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WALKING WITH GOD AND LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

 A SERMON DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

17 AUGUST 1997

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 111:1-10
Isaiah 11:9
Matthew 6:10

The past two weeks we've looked at some of the reasons that things go wrong.

Today were going to look at how we can make things go right.

And the key is, that we walk with God and look to the future.

Have you ever noticed that once a sports event is over, and a person's team loses, that they can almost always come up with something different that they could have done to make them win.

In football, we call this fifth quarter quarterbacking.

But if we knew the future in advance, we would do the things necessary to keep us going in the proper direction.

Isn't that true?

Unfortunately, it's not.

And the reason that this doesn't happen is because most people don't believe what we know about the future.

Let's begin our spiritual journey by looking at Psalm 111:1-10, and see how this applies.

1. Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart. In the company of the upright and in the assembly.

In order to properly see the future, we need to open up our spiritual eyes as well as our physical eyes.

In fact, we might even do better, if we didn't rely quite so much upon our physical vision.

The way we begin to open our spiritual eyes is to begin to acknowledge all that God has done, and to give thanks with all our heart, and to do it openly.

This doesn't mean we're to go into our bathrooms alone and close the door, and give thanks and praise to the mirror; we're to do so publicly.

And the more we do this the more of a spiritual insight we begin to have.

This doesn't mean that we're to constantly say, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" all day long either.

What it means is that we are to tell others of the spiritual insights we've come to see, as we would tell them about anything else.

It's as we're supposed to do as part of our Joys and Concerns portion of each Sunday's Service.

It's like our fig tree that had no leaves for almost a year, and Mary was about to throw it out, but we decided to wait.

And do you know what happened, the Lord brought it back to life, because of our prayers, but mostly because of His grace, love and compassion.

This is a real miracle, and we are very thankful.

2. Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them.

This is where we make another of our mistakes, we all too often fail to study the works of the Lord.

We do this because we don't delight in them enough to put forth the extra effort necessary to fully understand them.

And when we don't, we have a tendency to forget our original insight, and begin to doubt, and when we doubt, we lose our spiritual vision.

And many of God's works are described in the Bible, and if we don't study these, too, we also will not build our faith, and with it our spiritual vision.

3. Splendid and majestic is His work; And His righteousness endures forever.

Endure forever?

How could someone three thousand years ago know that the Lord's righteousness will endure forever?

Because he had spiritual vision.

Because he had faith.

Because he studied the works of the Lord.

For with faith and vision, we indeed will see the splendor and majesty of the Lord in everything around us.

If anyone doubts this, listen to what we are told next.

4. He has made His wonders to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and compassionate.

Everything God does or has done is made to be remembered.

It is we who don't want to remember.

Why?

Because we look around at the physical world, and listen to all the scoffing, and we begin to excuse the truth away.

God's grace, love, and compassion is all around us, and He wants us to receive it, but if we don't recognize it, to us it doesn't exist.

5. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever.

I believe this refers more to spiritual food than it does to the things we physically eat, for even the ungodly ones have physical food to eat.

But if we eat of God's spiritual food. His word. His created things. His wisdom, we come to understand His ever faithfulness.

We come to know, without any doubt, that everything He says will come true.

6. He has made known to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations.

God made Israel His chosen people, that they would be His example of Godly living to the world.

To them, if they followed His commandments, was granted the kingdom of God.

But Israel didn't hold fast to the ways of the Lord, and this brought great sorrow upon the Lord, for He wanted all the nations of the world to return to Him, as they saw His blessings upon Israel.

But alas, Israel followed the ways of the nations around them, instead of setting the example to lead the nations to God.

And through Jesus Christ, we have been given the same charge to the world around us.

Can we hold on to our spiritual vision, even in the sight of all the ungodly things around us?

I pray we can, for as we do, we walk with God, even forever and ever.

7. The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are sure.

8. They are upheld forever and ever; They are performed in truth and uprightness.

Can we think of anything that the Lord has done or promised, that was not presented with truth and justice?

Can we think of anything the Lord has told us, that wasn't sure to help us?

Can we think of anything that the Lord has done or told us that wasn't righteous?

I can't, and I doubt if you can either, right?

Then if we know this to be true, than why don't we always walk with God, and why do we lose our spiritual vision?

I don't know why. I wish I did fully know, but I don't.

Even in my own life, at times I drop my spiritual vision, I wish I didn't, and I wish others wouldn't either, but we do it.

This isn't to excuse our behavior away, and say because we all do this it's all right, for it isn't.

Each of us needs to focus more intently upon the times we slip away from the Lord, and work harder at refocusing ourselves upon the things and ways of God, that we would slip less and less.

9. He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.

We need to remember this, and study this, and focus our spiritual vision in this direction.

God has indeed redeemed His people, those of us who truly believe.

10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

When we have a fear or reverence for the Lord we begin to have His wisdom as well, and we naturally desire to do as God wants us to do.

At least that's the desire of our heart, even when we slip.

And perhaps our problem is that our spiritual vision is not focused far enough into the future to see beyond all the problems of this world, and I emphasize "all".

As an example, almost every week we either say or sing The Lord's Prayer, and in particular one verse (Matthew 6:10).

10. 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.

And unless we have our spiritual vision, and have studied, and have God's wisdom, we don't understand what it means to have God's kingdom come, nor do we fully understand what His will is.

So then how can we ever hope to have heaven on earth, as the Lord says we should, and as we should pray for?

I hope we're beginning to see the connection.

We need to remember that all of God's promises are true, and He would never ask us to pray for something He wouldn't give us.

Thus, we should absolutely know that we can have heaven on earth.

We can hope and pray it's more than that little piece we ourselves have.

And in this hope, let's look at Isaiah 11:9.

9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain. For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.

This passage applies to both people and animals.

And even though I know, without a doubt, that this is what God desires, and that one day it will again be like this, I still see ever so much of the opposite.

Every day we do more hurting and destroying, and it becomes discouraging.

But because I know the truth. I'm resolved in my heart to do whatever I can, to bring a little more heaven to this earth every day.

And I hope and pray that this is the desire of your heart, too.

For together we can make a bigger difference, and if we attract others, we can make even a bigger difference.

In fact, with the help of the Lord, we can make a world of a difference.

The reason there is so much pain and suffering in the world is because there is so little knowledge of the Lord present in the hearts and minds of the people.

For as we increase our knowledge of the Lord, the less violent we become, and the more loving and compassionate we become, because we become more like Him.

We need to open our spiritual vision fully, and really look around us.

We need to truly come to the realization of the pain and suffering that our life-style causes.

We need to feel the pain and suffering we cause, even indirectly, as when we destroy our rain forests for cattle ranches to have more fast food hamburgers.

And then we need to resolve in our heart to make a difference.

We need to continue our journey toward the kingdom.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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