Dear Future Me

Pastor Jon Enter

Worship Theme: Dear Future Me

First Lesson: Malachi 3:1-7b (NIV)
Second Lesson & Sermon Text: Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Gospel : Luke 3:1-6 (NIV)

  • O, Come, O Come, Emmanuel
  • Second Grade: Prepare the Royal Highway
  • CW 11: Comfort, Comfort All My People
  • CW 16: On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry

Message Notes & Growth Group Questions

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Message: Dear Future Me

Pastor Jon Enter

There is a great Christian song by the band MercyMe. The song’s called “Dear Younger Me”; you can easily guess from the title the song’s focus. The powerful lyrics are what these seasoned Christians would tell their younger selves how to navigate life back then now that they know better how the world works and the power of Christ.

If you could sit your younger self down and you would’ve actually listened (there’s the real problem), what would you tell yourself? What advice would you give? What do you know now that you wish you knew then? I’d tell my five year old self, “You don’t need to circle 155 things in the Sears catalog for Christmas!” I’d tell my 10 year old self, “It’s not a good idea to jump off the roof into a tire.” I’d tell my 15 year old self, “No! You are not in loooooove. You think you’re in love but you don’t know what love is.” What would you tell yourself?

Sadly, we can’t go into the past to talk with ourselves. We don’t have the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’s time-traveling phone booth from that classic 1990’s movie. We can’t talk to our past self. But we can talk to our future self. This is what we are going to tell our future selves: The past is the past: learn from it. The future is ahead: prepare for it. The present is here: live in it.

That’s our goal as we talk to our future selves as we study Ephesians 4:22-24. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life [PAST], to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds [PRESENT]; and to put on the new self [FUTURE], created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Years ago, I attended a Youth Leaders Conference. Creative and powerful ideas were shared on how to connect youth more closely to Jesus. One idea was to have high school seniors write a letter to their future selves in college. They warned themselves about straying away from regular worship and Bible study and wrote out their life goals as well. They sealed the envelopes, wrote their names on them and the youth leader held them for a year and mailed them out to them one month into their time at college. How creative! How faith impacting!

That youth leader had us write a letter to our future selves. We sealed them, wrote our names on them and handed them back. One year later, a letter arrived in the mail. It was powerful to read through my goals and warnings to myself. It was rather life changing to see my own words uplifting me and challenging me!

Today you’re going to write a letter to your future self. As we walk through Ephesians 4, you’ll write about letting go of your past, promise to be content and at peace in your present and make goals for your future. Be open and honest and transparent with yourself. You are the only one who will see this letter. After the sermon, we will seal up the envelopes and I’ll mail them out to you in one year.

From personal experience let me tell you, what you are about to do is both releasing and uniquely personal as you write to your future self. When you read your own words in one year, which is a snapshot of your spiritual life right now, it’s incredibly life impacting. It’s a great gift you’ll give to yourself next Christmas!

First things first. Please pull out the envelope you were given. Place your name and home mailing address on it. Church staff will place a stamp on them when we collect them at the end of worship.

NOTE: If you’re reading this sermon, please fill out the accompanying DEAR FUTURE ME letter at the end of this sermon. Write to yourself, place it in an envelope, seal it and write YOUR mailing address on it. Then, place that sealed envelope in a bigger envelope and mail it to me. I’ll add your letter to the letters I have and mail it out to you a year from when I receive it. Salem Lutheran Church * ATTN: Dear Future Me * 14940 62nd St N * Stillwater, MN 55082 Believe me, you’ll be so glad you did this!

Now that you’re done filling out your home mailing address on your envelope, please pull out the enclosed DEAR FUTURE ME letter. As you can see, there are three writing sections: one on your past, one on your present and the other planning for your future.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” What deceitful desire is the devil constantly tempting you to fall back into? Where are you currently struggling in sin? The reason why the devil bombards you with that sinful action from your old self, from your old sinful way of life, is because it works. The devil knows your weakness, your weak spot. God says “put off” your old self. The Greek verb tense used shows an emphatic one-time action. God is saying, “Be done with it! Leave that sinful choice. Confess it to Christ who came into this world so that you can be forgiven and leave the guilt of that action crucified with Him on the cross!” If you don’t, you are “being corrupted” by its deceitful desire. The Greek verb tense there shows continual action. If you don’t confess and leave that sinful temptation, it will continually work to corrupt you and eat away at your joy.

Here’s part one of your Dear Future Me letter. You have two and a half minutes. Take the first 30 seconds to confess that sinful, deceitful desire you have. As you do, realize you are released by the power of Christ’s love and forgiveness! Praise Jesus! Then take two minutes writing to your future self your desire to never fall into the trap of that PAST sinful action. A year from now you will either read this and celebrate the Holy Spirit has strengthened you to put off that sin or a year from now you may still be struggling with that sinfulness and be more motivated to give that sinful action to Christ.

“Put off your old self…to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” It’s time to shift from writing about your past, to focus instead on your present. Specifically, Paul tells us in our text to focus on our attitude. What attitude adjustment do you need to make? Where are you complaining or worrying where you know you should be trusting instead? God tells us we can’t just put off our actions and transform our deeds; we must also have a transformation of our minds, our attitudes. We are going to take two more minutes to write to ourselves. In this section, make your promise to yourself and especially to God on how your attitude will change. Learning either to find joy even in the difficulties of life or to find peace and serenity with a person whom you cannot stand and is making your life miserable. What attitude needs to change in your PRESENT mind so you stop sabotaging your joy and live in happiness as Christ redeemed you to live?

“Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” In this final section—I think you’ll like this section—write about what you want for yourself. Paul reminds us that when we are blessed by the Spirit to “put on the new self” that means we live in “true righteousness and holiness.” What do you want to see in yourself in the FUTURE? What aspect of God’s life altering love do you want to see flourishing in yourself? What joy to do you want? What contentment do you need?

Please seal your Dear Future Me letter and hand it to the usher. We will mail them to you in one year and you’ll discover a letter you wrote to yourself.

Rebecca’s parents discovered a letter their daughter wrote to herself. Their daughter had just died being hit by a speeding car and they discovered her letter to herself tucked away in a book she was reading. The letter was actually a high school English class assignment where the students were asked to write to themselves their simple goals for the future. Rebecca had three. 1) Go to Spain. 2) Kiss in the rain. 3) Save a life. That was her letter to herself for her future. The next summer, her parents took her to Spain. That same summer, she and her boyfriend kissed in the rain. And then the next summer, as she and her friend Benjamin were crossing the street, walking to see the fireworks at Western Connecticut State University, Rebecca saw a speeding car heading straight towards Benjamin. In a split second, Rebecca pushed him out of the way and saved his life and lost her own. By her own definition, she lived a very good life. She fulfilled her list.

Just like Jesus believes He did when He gave up heaven to be born on Christmas. Just like Jesus who wrote in the Bible a letter to Himself and to the world promising what He would fulfill in the future. Jesus’ letter to His future Self in the pages of Scripture revealed He was to be born in Bethlehem and to die suspended on a cross between our sins and God’s holy judgment. As Jesus hung on the cross, that horrible punishment for sins that were not His but were speeding directly toward Him, He pushed us out of the way but He did not move. He hung on the cross content to let it all happen—because in Jesus’ letter to you He vowed to make your past, present and future different, better, holy, forgiven. His letter showed He would be patient and kind even when no one was with Him. He would not stop living until He had very generously given His life of perfection to God the Father as a sacrifice to save the one thing in this world that means more to Him than anything. He chose to save you. He wrote that fulfilled promise in the Bible 2,000 years ago to the future selves of you and me. You have the joy of reading God’s personal letter to you every day as you open God’s holy Word seeing how your life is better in Him, through Him, because of Him.

It’s important for us as Christians to take a spiritual inventory of our lives. It allows us to look deeply into self, being honest to see where we are lacking and in need of God’s great love, forgiveness and power. I’m excited for you! You’ll remember the letter you wrote today for a while and the Spirit will use it to encourage you forward in your faith to live what you just promised God and yourself. Eventually, you’ll get busy; you’ll forget about this Dear Future Me letter. One day, a year from now, you’ll receive a letter in the mail with your handwriting on the envelope and you’ll read your words of encouragement—your prayer for future self. May Jesus fill our hearts to be the future self we desire and He desires. Amen.