Summary: In Jeremiah 31, the Israelites are in exile in Babylon, but God promises to bring them back to Jerusalem. It is one of the most hopeful chapters in Scripture.
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This message concludes our SFSG: So Far So God series. In Jeremiah 31, the Israelites are in exile in Babylon, but God promises to bring them back to Jerusalem. It is one of the most hopeful chapters in Scripture.
Verse 9 says, “Tears of joy will stream down their faces.” Verse 12 says, “They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the many gifts the Lord has given them.” Verse 13 says, “The young women will dance for joy.” And verse 14 says, “I will satisfy my people with my bounty.”
There is promise after promise.
And then the Lord gives them specific instructions in Jeremiah 31:21: “Set up road signs; put up guideposts; Mark well the path by which you came.”
Mark Your Trail
This week I was reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. It is the story of Meriwether Lewis, as in Lewis and Clark. Lewis was appointed by Thomas Jefferson to find a waterway to the Pacific. He was given a $2500 appropriation from Congress for the expedition. The largest part of the budget was $696 for Indian presents. He also used the appropriation to buy things like a boat and medicine and navigational instruments.
But Ambrose makes a special point of noting how much ink Lewis brought along for the journey. Ambrose writes, “Lewis had plenty of ink left when he got home, enough for another voyage. That ink wasn’t critical for making the trip, but it was critical to make the expedition a success by recording its findings.”
Ink may not seem as important as the .54 caliber rifles or dry goods or navigational equipment that Lewis took with on the expedition. As Ambrose noted, ink wasn’t necessary to make the trip. But it was necessary to mark the trail.
Lewis’ expedition journals are priceless. He drew pictures of the animals he encountered. He noted the flora and fauna he saw. He used the ink to draw maps. He recorded every detail in his journals.
There is a difference between making a trip and marking a trail. Far too many of us make the trip, but we don’t mark the trail.
Think of Jeremiah 31:21 in expedition terms. It says, “Mark well the path by which you came.”
In other words, mark your trail.
This series has been all about marking our trail. This message looks in the rearview mirror and reflects on some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Lesson #1—God is Sovereign
First and foremost, I’ve learned that God is sovereign.
I knew that before we started pursuing this dream of building a coffeehouse on Capitol Hill, but there are two kinds of knowing. One is an intellectual knowing. The other is an experiential knowing. I knew from reading Scripture that God was sovereign, but it was theoretical. Over the last eight years, that head knowledge has turned into a profound sense of destiny. I know that I know that God is in control. I know that I know that God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. And I know that I know that God is going to get us where God wants us to go!
A few months ago we have a week of prayer and one of our prayer meetings was at Ebenezers. During that prayer meeting, someone said they felt like the Lord had given them a Scripture to share with the group. That Scripture has been in my spirit ever since. It is Exodus 23:20. “See I am sending my angel before you to lead you safely to the land I have prepared for you.”
It obviously refers to the Promise Land. But I believe God did the exact same thing with Lot 109 in Square 754, AKA 201 F Street, NE. He sent his angel before us to lead us to the land he prepared for us.
This week one of our neighbors walked into the coffeehouse and told me, “If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t have a coffeehouse.”
He has lived in the neighborhood for twenty-five years and he’s actively involved in the community. He said that in the 1980’s the former owners of 201 F Street filed for a demolition permit. And this neighbor stopped them. He went to Historic Preservation and got the property deemed a historic property. If he hadn’t done what he did, a fast food chain or Dry Cleaner or Corner Mart would have snapped up this property long before we moved into the neighborhood.
I just think that is so cool. Before this dream was even conceived, God has his hand on 201 F Street, NE. He went before us protecting it and preparing it!