God’s Great Plan for Our Lives
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 9, 2012
*The second Sunday in September has been important to me for a long time. It took over 5 years for me to answer God’s call into the ministry. But when I said “yes,” He almost immediately started opening the door for us to come back to Louisiana. And I began serving as the Associate Pastor at McClendon Baptist Church 29 years ago on the second Sunday in September, 1983.
*Then last summer, I got a call from a very nice, young, lady named Kellie. She asked me if I would be interested in filling in a Sunday at Grayson. So my first time to preach here was the second Sunday of September, last year. And there has been something uniquely special about this past year. Mary and I have never felt closer to anyone than we feel to you. And I don’t know why both of these big things started on the second Sunday of September, but God has a reason.
You see, God has a plan for our lives! This is the message to us from the Scripture today. God has a great plan and purpose for our lives!
1. First, God designed our lives.
*Jeremiah’s testimony in vs. 4&5 make this clear to us:
4. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
5. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
*Just like Jeremiah, you and I were designed by the Hand of God.
-He planned us and knew us before we were born.
-He formed us, molded us, and shaped us in the womb.
*This reminds us of the wonder and worth of our lives. As King David told the LORD in Psalm 139:13&14.
13. . . You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.
14. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . .
*God Himself designed our lives. And this of course is why abortion is certainly wrong.
*I would like you to hear a letter to the editor from "The Anderson (Indiana) Herald Bulletin" in January of 2000: “I'm writing this Jan. 21, the eve of the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, and remembering an experience I had at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
*I was visiting an exhibit called ‘The Ascent of Man.’ In one room of the exhibit were displayed 10 to 12 fetuses preserved in jars showing different stages of development from a few weeks to full term.
*Nearby in the same room was a young mother with her son who appeared to be about 4 years of age. The little boy was intently studying the jars and after a few moments, pointed to one and said in his 4-year-old voice, ‘Mommy, what is that?" -- She softly replied, "A fetus, honey.’
*The little boy studied it a few moments more, then replied, ‘Well mommy, it looks like a baby to me.’
*The hush that fell over the room was deafening. Everyone became silent and stood very still. After several moments, everyone very quietly left the room one by one. No one said a word. This small boy had spoken the truth, and no one could argue with that truth.
*I had been on the fence concerning the abortion issue prior to the Smithsonian. However, this experience forever solidified my stand and my heart on this issue. It is a baby, and that is the truth. – Signed: Jean Burcham, Anderson, Indiana.” (1)
*In vs. 5, the LORD told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” And just like Jeremiah, you and I were formed by the Hand of God. So you are precious in His sight. Your life has great value, because you were shaped by the Hand of God.
*Zig Ziglar put it in great perspective when he asked us to think about the priceless masterpieces painted by DaVinci or Michelangelo. And Zig said, “I am roughly familiar with the price of the canvass and the paints. In and of themselves, they are not worth much at all. No -- The value of the painting comes from the touch of the Master’s Hand.” (2)
*And you are priceless, because you were created by the greatest Master of all. Your life has great value, because you were formed by the Hand of God.
-He designed our lives.
2. And now He wants to develop our lives.
*Part of the good news for us as believers is this: God’s not through with us yet! Aren’t you glad? The Lord continues to mold and shape our lives every day. But how does He do it? -- We can see two ways in vs. 6-9.
 First, God gives us His correction.
*We can see this in vs. 6&7, when Jeremiah began to complain to the Lord. He’s whining a little bit in vs. 6.
6. Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth."
7. But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
*Jeremiah needed correction. And God gave it to him.
*All of God’s children need correction from our Heavenly Father. That’s why Hebrews 12:5-11 challenges Christians with these words:
5. . . You have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6. for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
7. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
8. But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
9. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
10. For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.
11. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
*All of us need correction. And God has many ways to get the job done. Bruce Steuer gave the example of two little girls: Joanne and her younger sister Linda.
*One day they were playing, and Joanne got mad at little Linda. Well, we love children, and they are precious, but you know how mean children can be. And Joanne said this to her little sister: “You’re getting uglier and uglier every day.”
*But Joanne’s meanness took a surprising turn that same day when their grandmother stopped by. Mamaw saw the girls, and out of the blue told the younger one: “Linda: You’re getting to look more like your big sister every day!” (3)
*Big sister, Joanne, found out: God has lots of ways to correct His children.
*How does the Lord develop our lives? -- He gives us His correction.
 And He gives us His companionship.
*Listen to what the Lord told Jeremiah in vs. 8: “Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD. These are some of the most encouraging words we can ever hear from the Lord: “I am with you to deliver you.”
*Last week I mentioned something that happened when pioneer missionary, David Livingstone first sailed for Africa. He was met at the dock by some of his friends, because they were afraid for his safety. They tried to persuade him not to go. But Livingstone opened his Bible and read Jesus’ final words in Matthew 28:20: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Livingstone then turned to his friends and said, “That, my friend, is the word of a Gentleman. Let us be going.” (4)
*Sixteen years later, Livingstone went back home to Scotland to raise money and challenge more people to serve as missionaries. Those 16 years had been extremely difficult. Livingstone’s body was thin and wasted away by the ravages of 27 fevers. One arm hung limp at his side, the result of being attacked by a lion.
*But as David Livingstone spoke to the students at Glasgow University, the heart of his message was in these words: “Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the toil, the hardship and loneliness of my exile? -- It was Christ’s promise: ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.’”
*Christians, this promise is for us, too! Jesus is with the missionaries serving in the darkest parts of the world. But He is also with Christians living out their faith in the business world, in our schools and in our homes. Christ is with all Christians at all times, in all places. (5)
*And how close is He? -- Close enough for us to be transformed by His touch.
*This is the message for us from Jeremiah’s testimony in vs. 9: Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
*Let Jesus touch your mind and your mouth today!
-Let Him touch your heart and your hands!
-Your life will never be the same.
*God wants to develop our lives.
3. And He wants to develop our lives, because He has a duty for our lives.
*We see the duty that God gave to Jeremiah in vs. 10. There the Lord said: “See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant.”
*God had a special duty for Jeremiah. And He’s got special duties for us:
-To be the men and women He wants us to be.
-To be the parents, children, co-workers and friends He wants us to be.
-To be His servants, and His faithful witnesses.
*During the French Revolution, many innocent people were crammed into the prisons. We can’t imagine how horrible, dark and dismal they were.
*One prisoner was able to sneak a Bible into the cell. And he was the only one in that cell who could read. Most of the time it was too dark to read the Bible, but there was a window high up near the ceiling, a very small window.
*And once a day, the light came through. So, the prisoners in that cell would lift this man with his Bible up to the light when it came through the window. And he would read the Bible aloud to all of them. But some of the prisoners could not hear him. And when they let him down, he would always hear this question: “Tell us friend, what did you (see) while you were in the light?” (6)
*Christians, we are living in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ! “For God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6)
*Now this is our duty: Taking the Light of Jesus Christ into our dark and dying world. God has a duty for our lives,
4. And He has a duty for our lives, because He has a great desire for our lives.
*God didn’t just create us to live in this world. He wants all of us to live with Him forever in Heaven.
-God cared about getting you safely into this world.
-But He cares infinitely more about getting you safely out of this world.
*His greatest desire for you is to spend all eternity with Him in Heaven. So in vs. 5, He sent Jeremiah as a prophet to all the nations.
*Now you need to know that there is a lot of sorrow in this Book of Jeremiah: sorrow that came from the sin and rebellion of God’s people. Jeremiah is often called the “Weeping Prophet” for good reason.
*Dr. Stanley Morris explained: “Throughout his long, turbulent life Jeremiah constantly had to confront a people who had rejected God for false gods. He warned them that this would cause their eventual destruction, but they refused to repent. So, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, and the people were deported to Babylon.
*Jeremiah was one of the saddest prophets, because his burden was so heavy. The people would not listen to him. Even some of his own townspeople and relatives opposed him and tried to kill him.” (7)
*There is a lot of sorrow in this book. But along with the sorrow, there is good news for all who will turn to God and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
*Jesus is the one who came to die on the cross for our sins. And Jesus rose again to offer forgiveness and eternal live to everyone who will trust in Him.
*Jeremiah 23:5&6 foretold the good news of the coming Savior this way:
5. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
6. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
*Christians, “Our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness!” Jesus Christ IS “the Lord, our Righteousness!”
*But also hear what God tells us in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
31. "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah --
32. not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.
33. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
*“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
-“I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
*That is God’s great desire for you, but it took the greatest sacrifice the world will ever see: Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins.
*One of the most moving sacrifices I have ever seen happened at Captain D’s of all places. Back in the 1990’s, I was going into the restaurant at the exact same time a young mother with her tiny baby was coming out.
*When I was about 10 feet away, that mom tripped over the concrete curb in front of her car. She was falling straight forward with that little baby in her arms. It seemed like she was falling in slow motion, but I was too far away to help. And it looked like the worst was about to happen.
*But then I was astounded to see this ordinary mother whirl around like a cat, and fall flat on her back to protect her baby. The problem was: She had no way to protect herself.
-She took the fall.
-She slammed into that parking lot.
-She took the full force of the fall to protect her little baby.
-And that is what Jesus did for us on the cross.
*Thank the Lord, that mother was not seriously injured by her sacrifice. -- But Jesus suffered and died so that we could live with Him forever.
*This is God’s great desire for you. So turn to the Lord. Put your trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins.
*You see, God really does have a great plan and purpose for our lives.
-Give your life to the Lord today.
-And begin living the life He wants us to live forever.
*Would you please bow for prayer.
1. Letter to the editor that appeared in "The Anderson Herald Bulletin," Anderson, Indiana in January, 2000 - Submitted to “Help4Sunday” by Dr. Guthrie Veech, Anderson, Indiana (Source: Leonard Sweet illustrations from CrossWalk
2. Original source for Ziglar quote unknown
3. Adapted from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Bruce Steuer
4. Lee McGlone in “The Minister's Manual 1995,” by James W. Cox - New York: Harper Collins, 1994, p. 307 - Adapted by Sermonillustrations.com
5. “Till Armageddon” - Waco, TX Word Books, 1981 - pp. 104-105 - Source: “Proclaim” illustration contribution by Mark Sutton
6. “The Living Pulpit,” Volume 5, No. 1, January - March, 1996, “The Holy Spirit,” Bronx, New York - (Source: Series: “The Good Life!” - #4: “The Good Life Is Focused on Sharing!” by Dr. W. Frank Harrington - Jan. 28, 1996)
7. Adapted from “Introductions to the Books of the Bible” by Dr. Stanley L. Morris - Copyright 1993 by International Bible Translators, Inc., Copyright 1993, Ellis Enterprises Inc.