The Big Plan

Message Title: The Big Plan
Theme: Back to the Basics
Season: Advent 1
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36
Focus: Christmas isn’t about a baby, it’s about a Savior fulfilling God’s plan.
Function: To prepare our hearts for the fulfillment of that plan and actively wait, living faithfully.
Other Notes: God wants all creation restored (think back to garden), we’re in the second advent now- waiting for this to come true.
intro ideas: “Rookie Smarts” any intro 101 lessons

SERIES INTRODUCTION: Happy New Year! Welcome to Advent and the beginning of a new church year. During the season of Advent, things will look a little different, as you have already noticed. We will be reading 4 passages from scripture and incorporating those into our sermon lesson rather than 1 main text. 

SERMON INTRODUCTION: 

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: 
    1. How many of you ACTUALLY like “Ice Breaker” questions? 
    2. What is the best “ice breaker” question you’ve heard? 
      1. I like “look at your arms, hands, legs and find a scar. Tell us about that scar”
      2. I have some great one for women’s only conversations too 😉 
  2. Starting something new isn’t always fun… especially when you know that you’re going to have to answer ice breakers questions AND you’re an introvert. 
  3. I attended a conference, years back where Liz Wisemen (author of Rookie Smarts) talked about the advantage of starting something new and being the rookie. Now, she wasn’t talking about having the best answer to ice breakers BUT she did talk about the benefit of a learning attitude. 

TRANSITION: We are going to practice a Rookie mindset by getting a smattering of scripture that will help lay the foundation to bring us Back to the Basics – to start Christmas isn’t about a baby, it’s about a Savior. 

MAIN TEXT: (SCRIPTURE READINGS)

Scripture Readings: 

Jeremiah 33:14-16 14 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness. 

Psalm 25:1-10 I offer my life[b] to you, Lord. 2My God, I trust you. Please don’t let me be put to shame! Don’t let my enemies rejoice over me! For that matter, don’t let anyone who hopes in you be put to shame; instead, let those who are treacherous without excuse be put to shame. Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth—teach it to me—because you are the God who saves me. I put my hope in you all day long. Lord, remember your compassion and faithful love—they are forever! But don’t remember the sins of my youth or my wrongdoing. Remember me only according to your faithful love for the sake of your goodness, Lord. The Lord is good and does the right thing; he teaches sinners which way they should go. God guides the weak to justice, teaching them his way. 10 All the Lord’s paths are loving and faithful for those who keep his covenant and laws.

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 How can we thank God enough for you, given all the joy we have because of you before our God? 10 Night and day, we pray more than ever to see all of you in person and to complete whatever you still need for your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus guide us on our way back to you. 12 May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13 May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.

Luke 21:25-36 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, there will be dismay among nations in their confusion over the roaring of the sea and surging waves. 26 The planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken, causing people to faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world. 27 Then they will see the Human One[b] coming on a cloud with power and great splendor. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, stand up straight and raise your heads, because your redemption is near.” 29 Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom is near. 32 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until everything has happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. 34 “Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. 36  Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.”[c]

EXPLAINATION: Christmas isn’t about a baby, it’s about a Savior fulfilling God’s plan.

  1. Jeremiah
    1. Even in the midst of exile, God is promising restoration and redemption. 
  2. Psalm 
    1. David is expressing hope in God to keep God’s promises
  3. 1 Thessalonians
    1. Paul instructs the Christians in Thessalonica to stay faithful to God while they wait for those promises to be fulfilled. 
  4. Luke
    1. Jesus describes the signs pointing to God’s plans being fulfilled. 

INTERPRETATION: To prepare our hearts for the fulfillment of that plan and actively wait, living faithfully.

  1. God’s plans didn’t start with the manger. God’s plans didn’t end with the cross. 
    1. Gordon Hickley’s quote
    2. Christmas is the prologue to Easter. Christ’s return is the epilogue. 
      1. It is ironic that we spend much more time focusing on Christmas when without Easter, Christmas is just a sweet story of a baby being born into less than desirable circumstances. 
      2. Easter is where the story REALLY unfolds. Acts 1 has us waiting with anticipation as we’re promised Jesus will return as he left. 
  2. How are you waiting? Is your waiting pointing towards the truth and hope of Christ? 
    1. Waiting isn’t just for Advent or Christmas time—we are in the Second Advent, waiting for Christ to come back and fulfill all the promises found in scripture. We are waiting even now. 

APPLICATION: To prepare our hearts for the fulfillment of that plan and actively wait, living faithfully.

  1. Ways to get involved with Advent: 
    1. Advent calendars – these all start on Dec 1st. Advent begins 4 Sundays before Christmas, so the date changes every year therefore many start counting at Dec 1st for consistency. 
      1. Could be treats, crafts, or random acts of kindness challenges
      2. Could also be a “reverse advent calendar” – print off ideas in the back. 
    2. Advent Spirals- instructions in the back 
      1. This could be paired with family devotions, prayer, or listening to some Christmas music together at the end of the day. 
    3. Advent Devotions- 
      1. Sarah Bessey- Waiting, Accepting, Journeying, Birthing https://www.sarahbessey.com/shop/advent?fbclid=IwAR0UKTR9nRiMO1VdVCyXlU3UytUp6Ywk79XIznlkhAkITPEyvjxKy3KRcqE 
      2. Walter Brueggemann- Celebrating Abundance https://www.amazon.com/Celebrating-Abundance-Devotions-Walter-Brueggemann/dp/0664262279/  
      3. Scott Erikson- Honest Advent https://www.amazon.com/Honest-Advent-Awakening-God-Us/dp/0310361877/ 
      4. Thomas G. Long- A Surprising God https://www.amazon.com/Surprising-God-Advent-Devotions-Uncertain/dp/0664267238/ 
      5. Zondervan has an Advent Verse Mapping program https://www.zondervan.com/p/versemapping-adventsignup/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=zbibles-vm-advent&fbclid=IwAR2UX0_R3IOf6Sebutn_TPH76xeRY6tDfUpyhbb6rZMm9fJjTYgwdoMeZu8 
    4. Advent Playlists
      1. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Mdxc5vcsIGBLWm9V1paGz?si=ace02f31252d42c0 
  2. These activities are great for advent BUT they are also great for the second advent. What ways could you incorporate waiting, expectation, and faithfulness into your daily lives year round? 

CONCLUSION:  I invite you to go back to the basics, back to the beginning and learn something knew about God. Start over this Advent season. Today is a new day, a new church year—you have a chance to begin this relationship again. 

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