Vision Sunday Message: Vision for a Hope and a Future // Jeremiah 29:4-7, 10-11
The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday January 9, 2022 at our West U Baptist campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.
Happy 2022. If you have your Bibles, please turn to 2 Chronicles 36.
As we launch our ministry for 2022, I come to you today burdened – burdened for the state of things around us.
Now, I’m not a doctor – let’s take a minute to thank those in the medical profession, can we? Thank you for your relentless efforts over these many years. We know that you are tired and weary and we want you to know we are praying for you.
- I’m not a doctor…I’m not a politician…I’m not an engineer, or a professor or a builder.
- I’m your pastor, and I’m burdened.
- I’m burdened by what we are going through in regard to this virus and the world around us.
- I’m burdened about the political landscape and the deep divide in our nation.
- I’m concerned about what is happening economically, as inflation has set in.
- I’m burdened for our education system and the toll that this journey has taken on administrators and teachers in our schools.
- I’m concerned for our kids and learning loss and the struggle on university campuses.
- I’m burdened in many ways, just as you are.
But, I’m not a doctor, a politician, a professor or builder or engineer…I’m a pastor.
And in many ways, I can’t do a lot about what’s going on politically, medically, or educationally.
But I can say to you that all of these factors are impacting us profoundly. These, along with many other pressures, are coming against individuals, families, our church and our city.
Individually, people are less hopeful, filled with more anxiety, anger and they are falling prey to addiction. Just this week, my son Brady read me a statistic from a report on ABC NEWS. Here is what it read…
“Fentanyl overdoses in the U.S. are now considered the number one cause of death for adults between 18 and 45 years old…the synthetic and highly addictive drug has claimed more lives than COVID-19, auto crashes, gun violence, cancer and suicide in the year 2020.”
This is such a sad statistic. So many people are grieving…grieving for loved ones lost, friends lost.
In families, COVID and it’s spread, rules and protocols has had a negative impact on family unity and it is causing relationship strain. Other families are grieving the lost of a brother, sister, husband, wife, father or mother.
In churches, congregations are still pivoting, still trying to regain members and establishing positive movement. Pastors, including this pastor, are grieving the churches they once had – what was—and are wondering if their church will ever be healthy and strong again.
In cities, the poor and marginalized are having to fight harder than ever to keep the lights on, food on the table, and to make ends meet. Demands on city services and those of not for profits are growing, as the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening.
Friends, this is a high view of some of our challenges in 2022.
And I don’t come to you today as a doctor, politician, professor or engineer. I come to you today as a pastor and here is what I need you to hear: We are in a fight!
Now, many of you saw on our social media or read in our email this week that today was VISION SUNDAY. And you were coming expecting an uplifting message. You are sitting there thinking something like, “Man – what’s wrong with the pastor today? This sure is depressing!”
Stay with me, please!
Vision for a hopeful future always begins by defining reality and being weighted down by a burden.
Beginning in 605 B.C., the Chaldeans, lead by Nebuchadnezzar, attacked the Northing Kingdom of Israel. By 587 B.C., Jerusalem had been conquered and the walls of the city had been torn down and Solomon’s Grand Temple was destroyed.
Look at 2 Chronicles 36:11-21 with me for just a moment.
2 Chronicles 36:11-21
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.
15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.
17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. 20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
So much of the pain, devastation, and destruction that the nations of Israel and Judah endured was preventable. And that’s how life is, isn’t it?
The result of all of this wickedness resulted in many people being swept up into a pain-filled existence. This is true for us as well, as the choices we make, or that others make, author pain in our lives.
But I want you to hear something from me today: In the midst of pain, setback, devastation, loss, and ruin, God was up to something and He is up to something now.
Look at this well-known passage in Jeremiah 29. This message of a hope and future was spoken to this people in Babylonian captivity. It was a challenge to learn faithfulness to God and to learn to bless and love an enemy, believing God had a plan.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
What was the Prophet’s Instruction to them?
- 5 – build houses and live in them – plant gardens and eat their produce – Take care of yourself! Fight for yourself!
- 6 – Take wives and have sons and daughters…multiply there and do not decrease – Build Your FAMILY! Fight for your Family!
- 7a – Seek the Welfare of the City –
- Be a Blessing to the City
- Bless those who have taken you Captive
- Bless those who have enslaved you – seek their welfare!
- 7b-8 – Pray to the Lord on behalf of the City
- Trust my Sovereignty and Grow in Your Faith!
- Trust me and grow in me and let me do what I want to do in you
I want you to see these four areas in which they were called.
I want you to learn ho wo fight for what God has for you and your future.
Do you see these four areas?
- For Yourself – Build and Nourish
- For Your Home – Strengthen your family
- For Your Church and Your Faith – Grow in Your Trust in God during this Season of Waiting, exile and captivity
- For Your City – In It’s Welfare, you will find your welfare.
Do you know what is fascinating to me?
These four fights – for yourself, your home, your church, and your city – these are the same fights that we will see when the nation of Israel is released from her captivity and they seek to re-build Jerusalem’s walls and the Temple. These four fights are the same fights we are fighting for today!
Transition: So, let me share with you FOUR WAYS YOUR CHURCH IS HELPING YOU IN THESE FIGHTS:
I want to use the language we have been using for more than 10 years now – DISCOVER, DEVELOP, DEPLOY.
The New Year is a great time to RE-Set and RE-Establish some rhythms. It’s a great time to DISCOVER our Lord’s heart once again.
Beginning next week, January 16th, I am asking every single one of you to JOIN THE FIGHT!
Fight For It COVER
We have been working on this project for the past six months. And we are beginning 2022 with a Church-Wife Study of Fight For It: What in Your Life is Worth Fighting For?
It’s our NEXT STEO. Whether you are watching this online or experiencing this talk today on-campus, we have made a way for your to JOIN THE FIGHT!
We will be looking at these FOUR FIGHTS:
- For Yourself
- For Your Home
- For Your Church
- For Your City…
And studying the re-build story of the Temple of the Lord and the walls of the city of Jerusalem as found in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
We have a:
- Kids Edition
- Youth Edition
- Spanish Edition
- And of course, our Adult English Edition of the Study.
We want the ENTIRE CHURCH GOING THROUGH THIS STUDY.
I told you that we have been praying to launch 50 NEW GROUPS to go through this study.
Well, we have already recruited 55 new group leaders – people who are willing to gather with some friends – on-campus, in their home, or on-line – to go through this study.
We will also be doing this study in our Community Groups that Meet on Sunday Morning.
This Campaign will be able to be done completely digitally, so, even if you can’t join us on-campus right now, you can still join the fight!
Application: At the end of my message, I will share with you how you can take this step to register today.
My hope is that in this study, you will DISCOVER:
- God’s RELEVANT Word for Today
- That You will DISCOVER these 4 Fights
- That You will DISCOVER How to Fight the good fight of faith
- That You will Discover that our God is Fighting for US
- And that You will DISCOVER New Relationships in the church and re-establish others.
That’s Discover. Let’s look at Develop.
How do we develop in our faith in the age in which we live? How can we continually be equipped for these fights for ourselves, our homes, our church and our city?
Your church is committed to coming alongside you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You see, we already offer ministry on-campus multiple days a week, and you can also join us online for worship. But one of the things that we have discovered and are committing significant resources to is the ability to help you take your next step in DEVELOPMENT, ANYTIME and ANYWHERE you have an internet connection.
Over the next three years, we will heavily invest in our DIGITAL INFRASTRUCE, to not just broadcast our services on our website or YOUTUBE Channel, but to offer the same level of equipping online that people can get on-campus.
We believe our future is both online and on-campus. So, we have begun building our DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE to assist in EQUIPPING You for an EVER-CHANGING World, with the NEVER-CHANGING Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
As we launch the Fight For It Campaign, we will also be launching Version 1.0 of the Digital Platform.
Everyone, everywhere is online, and we are building a strategy and infrastructure to not just egage you while you are on -campus, but to also be available to equip you to take your NEXT STEP in GROWTH the other 167 Hours a week.
So, during this campaign, you will begin to experience how we want to engage you digitally at the personal level, as well as provide resources to your group. We are on a learning curve in this area, so please be gracious, but we must build infrastructure to position us for the world we live in now and the world as it develops.
And as we build out of digital infrastructure online, we must also improve our infrastructure on-campus.
From facility excellence to facility safety, we are moving forward to maximize our facilities to better serve the church as we know it now and as it will be in the days ahead. We will launch a GENEROSITY INITIATIVE on APRIL 27th and ask you to join us in the fight to invest resources into God’s House. We haven’t done a capital improvement campaign since 2005, and when we did that, we were launching a new campus and raising resources to invest in the infrastructure that we have enjoyed the past 17 years.
We have real needs in order to be excellent on our campuses.
We aren’t ready to roll out any architect renderings, but we have a lot of ground to take in this area, and we will begin to share more with you in the coming weeks…toward the end of February.
We have to take ground here. We have to be willing to not only fight for ourselves and our homes, but also God’s House, and so, I’m asking you to Join the Fight.
But why do we do all of this?
Q: Why have we gone to the lengths we have to prepare Fight For IT…and to invest in our infrastructure online and on-campus? Why these plans?
A: Because our City Needs Us! Our City needs Christian People and organizations who are discovering more of Jesus and Developing in their faith and who are willing to Deploy!
Look again at Jeremiah 29:7.
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
What if the people of God across this city captured a vision greater than themselves and even their churches, and sought the good of their city, community, neighborhood, street, apartment complex, or dormitory?
What would happen when we joined forces with ministries and churches across our city with a common goal to bless and lift our city?
Application: Friends, this is why we started the CityRise Network – a Network of churches and ministries committed to lifting our city and world by generously giving the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s through thinking differently and linking arms, caring for leaders and sharing resources – that the city will be lifted. Its in partnerships like our clinic where we can serve the poor of our city with free medical care and give them the gospel of Jesus.
Our own David and Denise Glenn founded Kardo International Ministries. Kardo is strengthening families, not only here in our church, but across the globe…helping men become better husbands and fathers and women become better wives and mothers. They are training and equipping the church in multiple languages across the world.
Our own Mary Ann Bridgwater has launched a prayer ministry in our church and is serving other churches…mobilizing prayer across our city and in churches here and beyond.
Our partners at Attack Poverty are working in some of the most challenging places in our city to improve literacy, help with food insecurity and helping people find employment. They are empowering people to live up to their God-given potential, and sharing the Gospel with them, lifting communities.
Our partners at STCH provide Licensed Professional Counselors in Six churches across our city to meet people where they are and help them process their pain.
We were their first partner in Houston and they officed with us for some time. They see people at our West U Campus and there is no cost.
We are partnering with Dr. Tour and the Jesus and Science Foundation to engage thinkers, engage in apologetics, and highlight some of the brightest minds in the world who are followers of Christ in order to win souls for Christ.
I’m excited to announce today our partnership with Mark and Beth Denison of There’s Still Hope. Mark and Beth work with those battling addictions and they have a heart for recovery ministry. We have been visiting together for a number of months about a Recovery Based Worship Service. And beginning on the last Wednesday of February, we will launch a monthly worship service called CityRise Recovery.
Did you know that there are over 160 addictions?
And people who are addicted to alcohol, drugs and pornography – these are high level executives, doctors, lawyers, and pastors! It’s people right here in this community.
We have a number of men and women in Recovery, and we believe if we invest in a worship gathering alongside recovery groups, we will meet people where they are and lead them to Jesus!
Now, look, I haven’t even mentioned what we do each week with English as a Second Language, or our efforts to help plant churches or thwart human trafficking. I haven’t touched on our Mercy House Ministries, or our international mission trips and partners around the world. But, friends, we have a lot of talented people being deployed in very unique and specialized ways to make a profound impact in this world.
But the reason we deploy is so that others can DISCOVER JESUS, DEVELOP IN THEIR FAITH, AND DEPLOY THAT FAITH TO OTHERS, so that they might have a hope and a future.
People need a hope and a future right now, don’t they? That’s the message Jeremiah had for the people of Israel in her captivity.
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Isn’t that good news?
Now, as I said earlier, I want you to join us in the next step. Next Sunday, we launch Fight For It. Listen to our campus pastors for a moment as we all join the fight together.
Transition to FFI Sign Up: GRAB CARD!
Today, if you are on campus, we have a book and a study guide and t-shirt we want to give you. To get the book, the Guide and the T-Shirt, we need you to fill out this card or get you to scan the QR Code and fill out the information digitally.
- Cell Number
Bring the Card to the tables – your campus pastors will tell you where you can get the books and t-shirt… We need the card filled out…and they will have pens at the tables if you don’t have one with you.
If you use the QR Code, you will get an email confirmation that you can show the team at the tables to get your book, guide and t-shirt.
If you are watching this online, I want you to go to www.fightforitcampaign.com.
If you are on line and register, come by the church offices and we will give you your materials.
If you aren’t in the city or can’t come by the church offices, go to the payment gateway and pay for some materials to be sent to you. We will mail them to you this week.
This is a vital next step. Join us…Join the Fight!