Sermon:  The Next Chapter

Summary:  Change is a difficult thing in life to deal with, but transition can be 
even more difficult.  However, emotional and spiritual health are dependent on being 
able to navigate through the transitions in life by letting go inwardly of what has 
come to pass in order to take hold of what is coming ahead.  We are able to do this 
better when we recognize that it is just another chapter in the story of our life.

Know:  It is unhealthy to try and hang on to the past in such a way that we reject the 
future.  The future is ultimately full of hope.

Feel:  Forward looking anticipation about what lies ahead

Do:  Reflect on past, present, and future transitions in life, whether it is graduation, 
military assignments, or becoming empty nesters, what the transition means in life, and 
keep the big picture and transition in mind, which is hope in Christ.  

Text:  Heb 11:1-10

Scripture Reading:  Phil 3:12-14

1.  We are once again about to undergo some changes
	a. For all of us, it is moving into warmer weather
	b. For others, it involves moving to a new city, new job, new school
	c. As some of you leave for other places, those of us left behind have to 
	     deal with the change of you not being here
	d. This time of year reminds us that life is full of changes
2.  Want to talk about transitions this morning, which is different than change
	a. New school, job, house, child, empty nest - That is change
	b. Transition is "Letting go of the way things used to be and taking hold of 
	      the way they become
		- Change is usually external
		- Transition is an internal attitude
3.  Transition can be exciting and positive, or difficult
	a. Exciting are things like, Marriage, graduation, new job, new assignment
	b. Difficult includes: - Mid Life Crisis, Empty Nest, Abusive Relationship, 
                Death in the family
	c. Many of you are in the process of transitions in your life
		- Military, School, New Job, New Town, etc.
4.  Questions may be going through your mind
	a. Such as:  Can I do this? What next? What will I do? Who will I be?
	b. Is there any guidance for these transitions?
	c. Heb 11 - Covers several "chapters" of lives of people 
		- Will spend some time thinking of phases in our lives as chapters
		- In order to move through the book, need transition to chapters
	d. What will it take to conclude the story of our life well?

I.  Leave the previous chapter
	A.  For most of us, our life is not limited to just a single chapter
		1.  When you come to the end of a chapter, turn the page
		2.  Don't get stuck, may have been a good chapter, but it is over
		3.  Time has a way of always moving forward
		4.  Nothing stays the same - Don't get left behind
	B.  That is what happened in Exodus
		1.  Israel was comfortable in Egypt for 400 years
			a. Lived in a fertile part of Egypt
			b. They were prosperous, had large families
			c. Good food to eat
		2.  Then Pharaoh enslaved them!  Then they ready for change
			a. Cried out to God
			b. God heard and delivered them
		3.  Problem - They didn't let go of the past
			a. Had a huge difficulty with transition period 
				- Transition period in the wilderness for 40 years
				- Was supposed to become an independent holy 
			b. Their past world was Egyptian
				- They walked like an Egyptian
				- They talked, ate, and even thought Egyptian
			c. Their question could have been - WHO AM I?
			d. They wanted to go BACK!  Not Forward!
				- They were unwilling to turn the page
				- They could not envision their future story
				- They were stuck in the past
	C.  ILL:  Have you ever known anyone like that?
		1.  Sometimes you see it at High School Reunions
		2.  Hear the horror stories of those stuck in the past
			a.  Washed out drunk ex-jock
			b.  Ex-cheerleader strung out on drugs
			c.  That popular student, now miserable in a dead end job in 
  			     a dead end life
			d.  All these people do is RELIVE THEIR GLORY DAYS
		3.  Problem - They are stuck in the past
		4.  Being stuck in the past, there is not future, often lead to despair 
	D.  Phil 3:13 - Forget what lies behind & press forward to what lies ahead
		1.  What lies behind?  Education, Pharisee, excelled at everything
		2.  But God called him in a different direction
			a. He left previous chapter
			b. He opened the next chapter
		3.  They say you can't take it with you - So true

II. Turn to the next chapter
	A.  Great thing about next chapter - It has not been written yet
		1.  Can't change the past, but future is a different story
		2.  It is full of possibilities
	B.  There is a word we use for this -- HOPE
		1.  According to 1 Cor 13, there are 3 great things, hope is one of 
			a.  Faith, which is rooted in the past
			b.  Hope, which is rooted in the future
			c.  Love, which is rooted in the here and now
		2.  I'm talking about small hopes at this point
		3.  Life full of small hopes that push us forward
			a.  Like wind in our sails, taking us from chapter to chapter
			b.  Without hope, will be in the doldrums (going nowhere)
		4.  Bible speaks of small hopes
			a. Paul spoke of small hopes
				-  I hope to send Timothy to you soon
				-  I hope to see you when I go to Spain
			b.  Jer 29:11 - "I know the plans I have for you, declares the 
 			     Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a 
			     future hope."
	C.  ILL:  Absence of small hopes will rob you of life's joys
		1.  Makes me think of period of transition when I left home
			a. Stuck in past - Gauged everything by past town & church
			b. Problem - Town not the same, church not the same
			c. So never made transition, even though lots of change 
				- Hopped from church to church, relationships
				- Fell away
			d. I left home on the outside, but never did on the inside
				- No small hopes, not wind in my sail, stuck in past
				- I was moving, but not moving, restless
				- Was stuck between chapters, didn't turn the page
		2.  William Bridges - "Some people actually use external changes to distract them from the 
		 	harder business of letting go of their inner realities and identities.  They make changes 
			so they won't have to make transitions.  They walk out of their marriages, but take along 
			the attitude toward partners that destroyed their marriages.  Or they continue to search 
			for "someone to take care of me" after they quit their jobs because their bosses were not 
			interested in filling that role.  Or they move because their town doesn't have any 
			interesting people in it, only to find that their new town doesn't either.  (Or they leave 
			one church for another, only to find that nothing is better in the other church.)  Such 
			people may claim they are always in transition, when may probably never be in transition.  
			They are addicted to change, and like any addiction, it is an escape from the real issues 
			raised by their lives.  The inner realities are the hardest to let go of."
	D.  Why is transition sometimes so difficult?
		1. Transition may mean a re-definition of who you are
			a. I used to be John the High School prayer leader, student, 
			    youth leader
			b. Who will I be next?  
		2.  Transition mean the END of something
			a. Leaving home, New job, Retirement, Empty Nest
			b. Sometimes feel a sense of loss
			c. May be uncertainty in a future chapter
		3. We realize a small hope, and exchange it for another
			a. Move through life, graduate, college, marry, job, child, 
			    retire, grandkids
			b. What's next? Is there no more?  Have I arrived?
		4.  **1 Cor 15:19 - "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we 
 		    are of all men most to be pitied." ...

III. Keep the conclusion in mind
	A.  This is our ultimate hope of hopes
		1.  Small hopes may go unfulfilled, but the big one is still there
		2.  In all our transitions, it is the one thing that is constant
		3. We know how the final chapter will end
	B.  Look at what we can learn about our BIG hope
		1.  (Heb 11:1) - This is not just the faith chapter, but hope chapter
			a. Faith is assurance of things "hoped for"
				- Hope is the object of our faith
				- Hope is what focuses our faith
				- Can't have hope without faith, and vice versa
				- Faith is like the sail, and hope is the wind
			b. This passage gives examples of those who hoped in faith
			c. (v.6) They had faith in God as rewarder - this is HOPE
		2.  (Heb 11:8-10) - Look at example of Abraham's faith & hope
			a. He had little hopes, such as food, water, clothing, etc.
			b. It was all overshadowed by his big hope in the promise
			c. If his heart was still in Ur, he would have went back there  
			d. Instead, he closed the previous chapter in his life, and 
			    went out from Ur to a new place God would lead him to
		3.  (Heb 12:1-2) - Conclusion of these examples - focus our hope
			a. Our hope is in Jesus, we run the race focused on him
			b. Lay aside encumbrances - Leave them behind
			c. Press on to what is ahead
	C.  Without our hope in Jesus, all our little hopes become meaningless
		1.  Ecclesiastes - Records a man trying to find fulfillment in just 
		      little hopes
			a. For a time, they seemed to provide fulfillmen
			b. Included success, education, children, pleasure, building...
			c. But all of them were dead ends 
			b. Without God, the BIG hope, all of it is meaningless
		2.  Eccl 12:1 - Said to remember your creator in the days of youth
			a. He wasted his life trying to find fulfillment in small hopes
			b. He left out the big hope - God
			c. Only place for true fulfillment is in our Lord
	D.  So keep the conclusion in mind 
		1. Little hopes will sometimes go fulfilled, or unfulfilled
		2. But you need to line every hope, plan, and goal with the big hope
		3. The ultimate trajectory is in Him, fix your eyes on him
		4. Need to line up all of your life with Him
			a. If you do, it will enable to you make good transitions in life
			b. It will help you to overcome the unfulfilled small hopes
			c. It will enable you to make the greatest transition of all - to 

1.  Some of you are at the end of a chapter
	- Leave this chapter
	- Turn the page to the next chapter
	- Keep the conclusion, the big picture in mind - Christ
2. Perhaps you have not made Christ part of your conclusion (inv)
3. If you have, remember, the future is full of possibilities
4.  Never lose sight of the greatest hope of all - Jesus
	- It will give meaning to all your little hopes
	- It will help you move from chapter to chapter in your life
	- It will help you to the final chapter when it is time to close the book of 
	   your life and open the book to eternity