Your Best Life Later
It’s Mother’s Day. It is a day that we stop to appreciate our moms. That’s sweet, really. Congrats all of you moms and those of you who are moms but are still providing room and board
I am curious, on a scale of 1-10, how easy and painless would you say child raising is? 1 being “so simple a caveman could do it”, and 10 being “if I had known then, what I know now, I might not have had kids!”.
We joke, but I know, as a dad, that I would most certainly do it all over again. Raising kids is exhausting, expensive, causes lack of sleep, stressful and even aggravating at times... but the joy and blessings of my kids far outweigh those things.
And the hope of every Christian parent is that their kids will:
- be blessed
- be close to God and
- be free from calamity
Well, 2 out of 3 isn’t bad, right?
Many of us enter parenting with this idea that everything will be beautiful, that our kids will love us, that they will be a joy to us all the time, that they will be healthy. As parents, we cannot protect our kids from everything, we cannot make them love us, and we certainly cannot make them be happy or make us happy all the time.
I think many people approach Christianity the same way. We think that if we become a Christian, everything will be good. WE will not have problems, we will not be ill, we will not struggle with bills, or cars breaking down, we will not be sad or depressed.
We will live in perpetual sunshine, skipping through fields of flowers under rainbow covered skies eating chocolates and singing happy songs.
Sounds ridiculous when I put it that way, doesn’t it?
Yet, if I said, being a Christian will increase your troubles, you will have pain, you will have problems – God might even send you an extra dose (like Job), you will be sad and you will feel heartache, would you prefer that?
We live in a culture that wants to experience the best of everything this life has to offer. We have people telling us we deserve the best. We have people telling us that we should live life to the fullest. We even have “pastors” telling us that we can experience our best life now.
Are those OK ideals, beliefs, convictions? Are they true? After all, doesn’t the bible say:
John 10:10 (NLT) — 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
YES, the Bible says that, but NO, that is not what it really means. [we will come back to this verse at the end of the message]
This morning, I want to help you focus on “Your Best Life... Later” and how to be blessed in the now by living for the later.
Let’s start by looking at the very beginning of trouble: Adam and Eve.
In Genesis 3 we read about the curse that God puts on mankind because of sin: ladies, you will have pain in child birth (not the guys fault) and guys, we will toil and work and struggle.
We are born sinners thanks to Adam and Eve, and we are destined for trouble.
The Bible continues to talk about troubles and problems all throughout the old testament. Read the Psalms and Proverbs. And then there is this passage in Job:
Job 5:7 (ESV) — but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
Now, ladies, before you get all giggly about this, that word “man” means “mankind”... so both men and women ⯑
Job 5:7 (NLT) — People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire.
There... is that clearer? We are BORN for TROUBLE. It is natural, it is expected.
This theme of problems in this life carries into the New Testament. JESUS even told us that we should expect trouble in this world...
John 16:33 (NLT) — ... Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Jesus said, “HERE ON EARTH YOU WILL HAVE TRIALS AND SORROWS.” I want to unpack that.
TROUBLES /TRIALS / SORROWS: all those things that rock our world, shake our faith and bring us to our knees. Troubles are unexpected, unwelcomed and undesirable for the most part.
YOU WILL HAVE: there is no exemption and no question. NOT: - You might have- You could possibly- Perhaps some of you may- It’s 50/50
Regardless of how great your faith, or how righteous your lifestyle or how humble your heart, you WILL HAVE trouble.
- David who had to hide in caves for his life
- Joseph who was betrayed by his siblings
- Job who lost his family and his possessions
- Paul who was shipwrecked and beaten
- Stephen who was put to death for his beliefs
- Daniel who was thrown to the lions
The list goes on and on. If those great people were not free of problems, what makes you think you and I should be? This is the same fallen world.
IN THIS WORLD / HERE ON EARTH: THIS is the key part of this verse and the ray of sunshine in the midst of the dark clouds. There is a location, a pinpoint on this trouble. While we are in this world. There is a beginning and an end to it. The troubles of this world, belong to this world and stay in this world.
And, let me add, that as long as the greatest things you live for are in THIS world, you can only hope to experience periods of pleasure in the midst of the troubles, but that is certainly NOT the BEST life.
Jesus goes on to say, “Take heart, I have overcome the world”. What did he mean by that? Did he mean that he has the solution for all your bills and that he has a universal health plan? Did he mean that he has the cure for every less-than-friendly driver you meet on the highway? I don’t think so.
In John 18:36 Jesus said that his Kingdom is not an earthly one In John 14:1-3 Jesus says he is going to prepare a place of us with the Father
I think that he was saying that there IS a solution to the problems of this world, and it had to do with leaving this world behind.
Our best life comes not while we are on this broken earth that cries out for redemption. Our best life comes when we experience the fullness of the new life that we have in Christ – and that will be when we go to be with Him some day.
Jesus does NOT say that our best life is now, it is yet to come. Jesus did not say he overcame the troubles of this world, but the death of it.
So... we have the BEGINNING OF OUR TIME (BORN FOR TROUBLE) and the SOME DAY HOPE (BETTER IN ETERNITY), what about the rest of the time that we call life? What about the NOW?
I believe that the best life is yet to come, but we can make the best of this life by living with eternity in mind.
In other words, this life is best lived by focusing on the next life.
Though that may sound like an escapist or denial perspective, it is not. It is actually more like:
A lens with which to view this present life A filter with which to prioritize our activities A battery to charge up with when life drains us
Let’s take a closer look at what God says about this:
2 Corinthians 4:7–18 (NLT) — 7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. 13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Our lives, our bodies are compared to fragile clay jars.
Anyone here ever work with terra cotta pots for plants? I have and I have broken more than one of them! They are fragile and one small whack can shatter them to pieces.
This passage talks about all the things that pressure us in this life that make us feel like we might crack or break:
We are pressed by troubles but do not break We are perplexed but do not despair We are hunted down (targets) but never abandoned by God We are knocked down but not wiped out / destroyed We live in danger of death so that people can have life through Jesus Our bodies are dying our spirit is being renewed
The KEY is what we read in 17-18.
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
This life and its troubles are short... eternity and the glory of it lasts forever Do NOT focus on these problems and this life focus on faith and eternity
The reason our fragile lives do not shatter is because of the strength God gives us as we live in light of eternity.
Your best life is yet to come... but you and I get to start living in this life and experiencing a glimpse of that life as the moment we accept Jesus.
And each day forward we can choose to let the things of this world, the troubles and problems of it, become less and less important. And each day we can choose to make the things that will last forever, like our relationship with God and helping other people enter eternity, the focus of our lives.
2 Corinthians 6:4–10 (NLT) — 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
Paul was framing that verse considering the troubles that the first century Christians faced in their culture. Surprising how much of that still applies today, isn’t it?
If Pastor Len or I was to write this letter today it might include things like, “suffered separation and deployments, endured ill health and constant physical pain, battled agnosticism in our schools and been persecuted for being willing to call sin, sin and believe that there is an absolute truth.
In all things we can be overwhelming conquerors through Jesus. Because no matter what happens to us in this life, our best life is yet to come.
Let’s get back to that passaged we talked about in the beginning, John 10:10.
The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy: and that is not just on this earth, that is for eternity. Jesus cam to give abundant life – which is only found in the context of eternity, not this broken, fallen earth.
Jesus meant that the abundant life we have, starts when we accept him, continues to grow as we life our lives with eternity in view, and culminates when we go to be with him and our Father in heaven someday.
Being a Christian is exhausting, causes lack of sleep, stressful, boundary pushing and even aggravating at times... but the joy and blessings of living for my Heavenly Father far outweigh those things.
We can have a great life now. But our BEST life is yet to come!
From the day that we surrender control of our lives to Jesus and ask Him to forgive us, every day after that gets better and better. Not necessarily easier, but better! Be blessed each day by knowing that this life is going to pass, and everything in it is just preparation for an eternity with the Father.
Matthew 6:33–34 (ESV) — But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Today will have troubles: health, bills, family issues, deployments, workplace challenges... to name a few. Don’t fret, don’t be anxious. Seek God and put his eternal purposes as the priority of our life, and you will experience a glimpse of the abundant life that is yet to come.