Summary: Faith is not about the past but the future


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Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it impossibility--a development that we should waste little time dreaming about. Lee de Forest, 1926, inventor of the cathode ray tube.

I think there is a world market for about five computers. Thomas J. Watson, 1943, Chairman of the Board of IBM.

We don’t think the Beatles will do anything in their market. Guitar groups are on their way out.

Recording company expert, 1962.

How wrong can you be? These people certain didn’t see into the future well. This stands in contrast to Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. They are briefly dealt with and only to show that like Abraham, they could see beyond their own lifetime into a future in which God’s promises would be fully realised. Faith is about the future not the past. People of faith look into the future, they live for the future; they plan and prepare for the future. Faith is not about harking back to some bygone age but believing God for what he has promised for the future. As one gets older one naturally reflects more on the past, some of which we look back on with affection. What we must beware of is seeing it with rose tinted glasses. Believing that the past was better, in truth, it was probably no better or worse, just different. Isaac, Jacob and Joseph show us the kind of attitude that faith has with regards to the future.

People of faith influence the future

By an act of faith, Isaac reached into the future as he blessed Jacob and Esau. V.20 - Message

Faith reaches into the future and shapes it. The inclusion of Isaac is interesting, since he didn’t even mean to bless Jacob, he was deceived! Commenting on that story, Isaac I think new in his heart that God wanted Jacob to have the blessing (Gen.25:23) – but Isaac favoured Esau. When he was deceived & Esau said do you only have one blessing, he made no attempt to revoke the blessing but told Esau “tough luck”! Isaac perhaps realised that he had been struggling against God and lost. There is a lesson there for all of us. We can resist God and struggle against him, but he will win.

But the blessings conferred on his sons were an act of faith. He was reaching into the future to shape it, passing the blessing on – that is what faith does. Faith is about the future not the past. Isaac was not living in the past, harking back to the days of his father but looking forward, believing that the future of his sons and their sons would be greater than his as they possessed the promises of God. People of faith influence the future. They shape it and even when they go wrong God overrules and uses their faith in the way he wants it to be used.

By faith we can make an impact on the future. It may be through our own efforts, that we believe God and trust him and so make an impact that continues. Or most probably it is through others that we can influence the future. It may be through our example, through our service, through our vision, through our praying, giving etc. Albert McMakin was a 24 year old farmer, a new Christian and enthusiastic for the Lord. He would fill his truck with people and take them to meetings to hear about Jesus. There was a young farmer’s son he was keen to get to go along, but he couldn’t persuade him – he was too busy chasing the girls. He eventually persuaded him by asking him to drive the truck. Albert’s guest went into the meeting and was “spellbound”. He went back night after night until he gave his life to Christ. It was 1934 and the young man was called Billy Graham. Albert Mcmakin didn’t know that Billy Graham would speak to more people about Jesus than any other in the history of the world. But by faith he influenced the future. Let us be a people who influence the future for good and for God. How can you do that?

People of faith seek to bless the next generation - Jacob

By an act of faith, Jacob on his deathbed blessed each of Joseph’s sons in turn, blessing them with God’s blessing, not his own--as he bowed worshipfully upon his staff. v. 21 Message

What all three were doing, but particularly Jacob was seeking to pass on the blessing of God to the next generation. We cannot be held responsible for what the next generation does with it, but we are responsible for seeking to pass on the promises of God. We are responsible for seeking to share our faith with them. People of faith want to bless the next generation. They want to pass on the baton. In the Commonwealth Games the English men’s 100m-sprint relay blew it – they failed to pass on the baton and were out of the race. God has called us to make a difference for him in our generation, but we mustn’t just look to today we must look to the next generation. What are we passing on to them? But as individuals we do not want to fail. Do not underestimate your role as parents. There is a trend in society for more and more power and responsibility being taken from parent and give to others. I believe this is dangerous. We must not let that happen in the church. John Wesley said “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England”. Churchill said when asked to check a list of the people who had taught him “you have omitted to mention the greatest of my teachers – my mother”.

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