As I’m writing this article, 2020 is in our rear-view mirror but certainly not forgotten from our collective memory. The past year brought about an unprecedented amount of discord in our country and across the world: a contentious election cycle, the global COVID-19 pandemic, protests, and an economic recession. From man’s perspective the past year and our hopes for this year seem dim. But when I look at the sovereignty of God, I suddenly change from a pessimist to an optimist. The future isn’t doomed. We’re here today because God wants us to shape the future. His Word, His people, and His work can still impact today’s culture and shape tomorrow’s world. The best days are yet to come for Christ and His cause. Here’s how we can help SHAPE the future.
S = Stand Up
First, we have to get up, stand up, and speak up. One of Satan’s ploys is to intimidate believers. All too often though, the thought of fulfilling our God-given duties is undermined by Satan’s schemes. Other times, we become afraid of what others may say or think of us if we speak the truth of God’s Word. Nevertheless, we are called to boldly declare the Good News of our Lord and Savior. The Bible reminds us, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Find a way to speak up and stand up today, but do it with love.
H = Help Out
We can also shape the future by helping out. Find a need, and step into it. That’s what Elizabeth Fry did in the 1800s. Prison conditions in her day were harrowing, and Elizabeth felt an immense burden for women behind bars. She formed a society for the improvement of these conditions and started gathering food, clothing, and Bibles for women who were imprisoned. She even opened a school inside one prison for the children interred there with their mothers. Elizabeth’s reforms soon spread to other prisons, especially in other countries. She saw a need and she stepped in to make a difference.
What we need is to be more like Elizabeth—becoming the hands and feet of Jesus in a troubled world. Help out!
A = Ask God for Revival
Third, don’t underestimate the role of prayer in shaping the future of our world today. The Church has been challenged before, and on endless occasions it seemed as if the truth of the Gospel was being obscured from view. Pray for revival in your heart and in the Body of Christ around the world. Remember: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Romans 12:9-12).
Ask God for revival—it begins with prayer and God’s Word.
P = Preach the Word
The Bible is our GPS (global positioning system) and it should be shared: “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2-3). What does that mean? Think of farmers—they prepare for harvest time. The rest of the year is “out of season” when they tend the plants, sowing, pruning, fertilizing, thinning, cultivating, and preparing for the next season of harvest.
Our job as Christians doesn’t change with the seasons. We’re to preach the Word at all times—telling the story of Jesus, His glory, and His love—God will determine when it is harvest time.
E = Encourage Others
That leads to my ending thought. Today is a good time to encourage someone. Pray for your neighbors, family members, friends, or co-workers who may be struggling physically, financially, or personally during this time of COVID restrictions. Find ways to encourage them even from a distance. The Bible says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).
And finally, stay faithful to your faith. Be a light in a dark world. Look to the future with optimism. Put the past behind you, and trust God with your future. “This is the day that the Lord has made… rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.
Living the life of an overcomer starts with one very simple, yet often overlooked action: putting on your armor.You’ve heard it before, from the book of Ephesians, the wonderful metaphor—the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of peace—the armor of God.