Summary: God loves to bless His children. We may go through the dark night but Joy comes in the morning.

“Joy in the Morning”

October 5, 2014

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“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 hope and a future. Then you will call on 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.”

There are good days ahead of us! Blessings are coming! The future is bright and rosy. It’s a great day to be alive!

I know it appears we are in the End Times. It seems sometimes as if our world is falling apart. America seems to be in serious danger of losing our moral compass. And that may all be true. It is important to be aware of what is going on around us – even to prepare for it. More than that – we have to be actively involved in turning our country around.

But I believe God blesses His children. In fact, I believe He LOVES to bless His children. He has no stomach for destruction and calamity. He has no heart for tragedy and trials. That is not His will for His beloved.

I have a strong sense that God is going to send His blessings on us. Kind of like the sun coming up on a cold morning after a dark and dreary night – I see glimmers of light and warmth to come. One of my favorite Scriptures says,

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

Psalm 84:11

The Lord is a sun that shines His blessings on us. He brings warmth and light. He is a shield that protects us. Nothing will happen to you that God does not at least allow. Sometimes He allows the rain to fall and the fire to burn – but His promise is that He will work even that for our good. It is meant to strengthen us and mature us.

The Scripture says that God bestows favor and honor. You don’t have to work for those things. They will come in God’s timing. In fact, the Word of God says that He will not withhold any GOOD THING if we are walking the walk!

At a townhall meeting last week I heard the City talking about plans to help the citizens rebuild in the wake of the Boles Fire. People are so generous and giving that the problem now is storage and sorting the gifts out. There is help for the homeowners free of charge to remove the debris from their property. Soon the city will begin to rebuild and all the local contractors and builders will be overwhelmed with work. There is a lot of financial help available. I think all of the large companies in the area have donated generously to help the community.

I see the hand of God in all this. I see coming blessings. But you need to know that it is conditional. Some people are gonna miss it! Do you know there are signs around town warning of scam artists? How anyone could be so cold-hearted as to take advantage of someone in their hour of greatest need and deepest vulnerability is beyond me. I guess you have to be so selfish that you are willing to hurt innocent people to get what you want. So be careful. There ARE wolves out there. There is a thief that would steal your joy and kill your faith and destroy your soul. But Jesus said that He has come that you have life – and not just life – but ABUNDANT life. (John 10:10)

I want to share with you three things that we need to do to experience these blessings that God wants to pour out on us.

The first thing is simply to “walk the walk”. We read the Scripture where God said that He will not withhold any good thing from those who are walking the walk. There are too many Christians who talk the talk but when it comes to a changed lifestyle – they don’t have it. When it comes to obeying what they know is God’s will for them – they refuse and rebel. There is no difference from them than from those who are in the world. Jesus said,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27

The key to great blessings is to follow. The next verse says,

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…” John 10:28

Great blessing and reward follow those who walk the walk. God made a covenant with His people and it was forever. If they had been able to keep that covenant it would still be in force today – but it isn’t. We broke it with our willful sin and so God had to establish a “New” Covenant with His people. But even in the Old Covenant God warned His people. He said,

“If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:” Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Then God goes on to list blessing after blessing. You ought to read it sometime to see how God wants to bless us. But then He says,

“However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:” Deuteronomy 28:15

There were a lot of bad thing promised to happen if you did not follow God. If you do not walk the walk you get yourself out from under the umbrella of God’s protection. That is not a good place to be.

For the person today who is reading this sermon or listening to me on Sunday morning – understand that you have a choice. You can follow God as He reveals His will in His word and by His Holy Spirit or you can do your own thing and go your own way. One leads to blessings and joy - the other to hardship and trials. One leads to life and the other to death. You get to choose the path you walk on. I hope you will walk the walk. I hope you will choose wisely.

A question that has always been in the mind of people is “Why do bad things happen to good people.” Someone wrote a book and even gave it that title. It a good question. You would think that good always happens to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Kind of a ‘cause and effect’ thing; or a ‘reward and punishment’ thing. But we know bad stuff happens to good people something. The fire in Weed, CA burned some good people’s homes down. I can’t answer ‘why’ that happened. I think there may be a myriad of reasons for things like that happening. Jesus said that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But I know this. When God blesses us He does it with a heart of love. He wants a close loving relationship with us. And God blesses us even when we don’t deserve it. He died for us – even when we didn’t deserve it (Romans 5:8). He blesses the unjust with rain as well as the just. And He has plans to prosper us – and when He does – He wants us to pray. That is another thing we need to do to experience these blessings that God wants to pour out on us. Let’s look at that Scripture again.

“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 hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

Jeremiah 29:11-12

The plans God has for us are good. He plans to prosper us. He plans to give us an expectancy of the future. Hope is a trusting expectancy of good things coming. God wants our future to be like that. He wants us to jump out of bed excited to see what new things are I store for us. Why would God do that? Why would God be so kind and generous with us? His desire; His motive is that we would call on Him and pray. God longs to have a loving relationship with you! Isn’t that amazing? The Creator of the world; the designer of this universe; the maker of all that is – knows you by name and wants to have a loving relationship with you.

This world is a ‘vetting’ process. Someone called it a ‘probationary’ state. I think of it kind of like ‘basic training’. We get put in all kinds of situations to test our metal; to see what we are made of; to give us opportunity to do the right thing against all reason. We get the chance to choose to believe when sometimes it seems impossible. But God says in His Word, Psalm 30:5

“weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (NIV)

“Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. (NKJV)

You may lose everything in the fires of life. The floods may come and wash all that you value away. There may be weeping for a season of time – but hang in there! Endure! Joy WILL come. And when it does – call on God. Call on Jesus. Praise Him! Thank Him! Walk with Him.

Lastly, if you want to get in on the blessings of life, you need to seek God with all your heart. Our Scripture says,

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

Can we be honest here? We really haven’t been seeking God very hard have we? We are so busy! There are so many urgent things demanding our attention! Jesus said,

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

All those things our hearts desire; all those things we long for and work for – if we put the Kingdom of God and doing His will FIRST – we will get them in God’s timing. God doesn’t value the things of this world very highly. What He DOES value is faithfulness and honesty and love. Those character traits and the fruit of the Spirit are what God values in us and if He has to allow fire or flood to build those qualities in us – He will do it! C. S. Lewis once wrote that once we give God permission to work on us He will not stop until we are like Him. No matter how much pain or inconvenience or trouble it causes us – He will not be deterred until we are in His image. But ultimately it will be worth it. And the rewards are out of this world!

Three things we need to do to experience the blessings of God.

1. Walk the Walk; 2. Call on God; 3. Seek God with ALL your heart.

May you experience God’s greatest blessings in your life.