Summary: God moved the Israelites from Judah to Babylon and called them to "bloom where they were planted". Likewise God moves us around and calls us to do the same. I preached this sermon in Iraq for a group of Ugandan security personnel celebrating their one y

-Have you ever been put in a difficult position?

-Have you ever been asked to do a difficult job that would not make you many friends if you did it to the best of your abilities? {PAUSE}

-That has been something of my job here. The senior chaplain has asked me and Sergeant Weathers to help him square the chapel away, to get the staff to work together better, to get the chaplain assistants to do their jobs.

-It hasn’t made me a popular individual.

-In fact, it has probably brought me more enemies than friends.

-Doing the right thing, doing what God has called you to do is usually not very easy. The prophet Jeremiah knows all about that. {PAUSE}

-Our Old Testament lesson is God’s message of hope from the prophet Jeremiah during a particularly rough period in their history

-Jeremiah had been sent by God at a very young age to prophecy to the people of Judah, the southern two tribes after Israel was split into two kingdoms after the reign of King Solomon

-He went to live in the capital, Jerusalem, in the thirteenth year of the reign of the good king Josiah. That was 628 B. C.

-Josiah was bringing about reform among the people of Judah until his untimely death in 609 B. C.

-After Josiah’s death, Judah went downhill very quickly

-Jeremiah’s job was to warn the people of Judah that God was going to punish them for their disobedience of His commands, especially for their turning away from Him and worshipping other gods

-He was not well liked for telling the people bad news

-The king and the religious leaders thought that he was spreading dissent among the people

-You see, Jeremiah was asked by God to be most vocal when the Babylonians were right outside the gates of Jerusalem

-When they were about to take over their nation

-When the future seemed to be just about as bleak as it could be, Jeremiah was asked to prophecy doom and gloom, that they would lose the war {PAUSE}

-That is never popular

-There are people in the United States who have talked negatively about our countries involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan

-There is a generally rule of thumb – Don’t talk negatively about a war when you are fighting it

-If you do, you are liable to get labeled as unpatriotic {PAUSE}

-Finally in 597 B. C. God allowed the Babylonians to conquer the Israelites and cart the best and the brightest off to Babylon

-In 587 B. C. God brought the Babylonians back to destroy Jerusalem and take all of Judah back to Babylon

-And that is when the message changed

-You see, God’s message through the prophets were anachronistic

-They were out of step with time

-Now, when the Israelites were at their lowest, God’s message to them was at its heights of hope {PAUSE}

-Have you ever gone through a rough stretch in your life and people have come along side you and told you that it is going to be alright

-It’s happened to me. After my father died, people would come up and tell me that it was going to be okay

-I appreciate their sentiment but the message was wrong.

-I would have appreciated them just listening to me and just being there

-Too often, as Christians, we give the wrong message to others

-We tell people everything is going to be okay when they have cancer or their father has a heart attack

-Well, sometimes it’s not okay

-Sometimes bad things, things that are unexpected happen but God has a plan even in the midst of that {PAUSE}

-There were prophets, so called, that were telling the Israelites that God would come in and rescue them and take them back to Jerusalem quickly

-But God, through Jeremiah, told them to work hard in Babylon

-To invest themselves in the culture where God had allowed them to be taken

-He told them to bloom where they were planted {PAUSE}

-That is what Martin Luther referred to as the doctrine of vocation

-It was thought in the Middle Ages that the only people who truly pleased God were priests, monks, nuns – those who worked for God directly, or so they thought

-However, Martin Luther rediscovered what Christians have known but forgot from time to time, that whatever you do using your God-given abilities as a Christian, is god-pleasing

-You don’t have to be a minister to please God

-When you are the best soldier, sailor, airman, marine, commander, supervisor, guard, father, son, husband that God has made you to be – God is pleased

-God calls you to bloom where you are planted

-God has planted y’all here, for the time being, in Iraq

-Wherever Christians have gone in the world, they have blessed the people around them

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