CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE?

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Lady Reading Crystal Ball

 

As we look forward to the New Year, most of us hope for something better. Many make New Year’s resolutions—hoping that their behavior will be better in some significant way. When we look back a year, we might wonder whether 2013 was better than 2012. If anything, the situation in the Middle East was worse with more conflict and no solution to the continuing slaughter in Syria. Conflicts in many African nations have increased. The federal debt in the United States increased: 2012, 16 trillion; 2013, 17 trillion. Many of the divisions that we have in the United States seem to have sharpened rather than lessened.

However, in our families and homes things may be different. Some may be healthier than they were in the previous year. Perhaps for the majority, things are about the same. In a nation of 317 million, how many lottery winners did we have last year? As we look forward to the future, we know that there are uncertainties. We may be surprised by good news or devastated by bad news. Our health may be very good or we may become seriously ill. Promises made to us may be fulfilled—and some not.

In contrast to the uncertainties in many areas of life, our Savior gives us a positive perspective. We are all created in the image of God. We are all loved by God. If we will allow it, we all have a purpose in life. And if we are trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior we have many wonderful promises. Let us consider some of them as we look forward to the new year:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war nay more.” (Isaiah 2:3,4)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

“And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and rase your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27,28)

The future is in God’s hands: if we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior, we are, for sure, in God’s hands.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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HOW TO HANDLE DISCOURAGEMENT

by Foster Shannon

Pastor, Educator, Writer, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Sports Fan

 

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never…” Winston Churchill

All of us get discouraged at times. Are you looking forward to the new year with confidence and hope—or with discouragement? At some times discouragement is hard to avoid, but some people allow themselves to get deeply discouraged, and end up in a slough of despond.

Common causes of discouragement:

  • Your investments do not pan out
  • Your hopes for your children are not realized
  • 
You lose your job
  • You don’t feel good
  • You have been criticized
  • Things don’t work out
  • Someone that you have looked up to—disappoints you

We need to recognize that though discouragement is normal—we should not entertain it! Discouragement can result when we attempt something and fail. Discouragement inclines you to quit—to give up. Discouragement comes when someone talks you out of something that you thought would be good to do. (“Some people die with the music still in them”) Discouragement comes when we recognize that our abilities are not up to the challenge. Excessive expectations can lead to discouragement. We need to recognize that some things may be beyond our reach. Excessive desires can lead to discouragement

Many people, both Christian and non-Christian look out at a world that is violent, evil, hateful, selfish—and ask why does God not do something about it? We may question God’s authority. We even begin to blame God for our misfortune. Discouragement can lead to rebellion against God: “He let me down. He did not help me.” We blame others for the plight that we are in. Disappointment can lead to Discouragement to Despair to Bitterness—and even Hatred. Despair: to lose or abandon hope; to become hopeless; to lose faith. We must not take the path of despair. There are many things that we can be afraid of. Fear is normal. Through faith and determination we overcome fear. Moby Dick, Starbuck, the chief mate of the Pequod: “I will have no man in my boat,” said Starbuck, “who is not afraid of a whale.”

God helps us. Some of us may be too finely tuned. We may expect too much, and find disappointed and discouragement. We can be hard on ourselves—expecting or desiring too much.

Psalm 62:1,2, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.”

I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

II Corinthians 2:14, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

Foster H. Shannon

 

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

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More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.