If you are a follower of NASCAR, you know that drivers don’t just zoom around in circles like hamsters in a cage. Each of the major speedways is unique, having its own turns, curves, and idiosyncrasies. To be a NASCAR driver, you’ve got to memorize every linear foot of the track, knowing the paving surface, understanding the grooves, practicing the turns, and taking advantage of the straightaways.
To run a good race, you have to know what to expect.
The same is true for Christians. We don’t know every specific twist and turn in advance; but the Bible is an indispensable road map, containing God’s infallible version of future events. The One who knows the future as well as the past doesn’t want us to be ignorant or unprepared for the road ahead.
Turn One: Painful Problems
Sometimes the turn of events in our lives is unwelcome. Jesus warned, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Perhaps you’re having a hard time, a heartache has come into your life that you didn’t cause but couldn’t prevent. But our Lord’s foreknowledge is comprehensive and complete, and He knows every problem before it arrives. He gives grace sufficient for every trial, peace that passes all understanding, and joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Turn Two: Perilous Times
The Bible also warns that in the last days perilous times will come, days filled with love of self, love of money, pride, blasphemy, disrespect for parents, lack of self-control, and forms of godliness that deny the true power of God (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Sounds like an evening in front of the tube, doesn’t it? Someone said that spending a night watching television is like touring the sewer in a glass-bottomed boat.
We need to pray for revival; but even if it doesn’t come as we hope, we must still be blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).
Turn Three: Providential Care
When the Lord is involved, however, there’s always a turn for the better. He has a way of working all things for our good. His providential care and overruling control of our lives is like an invisible hand constantly on our shoulder.
On February 26, 1844, the Princeton, one of the Navy’s greatest ships, was sailing the Potomac near Washington, carrying the President of the United States, members of Congress, the Secretary of State, and other dignitaries. For entertainment, a great gun called “The Peacemaker” was fired. The gun exploded, killing several people, including Secretary of State Abel Upshur. Missouri Senator Thomas Benton had been standing near the gun; but moments before it exploded, a friend had laid his hand on his shoulder and drawn him aside. The Secretary of the Navy, who took his place, was among the dead. Benton later told Daniel Webster, “It seemed to me, Mr. Webster, as if that touch on my shoulder was the hand of the Almighty … today I feel that I am a different man.”
For the Christian, we have the touch of an invisible hand on our shoulders. We hear a word behind us, directing us in the way to go. We enjoy a protective escort through life, and we travel a predestined course. The Lord surrounds us as a shield, and His overarching grace causes all things to work together for His glory.
The Straightaway: The Promised Return
And soon we’re going to hit the straightaway of His promised return. The dead in Christ shall be raised, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. We don’t always know what’s up ahead, but we know Who’s up ahead; He goes behind us and before us and encompasses all our ways. He is near us, with us, and in us; and He knows all the twists and turns and curves and bumps of life. He has a perfect track record.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Our health depends on wise nutrition. The food we eat is assimilated into our bodies and becomes our nails, skin cells, and blood. In the same way, we are actually becoming—emotionally and spiritually—what we put into our minds. Proverbs 23:7 is the biblical version of you are what you eat. It says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
What we read and view has a determining effect on us, and what our children are taking into their minds will determine what they become. Many children and adults have a high-fat mental diet that’s heavy in “screen time.”
It’s easy for any of us to “catch” the philosophy of the world by what we’re reading, watching, or hearing. But the Bible says, “Whatever things are true . . . noble . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Okay is not a biblical word. Sometimes when we say something like, “Don’t worry; it’s okay,” the other person is thinking, “Funny, it doesn’t feel that way.” It does little to comfort the heart.
Sometimes we’re not OK. I’ve had times when, instead, I’ve felt KO’ed, which is fight jargon for “knocked out.”
My own faith in the Lord Jesus has grown through the years, and I’m grateful for the grace to trust Jesus with hardships and heartaches. But sometimes the blows rain down on us like daggers, and we may momentarily wonder if God exists or knows or cares.
The movie character Forrest Gump became famous for saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” In its simplicity, that statement is profound in its accuracy. It is true, like a box of chocolates that we open and try the various fillings and flavors to pick a favorite piece; we don’t know what each day of our lives will hold. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we have an assurance that He is with us, and the knowledge that all that is good comes from Him. The Bible says that He opens His hand and satisfies His children with good things (Psalm 104:28).
Ask anyone who’s doing it and they’ll tell you: living your life according to God’s unique plan brings the deepest satisfaction you’ll ever know. Dr. David Jeremiah unpacks that truth as it plays-out in the lives of Joseph and his family. If you need some encouragement to follow God’s will, listen.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah