This week’s message in the decades series was on the 80‘s. The 1980’s, much like every decade in our country’s history, brought many changes in the social, political and economic landscape of America. Our values and our ways of thinking were challenged. New technology altered the structure of our daily lives. Established practices and institutions gave way to new, more effective ways of doing things and dealing with one another. Ronald Reagan left Hollywood behind to become the leader of the free world. In entertainment, everyone wanted to know “who shot J.R.” as “Dallas” birthed the first “cliff hanger” season finale that forever changed television programming. In movies, one of the most popular movies of the decade was “Back To The Future.”
In 1985, Michael J. Fox, played the part of teenager Marty McFly, and Christopher Lloyd starred as Dr. Emmit Brown, a weird scientist who invented a time machine placed inside a remodeled DeLourian. The premise of the movie is that everything we do affects the future and I believe as I have said in this series,that premise is actually true.
Just as what you’ve done in the 80’s has affected where you are now, it is imperative that we also understand through this series that everything we do in the days and weeks immediately ahead will impact our future. The idea behind this is that often times we have things in our past or worries about our future that prevent us from living in the present. And since it is not possible to freeze time and always remain exactly where we are, it is important that we know how to make good decisions, engage in the right kind of actions so as to positively impact our future and get our life off pause.
I prayed for this series for several reasons. Foremost I wanted it to be easy to remember. Because what we learn in this series will not be only true for the immediate future but these are truths I hope you find practical enough to apply in meaningful ways in life.
If you learn only one thing from this series,I trust it will be that while we can learn from the past, you can’t live there. Philippians 3:13-14 says, ”…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”
Let’s think about that in practical terms.How many of us have not known elderly people who are living in the past. Not literally, but somehow they are locked into the past when times were better or maybe just simpler for them that they almost believe they are still in that era. Or how many of us know middle aged men who suddenly join Crossfit or buy European clothes or invest in a flashy convertible in a valiant attempt to recapture his “glory days” as a younger man. The point is you can’t go back to the future. We must keep moving ahead. When we do, we are subject to change, sometimes scary, unending change. I get that. Change is potentially unsettling, but it’s also necessary, and God may be driving the change to provide us new opportunities to serve Him and to bring Him more front and center in our lives.
Another reason why we don’t want to live in the past is we would miss out on the great things God has planned for us in the future. In John 1:50, Jesus said, “ You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” One of the truths we’ve emphasized in this series is that God is bigger than the 80‘s and he is bigger than our present circumstances. None of what happened in the 80‘s, or transpired over the past few weeks has caught God by surprise. None of what happened in the 70’s or yesterday has changed His plan for you and for me. It’s simply a new calendar date or week or month in our lives. But God is still in control, and He still holds the future, no matter how much we want to back away from it.
I believe it will be a “greater” future, because God has great things in store for us because that is what He has promised. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” And Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
One of the things that gives me peace as Lead Pastor of Northstar Church is that God promised to give us wisdom in our decisions as long we seek Him, we truly believe and we have the faith to do what he asks us to do. I find great comfort in James 1:5 which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you..”
We live in uncertain times. In fact, in many ways, the future seems risky and unpredictable. But the answer is to learn from the past and to trust God for our future.
Next week we continue with a post on what the 90’s taught us about that uncertain future.