Before I get started, its been just a little over a year since Sheila has taken into the pulpit and stood with her father, and I can truly say this has been one of the most blessed years of my life, serving under this wonderful, wonderful leader. So I’m going to ask the question this morning can you have a fantastic future? This church has a fantastic future thanks to her leadership so I’m very excited about it.
So the question is do you believe that you can have a fantastic future? Whatever your walk of life no matter how old you are whether you’ve got fifty years left on this planet or five days, do you believe that you can have a fantastic future? It’s a very important question for us to ask.
You know I was watching TV a couple of weeks ago sitting on the couch, being a couch potato and this commercial comes on and the first twenty-five seconds of this commercial it was for a Wall Street investment firm. And you’ve seen ads like this. It’s geared at people who are supposed to be saving for retirement and the whole crux of this ad is that if you save your money with us and you stay the course with us, your financial life will be peaches and cream when you retire. That’s the crux of the ad. And then they get to the last five seconds of this ad and they hit you with some words that are really interesting: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. And I go man that’s a downer. They just told me my financial future was peaches and cream and now they just tell me if I stick with them I may lose my shirt. So which message am I supposed to believe?
So I was thinking about that phrase and it bothered me the next couple of commercials that came on. I kept thinking “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” And then I did something interesting. I took out my possibility thinking cap. You all have one of those, right? It may be in your closet, it may have a little dust on it because of the economy, but I know you have a possibility thinking cap somewhere in your closet. Now take that thing out for a second and dust it off, shake it off, put it on and think about that statement one more time. “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” A possibility thinker would say just because you’ve had a set back in life does not guarantee future failure in your life. Correct? Past failure in marriage is no guarantee of future failure in marriage. Past failure in business is no guarantee of future failure in business. Past family struggles is no guarantee of future family struggles. Past failure in your job or in a job search is no guarantee of failure in a future job or job search, right?
Now some of you are thinking man my possibility thinking cap was dustier then I thought it was. Those are some hard things to think about. So shake that thing off a little bit because all of us want a fantastic future. And this morning we had the ultimate prescription book of the bible for possibility thinking for a fantastic future.
There’s only four chapters in this book of the bible. It’s the book of Philippians. Only four chapters in this. Do yourself a favor when you leave today. Make yourself a promise that you’re going to read Philippians cover to cover. Its four chapters. It’ll take you, if you’re a quick reader, fifteen minutes. If you take a while to read, it’ll take you a half an hour, but don’t just do it in one day. Take this book of the bible, Philippians, and read it every day this week for as many days of the week that you can. This book is so chalk full of encouragement for your life, no matter what you’re going through, it will literally alter your attitude, your faith, your mind set. You cannot walk away the same after reading the book of Philippians. So pull out Philippians this week and read it.
So who wants a fantastic future? Boy, nobody wants a fantastic future. Who wants a fantastic future? Come on! Okay I think I’m convinced. You can have a fantastic future because I’ve got four points. Four points and these points, the first one’s going to sting a little bit. So get ready for this.
The first point is you need to check your attitude at the door. Check your attitude at the door. And the verse that goes with that from Philippians is chapter two, verse fourteen: “Do all things without complaining and disputing that you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you will shine as lights in the world.” Do all things without complaining or disputing. I think the apostle Paul lived in exactly the same world that we live in because everybody I know has a PhD in complaining and disputing, including yours truly.
I’m very good at complaining and disputing. Maybe a week or two ago I was driving, my youngest daughter was riding in the car, she’s a senior in high school, and some guy comes racing along the freeway, cuts across four lanes of traffic in front of me and to the exit ramp. And I turned to my daughter and I said “Paige, that’s not just an idiot, that’s a world-class idiot.” Now you’ve said the same thing and the minute it came out of my mouth, I said what a great example I am of Philippians. “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” So what do we do? How do we get away from this?
You know it’s interesting, I read a story not too long ago, and some of you may have read this story. The story is called Ice Cream Is Good for The Soul. And I heard somebody say it is, and it absolutely is to me. A father took his kids to a restaurant and the little boy that was probably a six-year-old boy was saying, “Daddy, can I say the prayer?” And father said, “Sure.” So they bowed their heads and the little boy said, “God is great, God is good, God we thank You for our food. And God I’d thank You even more if dad get’s us ice cream for dessert and liberty and justice for all. Amen.” And the restaurant kind of chuckled around them and a couple of tables away a woman said, “That’s the problem with society today. Children just don’t know how to pray. I can’t believe he prayed that prayer for ice cream, well I never.”
Well the little boy heard that and he started crying and he got into his dad’s arms and he says, “Dad did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?” And the father said, “No son, you’re fine. God’s not mad at you.” And just then an elderly gentlemen kind of walked over and put his hand on the little boy and crouched next to him and he said, “Son, I happen to know on good authority that God is not mad at you. He thought that was a wonderful prayer. Wonderful prayer. Ice cream is sometimes good for the soul.” And the little boy kind of dried his tears and the elderly gentleman wondered away and they went on with their meal and when desert came, the father ordered his kids ice cream. And the little boy gets set in front of him one of those three scoop hot fudge Sunday’s with whipped cream piled high and you’re already getting hungry, I can tell. And the little boy looks at that Sunday and he looks at it and he won’t touch it. And he picked it up and he walked it over and he put in front of that woman that made the comment. And he said, “Here this is for you. Ice cream is sometimes good for the soul and my soul’s already good.” Oh I love that story.
So how in the world are we supposed to go through life without complaining and disputing? Is it even possible to go through life without complaining or disputing? Well the prescription for that is also right here in Philippians. It is possible to live a life free of complaining. It’s right here. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Whoa. It is God working in you and working in me for His will to happen. So if you live a life of complaining or you tend to complain, or complaining comes easy, think of a couple of words. That’s a cliché, a lot of people have used it, it’s been around a long time: What would Jesus do? What happens when you say what would Jesus do and then God is actually working in you? Things change. You can have a fantastic future if you check your attitude at the door and have your thinking become Christ centered thinking. That’s how you can do it.
Point number two: be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard and live for someone other than yourself. There’s two parts to that. Be willing to roll up your sleeves. You’re not going to succeed in life sitting on the couch doing nothing. It’s not going to happen. You’ve got to be willing to do something. Not necessarily physical labor, brain power, whatever gift God has given you, God’s given you the ability to do something. You need to be wiling to roll up your sleeves and be willing to live for someone other than yourself. This is from Philippians two, verses three and four; “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for your own interest, but also for the interest of others.” I love that. This verse tells us to look out for our own interests. We have permission to do that. We have permission to work hard, to set goals and do great things. But it also says to equally look out for the interest of others.
So since you have permission to work hard, absolutely set a goal, absolutely pursue your dream, absolutely dream impossible dreams but as you do that, also look out for the interest of others. And a great example of that is Coach John Wooden, made the news because he recently passed away. Greatest coach in history, college or pro. Ten NCAA tournaments in a row this man won at UCLA. An amazing man of God. But what was going on inside the mind of this man of God, John Wooden? John Wooden made his success by making other people successful. John Wooden built other people up to their success, which made him successful. An amazing story. Let’s get inside the mind of John Wooden.
There’s six quotes I want you to hear from him. Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights. A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment. Talent is God given, be humble. Fame is man given, be grateful. Conceit is self-given, be careful. You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never, ever be able to repay you. Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. And the final one is, material possessions, winning scores and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord because He knows what we really are and that’s all that matters. So point number two: You can have a fantastic future. Check your attitude at the door. Make your thinking Christ thinking. And next, roll up your sleeves and work hard but work hard equally for somebody else’s behalf.
Then point number three in our journey to a fantastic future: don’t be afraid of failure. Who here is afraid of failure? Who else is afraid of failure? Everybody on some level is afraid of failure. You may not be afraid of failure at business but you are in relationships or friendships. You may be afraid of failure in money. There’s something that is causing failure, you’re afraid to fail at something. So the prescription for that is Philippians 3 verse 13, and that says, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Forgetting. We also have a PhD in forgetting everything except negative things. Right? We forget names, we forget addresses, but we will never, ever forget the terrible thing we did last year or the terrible thing somebody did to us. We are terrible at forgetting. And this bible verse says, “Forgetting those things which are behind. Forgetting those things which are behind.”
My father when I was in my college years, I went through the agony of watching my father lose his business. He was a contractor in Colorado, very successful in his earlier years. He had built the original stadium where the Denver Broncos, the NFL Denver Broncos played, he built shopping centers, he built plants for Pepsi Cola, very successful. And I watched him down size his company and down size his company in the early eighties when it was just.. the economy was terrible in Denver, jobs were hard to come by, one of his senior managers embezzled from him a lot of money which weakened him even further. But it was interesting during that whole time, whenever a college student from a Christian college that my dad was always fond of, whenever a college student came home that summer from college and needed a job, dad always gave him a job. Couldn’t pay himself but he always gave that college student a job just to earn a living. And I’ve never forgotten that.
And then eventually he folded his company and he took a job out here in California. Now I know to this day I would not be in California if my dad had not moved here. If his company would have stayed successful, I would have gone into the family business. I was going to college in Denver in a degree in finance and real estate, it was kind of a dual degree. So I was learning a lot about real estate and construction and all of those types of things. And I’d worked for him since I was fourteen years old on construction sights. I’d have never have moved to California if his business wouldn’t have failed.
So he moved to California. And then it was interesting. After I married my wife Gretchen, a couple of years after that, mom and dad were driving on a highway here in California and it was one of those times, and you know what this is like, you’re driving and there’s not a word spoken between you and the person next to you because you’re deep in thought. A long time passes and mom knew that dad was deep in thought, two weeks before he passed away. Oh, I get choked up. But anyway, mom said, she goes, she told me this a couple of years ago, he died in 1994. She told me this a couple of years ago. She says. “You know on that drive, your dad said to me, he goes ‘so let me get this straight. I lost my company and closed it down so we could move to California, so Jim could marry Gretchen, so we could have two new granddaughters and we could be introduced to the Crystal Cathedral and we could get to join this great congregation.’ And my mom says ‘yep, that’s pretty much it.’ And dad said, ‘I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that. God is good. God had something better in mind for me than I had planned for myself.’” God had something better in mind for me then I had for myself. That, my friends, is Philippians 3:13, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching towards those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
So where are we at? We’ve got four points: check your attitude at the door, let your thinking become Christ’s thinking. Then be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard and work hard for somebody else. And the third part is: don’t be afraid of failure. God always has something in mind that’s better for you then you have for yourself.
And point number four is glorify God in all things. Philippians 4, verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” Wow! Rejoice in the Lord sometimes, nope. Rejoice in the Lord, when? Rejoice in the Lord when? Rejoice in the Lord always.
You know we just celebrated a Lakers winning, if you’re here in California, but in 2002 the Angels went to the World Series and game six was a crucial game. They had to win game six to get to game seven. And it was October 26th and I was handed two free tickets to that game and I wasn’t about to turn them down. And I took my daughter because it was her birthday. And we knew it was going to be a cold night because it had been cold, so we went out and got a couple of ski caps, made sure we were warm, had good jackets on. Went to the game and cheered because they won and eventually won the World Series. And then we found out the next day that those ski caps that we’d purchased at the store had lice. And you know what that’s like, people go to stores and they try on the cap and take it off and try on the cap and take it off. Well somebody obviously along the line, because it was around Halloween, had lice. Well I’d never heard of lice before. I knew it was in the Bible, it was one of the plagues of Egypt but I’d never dealt with it before. And I was like okay so well we’ll deal with this. Well week after week this was traumatic trying to get rid of these things. If you’ve never had them go out of this church today rejoicing that you’ve never had it.
But as we’re fighting through this, Sheila calls one day and she says to my wife, “Have you thanked God for the lice?” And I says, ‘I’m not talking to your sister anymore.’ And I go thank God for the lice? Thank God for one of the worse plagues of Egypt. I think it was number four or five; it was pretty early on the list. Thank God for the lice? We’re going to have struggles and lice is a very simple example. I’m thinking of people who have cancer. Who have had a traumatic fall and are hurting in a hospital right now. We prayed for somebody this morning like that. You know there’s a lot of difficult times that we’re going through but the bible doesn’t make disclaimers. That’s what’s interesting. Rejoice in the Lord except if you have cancer. Rejoice in the Lord except if you have heart disease or you’re lying in a hospital bed. All I see is rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice. He didn’t say it once but twice and this written by a man, Paul, who was sitting in prison chained to a guard. Think of a dirty filthy Roman prison two thousand years ago and Paul is writing the words rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. If he can do it, I can do it.
So what you need to do is when you go home, you need to sit down or kneel down, some of you need to kneel down because you’re going through some traumatic time. And you need to start saying rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. Lord, thank You for this circumstance. Lord, thank You for this trauma. Lord, thank You that my bank account is empty because You’re teaching me something. Lord, thank You that You’re going to bless me tomorrow because You promised me blessings. Whatever you’re going through, it doesn’t matter. Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.
So you can have a fantastic future and guess what: it’s your choice. It’s your choice. You can choose to check your attitude at the door and have your thinking become Christ centered thinking. You can choose to roll up your sleeves and work hard and work hard for somebody else. You can choose to not be afraid of failure and you can choose to glorify God in all things. Now how can you do that? That’s a tall order. You may walk out and say, man Jim, that’s tough. You can do it because there’s a promise right here in Philippians 4:13 and it says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That doesn’t say I can do some things, says I can do all things. Repeat it with me: I can do all things (AUDIENCE: I CAN DO ALL THINGS) one more time. I can do all things (AUDIENCE: I CAN DO ALL THINGS) through Christ (AUDIENCE: THROUGH CHRIST) who strengthens me (AUDIENCE: WHO STRENGTHENS ME). Do yourself a favor this week. Take this book of Philippians, it’s four chapters long, very short book in the bible. Read it, it will change your life.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, we do have a fantastic future thanks to Your guiding hand, thanks to Your guiding hand. The best future is in Your loving embrace and for someone listening right now who does not know Christ right now, simply say yes today. Yes, I believe in You, Jesus, as my personal Savior. I believe You died for me, for my sin. Forgive me Lord, for what I’ve done. I invite You Jesus to be Lord of my life. Take my life today and make it new, holy and acceptable to You. Lord, let us go out today with our possibility thinking caps on that we can do all things through You who give us strength. Hallelujah? Amen.