A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on Jeremiah 29:11-13 and preached at Faith Community Church, Barre, VT, on December 29, 2010.
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 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.
• This passage was written by the prophet Jeremiah approximately 600 years before Christ was born.
• Most of Jeremiah’s friends had abandoned all faith in God and were focused on doing whatever they wanted to instead of following the Lord.
• Jeremiah was watching everything around him fall apart.
• Jeremiah’s situation is not that much different than our own.
• Today’s teens see few of their peers acting like Christians or following any kind of faith.
• On April 29, 2010, the USA Today newspaper reported that a recent survey of 18-29 year olds discovered:
• 65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
• 65% rarely or never attend worship services.
• 67% don't read the Bible or any sacred texts.
• Today’s teenagers are entering adulthood at a time in which jobs are scarce and the cost of living is going up.
• Today’s teenagers see their nation mocked around the world by terrorists sworn to destroy us.
• It would be extremely easy for today’s teens to become discouraged about life and become filled with bitterness and anger.
• And yet, there is hope . . . .
Verse 11 - 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.
• God spoke to Jeremiah and reminded him that God had big plans for Jeremiah.
• God’s plan was to prosper Jeremiah, not to harm him.
• Though Jeremiah went through some very difficult times that FELT harmful, in the end, God worked out all that stuff for good.
• We often go through difficult times in life.
• We may wonder how those difficult things will work out, but we must remember that God never stops working behind the scenes to convert difficult situations into good results.
• We have to trust God and wait for His timing.
• God’s plan includes hope. What is hope?
• Sometimes we focus on the mistakes or difficulties of our past, which leaves us feeling frustrated.
• God’s plan focuses on the future.
• Why must we focus on the future?
• We must learn to look beyond past frustration and find hope in every situation.
• We must learn from the past but not be trapped by the past.
• We must look to the future and walk forward boldly trusting God to guide us along the way.
Verse 12 - Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
• The way we will find hope in difficult times is to call upon the Lord.
• When we talk to the Lord, He takes away frustration, fear, anxiety, anger, stress and other negative emotions and replaces it with hope.
• Prayer can make a real difference in our lives if we will practice it regularly.
• Sometimes we may wonder if God really hears our prayers. This verse reminds us that God does listen to us when we pray to Him.
• God not only listens, God answers!
• How does God answer prayer?
• God answers prayer through the Bible, the church, circumstances and through the Holy Spirit. We must learn to listen to His voice.
Verse 13 - You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
• Perhaps we have tried to pray in the past and it did not seem like God heard us.
• Perhaps we tried to listen to God speak but just couldn’t seem to hear His voice clearly.
• This verse reminds us that we will find God when we seek Him with ALL our heart.
• If we are honest we would have to admit that we seldom seek God with ALL our heart.
• We tend to give God our leftovers.
• We give God our leftover time.
• We give God our leftover energy.
• We give God our leftover talents.
• And when we do not have any leftovers, then we give God nothing.
• If we want the hope for the future that God promises, we must give God more than leftovers.
• How can we give God more than leftovers?
• There are many ways we can do this, but it starts with having a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
• We must have more than just ritualistic religion.
• We must have a real relationship with Jesus Christ that begins with an acceptance of who He is and what He has done for us.
• Once we have a relationship with Christ by accepting Him as Lord and Savior, then we can grow in our relationship with Him.
• We grow through having a daily quiet time of Bible reading and prayer.
• We grow by REALLY worshipping Him at church.
• We grow though baptism, communion and similar spiritual experiences.
• We grow by looking for ways to include God in our daily lives, not just when we are at church.
• The world can be a rough place but we can face the world with hope for the future.
• Hope for the future comes when we pray about our decisions.
• Hope for the future comes when we listen to what God says to us in our lives.
• Hope for the future is strongest when we seek God with all our hearts instead of just with our leftover energy, time, efforts, etc.