Summary: Getting into God's position for you
Waiting for GPS (God’s Positioning System)
Lectionary passages: Jeremiah 29:1, 7-14
II Timothy 2: 8-15
Luke 17: 11-19
When I read the scriptures for today and began thinking about which one I wanted to speak on, I knew most of you would have heard the story of the ten lepers that were healed but only one came back to say thank you in the passage from Luke.
And most of us could also quote the important advice from II Timothy 2:15. “Study to show thyself approved unto God..”
So that left Jeremiah. But on the surface it seemed it was such a few verses and really not a very important subject on which to preach. Until I looked closer at verse 4 and saw,
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says…”
And I began to study….to try to “rightly divide the word of truth”
As I began to dig in and put thoughts on paper and read commentaries it amazed me to see that several other sermon authors had been struck with the same general idea that seemed to stick out for me.
That’s when I knew I must be onto something that God truly wanted to say to us today.
It is a message for right where we live.
Look at verse 1.of Jeremiah chapter 29.
“This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon"(NIV).
The nation of Israel was divided and demoralized.
These people were wondering,
“What do we do until this exile is over?
They were just waiting to go back home.
Jeremiah urges them to embrace the present as the arena in which God will work, and abandon the false hopes they placed in military rebellion and trying to recreate what was already lost.
How do we identify with their problem?
I think the clue is in a quote by Richard Evans:
“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it”
You know most folks are just biding their time until…
they find a better job, or until school is out, or until they get to feeling better, or until they get out of debt, or get married, or whatever. They put off or seem powerless to change their current situation.
I read this funny illustration the other day.
A fortuneteller was gazing into a crystal ball, and talking to a frog: who was sitting across from her. “You are going to meet a beautiful young woman. From the moment she sets eyes on you she will have an insatiable desire to know all about you. She will be compelled to get close to you--you’ll fascinate her."
"Where am I, at a singles club?" the frog wondered.
“Biology class." said the fortuneteller.
So the first thing we need to learn is how to perceive our position.
God gave the exiled Israelites an answer.
And it is an answer for each of us to consider how to live right now, wherever you are with whatever is going on in your life.
Our text speaks to the issue of dealing with present realities, but not within our frame of reference, but from that of the Lord.
God knows where we are and calls us to be His representatives in that place.
#1 Get Perspective (about your position)
Notice verse 4 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”. (NIV)
Wait a minute! Who carried the Israelite people into captivity?
This says it was God, but verse 1 said it was Nebuchadnezzar. Is this a typo?
No, it was God!
Nebuchadnezzar was just the man He used to carry out His plan.
God knew, allowed, and purposed this for Israel.
His grace was sufficient for them in Babylon, too.
Remember God neither slumbers nor sleeps.
He knows where you are and how you got there.
#2 Get Productive (plough and plant and reproduce)
Look at what God told the people in our text. in verses 5-6. “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
They are not to believe that this world or the peoples’ present conditions are so bad that children could not survive or should not be subject to this life.
Jeremiah is telling the people to start focusing on life, and no longer focus on destruction