Summary: No matter what the pollsters, pundits, and prognosticators claim, no one can accurately predict all that is going to happen in the next 365 days.
SERMONIC / WORSHIP THEME
Opening Statement: No matter what the pollsters, pundits, and prognosticators claim, no one can accurately predict all that is going to happen in the next 365 days. I have the latest copy of US News and World Report that tries to do just that. But our best forecasts are just educated guesses. Changes in our society have not only increased in speed and intensity, but also in their unpredictability.
Quotation: Doing business in this environment is what Michael Annison calls "Managing the Whirlwind." Life and change are like a whirlwind. At times, we cannot manage life like a business or a schedule. Life changes just happen and we’re left holding what’s left, wondering what the meaning of it all is really about.
Transition: How can anyone – including Christians - succeed when the future is so uncertain?
Title: Managing the Whirlwind - How to face your future
Quotation: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom.
Opening Statement: At this time of the New Year, many people make goals centering on weight-loss, spending less, earning more, or slowing down, and the list could go on and on. Most of the time people establish some great and noble goals that are admirable and commendable. Today, I am assuming that you have some goals; some things that you would like to see accomplished this year. With your goals fresh in mind and your attention focused on the future, let’s look at…
Text: Jeremiah 29:10-14
Exposition: Jeremiah was called “the weeping prophet.” He faithfully called upon the nation of Judah to repent for 40 years, all the while facing imprisonment, beatings, and opposition. Someone has referred to this book as Judah’s divorce papers (Jeremiah 3:8). If so, it would explain the extreme sadness that one feels when reading this book. The leadership of Judah hated Jeremiah for always being “so negative.” They imprisoned him (ch.37), burned his writings (ch.36), and confined him in a deep, muddy cistern (ch.38).
They would not heed his words and the book ended when Jerusalem went into captivity in 586 BC. According to many then, Jeremiah was a failure. He never succeeded in his task. But, he was faithful at a great personal cost and therein lays his success. His faithfulness positioned Him to write about God’s promise of a better tomorrow. At times, we’re called to be faithful, not successful. Jeremiah was faithful. He consistently did what God asked him to do even though it did not always translate into blessings or victories for himself. After many of them had gone into captivity into Babylon, losing their homes and fortunes and all that was familiar, faithful Jeremiah wrote them a letter of hope. Our theme passage is an excerpt from this letter.
Recitation: "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans … to give you a future and a hope … You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest." Jer. 29:11,13 (LB)
Key Word: This passage does THREE THINGS for us at the start of this New Year and with our goals in mind.
First, this passage tells us who knows the Plans – God Does.
Explanation: If God knows the game plan for my life, I had better include Him in my Goal-setting. Frankly, I have tried making my plans without consulting God first and I have ended up in some pretty messy situations. God is the only one who DOES know the future - and he’s eager to guide us through it. The Bible says "We may make our plans, but God has the last word." (Pr. 16:1) In other words, planning without consulting God is presumption. Start by praying, "God, what do YOU want me to do in 2003?" What he shows you may not be convenient or easy, but it will be right.
Application: There’s one goal that I think would honor Christ and bless this fellowship of believers in 2003. If you will make it a priority to be here every week and plug into new community, I believe God will honor that goal with new skills to do life biblically and build stronger relationships with others.
Illustration: NEW YEAR’S LETTER TO THE PASTOR
You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated.
Christmas Holidays (the Sunday before & after) 2
New Years (the party lasted too long) 1
Easter (get away for the holidays) 2
July 4th (national holidays) 1
Labor Day (need to get away) 2