I read a great speech by Robert DeNiro that he gave at New York University. It’s not your usual graduation speech. This speech got the graduates’ attention.
“A new door is opening to you. A door to a lifetime of rejection. It is inevitable.”
For Real? He really said that?
Then he said,
“Did you get all A’s in High School and now at NYU? But in the world which is next, you will never get straight A’s again. There will be times when your best is not good enough, but you have to remember that as long as you do your best, it’s OK. “
“Do not allow someone’s opinion of you distract you. Keep on. Strive on and get better and better and learn from mistakes. Again, don’t let the opinion of others about you distract you.”
DeNiro could have given the speech the title “NEXT”.
You lose someone you love. NEXT. What IS next? Is there a NEXT? There is mourning. Then, what is next? Because, if we don’t find out what NEXT is, we will tumble backward. “NEXT” is how we begin living again. It is also like when we lose a job we needed, or liked, or when we lose a friend we had trusted, or discover there is a rumor out there about us…”NEXT” is somewhere on the ladder of life. Next can go up or we can lose heart. We can lose hope and fall down.
And all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.
One of the teaching throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation , is that with God, there is a NEXT. With God, all things are possible. Always dwell on “NEXT” rather that on what landed you where you are. In Genesis, God saw what He had made and he said that it was “good”. God said that He made you in his image. In God there is always a NEXT as we trust Him. Without our trust in Him we are on our own, to listen to the opinion of others who are very imperfect. Do you realize that Almighty God is not going to ask you or anybody else for an opinion about anything?
He who has all the wisdom of all time, has every possibility for you at all times in everything. God always has the perfect NEXT.
Carol and I were on our way to Virginia last week, and as we drove over the mountain through Bedford, and past the High School, she said, “I’m so glad I didn’t get that job.” She had applied for a librarian job there, and at the time was very disappointed that she didn’t get it.
NEXT. God had it right in the first place. At the time she had been praying for “Right”, and it turned out that what was NEXT was in fact, RIGHT.
When tears stream our pillow, when our dream doesn’t happen, when rejection forces it way upon us, as believers, we must be the leaders proclaiming, NEXT. Not right away, especially, but eventually, in the Lord’s perfect timing, we can count on His NEXT.
“What is next Lord?” We want what is next for God’s will and way. With The Holy Spirit’s help, what is next, will be good and perfect.
I read about this woman who was bedfast. She couldn’t go to worship any more. She really missed having a ministry. One afternoon, the Lord showed her pastor something about her. He went to her home to tell her what the Lord had showed him. God wanted her to be an organizer and leader of a prayer chain. That bedfast woman said , “Pastor, I have prayed and prayed for a ministry but I kept thinking ‘What can I do?’ Now I see that was the enemy getting my attention.” Meanwhile, God had a plan in His perfect timing.
And listen sometimes, NEXT comes out of the blue like a bolt of lighting.
Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know. Job 42:2-3
What if Job had not found NEXT? Job had lost all of his 7 children to tragedy and all of his livelihood. His loving wife essentially told him to give up and die. His best friends told him that God was punishing him for secrete sins.
But through it all, Job sought out Almighty God for NEXT. Job didn’t listen to the accusing talk of his wife and his friends, the accusing talk of the enemy.
Job look for NEXT through the provision of God.
On occasion I speak at Arbutus retirement community. There are only so many sermons you can effectively preach at a rest home. Sometimes there is a limited attention span, poor hearing, physical limitations that occasionally distract. So the recently I prayed, “Lord, what do You want me to preach this time?”
“Encouraging and Welcoming each other.”
I wasn’t sure about that. Did I hear it right?
Some of you knew Sue Griffith’s mom. She was at the Presbyterian Home here in Johnstown, and I never went to that community when she wasn’t in the lobby greeting people, welcoming them, giving them directions if they needed it. Thinking of her inspired me, so I preached that sermon at Arbutus the last time I was there.
I preached about encouraging each other’s room mates, reaching out to new people on their floor, engaging in encouraging and positive conversation at their tables when they had their meals.
Out of the 1,300 sermons or so that I have preached, this one was received by nearly everyone at that service with joy and gratitude. Almost everyone there remarked to me as I greeted them after the service, that this was a sermon they needed to hear. That this sermon was a real eye opener for them. That this sermon had their name on it.
Why was this sermon received like this?
The people there had wanted a NEXT. Now they had it. The Holy Spirit had shown their NEXT to me.
I was like Jonah. I didn’t want to give that sermon to those 50 people. The Lord said, Provide it.”
What if Jesus had refused to say NEXT after the Last Supper? In his case, he knew in detail what His NEXT would be.
– the abandonment of the 12
– the betrayal of 1
– the denial of Peter
– the beatings
– the lying accusations
– the horror of the cross
He needed NEXT for us. We need NEXT to continue to fulfill God assignment for us.
Learn to make the connection between your prayers and what happens NEXT. If you do not make the connection with what happens NEXT you may miss God’s answer to your prayer.
And in our church family — pray for what God has NEXT. Growing churches are churches that are praying for what God has NEXT. For instance, last year the Lord added a 2nd small group Bible Study simultaneous to our existing one.
This year, so far, what is NEXT?
A Sunday Morning Bible Study small group before worship. NEXT is always something to grow the church and to grow it spiritually.
The Lord is not finished with any of you. The enemy will have you believe there is no NEXT for you. He is a liar. God says he is a deceiving liar.
Whatever you are discouraged about,
Whatever your heartache,
Whatever your assignment from God that you cannot see yet,
Stretch out your arms to the One who gives you a future and a hope. The One who can do exceedingly, abundantly more than you can conceive or imagine.
Jesus is the ticket, through The Holy Spirit to your NEXT.
Jesus is Lord.