that there is no such thing as permanent wealth. You own what you own for a season. It is only God who owns them permanently.
In Leviticus 26:13b it says:
‘I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with your head held high.’
There are so many things in life that weigh heavily upon us. Here God’s promise is to break the power that has bound us and set us free.
A few years ago, at an Alpha weekend, a young woman came up to me and said that her fear had gone and a weight had been lifted. She looked radiant.
Verse of the Day
‘I am the LORD your God… no one will make you afraid’
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Hunter Davies, The Beatles: The Authorized Biography, (McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1968) p.131.
Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, (Hodder and Stoughton, 2011) p.222
Joyce Meyer, Everyday Life Bible, (Faithwords, 2013) p.199
Jack Schofield, ‘Ken Olson Obituary’, The Guardian, 9 February 2011: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/feb/09/ken-olsen-obituary
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.