“Future Ready: All You Have Is Now”

We celebrated our 25th Anniversary and started a new series called Future Ready at Gateway Church in Austin.

You can’t change your past, but you can create the future. You have been given one life. How are you going to make it count?

Digging Deeper:

Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner,  life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

Spoken Word and Message Video:

Message Notes by Carlos Ortiz:

All you have is now. One life. One chance. You cannot change what has happened and you cannot predict what will come. All you have is this moment right NOW.

There comes a time in all of our lives when we get the opportunity to decide how the future will look.  We recognize our past wins and losses, we’re confronted with a current reality, all the while dreaming of a glorious future. Some famous people we know had some infamous decisions to make: 

  • John Lennon had to decide what to do with the Yoko Ono and the Beatles
  • Michael Jordan had decide if baseball was his new passion
  • Frodo Baggins had to decide if he would carry the ring to Mordor 
  • Ice Cube had to decide his future with NWA
  • Garth Brooks had to decide if he would stay Chris Gaines
  • Whitney Houston had to decide if she would marry Bobby Brown
  • John Burke had to decide – soul patch or no soul patch and Carlos Ortiz had to decide mustache or no mustache. (Pics of John Burke with Soul Patch and Carlos with mustache)
  • And most recently…  Belly had to decide on Conrad or Jeremiah  (Gen Z reference to “Summer I Turned Pretty)

These cultural icons had to make these decisions that really have no consequences for us, but scripture is filled with people who had to make a decision that had an eternal spiritual impact even to this day:

  • Rahab (the prostitute) had to decide if she would help hide two spies and change the trajectory of her family and a nation
  • Moses had to decide if his past would keep him from leading people into freedom
  • Saul had to decide if his past mistakes would keep him from being a radical follower of Jesus
  • Jesus’ agony is on display as he decides to move forward faithfully in the garden of gethsemane, and towards the cross of shame for our salvation

We too make these kinds of decisions…on a daily basis!  The truth is 

You can’t change your past, but you can help create the future.

The great C.S. Lewis puts it this way

You have been given one life. How are you going to make it count? 

We do recognize that most of us are not going to make the most of it at all times.  

There are seasons, maybe even decades, of life that we might squander in order to hide from our pain, or we endeavor to conquer and take ground in business, law, medicine, and technology. 

But inevitably we come to a tipping point, a place where something has to give, we recognize that we fumbled away some opportunities, some time, some money, and yet, new opportunities show themselves and we GET TO make up for all that was lost. 

Last week we spoke about Moses and how he was in the desert for 40 years. 

And rather than learn to trust God and his timing and his command Israel disobeys and has been going in circles for 40 years. 

A journey that should have only taken 2 weeks has taken them 2 generations. 

But as we pick up this story it’s time for Joshua, the new leader, to lead people into the land promised by God.

Joshua 1:1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— 4 from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.

So the first thing about fully chasing after a new dream of a future, is our need to understand this:

Understand Your Past

There’s a lot of baggage that you accumulate over 40 years, good and bad. 

Israel couldn’t deny there was a rough history of mistrust, idol worship, and disobedience. Just like you and I. But now they had a decision to make

When faced with shame from our past and fear of the future the reminder for us is to BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.

As a church we celebrate the faithfulness of God over the last 25 years (just as Israel celebrated God’s faithfulness over those 40 years, it wasn’t all bad of course). 

As we celebrate 25 years as a church, where are you in our story? 

  • Some of you helped Gateway get started! 
  • Anyone here been with Gateway since the years in the synagogue or even before the synagogue? 
  • How many of you started coming in the early days of the building in North Austin? 
  • How many of you started with us at the South Austin campus when we were at Covington Middle School? 
  • Or at Crockett H.S.? 
  • In this building before the pandemic? 
  • Since the pandemic?

My family and I have been here for 12 years and 9 months. In fact, I have now lived in Austin longer than any other city I have ever lived in my entire life!

My family and I have grown so much in our faith through this church family!

We have so much to be grateful for as part of a church family that is made up of faithful people who have given their time, talent, and treasure so that we could have what we have today! 

Just this past week, I shared with the South Staff how I feel like God is doing something new in us and among us and through us. We aren’t trying to get back to the glory days before the pandemic. We helped send out a core group of people to start our Central Austin campus, another core group to start our Buda campus, and 3 families to start our Pflugerville campus! We now have a vibrant community in Dripping Springs we hope to see become a campus as well. We celebrate all these things, and we cannot just live off the fumes from our past. 

God wants to do something new! 

We cannot live there, we can’t stay stuck in our past.

We know we cannot live there, we can’t stay there. 

Joshua 3:5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”

Too many of us look back, wondering what could have been, wondering if we made the right decisions…..

There is time for looking back….a time for understanding our past……but we can stay there too long if we’re not careful…..leading to regret….

Look…..We can make anything make sense to us.… even when it doesn’t to everyone else…..However, a better approach is to not look back on past decisions, in regret… regardless of what they are…. Those events are sealed and done……

Looking back in regret….didn’t turn out well for Lot’s Wife…..

“The angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Thus he overthrew those cities (Sodom and Gomorrah) and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:15-17;25-26

This is the lesson….Don’t look back in regret…..

We can Examine our lives to understand the past…..but we MUST…. live our lives looking and moving forward….

Something to think about is this “Are you living from yesterday to today? Or are you living from today to tomorrow?” We don’t know what tomorrow holds….but we can prepare for it anyway!

Purify the Present

In order to be Future Ready and walk in the destiny God has for you, for us, there’s going to be a moment where you step up and make a concentrated decision that says, “I’m not going back.” Come hell or highwater I’m going to follow Jesus.

There’s a famous song that has been sung all over the Christian world about this very thing.  I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back!”  The song is attributed to several people, Sadhu Sundar Singh and Simon Malak are two of those people, but one thing they all have in common is that it was written in the region of Assam, India, a northeast state of the country.  It’s a simple song, with a simple message and declaration, I can’t go back to who I used to be!!

Notice the simplicity and power of acknowledging the past and preparing in the present for a glorious future. 

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow,
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
The world behind me, the cross before me,
No turning back, no turning back

These words were penned and sung after much heartache and loss.  The people of this region knew death, and loss, and still chose to stay faithful to Jesus.

Where do you consecrate (set aside and declare) your life, your family, your decisions to be in line with God?

The second part of Joshua 3:5 says, “God will do miracles among you”

They crossed the Jordan and the waters parted, a call back to the Red Sea for a new generation. 

The truth is that we do not do these things to get something from God, but we do position ourselves, and align ourselves with God, and when that begins to happen, God makes the impossible possible. 

Where are we making ourselves ready for God to do something pretty incredible in our lives?!

What have you been believing for, but really haven’t positioned yourself in a way that reflects your belief that it will happen?  

Joshua 4:1 When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’” 4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

Fuel the Future

  • Reverence for God

We fuel the future by having a holy reverence and awe for who God is, and continues to be in our lives.  When we Fear (deep awe and reverence) God we position ourselves to live life according to his ways. Scripture is so full of verses as the result of Fearing/Reverencing God.

Singing is the easiest form of worship.

An awareness of how great God is and allowing Him to be the Only One you worship, the Only One you fear (not scared of Him but willing to trust Him completely even if that means forgiving someone who doesn’t ask for forgiveness because you know you’ve been forgiven, etc..

 Here’s just 1: Psalm 128

1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord,   who walk in obedience to him. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;   blessings and prosperity will be yours.3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;  your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Yes, this will be the blessing  for the man who fears the Lord.

  • Radical Obedience

There’s a God who goes before us, and guides us towards his perfect will. Standing in the middle of a river makes NO SENSE. Many times the things God asks of you will make no sense. They will be counter-cultural, require courage, and will definitely go beyond our comfort zone. But on the other side of obedience is favor and even the Miraculous.

  • Remember God’s work

We are to share, pass down, the great works of God, works that only those who experienced first hand could fully understand. 

This past month all of Gateway have featured videos from Gateway South volunteers who have served so faithfully along with so many of you!

  • Raise a new generation

There is no future without the next generation. We say often here they are not the church of tomorrow, they’re the church of right now. 

Psalm 78 like other Psalms and places in the Bible summarizes God’s leading the people of Israel through the desert into the promised land, but check out these verses. 

1 My people, hear my teaching;  listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children

There’s an anticipation that God is preparing his people to step into a literal river, but also step into a new form of legacy, one that reveres God as a God of multiple generations and one who does miracles because this group of leaders 

So how will you take a step into the future today? 

Maybe there’s some things from your past holding you back and God is saying you don’t live there anymore. Maybe you’re still holding on to the wins from the past and that’s great, but God is saying you can’t STAY THERE, “I want to do a new thing.”

As we go in this closing song will you stand with us? 

You’ll hear a familiar song and you’ll see moments from Gateway’s past and present. And our hope is that you will make a decision with us to help build the Future.

Not in our own strength. Faces change, people come and go, things look different, but what the Lord is building will last forever. So let’s declare, God it’s all about you, and however you want to use us, we say “Yes”.

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