Today we were back to the sermon series "What's Your Story?" after a week off for a Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event. Last week, we had over 400 people in the gymnasium, and we packed over 60,000 meals! Stop Hunger Now has reported that the meals are being shipped to Zambia.
Today before Pastor Ed brought the sermon he met with a group who had gone this summer to the Dominican Republic to serve our missionary Ina York in Cercadillo. Each one gave a personal take on their experience.
Terri hadn't wanted to go, but when she was obedient, God came through in all the details.
John said it was amazing to watch Ina loving those kids, despite major health issues.
Lyle remarked on what a spiritual high getting to organize the trip proved to be for him.
And Kevin gave his testimony and told what important ways God has used trips to Cercadillo in his life, even now directing him to a possible exciting ministry opportunity using his recent degree to feed the poor physically and spiritually. It will be exciting for the church to see what God continues to do in his life.
Then to start off the sermon, we heard John Maulella's testimony. Jesus captured his life and turned his whole direction. For a long time, he has been wanting to be ministering, and he told the church about the group he's leading in the area east of 28, imaginatively called Gateway East. It's also exciting to see what God's doing there.
Then Pastor Ed led us in looking at the life of Jeremiah with the theme of Surrender.
Surrender is one of the main themes in all of our stories, and it was important in the stories of each person we'd already heard speak today.
He began by reading the poem "Invictus," which sums up what our culture aspires to: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." Our national hero is The Self-made Man, and that is all tied up with The American Dream.
The reality is that The Self-Made Man is a myth. The attempt to be self-made hurts our relationships and our lives.
Jeremiah 1:1-10. God told him: I formed you. I knew you. I chose you.
Your part: Surrender to me and act according to my commands.
That will be your internal compass. Not grit and goals and self-attainment, but surrender.
Jeremiah delivered a message of doom for 40 years and was primarily alone.
Jeremiah 11:6-11. Going to Egypt for help was a false, self-made plan that would result in disaster.
Surrender, trust and obey: That's our internal compass.
We say: "I'm here and I want to be there." We decide to include God in our journey from here to there.
Instead, we need to say, "I'm here. God, where do you want me to go?"
Jeremiah's entire ministry is to tell people to turn back to God, surrender, trust, and obey.
If we say this is only for Jeremiah, we'd have to ignore the entire book of Psalms, telling us to wait on the Lord, to surrender, trust, and obey. (Psalm 81:11-12)
To say this is only for Jeremiah, we'd have to ignore Jesus' words.
Our internal compass setting: If you want to be truly successful, if you want to live in concert with your design, if you want to have the life you long to live, if you want to live a life with meaning and purpose, then you will set your sights on following me. You will surrender and act according to my commands.
Some points about this:
1. This is not easy. (Jeremiah 12:1-3)
It wasn't easy for Jeremiah. Later, his complaint turns into despair (Jeremiah 20). Jeremiah's life didn't run in a straight, easy line. Yet there are no indications that he ever left the path of surrender.
2. This is true.
It's simply reality: Believe it or not, we don't actually control things. We can't control our loved ones. We can't control the outcome of our decisions.
This conclusion isn't fatalism. We do make plans. We are to act and participate in God's plan. But the prevailing theme of our lives isn't to make things happen by ourselves.
3. This is why, over the centuries, Christians have developed a devotional life.
You're too busy not to spend time with God.
Every day, on our knees, ask God, "I'm here. Where do you want me to go, God?"
Am I setting my own plans and asking God to bless them? What things get me to fretting and scheming?
What plans do I need to surrender?