Do your remember the wondrous things God has done for you through Jesus Christ?
In Psalm 103 we are compelled to ‘give thanks to the Lord’, and any thanks is a response to the acts of another. ‘Make known His deeds… tell of His wondrous works… Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles and His judgements…”
I perceive that we are basically futurists. That is that although our past, the way we were shaped by our environment, is a major influence on how we think and how we view life, the universe and everything in it (Rom 12:2), we are constantly looking forward to some event or outcome that will amazingly change our present situation (usually the result of our conformity to life due to our past). Created to be future-looking, prophetic-vision pursuers, but distorted in our visionary pursuits by sin and the god of this age.
As fallen futurists then, our present is the result of our past but no matter what situation we are in we act on what we want the future to bring. However, this is seldom a decision based on the true future but a wish for the future based on our past perceptions that are conformed to this world.
If our future is to be different to our past then we need to reshape our past. By that I mean look back at the hand of God at work rather than at all the things we believe are responsible for our present that will stop us from enjoying our preferred future.
Israel, as a nation, spent 400 years in slavery. They were slaves, they acted like slaves, they thought like slaves. When God acted to deliver them they experienced the exhilaration of His miraculous deeds and His divine judgements. However, one in the wilderness there future looking could only see suffering and discomfort and tribulation because they judged their present through minds enslaved by the past.
Their deliverer became their slave master, their previous life of slavery became their comfort and their future would be comfortable if their present was changed. So, they were driven by a distorted futurist view that was controlled by their past view via an unrenewed mind.
The reality is that it is God who projects for us a future worth obtaining:
Proverbs 29:18 (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
This future demands firstly a redeemed view of the past, a past not inverted by the sinful mind (Rom 1:18-32) that rejects God’s hand and provision as the wilderness dwellers did. They never entered the Promised Land – for us this is a type of our eternal destination – because they forgot the miraculous deeds of God and His righteous judgements and called His gift of leadership to them evil. Note: they didn’t call His miraculous deeds evil, they just forgot them. They ignored that the deeds occurred, but more detrimental was that they forgot his judgements. They failed to remember that their rejection of His future for them and the leaders he gave to bring this about, will place them squarely under His judgement.
If our future is to be His future we need our interpretation of the past redeemed and see His miraculous deeds and give thanks. Remember, we are nothing more than respondents to His acts. We do not act of our own volition towards God. As Ps 116:1,6 says, “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice… when I was brought low He saved me…”
A heart of thanksgiving is a heart that never leaves the miraculous saving work of the cross of Christ. A cross that reveals God’s love, His miraculous power and His righteous judgements. If we ignore the power of the cross we will deny the love of the cross and fall under the judgement of the cross.
No matter what we thing we are experiencing, if we are the righteous we will live by faith knowing that all things work for the good of those that love God and are called according to His ‘future’.
My son in Christ Eli (an apostolic minister of Christ in Tanzania) wrote to me recently to tell me of his recent sickness. He also had a number of saints who had died and he had to do some funerals at which he was able to speak of death, and grace etc, something, he said, that people don’t want to hear about. I told him I was saddened because of his illness but that our comfort is in our future. That one day we will see Jesus face to face and then we will be changed. We will put of the pain of mortality and be clothed with Him. We will no longer experience pain, sickness, sin or death… all tears will be wiped away.
Psalm 116:15 (ESV) Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
I commended Eli on the fact that in the midst of his sickness he did not become self-obsessed but was still thinking and acting as a watchman, as one who leads others to see Christ in the midst of suffering. You see, it is our self-obsession that distorts our interpretive view of, well, everything: Both the past and the present and ultimately the future. Only when eyes remain on Jesus will we see clearly.
Psalm 116:12–14 (ESV)
12 What shall I render to the Lord
for all his benefits to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Grow in grace