By Staff Writer on Feb 17, 2020
Here's a free customizable youth sermon you can use with your youth group in a powerful campaign surrounding the I Still Believe movie (releasing March 13, 2020).
From the creators of I Can Only Imagine comes the faith-movie event of 2020, I Still Believe. A love story for the ages, I Still Believe is the real-life story of chart-topping singer Jeremy Camp. I Still Believe is a powerful reminder that in the midst of life’s storms, true hope is only found in Christ.
Youth Sermon Introduction/Connection
How do you respond when you don’t get what you want?
Actually, I'd like to take it a step further, I want you to think about a specific situation when you didn’t get what you wanted.
(Ask volunteers to share the situation they’re thinking about or share a personal story)
It doesn’t feel very good when you don’t get what you want, does it?
Sometimes it’s not so bad, like when your family doesn’t go to the restaurant you want or you aren’t able to watch the movie you want. However, there are other times when it’s really bad. It’s like, lock yourself in the bedroom bring me all the ice cream and tissues and pizza and NO I’m not coming out of my room for dinner or breakfast or friends or Uncle Charlie or… I think you get the point.
Let me ask you another question:
Is God still good if He doesn’t give you what you want?
As that question sinks in I want to remind you that later tonight (or tomorrow, this weekend, etc…), we will be heading to the movie theater together to see the movie I STILL BELIEVE. (An inspiring love story, I STILL BELIEVE shares the real-life story of chart-topping singer Jeremy Camp. I STILL BELIEVE is a powerful reminder that in the midst of life's storms, true hope can be found in Christ).
But before we go, I'd like us to take a look at a passage from the Gospel of John that will help us deal with our question, Is God still good if He doesn’t give you what you want?
To begin, please open up your Bible to John 11 where we’re going to look at the story of Lazarus together…
Youth Sermon Main Teaching/Body
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
When Jesus receives word from Mary and Martha that Lazarus is sick he is about a day’s journey away. If you look back at John 10:40 you’ll see that he was, “across the Jordan at the place where John had been baptizing in the early days.” Jesus wasn’t just out there taking selfies and sampling the finest organic olive oils, he was ministering to people. John 10:42 says, “And in that place many believed in Jesus.” And, it’s in the middle of this powerful time of ministry when the news comes to him – his friend Lazarus is sick.
It’s also important to note that Lazarus wasn’t just someone that Jesus kind-of knew or had met here or there. Actually, the note that Mary and Martha sent to Jesus said, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” In fact, our passage goes on to say, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” This was a family that Jesus not only knew very well but had a special and intimate relationship with. Think of someone in your life that’s not necessarily a family member but who is close to you like a family member. You LOVE them. Now, imagine that you’ve just received news that they are very sick.
I want you to try to imagine taking an extra two days after hearing they’re very sick to respond to them.
Would they feel like you loved them? Probably not. Yet, for some reason, this is exactly how Jesus responds to the news about Lazarus. He stays where He is and he just keeps on ministering before telling the disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” It seems confusing, but actually, Jesus has already given divine insight into what’s really happening in verse 4 when he says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
God knows what he’s doing. It may not appear that way to the disciples around him, or to the sisters back in Bethany tending to their dying brother, but this is a reality that we all must embrace. God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t understand it. He is working in and through the situations going on in our lives. The challenge for us is to remain faithful and steadfast even when we don’t get what we want. Even when our prayers go unanswered.
Let’s take a look now at how Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, responded to Jesus’ delay.
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Mary eventually comes out to meet Jesus as well, and says the exact same thing her sister Martha did, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Martha and Mary both feel that their brother Lazarus wouldn’t have died if Jesus would have “shown up.” They wanted and expected Jesus to answer their prayers in the way they wanted and they are obviously sad that Jesus didn’t come in time to save their brother.
Have you ever felt sad or frustrated with God? Maybe you’ve even said the same thing at some point in your life that Martha and Mary said, “Lord, if you had been here…” But Jesus was operating on a different and divine timeline. He had an ultimate purpose and plan for showing up when and how he did.
We have to learn to trust that God knows what He’s doing. Jesus knew from the beginning that Lazarus’ sickness and eventual death would bring glory to God. In fact, the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead brought so much attention and so many people decided to follow Jesus that the religious leaders began actively planning to kill Jesus after this specific event.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were part of a greater story that God the Father was writing, and so are you.
Youth Sermon Conclusion
Near the end of our passage, just before Jesus calls for the 4-day dead Lazurus to come out of the tomb, He prays, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe.” (John 11:42-44)
At the beginning of the sermon I asked you, Is God still good if He doesn’t give you what you want? Is it possible that you aren’t getting what you want because God has something bigger planned? If He’s 2 days or 2 years late in answering your prayer is he still worthy of your praise? Maybe what He’s doing is for the benefit and belief of others? Could you be okay with that?
Even Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me...” He asked God to spare Him from the suffering and pain of the cross. Does anyone know how that verse ends? “...yet not my will, but yours be done.” If Jesus had to trust the will and the plan of God I think you’re in good company.
As we finish up and get ready to see I STILL BELIEVE I want you to be thinking about some of the questions we wrestled with. The main characters of the movie struggle with some of the same things in the movie. In fact, the song this movie is named after has a line in the chorus that goes, “Even when I don’t see, I still believe.”
If you’re having trouble seeing, understanding, or believing in God’s plan and His answers for you right now I want you to know you’re not alone. Mary, Martha, Jeremy Camp, Lazarus, and even Jesus all struggled too.
They all had to learn for themselves that God IS still good, even when we don’t get what we want.
Let’s pray together.
(Pastor - Hopefully you’re able to see the movie directly after or soon after delivering this message. Seeing the movie together as part of the “take-away” will provide you with ample talking points to connect with your youth group. I pray that new doors are opened between you and your students and that God would give you wisdom and discernment in your responses.)
I Still Believe Youth Sermon Follow-Up Questions
Here are some potential questions to prepare for:
- Why didn’t God just heal Jeremy Camp’s wife? Wouldn’t that have been the best for everyone?
- God raised Lazarus from the dead, couldn’t He have raised her from the dead also?
- If God is good why do people die? Why doesn’t God just take away sickness and death?
- How do I wait well and keep my faith even after I feel like I haven’t received any answer in a really long time?
This free youth sermon is part of a powerful campaign surrounding the I Still Believe movie (releasing March 13, 2020)? Not only do you get free access to this youth sermon, but you'll also get 2 adult sermons, a sermon series planning guide, PowerPoint template, sermon bumper videos, motion background videos, and promotional and social images.
Use this free youth sermon to help your youth answer the big question: Where Is God When You Don't Get What You Want?
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I Still Believe is the real-life story of chart-topping singer Jeremy Camp. I Still Believe is a powerful reminder that in the midst of life’s storms, true hope is only found in Christ. Why not lead your church in a powerful campaign surrounding the I Still Believe movie (releasing March 13, 2020)?