During these last weeks, I have wanted to write about HOPE for the ‘Sunday Message’. Many have expressed HOPE, and I saw a connecting link between Jeremiah chapter 29 and what we have experienced over the past year, and there is a relevant lesson, while remembering that the text is specific to Israel.
Jeremiah had been prophesying and preaching – now, he writes a letter and sends it to those who had been taken into exile to Babylon – to the captives – to the cream of society – the artisans, the craftsmen, the priests and the prophets – even the king.
In Jeremiah 29 we have the text of the letter, it even says who the postman is. If God uses you as a postman to deliver a vital message, that’s important.
What will Jeremiah say? Could there be a lesson for us as we prepare to come out of ‘a year of lockdown’?
Some thought that the exile would soon end, but Jeremiah says: “NO”, it will last 70 years. How are these people going to live, act, react and respond?
It is a time of painful and imprisoning isolation – and Jeremiah says – verse 5 – Build – Settle down – Plant – Eat the produce – Marry – Increase in number.
“Bloom where you are planted” – I am so glad I heard that word many years ago.
In Babylon, they were cut off from the source that fed and strengthened them.
Verse 7 – Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have brought you. Pray to the Lord for him, if he prospers, you too will prosper. Don’t listen to those false prophets who say that soon it will all be over, you will be there for 70 years so settle down and prosper. Don’t laugh or whine or complain – PROSPER!
Verse 10 – I will come and bring you back. I promise to do that, I will keep My Word. – I keep my promises.
Verse 11 – I have plans for you – to prosper you – not to harm you.
God appears before His Chosen People – HOPE. Jeremías becomes very tender. He is aware of what God’s people are experiencing, and because he is in tune with God, he can write gracefully. Jeremiah hears from God and writes.
Here is the God of grace extending His hand to His people with a word to encourage them to turn to Him, to call on Him, to seek God with all their hearts. When you do that, you’ll find me.
Seek God – if you seek God, you will find God!
Verse 14 – I will be found – I will bring – I will gather – back to a specific place.
God always gives His People HOPE. One thing these people missed was the worship in the Temple, haven’t we found that too? Come together to sing, pray, praise and worship.
Goal – What is HOPE?
Isaiah 40, verse 31 is strong: hope means expectation, trust, lean on, trust or take refuge, wait in silence.
These people were in a difficult and uncomfortable situation, like many today, there is increasing stress, with various repercussions.
People need HOPE, but the HOPE that God gives is more than hoping that things will get better and better, and this is what I want to stress and emphasize.
We have missed a lot this year: worship and fellowship.
Bloom where you have been planted.
Look for that SHALOM – Peace with God – Peace with yourself – Peace with others.
SHALOM is such a broad word – wellness – in that sense, it is similar to HOPE.
Use these next few weeks, as lockdown slowly relaxes, bloom where God has planted you. Use your life, you can have an influence.
Thanks people. Some workers have been very brave, in shops, the supermarket checkout, the garage, carers, many have been on the front lines, as well as doctors, nurses, cleaners and caterers in the NHS.
In the days of the Old Testament, the main experience of the Holy Spirit and Worship was in the Temple, and the Temple was gone. The town was a thousand miles east of Jerusalem. Today we have the Holy Spirit—and the presence of the risen, living Jesus—as well as the promises of our faithful Father—a perfect and pleasing plan as we follow His perfect and pleasing will. novels 12.
Don’t waste these next days and weeks.
In Christ Jesus, we are on the front lines, and we can ‘stress out’.
Read Luke 10, verses 38 to 42 – The story of two sisters – we too can get angry and distracted by so many things. ‘Distracted’ means – being pulled in different directions at the same time – and ‘worrying’ here means struggling – having the joy drowned out in your life.
We can feel some of this after a long year of Pandemic, a year now since I preached on a Sunday, a year since we gathered around bread and wine.
Jesus enters the house of Mary and Martha. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him. What a nice picture she was. She was quiet, submissive and open to hearing what Jesus had to say. Martha was so busy doing things, running around preparing a meal that Jesus wasn’t particularly interested in.
We are told that she was distracted, verse 40. She was diverted from giving Jesus her full attention, and Jesus rebuked her lightly. She thought that she had so many things to do for Jesus, and Jesus wasn’t really interested.
How often could that apply to us?
Martha becomes a bit resentful towards her sister Mary. Marta was doing too much, too much, and she is thinking that Jesus should be a little more grateful.
We can think like this too, but we direct our resentment not at Jesus, but at other members of the body of Christ, or perhaps even members of our family.
Was it resentment because Jesus seemed to be paying more attention to Mary than to the hasty Martha, in all her hustle and bustle? What a warning to us when we can seem, and maybe even enjoy, being occupied by Jesus.
Jesus has to say – You are so worried and upset about so many things – Come Marta – calm down – slowly – sit down. He defends Maria and diagnoses Marta. Mary is listening to the Word of God.
Jesus may not be very interested in some of the spreads we make for Him, whatever form they take, but He appreciated the peace and quiet, and someone to talk to. We have to balance the two scenes, always remembering that service to others comes second, a matter of priorities, people before things.
Jesus wants us to show our love for God by coming before Him, in praise and worship, by listening and listening, to spend time in prayer, and rarely can that kind of activity be rushed. He waits for us to sit quietly and take in all that he has to share with us, tell us and reveal to us. That can’t be rushed.
Jesus loved Martha and Jesus loved Mary – Jesus loved both sisters – John 11.
Jesus wants us to take time to listen to him and receive from him and please him; then, we will be ready and equipped to serve the needy neighbors we encounter.
Bloom where you are planted.
Make the most of these next 70 years in Babylon.
Make the most of these coming days and weeks, in which we live and serve.
The Exiles listened to Jeremiah – and we listened to Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Let the Holy Spirit give you more HOPE, not just for this life, but for eternity.
Let the Holy Spirit wash away disappointment, frustration, and maybe even anger.
Let Him refresh you for the race ahead, for the next part of the journey.