Thanking God for the Past; Trusting God for the Future
June 14, 2020
Sometimes it is hard to give thanks for the circumstances and people of our past. That’s not just true in the past three months, but it’s also true of life in general — illness, unexpected deaths, financial hardship (poverty), broken (destroyed) relationships, abuse of too many kinds, and disappointed dreams all combine to make us reticent to give thanks for the past. It just hurts too much.
Sometimes it is scary to look to the future (the past few weeks have likely made some of us cautious about thinking too much about what the future might be). Do you see a safer, more carefree, hopeful future for your children or grandchildren? Neither do I (at least not on this earth).
How will we respond to past hardships and anticipated future hardships? How will we deal with the past that we might rather not have had and a future we are dreading? We will give thanks for the past. We will ask God and trust for the future. What’s the relationship between gratitude and trust? Piper tells us —
…when gratitude for God’s past grace is strong, the message is sent that God is supremely trustworthy in the future because of what he has done in the past. In this way faith is strengthened by a lively gratitude for God’s past trustworthiness.…Gratitude for bygone grace is constantly saying to faith, “Be strong, and do not doubt that God will be as gracious in the future as I know he’s been in the past.” [John Piper, Future Grace.]
We don’t know what the future will bring, but we know that the One who has been sovereign over the past will always be sovereign in the future. He was trustworthy yesterday; He will be trustworthy tomorrow. To help us develop that theme, let’s turn to a familiar passage — Philippians 1:3-11. Here we will find —
For past grace, thank God; for future grace, ask God.
This morning we want to give thanks, and we want to demonstrate trust. We will do that by looking at Paul’s pattern for prayer as well as his specific prayer for the Philippians and then encouraging ourselves in our own circumstances.
1. Thanking God for the Past (vv. 3-8)
- Thank God for the People of the Past (v. 3)
- Thank God with Intentional, Joyful Prayer (v. 4)
- Thank God for the Gospel (v. 5)
- Thank God for Completed Sanctification (v. 6)
- Thank God for Fellowship (v. 7)
- Thank God for Holy Longings (v. 8)
2. Trusting God for the Future (vv. 9-11)
- Trust God for Abounding Love (v. 9a)
- Trust God for Discerning Love (v. 9b)
- Trust God for Vital Love (v. 10a)
- Trust God for Enduring Love (v. 10b)
- Trust God for Fruitful Love (v. 11a)
- Trust God for God-Glorifying Love (v. 11b)
Download the rest of this sermon on Philippians 1:3-11.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.