Our Future Hope

Week 1

Shannon Lovelady
Aug 5, 2018

The gospel is so much more than fixing your marriage. The Gospel is so much more than beating an addiction. The Gospel is letting go of self. It’s dying to self so that the one true King can have rein in my heart.
— Shannon Lovelady

Good morning! How are y'all doing this morning? It is hard to believe that football season's rolling around. School has started back. Two of my kids now live in a City Station housing up in the apartments, so it is weird. Natasha and I were there at the house last night. Micah actually came out and spent the night with Roger about eight and then it was just us. Kay-Kay was gone and it was like, what in the world is happening? We are old. It's official. It’s just kind of crazy how time just keeps ticking. It keeps rolling. 

I know there are preschool parents in here that are struggling. Are you all right? Are you good? Okay. Just want to make sure. City Station Preschool was doing the Open House Thursday. So we had parents that were crying and walking through here, but it's cool to see the ministry that God's doing here. It is. 

I heard it took some of you guys a while to find some parking spaces. Fall is back, right? So it's exciting to see what God is doing and what He's going to continue to do in this place. 

We're starting a new series this week called “Bear Fruit.” We've spent the bulk of the summer talking about who do we say that Jesus is, and we talked about that it matters who Jesus is because it shapes who we are and how we live. A few weeks ago I had a guy email me and he said, “Hey, I hear this, who Jesus is, and I keep hearing this Christ in me verbiage a lot.” He said, “Do me a favor. I think it would be good to teach on what does that really mean? Christ in me.” And so the good news is “Welcome.” That's what this next seven weeks is going to be about as we talk about bearing fruit. Jesus said, “A good tree doesn't bear bad fruit and a bad tree doesn't bear good fruit.” I say we're the same. That the Gospel and who Jesus is matters, and it transforms us. It changes us. Our lives should look different now that we know Jesus, than before we knew Jesus. 

If any of you guys have ever taken the “How People Change” class, or if you've heard me talk about the “How People Change” class, honestly, that's what this is going to be. We're going to do a large group class for the next seven weeks. Some of you guys just came out of that class. We had about forty people at the first service that had taken the “How People Change.” It's by a guy named Paul Tripp. I took that class about five years ago now and it just radically changed my life. It was a class on the Gospel and what the Gospel means and how we apply the Gospel to our lives. So I encourage you guys to take it. I think Jesse's going to be teaching another “How People Change” class coming up here in a few weeks. It's too late to register for the one Heath is teaching now, but this is kind of the DNA of who we are. We thought it was important as we roll into this fall that we talk about the Gospel and what it means for our everyday life. I don't know about you guys, but I struggle sometimes. If we're going to get through this morning, if we're going to get through this, we got to have honesty and transparency. So does anyone else in the room ever struggle? Alright, there we go. It's just reality that the Gospel is supposed to penetrate our everyday life. I know for me sometimes, it just feels like it doesn't. Sometimes life just gets tough. I hope that you guys will do a couple of things over the next seven weeks. 

Number one, and this is tough man, because I know fall’s kicking in and school schedules and all that kind of stuff. Here's what I want to challenge you for the next seven weeks. Commit to being here for the next seven weeks. All right? Now if you can't be here, I'll do another shameless plug for our app, for the online kind of stuff. Our sermons are online. You can go check those out. They're usually up by Tuesday at the latest online. But if you can't be here, do that. But I want to encourage you to do everything you can to be here. If you've ever been here before, you know I don't push that. I know that we're all going in a thousand directions, but I'm telling you, I'm challenging you. Be here for the next seven weeks because each week is going to build on the next. Today I hope it's just going to get our appetite going just a little bit for the Gospel and what God wants to do.  

Then I also want to challenge you to go home and do something with the information that we talk about on Sunday mornings. It's one thing to hear God's Word, and I believe when we hear God's Word, powerful things happen. I believe that for some of you guys sitting in this room this morning, you're going to hear the Gospel in ways that you've never heard the Gospel before. His Spirit is going to speak to you and I want to beg you, do something with that. When you leave these doors today, talk to your spouse about it, if you're married. If you’ve got kids, talk with your kids about it. If you’ve got a brother or sister in Christ, talk about what God is doing. You guys have asked about the restaurant and things and that's part of what that is. We want to encourage conversation. We want to encourage conversation around tables in your homes, in the classroom, at your kid's bed, wherever it might be, talk about it. I believe God is going to move, and I believe He's going to challenge you. I want to challenge you to do something with it. So can we go for that? Alright. Awesome. Alright, so I'm going to pray and then we're going to get into the Word together. 

God, thank you so much for your Word. I thank you that your Word is alive, that it's active, and that it is sharper than a two edged sword. So God our prayers are that you would speak to us as we're looking at several different passages this morning. God, we pray that your Spirit would speak loud and clear. I pray that you would get me out of the way because my words are meaningless, useless, mean nothing without your Spirit, God. I know that I am confused myself sometimes, so God, I pray that you would just speak in spite of me this morning. 

God, I know there are people in this room that desperately need to know the Good News of Jesus Christ and what you mean for them and in the life that it brings. So God, my prayer is just that they will let down their walls and allow your Spirit to call on them this morning. That they would answer that call. For those of us this morning, who have been walking in your grace, by your grace, by your good news, God, I pray that you would challenge us this morning, that you would encourage us, convict us. God, whatever you need to do in this place. We would just lay open our hearts and say, “God, take us. Use us, mold us, shape us.” Do only what you can do by your Spirit, through your Word. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

So how many parents do we have in the room? Parents? Anyone? Alright. I've got five kids. If you know my story, you know that my oldest three are adopted. I adopted them as teenagers later on in life. And then my youngest two are my biological kids. I remember Aidan was born on August 22, 2000. He was not only the first child in my immediate family, but he was the first grandchild. Anybody else have the first grandchildren? So you know, they're usually spoiled brats. You understand how this works. Aidan was that guy. I love you, but you know it was true. So Aidan was that kid and the next Christmas rolled around. You first time parents know how this works. You guys will see, you know how this works. It’s ridiculous. So Christmas rolls around and you're going to go to Toys R Us. You're going to do that thing and it's like I need the newest coolest toy. 

Which by the way, I’ve got to admit that I'm a little jealous of toys nowadays. They didn't have some of the cool stuff that they have for your kids now. But you're going to go to Toys R Us. You buy the nicest presents. All the grandparents buy all these crazy toys that are just over the top. It’s Christmas Eve and the parents can't sleep. The grandparents can't sleep because you're anticipating that morning where you get to spoil your kid to death. You've wrapped up all the presents. You’ve done all these things. I'll never forget it. We had all the presents under the tree. Christmas morning finally comes. We bring all the presents and set them down in front of our toddler who's not even toddling yet. Then you’ve got your six month old sitting there Christmas morning. We sit them down in front of him and we're feeling like “Isn't this wonderful?” He looks at them like “I don't know what to do with this!” 

So, of course, as parents, we help them tear the wrapping paper off the box. Then we go, “Wow, isn't this thing amazing? Aidan?” You know how this goes. What does the baby do? Somebody help me out. Right, he played with the paper. They play with the paper and so you find out as a young parent, and here's a word of advice, young parents, just get your kids some wrapping paper. It'll be fine. That's all you’ve got to do. You will save yourself a ton of money. Just get some wrapping paper and throw it in front of them. Let them go to town. You will save yourself thousands of dollars at least for a couple of years. 

I feel like in the American church especially, that's what we do with grace. You guys hear me talk about grace. You hear me talk about the Gospel every single Sunday and I will do that from now until Jesus comes back because there's one thing that matters. Church, what is it? It's the Gospel. It's Christ and Him crucified and now alive in us. I will continue to talk about that every single Sunday. But the reality is that I think most of us as American Christians treat grace much like Aidan or our babies treat that fancy present and the wrapping paper. We have this incredible, amazing, unreal, just undeserved gift that God has given us, but we would rather just play with the wrapping paper a little bit. We don't dive fully into what God's grace means. We don't fully understand what God's grace means. We don't when we don't grasp the entirety of the Gospel and the Good News and the grace of Jesus Christ. I think as American Christians, the reality is we understand that it's by God's grace, by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the price that He paid for our sin in His resurrection. 

We understand that that gets us to heaven. But I believe that American Christians stop there more times than not, and so we don't understand the Gospel. We don't understand grace. We don't understand how it applies to our everyday life. Why do we do that? Because I think the American church believes that the Gospel is just about what happens after we die. Therefore, if we really truly believe that the Gospel is just about what happens to us after we die, then as the American church, generally speaking, we treat the ministry of the Gospel as a Sunday morning thing. I mean we do. If we’re good Christians, then we treat the ministry of the Gospel as a Sunday morning thing, and we might go to some elective class, you know, on a Tuesday night or a Women's Bible Study on a Monday morning. But at the end of the day, the Gospel doesn't truly penetrate our lives as the church. 

So what does the Gospel mean? How does it penetrate our lives? What is the Gospel supposed to do? If you have your Bible, open up to 2 Peter 1. We're going to look at verses three through nine for a little bit together. Again, I hope that today just whets your appetite a little bit for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and understanding grace and how His grace truly transforms who we are because you better believe I am not the same person twenty years later that I was twenty years ago. It’s by God's grace! 

Listen to what Peter tells the church here in 2 Peter 1:3. It says “By His divine power, God has given us…” What? What's it say? Church come on now, say it like you mean it. By His divine power, God has given us what? Everything! Everything we need, not some things, not a little bit of things, not most things, not just about all things, not ninety-nine point nine percent of things. But by WHO's divine power? Help me out. Who's divine power? By God's divine power, not by your strength, not by your understanding, not by your works, not by anything you can comprehend, but by His divine power, God has given us… help me out. Everything! Everything we need for what? What does it say? To live a godly life.

What!? So you're telling me that this says, by God's divine power, I have been given everything I need to live a godly life. We all raised our hands a minute ago and said we’ve got struggles, right? Sure, we got struggles, man. We got addictions, we got shortcomings, we got selfishness, we got failures, we got struggles. But if we truly believe what this says and I guess we need to clarify that first, Church. Children of the most High God, Followers of Jesus Christ, do you BELIEVE what this says? Come on now, I mean for real, because if we don't truly believe, if we are not confident in what this says, if we don't believe what this says, honestly, we just need to pack it up and go home because this is a grand waste of time. 

I'm dead serious when I say that. I'm not doing that for dramatic effect. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. We can have the most motivational speaker in the world up here. We can have Billy Graham himself up here, but if we don't believe what the Word of God says, if we don't believe that this is true and that this is life and that this is the inspired Word of God, then it means nothing, and everything we're about to talk about is empty! So Church Follower of Jesus Christ, Child of the Most High King, do you believe that this is the Word of God? Do you believe it's true? Then we have been given everything… by whose power? God's power. I mean you understand that, right, Follower of Christ, right? Child of the Most High King, you understand that you have God Almighty living in you. I mean that's the Gospel. That's the truth of the Gospel. 

But I know that you don't feel like it. I know that before you came in this place this morning, I know that you were frustrated because you were in a line of cars going around the building and thinking, I knew we shouldn't have come to this stupid church. Right? It's ridiculous. I know you don't feel very godly, but you need to understand that if you are saved, if you are a Child of the Most High King, then you are a follower of Jesus Christ by His divine power, and His nature now lives in you. 

You will see in just a little bit His nature that lives in you provides you with everything you need to live a life of godliness. That means you don't have to be that same husband. You don't have to be that same way. If you don't have to be that same employer. You don't have to be that same employee. Listen to what He says you have been given. Everything you need for living a godly life. We received all this. How? By coming to know him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence! and because of His glory and excellence. Again, make sure that we're crystal clear on this. It's not by your works. It's not by my works. It's not by my words, it's not anything that I can do so that we can boast. It's by Jesus and His grace and His grace alone. It's a matter of fact. Turn to your neighbor and say, “It is by His grace, that I'm saved.” Go ahead and do that. That's it. Period. End of discussion. But I'm telling you, His grace goes way deeper than that. His grace is transforming grace and He says, so listen now that you understand what He says, “Because of His glory and His excellence, He has given us great and precious promises.” 

Check this out. Imagine as I'm reading this, forget all the other three hundred churches in Carroll County for a second, but what if Southern Hills Christian Church, this place right here, that's it, let's not shoot for the moon, but just what if this place truly understood that by His divine power, we have been given everything we need to live a godly life? It's His gift and He's given us great and precious promises. Listen, these are the promises that enable you to share in His divine nature. You understand that right? We share in the divine nature of God Himself. 

What's that mean? It's Galatians 2:20. It's the gospel. Paul says, “I've been crucified with Christ.” It's no longer Paul that lives. It's no longer Shannon that lives. I have been crucified. I have laid down my life. I have death to Shannon so that Christ can live. “It's no longer me that lives but Christ who now lives in me. The life I live in the body comes from trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Because that scripture says that I have become the righteousness of God. Do you hear that? And you need to understand, some of you guys have had conversations with me before and you go, what? Righteous? Hang on, you've been made, right. You're holy, you're forgiven, you're justified like you're a child of the most high God. Shannon, I've heard you. No, you need to understand positionally, I have been made right. I'm holy, I'm pure. I AM the righteousness of God. I share in His divine nature. Why again? Because of His grace and the Gospel. And when I understood His grace and when I received that grace and when I grabbed hold of His grace, the good news of Jesus Christ, I laid down my life. 

I understood that life was never meant to be about me in the first place and that's why it always came up empty. Everything that I was chasing, it always came up empty because I tried to make myself my own God. So I crucified myself, so that Christ and His divine nature in me could now live. So that God's doing something. Imagine if the our entire church lived this out. He says, so in view of all this, “Make every effort to respond to God's promises.” Here we go. What's our response? “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” Man, doesn't that sound great?  Forget Southern Hills. What if just your home looked like that. If I had to bet on it, half the problems that we've thrown up in there are related to work or money or family or addiction. What if in those circumstances, I mean do you hear that? These are the promises that He's given us, so what do we do? “Supplement our faith with moral excellence, moral excellence with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness which leads to brotherly affection and love for everyone.” Can you imagine if that was the church you were talking about? What His grace, what the Gospel really means, what if that was how it was really carried out? 

Then he goes on to verse eight and he says, “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful, you will be…” In the church, right? Is that what he says? He says, the more you grow like this and more productive and useful, you'll be…” In your family, right? Is that what he says? The more productive and useful you’ll be…” For the kingdom, is that what he says? No. What’s he say? He says, “The more you grow in your understanding of this,” he says, "the more productive and useful you will be…” In what? “Your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What's the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ that we serve? A God that loves us so much that He came and He took my pornography. He took my addiction. He took my rage. He took everything, all my insecurities, all my selfishness. He took it to the Cross and He became sin so that Shannon could become the righteousness of God. And he says, the more I grow in my faith, the more I understand that. It’s not about acting better, it's not about being better, it's not about saying the right thing, it’s not about learning more scripture, it’s about understanding my identity in Christ which we talked about last week. 

The good news of Jesus Christ and it goes way beyond, hear me church, it goes way beyond what happens after you die. Jesus said, He came that we might have life and have it to the full. We might have life and have it more abundantly. So how does that work in our families and our workplace and why doesn't it work sometimes? Verse nine, listen to what he says. He said, “But those who fail to develop…” In other words, those who fail to develop in this way, who fail to continue to grow in their faith, but  those who just pray a prayer, jump in a baptismal tub, whatever it might be, those who just fail to develop stay stagnant. Listen to what he says. Here's why they stay stagnant. “Because they're short sided and they're blind.” What's it say? “Forgetting,” they've forgotten. They've been cleansed from their old ways but since have forgotten the gospel. They've forgotten grace. 

They don't understand, and so they look no different today than they did twenty years ago when they gave their life to Christ at that camp. Their marriage looks no different five years later than it did when they came to counseling five years ago, because they've forgotten their identity. They've forgotten who they are in Christ. So what happens when we forget, it leads to the American church, in my opinion. When we forget who we are in Christ, we forget that we've been forgiven. We forget that God has called us to continue to grow, we forget that God is doing a work in us and He won't stop when we forget that our identity is now Christ! It's no longer Shannon that He's called to a new life. He's called me to a better life. He's called me to a more full life. When we forget that, we get stuck doing Christian stuff instead of radical heart change. Instead of radical heart surrender, and, honestly, I think that's where the Christian church is and where the American churches have landed today. Then it leads to things like formalism. 

What's formalism? It means that Sunday morning in Carrollton, Georgia at 9:15AM or 11:00AM, we're supposed to go to church.  Or it leads to legalism which says, you better be good at keeping rules. Here's the do’s, here's the don'ts. That's what I’ve got to do. Or it leads to mysticism. 

So you guys have heard me say this before, it’s reducing the gospel to a feeling, and again, let me be clear when I say this. One of my pet peeves is when somebody tells me when they come in here on a Sunday morning, and I know their intentions, I know their hearts are good in it, but it drives me nuts when somebody tells me that the Holy Spirit was at church this morning because I want to go, REALLY? Because I was at church this morning and if I believe the Gospel, my identity is now Christ crucified and now alive in me and His Holy Spirit indwells in me. You better believe the Holy Spirit was in church this morning. It had nothing to do with whether anybody raised their hands. It had nothing to do with how good the music was. It had nothing to do with how good the lights are. Again, I'm not saying those things are bad, but the Holy Spirit is here. Whether I cry or not isn't dependent on whether the Holy Spirit was here or not. I mean, I've cried at a Guns and Roses concert. Seriously. Axel Rose just moved me. I've held my hand up at a Guns and Roses concert. For some of you young folks, we used to have to do it with a lighter. You couldn't do your cell phone. Don't ask why I had a lighter. Trust me, the Holy Spirit was not there. Totally different feeling. 

But if we're not careful when you’ve reduced the Gospel to a feeling, if we're not careful, we reduce the Gospel to activism and that activism means we got to tell the whole world about what we're against! Go march and protest. As a matter of fact, I have to say this, one of my pet peeves is when I see Christians marching around the abortion clinic, stop. Just stop. I believe the only reason we've become activists is because it makes us feel better about the things that we don't struggle with. How many guys are willing to reach out to that mom who's found herself broken, just like we all are, and don't misunderstand me, I support the Pregnancy Resource Center. I believe in life. I believe abortion is a sin. I believe sitting in this room, there are dozens of women and husbands who have experienced abortion. Thank God for His grace. If we're not careful, we reduce the Gospel to telling the world what we're for and what we're against. If we're not careful, we have reduced the Gospel to our knowledge of the Bible. If I know enough verses, if I can quote enough scripture, if I can tell enough stories, if I can sound intelligent enough, that's the gospel. 

Here at Southern Hills, if we're not careful, we’ll reduce the gospel down to how we can get you in a better situation. How we can help you get out of your circumstances, to psychology, to counseling. I mean, you guys hear me talk about Soul Care every single week and I believe that we are called to walk each other out, but the gospel is so much more than fixing your marriage. The Gospel is so much more than beating an addiction. If we're not careful, we turn the gospel when we forget who we are in Christ and we forget what the Gospel is all about. We turn the gospel into socialism. Just be the town where we can come and share everything we have and be together. Now as I'm doing this, I see some of you guys even kind of cock your head a little bit and go, what? What’s wrong with all that? Anybody got any ideas? What's wrong with all that? I mean because there's truth to all of those things. There's aspects of those things that are good things, but at the core of all of those things, you know what's there at the core of all of those things… I am. Self! 

Again, to be crystal clear, the Gospel is letting go of self. It’s dying to self so that the one true king can have rein in my heart. So if we're not careful, we come to places like this and we preach a Christless Christianity. It looks good on the surface, but at the end of the day, there's nothing in here. And so how does the Gospel applies to our lives? We've got to get down to what's in here. What is it that we truly crave? If you guys held a mirror up to yourself, what would your life truly reflect? What does your life reflect? 

Aidan said I could share this story, so don't get mad at me.  I remember when Aidan was in eighth grade and started playing lacrosse, he loved it. He was at Carrollton, their first year having a team, so he made the JV team as an eighth grader and then ninth grade rolled around. We were having a conversation, I want to say in the kitchen, if I remember right, but we were having a conversation. Aidan goes, “Dad, I'm going to be a Duke Lacrosse player when I graduate from high school.” He said, “That's what I'm shooting for. That's what I want to do.” So I do what any good father would do. I just kind of laughed at him and said, “Really?   Do you want to be a Duke Lacrosse player?" He says, “Yeah! They've got an incredible Lacrosse team and obviously it's a great school. That’s what I'm going to do. I want to be a Duke Lacrosse player.” I  say, “You’re going to be a Duke Lacrosse player?” He says, “Yeah, that’s what I want to do.” I said, “No, you don’t." He was like, “Yes, Dad, I do. I'm telling you, that's what I want to do, be a Duke Lacrosse player.” I said, “No, you don’t." He said, “Why do you keep saying that?” I answered, “You don't want to be a Duke Lacrosse player." He said, “Dad, stop!” He got mad. This was bad parenting by the way, but he got mad at this point. I said, “Why are you getting mad?” He said, “Well, why? I'm telling you I want to be a Duke Lacrosse player and you keep saying, ‘No you don’t.’” I said, “Well, I'm saying you don’t, because I don't believe you. You can say it all day long, but if you wanted to be a Duke Lacrosse player, I wouldn't have to tell you to go work out. I wouldn't have to make you go lift weights. I wouldn't have to ask you, ‘Did you run today?’ I wouldn't have to ask you. ‘Are you doing wall ball? Both hands. Use your left hand right hand left hand or are you doing that?’ I wouldn't have to beg you to do that. I wouldn't have to check power school and go, ‘Why do you have zeros?’ I wouldn't have to do any of those things.” I said, “The reality is, Aidan, you don't want to be a Duke Lacrosse player.” I said, “Because your future hope determines how you live today, and if your future hope is that you want to be a Duke Lacrosse player, then it changes how you live today.” He wanted to make sure that I share this part with y’all, that by the time he got to 10th grade, he realized that his future was to be a D three lacrosse player or that he would just go to West Georgia. And so he’s done that. He's a smart kid, but it's a growing process. And eighth grade, for the record, his future hope was he wanted to be at Stanford, he said. Then he researched the admissions. Um, you know, requirements and he changed his mind. 

But, guys, as Christians, what’s our future hope? We have such a greater future hope, don't we? I mean, listen to what Philippians 1:3-6 says. I love this. Paul writes to the church at Philippi. He says, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God,” he says, “whenever I pray, I make my request for all of you known, with joy for my partners and spreading the good news about Christ from the time that you first heard it, until now,” Listen what he says in verse six. Here’s our future hope believer. He says, “I'm certain that God who began the good work in you, who began a good work in you, did you listen? Did you? I had a guy asked me after the first service, he said, “So how do I beat addiction?” I said, “You don’t." I was a raging porn addict. All I cared about was what woman I could be with. I was an alcoholic. I was a rage monster. If I didn't get my way, man, I would unleash on anyone with a temper like you would not believe. I tried to beat that for years. I couldn’t. Then God began a good work in me. He says, “I'm certain that God who began the good work within you, he'll do…” What? He'll continue his work here. This church here, this believer, he will continue his work until it's finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 

See, He's changing you. He's transforming. What's your future hope, Church? It's that God's not done with you. That day you surrendered your life to Christ, this good work began and He's just starting. I am not who I was twenty years ago. I'm not who I was last week and I hope tomorrow I'm not who I am today, and the beautiful thing is, is that nature, that Jesus nature, that scripture promised us, that’s who I am. The beauty is it is starting to become more of who I actually look like, so, positionally, I was made holy and righteous and chosen, an adopted love. Immediately. That's it, and some of you guys need to hear that this morning. That's done. The price has been paid. That's over, but as I'm walking this out and I daily say, Lord, crucify me so that Christ can live, crucify me so that Christ can live. 

God, my wife, you know, God, that she does these things that get on my nerves, so kill me so that Christ can live. I mean, let's be real. I mean life is full of curve balls. Life is full of people that will annoy you and some of them live under your own roof. Life is full of hiccups and heartache and pain, and we choose to walk out and say, “Lord, make me more like you. You promised to begin this work in me and that you're going to complete it. You're transforming me. You're changing me into your image.”  Listen to what 1 John 3 says. “This is our other future. Hope.” He says, “See how very much our father loves us? He calls us His Children. That's what we are, but the people who belong to the world, don’t recognize that we're God's children because they don't know Him. Dear friends, we are already God's children here. Turn to your neighbor and say, “I'm already God's child.” Say it, believe it. I mean you are. I know you don't feel like it. I know that’s your neighbor. You might have unleashed on them before he got here, but I need you to understand you are chosen. You are a child of the most high king. 

Then he says, “Dear friends, we’re already God's children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears, but we do know.” Check this out, man.” We will be like Him for we'll see Him as He truly is, and all those who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure. Just as Jesus is pure, He is transforming us. He is shaping us into His image. My question for you this morning is, what's your future? What's your future hope? And I know as I'm sitting here, some of you guys are going to go. That my children will grow up to be godly children. Can I tell you something right now? Hear me, wrong future hope. I know it has a semblance of godliness. But it's the wrong future. 

Your future hope, Christ Followers, is that Jesus Christ has saved you. He's changing and He's asking you today to lay down your life so that He can live. Here’s the beauty of me laying down my life so that He can live. The beauty is that my children may actually become very godly children, for they have a father who lays down his life so that Christ can live. Your future hope is that my marriage will be fixed, wrong future hope. Is your future hope Christ and Him crucified now alive in you and Him changing you and shaping you in His promise of completion in you? Not in your wife, not in your kids, not in your workplace, not in your church, but in you? Is He molding and shaping you more into HIs image? If it's not, I'm telling you, no matter how godly it appears and we listed all those things, no matter how godly it may appear, it will come up short. Why? Because you're at the center of it and you were never meant to be at the center of it. Crucify yourself, lay down your life so that Christ can live. 

Write these questions down really quickly. Then we're going to be done. I want you to take these home for homework this week. First question is, “Do you feel hopeless? Do you feel hopeless?” My challenge to you will be, I believe if you feel hopeless, then you have the wrong future hope. Number two, “What hopes, goals, dreams are giving direction to your life? What hopes, and goals, and dreams are giving direction to your life?” Be honest with yourself this week. Talk to your spouse about this, this week and if it's not Christ and Him transforming you, if that's not your future hope, but if that's not your future hope, if that's not at the center of who you are, I want you to ask yourself “What’s hijacking that hope? What's high jacking those dreams?” Because anything less than Christ and His transformation in you, is a false hope. It'll fall short. 

I want you to come back next week. We're going to start getting into the nitty gritty. Get down to the heart of what God is doing and how He wants to transform us and where that power comes from. I'm going to pray for you guys and if you need somebody to pray with you, talk with you, leave with you this morning. Maybe you need somebody to walk this out with you for a season. I would beg you to consider coming over and talking with us. I'll be over there and some other folks will be over there. My main thing is just don't leave here today without going, “You know what? I'm going to do something with this.”

 God, thank you for your Word. Thank you for your Gospel. Thank you for the life that it brings, God. We thank you for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. God. We ask your forgiveness when that hope gets hijacked by other things that may seem godly but are anything less than Christ and Him crucified and alive in us. God help us to walk out our salvation, God. My prayers in our families, and our homes, and our workplace, here at Carrollton, at University of West Georgia, technical college, God, wherever it may be, God, our prayer is that your kingdom would come and that it would come in our lives and that we would carry that out into a world that needs you around us. In Jesus' name. Amen.