Looking up to God. When looking to God, I believe He wants us to look UP. God doesn’t want us to be in quarantine when looking to and worshiping Him! And the LORD, he it is that goth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8 God tells us to be strong, and that we don’t need to fear! For He it is that doth go with us! And He will never leave us nor forsake us! What a blessing!
TEXT: JEREMIAH 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Jeremiah is writing this letter of the Lord’s promise. “For I know the thoughts that I think of you, to give you an expected end.” And as the message goes forward this morning, as a story being told, I want you to imagine, yourself and your loved ones with the narrative that ends with the scripture that we just read. Imagine yourself, and those very close to your heart. Imagine the narrative is just like this scripture we just read in Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you: Thoughts of those that you have a burden for. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you. Thoughts of peace, and not of evil calamity, or chaos. But to give you an expected end. And end with a future! And end with a hope! Those are the words of our Savior! I don’t believe for one second that you and I are stuck with our back story. When I use that word, “back story,” I’m talking about our past ! We’re not stuck there! I don’t believe that for one moment. That being said I fully realize that our actions have consequences We all know that. In the Israelite’s case it turned out to be exile for 70 years. That was because of their disobedience. If we find ourselves separated or exiled from God, it’ll be because of disobedience. Yet even the Israelites had hope for a brighter future, with an expected end! One that offered peace and not evil. And so do we! I believe we can go from what is, ..to what can be! And how that narrative is written, is entirely up to us! The what is. I’ll do the best I can to explain it, how I think of it. The what is, is what I would say is, the unfiltered state. It’s wherever we’re found in life right now! As God looks upon us ..that’s the what is, whatever that is! Mentally, physically, spiritually, ..that’s our what is, right now! Now what can be, is the unrestrained future state! In my past employment, I was responsible to go and fix problems. I don’t want to responsible for fixing my own life! In this particular scenario the way to fix the what is, to what the can be, was we had to first get everyone to “recognize where they were.” Before God can help us, we need to understand where we are! We’ve got to be honest with ourselves! We can go to the scriptures, we can recite them, we can go to Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. In that particular stage of my job, I had to get the people to tell me, not how they thought it should be, or knew it should be, but how it really was ! And that’s exactly what we have to do with God! We’ve got to get before God’s face, and let Him know, “I understand where I am!” I see You, as You see me, and as You want it to be, (and however that goes). Then we have to go to the what can be. And in the case of these projects at work, I would have to tell them, “Look you can’t think of it in the terms of restrictions !” Because of you do that, you’re not going to get to the “can be.”
If you can “dream big for yourself, or for those you have a burden for this morning, what would that dream look like?” For how the narrative is written is entirely up to us! Consider a story I will tell, to illustrate. The setting was around 1914, in a little school house. A little boy around 8 years old held the responsibility of arriving to school early every morning to start the fire and warm the room, before his teacher and classmates arrived. One tragic morning upon arrival, his teacher and classmates were met with an unforgettable sight. That little one room school house was engulfed in flames. Dragged unconscious out of the flaming building, more dead than alive, the doctor told his mother her son would surely die, that the fire had devastated the lower half of his body! But the brave little boy, ..he did not want to die! He made up his mind that he would survive! And somehow to the amazement of the doctor, he did survive! And when the mortal danger was passed, he again heard the doctor and his mother speaking quietly. And the mother was told that since so much flesh was destroyed in the lower half of his body, it would almost have been better if he had died, since he was doomed to be a life long cripple with no use of his lower half’s legs! And once more the brave little boy made up his mind, he would not be a cripple, ..he would walk! And everyday his mother would massage those little legs, but there was no feeling, no control. There was nothing. And yet his determination that he would walk, was as strong as ever! Then one sunny day, his mother wheeled him outside to the yard to get some fresh air. Only this day, instead of sitting there, he threw himself from the chair, he pulled himself across the grass, and dragged those lifeless legs behind him. He worked his way to the white picket fence that bordered their lot, and with great effort he raised himself up to the fence and stake by stake he began to drag himself along the fence, resolved that he would walk! He started to do this everyday, until he wore a smooth path along the fence. There was nothing he wanted more then to develop life in those legs. Ultimately he did develop the ability to stand up, then to walk, and yes even to run! . He began to walk to school, to run to school, and to run for the sheer joy of running! And later in college he made the track team! And on June 16,1934 this young man who was not expected to survive, who surely would never walk, who could never hope to run, this determined young man, Dr. Glenn Cunningham ran the world’s fastest mile! Imagine! This little boy of 8 years old ..changed his story, from a narrative that was presumably already written, to an outcome that was much bigger! Where others had framed his story in terms of small, he went Big! JEREMIAH 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Thoughts of hope, of peace and not of evil! To give you what? An expected end! An end that has a future! An end that has a hope! At various points in our lives, we might feel alone. We might even feel abandoned! Perhaps others have even given up on us, written us off if you will, as having no hope. Though it might appear that you’ve received a sentence, God would have us to be free and live, with a future that is filled with hope. We have a hope, a future, and an expected end! And those we have a burden for, those situations we have a burden for, God knows all about them! And He has given us a promise that He has an expected end. An end that has a future, an end that has a hope, a hope we can carry to God for those we care about. And this boy, what did he do? He chose to find the brightest corner in which to live. He didn’t choose a narrative that others were believing. Satan wants nothing more than for us to accept a narrative that doesn’t offer hope, that doesn’t offer a future! But that doesn’t have to be the end of our story! Our burden in this message is ..what is your Big? For those burdens that weigh heavy on your heart this morning, I know some of them, and you probably know some of mine, ..for those burdens, ..what is your big?
What Is Your Big?