Summary: A sermon for a time of pastoral change.
When the people of Israel were exiled into Babylon, everything they knew was turned inside out – their homes, their families, even their worship.
And so, Jeremiah came with a word of hope for a hopeless people.
He told them to build, plant and pray—even though they were in a strange land.
Even though they had been taken captive…
Today, we might say something like, “When life hands you lemons make lemonade!”
He is encouraging them to bloom where they are planted.
To make the best of things.
To thrive, despite their present situation.
They were to do the best for the city they found themselves in, and most importantly they were to remember God.
“God has plans for you—good plans—great plans!!!
Trust in God.”
And because of this—they will always have hope.
Have you ever felt hopeless?
I have, many times, dealt with feelings of despair.
In this life we face all kinds of obstacles.
Difficulties come around that we would have thought unimaginable.
People we love pass away.
Friends abandon us.
But God is with us always and forever.
What did Jesus tell His disciples before He was arrested?
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
And then He said, “In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
Do you believe this?
Do I believe it?
Jesus is stronger than our greatest fears.
Jesus is stronger than any and all barriers which get in our way.
Jesus is stronger than hell.
Jesus is stronger than death!!!
He has overcome them all.
And so, we can trust Him.
And so we can have hope in the midst of a suffering and dying world—in the midst of troubles and hard times.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you…I will never forsake you…”
And “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.”
Do you have peace this morning?
God, in Jesus Christ, comes running after us proclaiming these things.
The Holy Spirit of God works on us to bring us to the point where we are able to make the decision to accept God’s acceptance of us.
But it is all free-will.
Many people have said that “Life is what you make it.”
And in many ways this is true.
We are given the great privilege and responsibility to live-into living the kind of lives that Jesus has come to offer us.
I love how Paul puts it in Ephesians Chapter 2: “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God created in advance for us to do.”
Doing God’s will for our lives is what brings us peace and happiness.
Doing God’s will for our lives is what brings us hope.
Making the decision to live into God’s great plans is the key to life.
And what an adventure it is!!!
This past Wednesday, I was walking around the Family Life Center Building with one of you, and there were so many people working so hard to get ready for the East Ridge Community Food Pantry.
There were people I had never seen nor met before volunteering their time.
The place was teeming with life.
It was an exciting place to be.
This was God’s plan for this church and for the other 5 churches involved in this ministry.
You are living into it.
You are serving 600 folks a month after just one year.
And this ministry is going to grow and grow and grow.
You started with $2,500 and a dream.
Now there is $17,000 in the account along with a Publix grocery store which supplies you with meat, bread, produce, bakery items.
I always liken the East Ridge Community Food Pantry to the story of the Loaves and Fishes.
It is living proof that, if we do what God is calling us to do, God will take whatever we have—no matter how small the amount, no matter how weak we might feel, no matter how poor, or how untalented we might think we are—and multiply it!!!
When we seek God’s will, we can trust that God will work in and through us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.