Do you want to be happy? I’ve got good news for you … If you do a quick search for “happiness” in Amazon books, and you’ll find more than 50,000 results. That’s a lot of people writing about it and people looking for it. You’ll find titles like …
- The Art of Happiness
- The Happiness Advantage
- Hardwiring Happiness
- The Happiness Hypothesis
- The Happiness Curve (why life gets better after 50!)
One more year and I’ll finally be happy! As interested as I am in living a happy life, I’m even more interested in living a meaningful life. Why? Let me frame it for you this way:
Pursuing happiness will not always lead to meaning. Pursuing meaning will always lead to happiness, joy, satisfaction, and significance.
At Mountainview we are starting a new series called “Your Life Matters.” Our small groups will be discussing the same themes we talk about on weekends. Here’s what I believe: your life DOES matter … and when you find the meaning to your life, you will find happiness in your life.
Every person is made in the image of God and has the built-in potential to write a great story. But sometimes things are not the way we want them to be.
In today’s passage, Jeremiah the prophet was trapped inside Jerusalem as it’s being attacked by the Babylonians. He’s not where he wants to be.
1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon … (Jeremiah 29:1).
When you are not where you want to be, how should you respond? Where should you turn?
At the moment, it seems like the Israelites are in trouble. Doomed! Maybe you can relate …
- Your husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Your wife wants a divorce after 20 years of marriage.
- Your first choice for college turned you down.
Here’s what God says to the exiles …
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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
It’s too easy to simply dismiss this passage as not relevant for anyone except sixth-century captive Israelites. The history of Israel is one long, divinely orchestrated teaching lesson on how to relate to God. God is not saying that everything will always be wonderful. God is saying that you are never out of his thoughts.
The word “plans” in this verse is the same word that is used back in Isaiah that actually means thoughts. “I know the thoughts I have toward you. I know the dreams I have toward you.”
The Babylonians had a plan for those in exile – they had thoughts and intentions toward those in exile and that was for God’s people to be displaced, homeless, and at risk.
But God had different intentions for his people. God had different thoughts toward his people. God had different dreams for his people.
That’s not just true for people living in ancient Jerusalem – that is something it still true today. How do we know this to be true? Just take a look at Jesus.
In John 9, the story is told of Jesus healing a man who had been blind since birth. In the ancient way of thinking, either the man or his parents must have done something really bad for the man to be born blind:
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).
No matter what has been your story to this point, no matter who you are or what you’ve done … Jesus wants the works of God to be displayed in you. You can always trust that God has good thoughts about you. Jesus wants your life to be a great story.
The religious leaders, however, were bent out of shape by Jesus healing this man because it happened on the Sabbath, the Jewish day of worship. They actually want the healed man to condemn Jesus for what he has done. This is what the guy says instead:
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:24-25)
Rather than get an AMEN from the religious leaders, this bold statement gets him kicked out of the synagogue. What happens next is an illustration of how Jesus feels about each and every one of you.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35)
Did you notice what happened? Jesus found him. And he has found you, too. The question is not, will Jesus find me? It’s … will I believe in him?
Will you trust that Jesus has the ability and the willingness to turn your life into a great story?
Experience and Background
- Professor at Warner University
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
Need an engaging speaker for your event or conference? At the moment, I am available on a limited basis to speak for seminars, workshops, or worship services. Click here to learn more.
I’ve written a few books that might help! You’ll find books on preaching, leadership, Ephesians, as well as my first novel. Follow this link to learn more.