I have that holiday feeling thing going.
Which is kind of odd on a Tuesday but tomorrow is the Fourth of July and in our family it is double fun because … day off, fireworks, and our John’s birthday … so win, win, win <3
This morning I went through the notes from Sunday’s sermon by Pastor Brian and it was so good I can’t help but summarize again.
We started a new series called “Quotable” which features some of the more popular buzz-word Scriptures people tend to display on everything from tattoos to mugs.
The plan is to look at those passages within the context of the Bible text so that we can have a fuller and richer understanding as we apply the timeless truths of God’s Word to our every day life.
Brian’s teaching centered on the passage I think we most often see around graduations and such…
For I know the plans I have for you…sing along if you know it…
Or as it reads in the NKJV I use…
For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
While I love this passage dearly, I am always prone to want to remind people that it was not delivered on the cusp of launching someone into some rose-colored future of best days ever on the horizon.
I want to remind them that the purpose of the promise is to point us to a time when we will prosper BECAUSE we will be in such a desperate place that we will finally turn to God and really pray to Him and really listen to Him.
But somehow, pointing this out as I munch graduation cake and look at an eighteen year span of photos glued to a poster board display never seems quite appropriate.
So I sat under the anointed teaching of our pastor on Sunday and I let far wiser and kinder and more skilled words fall from him over me and as God’s word always does, I was transformed and changed and renewed and led and fed.
Because as Brian explained it so well, in each of our lives there are seasons that seem God has sent us away into a foreign land.
For whatever purpose He may have, whether it is consequences of our own choices or the result of others choices, a time of testing or a time of trial, any season where we are saying…this is not what I thought “home” would look like…this is not at all where I want us to be living out our days.
Would you indulge me on this pre-Independence Day post to give you my summary notes?
All the bold type words are direct quotes or what I was able to get copied from words spoken by Brian Talty…those are not my words <3
<3 In the midst of the worst – God is still God
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive , whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon
<3 Keep on going – life is not over. Invest in the future. Do what you need to do to get through this time of captivity so that you can thrive on the other side.
Build houses, live your life fully in them, marry, have children, build relationships, increase, grow, do not let this time decrease you.
paraphrase from Jeremiah 29: 5,6
<3 Bless your Babylon by praying for the peace and prosperity of this place you are in. Jesus called it loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you.
And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace, you will have peace. Jeremiah 29:7
<3 Be careful not to draw false hope from those who are saying only what you want to hear. Use this time to draw more closely in honest relationship to God and listen for the truth of His voice in this season.
Do not listen to those who deceive you nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. Do not listen to those who prophecy falsely in My name. I have not sent them.
Paraphrase of Jeremiah 29: 10
<3 Pray for the breaking of a stronghold of despair.
In My timing, I will come to you. When My purposes for this season have been fulfilled, I will return and I will bring you out. I will remember my promises to you, both in the duration and in the ending. It will be good and it will not harm you. It will prosper you and I am with you.
Paraphrase Jeremiah 29:10-11
<3 It is the perseverance and patience and trust and worship WHILE in Babylon that matters most.
Or as I would say it….the point is not reaching the destination, but rather the journey to get there.
Then you will call to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with your whole heart. And I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity (from this season)… Jeremiah 29: 12-14
One of the most precious things that touched my heart in a tender place was this thought near the end of his sermon.
Brian pointed out that God told them they would be in Babylon for 70 years.
He acknowledged that in the grand time-line of history seven decades is a blip on radar, but for the life of individuals…that is the length of their story here on earth.
How kind God is to us to remind us…in our story… no matter how the plot has twisted and characters have been removed or added or flipped…in spite of changes we were not expecting…or we are due…or we created…or we had dumped on us…
He is with us…to prosper us and not to harm us.
To give us life right where we are.
And we are invited, in the midst of our Babylons, to engage in seeking Him, worshipping Him, bringing His Kingdom come right into the walls of our captivity…to thrive and to do well and increase.
Praise Him <3