Unleashing Hope: Refocusing On The Future
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” vs. 17
Back To The Future
People have been fascinated with time travel. I’m not sure when the first person thought about it was, but we like to dream and think that it can happen. H. G. Wells wrote a book back in the 1800’s called The Time Machine and that might be the more modern spark that got people thinking about the possibility of time travel.
One thing that really got people going about this subject was a movie that is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary called Back To the Future. You might remember it because it generated a series of movies that really intrigued people. To me, the first was the best. It introduced some really cool things like:
Michael J. Fox – actor who starred in Family Ties
The Flux Capacitor
The Delorean Motor Car
Christopher Lloyd the crazy professor Brown
The Disappearing picture
I think it’s safe to say that most of us at some time have thought about time travel and have a bit of a fascination with it. It can be fun to think about the past but it can also be fun to think about what is to come in the future too.
If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word. Today our scripture is Mark 1:16-20.
Read Passage – Mark 1:16-20
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Calling All Misfits!
Jesus is beginning his earthly ministry and one of the first thing he does is gather a group of people to help him. So he goes to the local synagogue and asks for their top theological student, and he goes to the local business area and chooses a top notch guy that will help him plan and strategize his ideas, and he seeks out the up and coming achievers of his day. No! Listen again what he does do in verse 16:
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.” vs. 16
No, Jesus isn’t looking for what people consider the best people for the job, he calls what seems to be a bunch of misfits. He calls some fisherman, a tax collector, a political activist, and a bunch of guys that nobody thought twice about. To us they might not look like much. But Jesus sees things differently than we do. His vision and his plan is bigger that ours. What Jesus was looking for was not the best up and comers, he was looking for people with devotion, faith, tenacity, and the willingness to do ministry. Isn’t it interesting that they just up and leave and follow him. In our passage it tells us the fisherman even left their father in the boat doing the work. (I’m sure that went over well.) These guys step out in faith and trust Jesus from the get go.
Obsessed With Right Now
The guys who followed Jesus did it so quickly. What did they see in Jesus? What was their motivation to just walk away from everything right in front of them? I think this tells us a great deal about what stops us. I suggest we get obsessed with the right now. We get so caught up in what is happening right now we miss the chance to look up ahead. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:22-23:
“What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.” Ecc. 2:22-23
Sometimes we can get so obsessed with the here and now that it overtakes us and stops us from moving forward. Notice what Solomon points out about the things that keep us focused on the right now; things like toil (work), striving, grief, pain, lack of rest, etc .
Moving Toward A Fresh Vision
Jesus is calling us to change our perspective. He wants us to look at things differently. What we need is to move toward a fresh vision; a vision of what lies ahead and one that doesn’t get bogged down with the difficulties and struggles that can overwhelm and overtake us. Notice one more time Jesus words to the disciples:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” vs. 17
I have added the underline and italics. Jesus wants us to stop being distracted with the here and now and start moving toward the future; the future he has for us. Here is why the disciples could just drop everything and follow Jesus; he will. It’s the promise of what lies ahead. It’s not what we can do but what he will do in us. Here are five ways we can have a fresh vision for the future.
- Allow Yourself To Dream
First, we have to allow ourselves to dream. What happens when we focus on the here and now and we let that be our vision, we don’t dream anymore. We lose hope. Our struggles should cause us to dream more. Solomon wrote in Ecc. 5:5:
“A dream comes when there are many cares…” Ecc. 5:5
Dreaming is not some pie in the sky thinking about something that is an impossibility, like time travel. Dreaming is thinking about what could be and what can happen. Jesus asks us to change our perspective and that means we see things differently. We have to trust his perspective and what he has planned. That’s why the disciples could leave right away. They saw something in him that no one else ever had. So get this, he calls the disciples a bunch of misfits to work with him and he calls us to carry on the work. He isn’t calling the best theological students, the best book writers, the best strategists, etc. He calls the local school teacher, the UPS worker, the accountant, the store clerk, etc. He calls the everyday people doing everyday jobs to be his partner and his voice to the world. We think small. Jesus is asking us to think big. Dream big. Take his perspective.
- Replace Apathy With Passion
The second step we can take is to replace our apathy with passion. Apathy is the lack of concern or passion. Our struggles and difficulties cause to lose our concern and care for the bigger things of life. Again, we lose hope. Paul urges us not to lose hope but to move towards passion and life. 2 Timothy 1:6 says:
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…” 2 Tim. 1:6
Somehow as life goes on, we lose that passion and that concern.
Ex. Let me give you an example from something that happened this week to me. I was with the 6 boys I have in my group at Kid’s Club. Ask any group of kids who can sing and every hand goes up. My Kid’s Club group start signing this song. One by one they take turns singing it and they finally turn to me and tell me to try it. I don’t kinow the song but I gave is a shot and they all laughed.
Ever notice how you can ask a group of kids who can sing and every one of them will tell you they can. Ask them to draw and every one of them will tell you they are a great drawer. What happens between that time as kids where we think we can do anything and the time we are young adults and we give up and don’t even try?
We get negative comments, experience doubts and failures, and eventually we give up trying. We need to fan that passion flame and get our passion back. We need to believe we can sing, draw, paint, etc. we need to believe we can be effective for God and trust him for the strength, energy, etc.
- Replace Discouragement With Freedom
A third step we can take is to replace those discouragements with freedom.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Cor. 3:17
We all have ups and downs. We all go through discouragements ; but those do not need to define us. If you have Jesus in your life, if you have accepted him as your Lord and Savior, you have the spirit of the living God in you and if you have the spirit of the living God in you, you have freedom. You have freedom from sin, freedom from the things that weigh you down, freedom to be everything God created you to be. Grace frees us from the discouragement of the past and past failures. So much of our struggles and difficulties come from the things we do wrong and the pains of life. God brings freedom.
Ex. Young girl who was diagnosed with cancer and told she would never finish high school. Everyone discouraged her. Her psychologist met with her and his first question was: What do you look forward to and what do you want to accomplish? It was the freedom she needed. She did graduate from high school.
- Look Forward To Comebacks
The fourth step is to look forward to comebacks. Now just saying that means that you have had a setback, a failure, a loss, something that didn’t go well. But do we look forward to comebacks? James wrote in James 4:10:
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10
Comebacks are usually based on a failure or setback but that doesn’t have to be the end of it or the defining moment.
Ex. Let me give you an example from just a few weeks ago. I never thought I would see my favorite team, the San Francisco Giants win the World Series. I was in heaven when they won in 2010 and again in 2012. This year most people didn’t give them a chance to win again. They made it to the 2014 WS but most people thought the Kansas City Royals would win. 49 of 50 states picked KC. Every broadcaster and analyst picked KC. Well they get to game 6 lose that game 10-0 and every one is taking gloom and doom for the Giants. What happened? Game 7 was a comeback. They bounce back from a humiliating loss to win Game 7 and the series. OH YEAH! Look forward to comebacks!
- Keep Moving Forward
And the 5th step is to keep moving forward. Let me back this up with one of my favorite verses that comes from Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11
You can keep moving forward because God has a plan and his plan includes hope and a future. His plan is bigger, his plan is better, and we need to trust that his plans is the best and be willing to do it.
Ex. Let me illustrate with the analogy of riding a bike. Start with story of when I learned to ride a bike and then how cool I was riding with no hands, etc. Tak about how hard it is to ride a bike that is moving really slow; unbalance, unstable, wobbly, etc. A bike moving forward and with momentum stabilizes and energizes
A Key Question To Ask Yourself: What Can I Become?
To wrap this up, let’s end with a question. It’s a really important question too. It’s a question that can change your life. Here it is:
What can I become? You can add this “in God”
What can you become when you have God’s dreams, God’s passion, God’s freedom? What is stopping you from looking ahead? Health? Age? Finances? Discouragements? Think about what you can become when you trust God, follow his plan, look to what’s ahead and not get bogged down with the struggles and discouragements you might be experiencing now.
God has a plan for you, a plan for good, a plan to propser you and to give you a future and a hope.
Portions of this sermon are adapted from The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston