VIDEO Can You Predict Your Future? 

June 25, 2017 by Skip Heitzig

If you were going to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Let me suggest four that come straight out of Paul’s experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looks ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include–even if it meant his possible execution.

Recap Notes: June 25, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “Can You Predict Your Future?”
Text: Philippians 1:18b-21


If you were to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Pastor Skip suggested four that come straight out of Paul’s experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looked ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include—even if it meant his possible execution. Pastor Skip pointed out the thoughts that kept Paul anchored in Christ:

  • Joy (v. 18b): Joy Is an Act of the Will
  • Confidence (v. 19): Confidence Is Developed by Prayer and Provision
  • Hope (v. 20): Hope Looks for Opportunities to Point to Christ
  • Life (v. 21): Life Happens Even in the Face of Death



  • Paul spoke of the past up until the phrase “Yes, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18b). Then he began looking to the future.
  • His first future declaration focused on joy, a word used at least nineteen times in Philippians.
  • Paul was determined that all that had happened to him—arrest, prison, persecution, shipwreck, and imprisonment while awaiting trial with Caesar Nero—was not going to bring him down.
  • He told his audience—including us—that nothing and no one would steal his joy; it was fixed on and in the Lord.
  • Joy is a choice, an act of the will, internally triggered, tied to your relationship with God, and your reaction to being justified by faith.
  • Probe: Joy is commonly defined as a feeling of great pleasure. Discuss the difference between joy and happiness. Pastor Skip delineated them as being external (happiness) and internal (joy).


  • Notice Paul’s use of the phrase I know in verse 19. There was certainty in Paul’s outlook that was determined by his up-look; he kept his eyes on God.
  • The word deliverance is a Greek word commonly used for salvation. Paul was not using it in the sense of being saved—he was already a Christian—but in the sense of being rescued: he believed that God would deliver him—”whether by life or by death” (v. 20).
  • Paul’s confidence was twofold:
    • It was based on the prayers of God’s people. Why should we pray?
      • Spiritual work requires spiritual tools.
      • Prayer produces confidence.
    • It was also based on the provision of God’s Spirit.
      • The word supply means a lavish supply, like a harmony of voices.
      • We can be confident because God will provide all we need through the Spirit.
      • The hand of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.
  • Probe: Confidence is the belief that one can rely on someone or something, a firm trust. Discuss how our confidence, like Paul’s, can be firmly placed in Christ. What characteristics of Christ command confidence?


  • Hope is an earnest expectation, a gaze at something in the distance. Paul was looking to Christ with undivided attention; more than anything, he wanted to be a faithful witness.
  • Part of Paul’s witness was boldness—a reminder that what the church needs is not to be breaking bad, but breaking bold.
  • Notice the words “Christ will be magnified.” The Greek word for magnified means to make great, to enlarge. How can we possibly make Christ greater?
    • Present your body as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). Let your hands, feet, and tongue—your whole body—be used for Christ’s glory.
  • Probe: The writer of Hebrews linked confidence, hope, and assurance together (see Hebrews 11:1). Discuss how these words are connected. How do confidence, hope, and assurance define our present circumstances and our future reality?


  • Jesus was the summum bonum (the highest value) of Paul’s life, his motto, and his fuel to persevere.
  • Verse 21 demonstrates that Paul’s master passion was Jesus. Despite not knowing the circumstances his life would take, Paul knew what his goal was while he still lived: he lived for Christ, and he died for Christ under Nero.
  • In one brutal moment, Paul went from the imperial city of Rome to the eternal city of God. Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded; in that instant, he gained eternal life.
  • Probe: How can we live for Christ in today’s world? How is dying a gain for Christians?


Connect Up: In addition to the words discussed in this study (joy, confidence, hope, and life), what are some other characteristics that define believers (see Galatians 5:22-23)? How do they help us maintain an eternal perspective, focusing our attention on Christ and not on the world—providing us with a proper “up-look”?

Connect In: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul tells the church to not be like those who don’t have hope. In these verses, Paul linked our hope to Christ’s return. How is the second coming of Jesus intricately linked to a believer’s hope for the future?

Connect Out: In a world where many have no future or hope, how can we use this message to communicate to unbelievers that God does have a beautiful future for those who believe? How can you use Jeremiah 29:11 as a witness tool?


  1. Introduction
    1. Predicting the future has been a favorite pastime since antiquity
      1. People’s desire to know the future makes horoscopes and fortune-tellers popular today
      2. We want to know what is coming in the future
    2. All forms of fortune-telling are forbidden in the Scriptures
  1. They are fake
  2. They call on nothing to predict the future they don’t know
  3. Only God can predict the future
  4. You can predict your future responses
  5. Up to this point in Philippians, Paul spoke in past tense
  1. Philippians 1:3, 5, 12
  2. Paul wrote to the Philippians about what happened in the past and what was happening in the present
  3. The future was uncertain for Paul
  1. He did not know what the outcome of his trial would be
  2. He made predictions about his responses to those circumstances
  3. If you are a follower of Christ, you can predict your responses as well
  4. Joy (v. 18b)
  5. Philippians is a letter
  1. Originally there were no chapters or verse identifications
  2. Until the year AD 1227, all of the Bible was text
  3. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, decided it would be easier to find things in the Bible with chapters and verses
  4. In AD 1382, the first English Bible to have verse numbers was the Wycliffe Bible
  5. Paul was saying that the things of the past would not rob him of his joy
  1. They had furthered the gospel
  2. Past circumstances
    1. He was arrested in Jerusalem
    2. He spent two years in jail at Caesarea by the Sea
    3. He went through three mistrials
    4. He was shipwrecked on his way to Rome to appeal to Caesar
    5. He was put in jail again in Rome
  3. Past and present people were also trying to rob him of joy
  4. Paul did not know what would happen in the future as far as circumstances went
  1. He would stand trial before Caesar Nero
  2. Caesar would either exonerate him or execute him
  3. Joy is an act of the will
  4. It is tethered to something different than happiness
  1. Happiness is a temporary feeling of delight if the circumstances go your way
  2. Joy is fixed
  3. The Bible mentions happiness about thirty times; it mentions joy 300 times
  4. The difference between happiness and joy
  1. Happiness is externally triggered; it goes up and down depending on the circumstances
  2. Joy is internally triggered; it is based on a relationship with God
  3. Happiness has its source in events, people, and things
  4. Joy has its source in God
  5. Though Paul may have been emotionally unhappy, he stated that nothing and no one would steal his joy
  6. Confidence (v. 19)
  7. Your outlook is determined by your uplook
  1. Paul saw not only the stars, but the God who made the stars
  2. If joy is an act of the will, then confidence is a statement of faith
  3. Paul knew he would be delivered
  1. Sótérian = deliverance, salvation
  2. Paul knew things would turn out for the best (see Romans 8:28)
  3. Confidence is developed by prayer and provision
  4. Prayer of God’s people
  1. Most believers marginalize prayer
  2. If we really thought prayer had the power to change things, we would be doing it a lot more
  3. We should pray because:
    1. Spiritual work requires spiritual tools
    2. It produces confidence
  4. Provision of God’s Spirit
  5. Epichorégia = supply, provision, equipment
  1. We get the word chorus from this
  2. It literally means one voice upon another
  3. The reason Paul was confident was because the Holy Spirit provided everything he needed to handle the future
  4. The hand of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you (see Zechariah 4:6)
  5. Hope (v. 20)
  6. Earnest expectation is like an intense form of hope
  1. It literally means to watch something with outstretched head
  2. Paul hoped more than anything else that he would be a faithful witness for Christ
  3. Hope looks for opportunities to point to Christ
  1. Paul wanted to express his faith and exalt his Savior
  2. He wanted to be bold
  3. While the world is breaking bad, the church needs to be breaking bold
  1. The world is bold about what it believes
  2. They want to get out there and get it in your face
  3. That is how Christians need to be about our faith
  4. Ask God to make you a bold Christian
  5. Paul hoped for Christ to be magnified
  6. How can you make the greatest Person in the world greater?
  1. To most people, Jesus was just someone from 2,000 years ago
  2. When you show up, Jesus is either magnified or minified through your life
  3. We should want God to be greater through our life (see Romans 12:1)
  4. Life (v. 21)
  5. Paul was passionate about Christ; he lived for Him
  1. Christ was the summation of Paul’s life
  2. John 11:25
  3. Life happens even in the face of death
  1. Later, Paul was arrested again, placed in solitary confinement, and sentenced to death
  2. In one brutal moment, Paul went from the imperial city of Rome to the eternal city of heaven
  3. Closing
  1. The only circumstance you can predict is whether you will spend eternity in heaven or in hell
  2. John 3:3

Figures referenced: Dale Carnegie, Howard Hendricks, Stephen Langton, Abraham Lincoln, Leonard Ravenhill, A.T. Robertson, Charles Spurgeon, Corrie ten Boom

Works referenced: Wycliffe Bible

Greek words: epichorégia, sótérian

Cross references: Zechariah 4:6; John 3:3; 11:25; Romans 8:28; 12:1; Philippians 1:3, 5, 12

Topic: Joy

Keywords: future, joy, circumstances, happiness, confidence, prayer, provision, hope, boldness

Author: Narrow Path Ministries

Non-denominational, Independent, Bible believing Church

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