Thursday, January 16, 2014

A One-Word Sermon

I recently saw the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". [I know, I know--it is a couple of years old and can be considered a 'chick flick'! What can I say?]

In the hotel, the young man who is the manager of the hotel excuses the way things currently are by saying: "It'll be alright in the end.  If it's not alright, it's not the end yet."  We pastors have a saying--"That'll preach!"

For my first sermon this year, I introduced a word for 2014: "Yet."  The Apostle Paul uses this little word in Romans 8:25 (NLT): "But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently."

'I have not received an answer to my prayer' is a statement of current fact.
'I have not received an answer to my prayer yet' brings God into the picture.

That little word 'yet' is a word of hope and anticipation and expectation.  It recognizes that God is always at work.  It changes our outlook completely on our current circumstances.

We can have hope which is that settled confidence that looks to the future.  And that means today we can have patience--that willingness to walk in faith in the present because of our hope in the future.

What is it that you have been praying for (maybe for years) that you have not seen an answer--yet?  An unbelieving spouse or child? A turnaround in finances? A healing of some kind?  A relationship breakthrough?

As a pastor, I can be easily discouraged and frustrated seeing lack of spiritual growth amongst some in a congregation who should know better (at least intellectually).  It is tempting to give up, to stop praying, to begin to 'play Holy Spirit.'  But by employing that one little word, a different mindset is established: "They have not changed--YET!"

I can continue to pray in confidence. To persevere despite the lack of tangible results.  To guard against emotions of anger, bitterness, frustration, discouragement, anxiety, etc.  To recognize that God has not finished His work: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9)

What a great God when we can say: 'It'll be alright in the end.  If it's not alright, it's not the end yet.'

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