Jeremiah - Week One

Jeremiah is also actually the longest book in the old Testament. It's a challenging, wonderful read.






Jeremiah - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Yeah, we got some good stuff coming up. I'm excited about that. Hey, today is a weekend of remembrance. And so just to pause for a minute and recognize those who have served, someone who has served that has given their life I recognize you, we honor you we see you in the midst of this moment. If you're joining us with online just even this last year, I've had the honor to go to a couple of different Terry ceremonies and lay someone to arrest. And so I know the distinct privilege that is that I've had. And so again, we just see them.

We have a couple of things that I wanted to update you about last week. I made a first announcement about this. I a follow up for any of those that weren't here. I've gotten a lot of questions about, Hey, what is that going to look like at church after June 15th, when regulations change, we've got notification from our local governance and the county and the guidelines, et cetera, that come that Tuesday, June the 15th, that and churches as well. The likelihood of it just kind of going back to what was pre COVID stuff is going to be at the discretion of individual institutions. And so following those guidelines are going to really consistent from the beginning, just to let you know what is going to shift or not going to shift on the father's day weekend when it comes to us is we're going to keep everything on campus right now, pretty much the same.

We have some social distancing set up in the rooms and how we're laid out with chairs and just kind of the common areas. We have collapsed our kids area. And so we can handle that. Well, we're going to keep that going for a couple of months to kind of feel that out. The one thing that will shift just a little bit is we're going to create a mask only, or non-vaccinated section in the middle of our room towards the back. So that's comfortable for those who don't yet feel comfortable, not wearing a mask if they've been vaccinated, et cetera. And so that's going to be something that we're going to stop policing, but for now we're still have masks are still asking people to wear masks the entire time in here, but that's one of those shifts. And I know a lot of people have reached out and that are concerned about this.

And the thing is, is that I'm just trying to be consistent with what we've done from the very beginning and care for everyone involved. And so trying to create spaces for us to do that. So those of you who are with us online and wondering, Hey, what's that going to look like in the future? Now, you know, those of you who are in the room, what's it going to look in the future? We're just walking through it together. It's been such a fluid situation. And the important thing is to love each other and to care for each other, through all of this. One of the things that I wanted to let you guys know about is that in a couple of weeks, we have a members meeting on June 13th. We didn't get to do one last year because of COVID restrictions. And so we're going to do an in-person one and an online one.

And anyone is actually welcome to that. It's at one o'clock on June 13th in this room online or in San Francisco at the same time, feel free to come to that. If you're a member, highly encourage you guys be a part of that. As we get to look at what God's going to be doing here in the future, just update on some things that are going on and introduce some new board members. So some are really great, but today I get to kick off our summer series. I know I just said it out loud. I know it's the last weekend of may, but this is summer. It's here. It's on, this is what we've been waiting for. And we're starting this series. We're going to do an 11 week conversation through the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah. Wasn't really written chronologically, but we're going to grab some things out of this, specifically, this loss calling exile and king eviction that we're going to see throughout here. And I've brought in some friends they're going to pop in and out over the next coming months through the series that have some expertise in this area. One of those just the highlights is June 27th, Brandon McDonough. He runs an organization called hold fast recovery. He is, if you saw this years ago in the news, back in 2013, he is the sole survivor of the Yarnell fire when 19 other hot shots lost their lives. So he was the one that made it through there. Unfortunately actually knew one of those men. He was in my youth group and did youth ministry with him and him passing away in that fire. And so we had just a different connection when it came to that. He's going to come out here and talk about some of that loss, exile, that difficulty stuff, and how we kind of walk through those things and what his life has looked like since then.

So just the highlight, really excited about everybody actually highlight him specifically this weekend or highlight different people as we kind of continue to work our way through this. So Jeremiah, this is really a framework that we're going to use to understand this progression of Jeremiah's life. He's a prophet of God and in his ministry in order to think about the way that this loss calling exile and conviction, speak to our present moment that we're dealing with. And this week I've titled this message you are known, did you know that you are known, but before we hop into that and what no looks like. I want to do a quick overview of this entire book of Jeremiah for you understand this is the old Testament. So here's a glance at this timeline. Jeremiah is a prophet that came in the backside of Israel's kingship era.

And he comes in here and you see it's broken down into some sections that I'm going to highlight when it comes to these chapters. Jeremiah is also actually the longest book in the old Testament. It's a challenging, wonderful read right here in the beginning chapters one through 24, we see right here is a bunch of poems that is put together. And these poems are explaining that Israel people, Israel aren't acting the way that they are supposed to. In fact that they are turning away from God. And you see in chapter a sermon that he gives, he actually shows up at the temple and he sees where they're trying to worship and honor God. And they're doing sacrifices because that's the sacrificial system was around then. And he literally says, this is all a sham. He even uses really intense language. And these poems explain that you are like an adults or that you have cheated on, or you're turning away from God.

You're going towards something else and not rely on God, but you're just doing these things to say, Hey, yeah, we're still a part of God, but we're not living a lifestyle that he's asked us to live. And so he calls it out right here and starts to prophesier explain that there's going to be an XL that exists or that there's going to be a nation that comes in. And there's a couple of nations that are surrounding that area of Judea Jerusalem. You can kind of take them right in the middle. And then on the side, once idea of Babylon, the biggest nation, and then the other one, you have Egypt. And so it's this competitive thing right? Between the two as we kind of work our way through when we get around chapter 23, you see right there where he actually starts to talk about, well, there is going to be a hope, although there's going to be a destruction that comes and he talks about in this poem, because there's going to be judgment that comes upon you, that there is going to be this hope because the line of David will Be used and renewed to bring a Messiah.

It doesn't say when, but gives this piece of hope right here, just as it kind of transitions into this next session. This next section right here is all just doom and gloom. Like it is like Babylon specifically is going to come. This is way of God bringing judgment upon you for your actions and the things that you have done. And he's explaining that in detail over and over and over again, it's very gloomy. And you see here in chapter 28, he actually gets challenged by another prophet named Hannah and I and Hannah and Iowa's was saying, Hey, Jeremiah, this isn't going to happen. God promised way back here to Abraham. You know, Hey, we're going to give you blessings for the future. And so God's going to continue to bless us no matter how we act or what we do in Jeremiah is saying, that's just not true.

It's just not true that his judgment is going to come. Then we transition after all of this gloom stuff into this period of hope or it's she called the book of hope, these four chapters right here, where he talks about that one day, this will stop like this. Isn't going to be the forever. This isn't, we're not going to constantly be in exile and taken over. He doesn't give a time period of exactly how long they're going to be an exile, but he says that there is going to be hope for a future. And this reflects back into a future cast of the hope of Jesus right here. Then it transitions then to this period of exile, we see for 10 chapters, 11 chapters, just this gruesome story where we've heard about what's going to happen. And now we're actually seeing it take place. And in Jeremiah explaining what it's like for this XL take place king Nebuchadnezzar coming in from Babylon and destroying Jerusalem, the temple, and then taking groups of Israelites out back to Babylon with them.

And this is the first exile that you see is where you get Daniel, Daniel, and his buddies. And then in the book of Daniel explained some more, what that looked like the second time he comes, where you get Zeke you'll and you get to understand a little bit more, that looks like as you read through there, but just this really difficult season that is explaining this is what it's looking like, this destruction that we're actually experiencing together. And then what happens finally in the last few chapters is send them talking about the nations and not just Babylon was used as judgment for Jerusalem and the Israelites, but it was that God's actually going to judge Babylon themselves because there are wicked people and there's going to be hope and a future. That's going to be good that God's going to bring his people back into their land, but there's going to be judgment on other nations as well.

So really intense book, really powerful. A lot of it's really sad, but there is a ton to learn and a grasp of this. And I, I encourage you to read it. It's a challenging read through the poems and stuff, but I think that you will benefit from that. And as we kind of grab pieces out of this, as we walk on this journey, I think we're all going to benefit from this in a really powerful way. So summertime is a place. There's a place that I go to that I've gone to for the last 20 years that has a dear and near place in my heart. And this place is called a nets mono village. And that's motor village is on the upper lake of the twin lakes, just outside of a town called Bridgeport on the backside of the three 95, the three 95 freeway goes in the backside of California.

And to get there, you have to go up and take the past. Usually through Tahoe, it's just north of mono lake and just south of Topaz lake. And so it's nestled in on the backside of Yosemite. And I want to tell you that when I go there, I know exactly where I'm going, and I know exactly the best spots to go. If you were to go there and say, Larry, where's the best place to camp. Literally, I could point you to the best three places to go camping and camping specifically, depending on what kind of camping going to do. Are you just going to be a tent? Are you going to be an a trailer? Do you need hookups? Like, what area do you like the water? Do you like the sound of water? Do you want space? Where you just in the trees, you don't need to be close to a restroom or shower.

I can lay that down. Exactly. I can tell you exactly where the bears come down and cross the Creek. I know the exact spot. I like camping there because I like to know what they're doing. I like to know where they're up to. I know how to get the bears to shoe and go away. It's really crazy. It's this thing I learned about this area that we have friends. Like we actually know the bears. We go back and we know that bears have gotten bigger and we've seen them and they're like gigantic raccoons. They like to be sneaky, but they don't like to be seen by people. And they're scared. So I can show you exactly where they cross. I know exactly where they usually did not found where they take all your trash. When you leave your trash out and they've gone and grabbed trash. I know the best spot to go fishing. I know exactly where you can walk out on the lake and you can get yourself a hundred yards out into the water and still stand on a sandbar and not go under. When everything around you is about 20 feet deep. I know that exact spot. I know exactly how to take it out there. So you could say standing the whole time, and then it looks like you're standing from here up. I know the exact best place to catch longer of a rainbow trout right off of a little Creek and a little Cove. That's my favorite little Cove. I know that exact spot. I know exactly where to put the anchor. I know exactly where to lineup, because I know how the wind pushes you around in the water, moves there towards the dam towards the end. I know exactly where to get anything you need at a nets Mono village.

I know a nets mono village. I have not exhausted the upper twin lake of a nets motor village, meaning that there are things that I'm going to come to know over time. As I continue to go there. And even this summer as I go and spend nine or 10 days there, I will learn even more in some back path and the best way to get around this and the best of you for this and find if there's another angle to get it, see if I can get around the other side of this 300 foot waterfall. I know it I've come to know it. Well, do you have a place like that? Do you have a place like that? That you just know so well that you've visited, whether it's a city or a sports team that you know everything about or a skill that you have, that you've got that very specific vernacular. And you understand where a lot of us could make a comment like, oh yeah, no, I know about that. But you could do like a deep dive when it comes to that because you've sliced it and diced it and shoot on it and investigated it and come to truly know that thing that you love. This is a concept we're going to pull out and we're going to learn in Jeremiah right off the bat. And one of his first poems, Jeremiah, one five, some of this is familiar to you. It says this before I formed you in the womb.

I knew you before you were born. I set you apart. I pointed to you as a prophet to the nations. Now, the reason I'm showing you this whole versus a lot of you just see this one before I formed you in the moon womb, I knew you, right? But we don't often read the next part before you were born. I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Now this is very specific. Like most of the Bible is written to very specific people. For specific things. You see this even all throughout the new Testament, the letters that are written to specific people about a specific circumstance that they're dealing with. So in the same sense, God is speaking to Jeremiah and saying, Hey, I've called you in set you aside to be a prophet for me. Now there's things that we can learn about who God is. Wouldn't the things that he says to other people. So this right here, before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. So what did we learn about God here?

He knows us that he has the ability to know us deeply intimately before we even knew ourselves, that this concept that we are known before we even know, we often spend time collectively anxiously, trying to prove ourselves in life. We're constantly trying to make ourselves known or to find our way in life. And yet here's the beautiful thing that we get to learn about God is that we are already known and we live out of our own nowness. This friends is an opportunity for us to find peace for others, to find peace, to stop, trying to make yourself known and to constantly trying to do better and make sure people see you in the weight that that brings on your life. When you're constantly striving, just to be known, but to live to live scene and to live loved.

We see this before Jeremiah even had to make difficult decisions about his life. God's speaking to him about how to engage in the realities of this changing world that he was born into before he has to figure out how to stand up for the way of God. When others seem to abandon it, they've put it off to the side before he makes counter cultural decision. He is first hold this, you're known, you're known, and it's out of his newness that he's able to do what he's called to do with Claire when it's needed. And this is a beautiful concept that we get, that we are known and you can dive deeper in all throughout scriptures and see how much God knows you and how he is unveiling. And knowing the things like the hair on your head and the intimate details of how known you are. And just that concept of you were known from the very beginning, just unravels that you can unpack that, but you are known by God, but how much do you know him?

I think that it causes us to ask that other question, wow, I am fully known by God at the, at the smallest, my new levels, the other side, how much do you actually know him? I want to tell you that you can know him about as much as you are willing to know. He's infinite. You can't ever stop knowing more. You can't ever. There's not an end to this journey that you go on. See, we enter into a story that's begun long before our life's even started. And it's actually going to continue after our life's end to this way that you can live well in this story is to direct your attention, our attention to God, whose story proceeds ours and continues on after ours, whose story that we're entering into, which is why we can be known.

We know. So can we, and our nowness awakened to the possibility of knowing the almighty, like never before in an intimate specific way. And so some of you might ask, how do we do that? How do I know God and a deeper level and unpack those level layers. I want to tell you, one of those things that you can do is you can hang on to his attributes. So you can look around what are the attributes of God. It's an example that we use lots and you'll see this all throughout scripture. God is love, right? So you can start with, God has love or for God. So loved the world that he gave his only son. And God loves you this way. And he shows his love this way. And you see all throughout the life of Jesus, the way that he lived love as, as a light of love to others.

And so, as you hang on, that what you would do is you would sit there and say, what are all the different angles that I can see how God has love? How can I see a situation? How can I read every bit of scripture that points me towards the way that God is loving in circumstances in the which, which he is loving and caring for another person or caring for me? How can I actually see that lived out in the stories of Jesus? How can I see that lived out in the old Testament and the new Testament? How can I see that lived out in my own life, where I can confess and give gratitude to God, because I can see the way that you've loved me. And we can just sit there and continue to turn the heart of God until we see this new angle of love and understand that in a deeper way. I wanna ask you this. How many of you know that we have a professional baseball team in Oakland? You can use your hands. I'm going to, we're going to do like stuff together. Great. So hands. Hi. Do you know how many of you know that we have professional baseball team in Oakland? How many of you know what the name of that?

Okay. What is it?

The Oakland. A's great. Excellent. Okay. So we know that there's a professional baseball team in Oakland, the Oakland A's. How many of you know what year the A's were established? Hello? I lost everyone there. Oh, I got one. What do you got? 19. Oh one. We'll go close.

How many of you know what city? The Oakland A's were first originated in? What's that? Anybody you got it back there again Has Philadelphia. Well that, and then went to, there you go. We got a couple of people right here in Kansas came to Oakland in 1968. There you go. You guys, you guys are actually on this. We got some fans in here. They have one. How many, know how many rings that they have? One, Couple of people, anybody, nine, 15. Pinots. How many of you know who their current manager is? You raise your hand. There cope. A couple only people were losing lots. We've only got like two that are in tribute right now. Way, moment, life for this. This is good. Bob. Melvin, right now the manager ACE pitcher. How many know the ACE pitcher. Okay. ACE pitcher. When he got Chris? Well, I'm going to go with Chris Bassett right now for this year. We'll do trivia later. This is going to be good. Okay. So crisp acid. So what we can do is we get there's layers, right? Cause everyone in here said, you know, the Oakland A's, you know, they're the Oakland A's. But when we start getting deeper and then it goes into like, who has season tickets, then it goes to like, okay, so how many of you know the players? Oh, I know Chris. How many know how old he is? He's 32. How many of you have ever spent time with him? I got to spend time with them during COVID. And one of the conversations we had is he was so stoked that COVID was actually happening in a bad way. But for the first time he had a season, cause they were just going to have a little girl where he's going to be around because he travels most of the year. And so he was getting to see his daughter walk for the first time and do things that he never would have been able to do is this family guy that loves the Lord. And he was even telling me, he's like, Hey, I'm not even throwing right now. I'm not even going to throw because I'm so present right now with my family. So how much do you know, how many times have you been on the field for a game? But we all know the Oakland A's right. The same sense we can say. Well, I know God. How many of you know God? Right? I know God. Well, let me tell you about them. You would say to me, well, we're talking about attributes. I'll use the one you just used. God is love. It's good job. He is. Yeah. But can we get deeper there? I Valentine's day is one of these really goofy holidays. It's so good. If you got a Valentine, it is not good. If you don't got a Valentine, right? It's like this holiday that we invented and you always have these interactions to understand like about another person as you write these letters, you spend time with them. And then, so I got to talk to a friend one time and I was like, what are you? What do you like about Alex? She said, well, he smells good. Okay. That's good. I mean, it's better than the opposite. Right? Well, what else? He's so sweet. Okay. That's Good. And so then we write a card, cue the music, Dear. You smell good. It's good. Right? So like, what do we know? Oh, so what do we know? Right. If I was to go to you and be like, You were going to, you were going to say to me, like, what do you love about your Valentine? And you'd be like, whoa, whoa, whoa. You're talking about my lover. I can talk about the love of my life. I mean, how much time Do you have, like how Long of a list can I give you? Do you want to know just about the day? Do you want to know just about the things that I love from this last week? Do you want to know about the things that I've gotten to learn about this person in the last 20 years, as I've dove in deeper and seeing the way that they love and they care for others and they're patient and they're always thinking of someone else and they're willing to jump in. I mean, come on, let's go. You might even get some tears out of me here in just a minute. Friends. I think the tough part is, is you asked the average, Christian, what do you love about God? And you're not going to get back. How long do you have? How long do you have? And you sit there and you're ready to write this letter. And you're like, okay, well let me write this letter. Well, I love his grace. I got that one down. His grace is good. Number two. Can I do grace twice? Like I like grace a lot. It's really good. And his mercy and his love did I mention grace. Okay. Ah, that one time you helped me when I was in a bind that's it helped me. That's an attribute, right? Friends instead of saying, oh, you're talking about my lover. You're talking about my savior. You're talking about my God. You're talking about my Valentine right now. My one true love. You're talking about my mono village. You're talking about my city or that skill, my specialty. If you got an hour, do you have an hour? I would love to tell you about the love I have, about how much I know my God. I want to say that knowing God in this in-depth way and knowing him all the way in completely is impossible. He's infinite, or this analogies of the AEs is that we use to construct, to go layer by layer, by layer because God is spirit. He's infinite, but it gives us all a picture of knowing something more than just a general sense. I know God is gracious. Let's see, dig in and unpack that and truly understand that. And if there is a God of infinite greatness, and if he is inviting you and I to come and to know him intimately, Then friends, there is nothing more, nothing more valuable in your life. Nothing more rewarding in your life than your full on pursuit of knowing him, friends. God knows you. And he wants to be known by you. So kind of wrap this up and follow up for this week for you to be able to have conversations with friends or family or on the way you go from here, you can take out your phones. You can take a picture of this. You can write it down in the app. I'll point this out, up on the screen. Here's a couple of questions for you this week. How are you living in your numbness? How are you living in your nowness? Are you living it out? Are you chasing and carrying this weight that others are putting any, just to make sure that you feel known and loved and heard, or are you living In the comfort and the love of being known by the God of the universe? How Are you pursuing the God that knows you? How are you pursuing him back and chasing him down, trying to know him at a deeper level. And finally, what next steps are You going to take to engage in his story? That started long before us. That's going to continue on long after us, but living in This moment and this opportunity of being known By God, how can you continue in that story and going to respond? This is a good time for us to stand into worship and proclaim what God has spoken Over us to us and through us.



Jeremiah - Week Two

When troubles come into your life, what is your normal response? What is your first impulse for problem solving and at what point do you usually turn to God?






Jeremiah - Pastor Roger Storms

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Hello, Northgate. Good to see all of you online as well as here in the room today. It's great to be here. I come from the state of Arizona. That's where Larry was from and we don't have mass song in church in him. I know, I know, but it's a great experience someday. You'll get to experience that again as well. It's a good thing. I want to thank pastor Larry for inviting me to come and share with you this morning. Larry is a big guy with an even bigger heart and he loves people and he loves you at north gate and he loves the Lord, his God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He is one of our son Jeremy's best friends, and he was truly a blessing to us during the last years of our son's life and Nancy and I can never repay Larry for his kindness to our son in those final days of his life.

And so I wanted to say, thanks, just so thank you, pastor Larry, and thank you Northgate for letting me come and share with you today. I'm also so proud to count him as one of my Timothy's. One of the young men and women who have come out of our church and have gone into vocational ministry. It's great. And God has blessed him here with a great church and you guys are doing fantastic. I'm so proud of him and proud of you. And you guys started this series in the book of Jeremiah and what an amazing passage and group of scripture. And today I want to talk to you and teach him how to deal with situations and trials and troubles that seem impossible and maybe seem to exceed what you think that you can handle in your life and deal with in your life. Now, there are a lot of things in this world that seemed to be impossible and back several things that literally, it seems impossible for a person to do.

Maybe some of you can, I don't know, but do you know that it's, it's almost impossible for you to sneeze with your eyes open? Did you know that sneeze with your eyes open now don't try it and service, but the next time you're at home, give it a shot and see if you can do so. Do you know that it is almost impossible for you to lick your own elbow, to lick your own? Now don't, don't do it right now, but, but I know when you go home today, you will try that. And unless you have an unusually short arm or an unusually long tongue, it is impossible for that to happen. Do know that it is impossible to talk while breathing in it's it is impossible. You talk while you're breathing in, unless you are a salesman or a preacher who can talk no matter what's going on.

Do you know, it's almost impossible for you to tickle yourself, try it right now, try to tickle yourself. It just doesn't work. Even if your most ticketless person in the world, you cannot tickle yourself. And do you know that it's almost impossible for you to break an egg while holding it top to bottom between your index finger and your thumb. It is almost physically impossible for you to break that egg. And if you can, you are probably taking performance enhancing medication, and that's not good either. Now I know some of you want to try these things. When you get home, be my guests, let me know what happens. There are several times in our lives. However, when we find ourselves in situations that just seem impossible, stuff happens in our life. There's just seems to be impossible, whether it's an act of that, God allows Satan to push into our lives or whether it's the fact that we live in a fallen world.

And so, because of that bad stuff happens in this world or because of our own actions. When we do something that's kind of stupid and we find ourselves suffering from that. There are some times we find ourselves in things that seem impossible and may be a result of COVID. It may be that because of COVID in the world, you've lost your job or lost your employment, or maybe there's been a death of a loved one because of that. And maybe as a result of an action decision that someone else has made someone who said you in a relationship, I don't want to be in this relationship anymore. Or your kids break your heart or someone's suffering with an addiction, or, or maybe you find yourself and the result of illness and someone in the doctor's office has used the C word in your life. Or maybe someone that you know is going through term traumatic illness or mental illness.

It may resolve it resolve of a poor decision that we have done. And because we've done something really silly in our lives, we find ourselves with our back against the wall, or maybe it's because someone has forced demands on us. That seem impossible for us to accomplish many times in our life. We're going to face situations. That just seem impossible. It's been very well said that everyone has either just come out of a crisis or as in the middle of a crisis, or is just waiting for the next crisis. Its own. It's just practical. Everyone is either come out of a crisis is in the middle of crisis or just waiting for the next crisis. That may sound pessimistic in life. But folks that's just reality. One of my favorite movies is a movie called the princess. Bride was a number of years ago. How many know that movie?

Okay. How many of your men will admit that you watched that movie? That's kind of a girly flick, but it's a great movie. And in that movie, Wesley says to the princess, this line, she says, he says, princess life is pain, Highness. And anyone who says differently is selling something. And for incentives, just reality. Life is pain and it's tough. It's hard. Actually that statement just echoes what Jesus said. Only Jesus. When he said it said it with a twist in John chapter 16, verse 33, Jesus said this, I have told you all this describing the troubles and the trials that are coming. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me here on earth. You what's, the line will, you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart because I have overcome the world. And in this very profound and simple verse, Jesus tells us precisely how to handle situations.

That seem impossible. And I'm going to come back to that a little later in the message. So keep that in mind. But we're focusing on Jeremiah today and Jeremiah, the prophet that's different than Jeremiah, who was a bullfrog. He was a very good friend of mine. Thank you for laughing at them. In Jeremiah, the prophet seems to face an impossible situation. He was, he was just a farm boy in Israel and God and Israel was in absolute turmoil as a nation because of their sinful rejection of God and their falling deeper and deeper into sinful behaviors as a nation. Does that sound vaguely familiar today? God, and the people wouldn't repent and turn the hearts back to God. God was forced to allow the Babylonians to come in and wreck destruction on them. And the reason he allowed that is to hopefully get them, to turn their hearts and repentance and come back to God in faith.

So God says, Jeremiah, I've selected you to announce that I've selected you to tell that to the people and our friends. Listen, that was not a very popular message. God's going to mess stuff up for you because of your sinfulness, because of the fallen world, in which you live. In fact, it was literally a dangerous message. And as you read and stay through the book of Jeremiah, you're going to find how true that really is. But God calls Jeremiah and informs him of his TA his task of his trial. That seems impossible. Grab your Bibles or online. You want to look at the scripture. You can see this passage in Jeremiah chapter one verses five through 10. And it says this, dear God says, Jeremiah. I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. That's amazing statement. I knew you before I formed you in a mother's womb.

I knew everything about you. In fact, it's amazing statement about abortion, isn't it? But the reality is he's saying, I, I, before you were born, I formed you in your mother's womb. I set you apart before you were born to be my profit to the nations. So Jeremiah responds in verse six. Oh sovereign Lord. I said, I can't speak for you. I'm too. And the Lord replied, don't say I'm too young. You can imagine that kind of resounded. Don't say I'm too young. Lord replied. And four, you must go wherever I send you and say, whatever I tell you, and don't be afraid of the people for, I will be with you and protect you. I, the Lord have spoken, man, when you hear that phrase, you know, that's like bang. You know, I, the Lord have spoken. Don't be afraid. Just do what I tell you to do.

I, the Lord has spoken. Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, look, I have put my words in your mouth today. I appoint you to stand up against the nations and the kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down and destroy and overthrow and others, you must build up and plant. Now this impossible situation was way out of Jeremy's Jeremiah's ability. Did he deal with it way out of his ability to deal with it? It was beyond his ability, but not beyond God's ability at amen to that. It was beyond his ability, but not beyond God's ability. And notice what God said when he called Jeremiah. He said, I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb, I made and know what you can and cannot accomplish. I knew you.

I made you and I know exactly what you can and what you can't accomplish. Don't worry about it. He says, don't be afraid of the people for, I will be with you and I will protect you. I, the Lord has spoken. Don't be afraid of the people for, I will be with you and I'll protect you. He says, don't be afraid. I will be with you. I will protect you. Do you know someone who said that there are 365. Don't be afraid phrases in the Bible. One for every day of the week. And God wants us to realize that when he's on our side, we don't need to fear the fears, the devil's word, not our word. And then Jay God says to Jeremiah, I have put my words in your mouth. I will give you all. You need to be faithful. I will give you everything that you need. He touched his mouth and he said, I will provide for you. And then God said to Jeremiah today, I appoint you. He said, I believe in you. I believe in you. The word, a point there in the Hebrew is the word. But God, it means to be selected for a special tax. God said, listen, I made you, I know what you can and can't do. I'm there to hope you help you get through it all. Don't be afraid because I'm on your side. I'm on your team. And I believe in you, listen, God will never allow you to be in a situation that he, with your, with you, with his help, you cannot overcome. God will never put you in a situation that is beyond your ability to deal with because knows what your abilities are. And so you can trust him in that truth.

Now, is that a good word or what? That's a good word. And you know what? God feels the same way about you. God says the same thing to you. So God wraps this statement up with Jeremiah chapter one verses 18 through 19, he says for four, see today I have made you like a strong fortified city that cannot be captured, cannot be captured as strong words from God. You're like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. You will stand against the whole land. The Kings, the officials, the priests, the people, Judah, and they will fight you. Listen, they will fight you, but they will fail set with me. They will fail. When you go through those trials, that seem impossible. Your life. They will fight you, but listen, friends. If God's called you, they will fail. God says for, I am with you. I will take care of you. I, the Lord have spoken.

There's an old song by the heritage singers that says when I think I'm going under part, the waters Lord. When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea. When I cry for help, hear me Lord and hold out your hand, touch my life. Still the raging storm in me. And when you find yourself in impossible situations, it feels like you're going under raise your hand because God said, I am on your team. You will not fail, but they will. But they will. Larry's friend. And our son, Jeremy understood this. Jeremy was born with the disorder called hemophilia, which meant that his blood did not clot. It's not circle surface. That's platelet. That's a different Claudine mechanism, but it's an internal Connie mechanism. So if you bang your elbow, bang your knee, if you bang your head, bang your chest, if you as a, as a child when you did so it would draw a blue bruise on you.

Well, that bruise was subdural bleeding and that's what would not stop in our son. And so the only way to treat it is by putting pressure, putting ice on or more pronounced in his age, they were able to start an Ivy with him and to infuse him with a clotting factor that was derived from human blood. And these were the days before, just the very entry time of aids when people didn't know, or weren't quite sure if, if the aids was a bloodborne disease or not HIV. And so our son was being treated for his bleeds. How many, if you've had a toddler in your, do you know how many times they fall and bang their needs and blank, their elbows and bang their heads? Well, you can imagine what it was like. We would make FIC frequent trips to the hospital so that they could start an IV on this little toddler as early as six months old.

And that was his course of life. That was as he went through life. And, and but when he was aged 10, the opportunistic infection occurred that told us that Jeremy was HIV positive, that he had acquired HIV as a result of blood transfusion. And for the next five years of his life, until he was 15, 15 a month in a day until he passed away on December 7th, 1996 Jeremy's life was difficult in a trial of struggle. And that's when pastor Larry knew him on one occasion because of medications, because of the illness that he had, he was struck with waves of nauseousness and was just unable to hold anything down. In fact, they, anytime he lifted his head, he would begin to get sick. And because of his sick sickness and illness, his body was very small and very emaciated. If you think Larry standing next to me is like mutton Jeff.

So you remember that. You can imagine Larry with my little son, he had no bones on him and no meat on him at all. And he was so sick. And so he would found the only relief you could have would be to lay on our bathroom floor, which has style. And when the wave of nauseous will come, can we get up and hold onto the side of the toilet bowl and stick his head over? And he would wreck, but there was nothing in there. So you could see every fiber of his muscle tense as he would go through that wave of nauseousness. And then once it passed, he would lay back down on the tile floor. And this went on all day along folks all day long as we witnessed that, at one point, he turned to his mother and he said, mom, I don't know how anyone could get through this without Jesus.

I don't know how anyone can get through this without Jesus. And as his parents, watching our son suffer and slip away in an impossible situation, he taught us the same truth. I don't know how anybody could get through this without Jesus. I don't know how anybody could get through this or get through what you're going through without Jesus in their life. In Eugene Peterson's book, run with the horses. He states there's an enormous gap between what we think we can do and what goal God calls us to do. Not a great statement. There's an enormous gap between what we think we can do and what God calls us to do. And in this gap, God gives us some promises and Hebrews chapter 13, verses five and six, the Hebrew writer says for God has said, I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.

So we can say with confidence, the Lord is my helper. So I will have no fear. Isn't that amazingly similar to what God said to Jeremiah, that we read just a few minutes ago. There's no reason for you to be afraid. I'll never fail you. I'll never abandon you. And there was no reason for you to be in fear. Once again, the apostle Paul writes in first Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13, no test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember. You need to remember this is that God will never let you down. He'll never let you be pushed beyond your limit. He'll always be there to help you come through it. That's a promise with God that is I, the Lord have spoken and that's what we need to remember.

So when you're on yourselves with your backs against the wall in an seemingly impossible situation beyond what you think you can deal with, you need to remember these promises. Nelly, let me let you in on Satan's secret plan. This is, this is good. This is worth the price of admission here today. All right. So if you don't get anything else, get this. And if you're asleep at home, a nudge that person on the couch and wake them up, or if you're asleep, you wake up and because this is important, let me let you in on Satan's that Satan secret plan, Satan causes impossible situations to try to turn you away away from God plot. He's already lost the war. He's just dealing with battles in your life. And if he can hurt you, he can hurt God. And that's his only hope. And so his desire and everything that goes on in your life, in this fallen world, everything that happens in your life is Satan trying to turn you away from God, realize that, understand the source.

One day when Jeremy was going through a particularly our son, a very tough time, he would have severe headaches. And, and so when he woke us up the whole night and said, just cut my head off, just please just cut my head off. And so I got up with him and carried him into the room. Nancy was sleeping and I put him in a chair. We sat in the chair together and it turned on the TV and the mash television program was on. It was on reruns then, but how many have ever watched the mash program? And in that program, in that episode Dr. BJ Honeycutt was standing by a general or Colonel or something. And Hawkeye Pierce was doing surgery on someone. And that person in surgery had their heart stop. And so Hawkeye shouts out, give me a Skype scalpel. I'm going to massage his heart. I don't. And he leaned down and he said, listen, don't let the bastard win.

Larry, can I say bastard in this room? We are good.

He said, don't let the bastard win. And so he massage his heart and got it going again. And later the Colonel said to a BJ Honeycutt, the other doctor, what did he mean by that? And he said, well, to, to Hawkeye death is a bastard and he doesn't want him to win. So we finished that show and Jeremy was kind of calming down a bit. And I said to him, Jeremy do you know what Satan is trying to do right now? I'm your life and my life. He trying just to get so mad and so upset that we'll turn our backs on God, that we'll blame God for everything and get mad at God. And I don't know about you, but I'm not going to let the bastard. When Jeremy said, I'm not going to, Jeremy said, I'm not going to let the bastard when either dad. So I picked him up and carried him into his room and laid in his bed. He was that small and went back to bed. And the next morning I woke up and they came walking out, Nancy and Jeremy were in the kitchen and they were talking and then Nancy walked me back in the bedroom. And she said, I can't believe you taught our son to use the word bastard. That's what she got out of all that. Okay.

But no matter what you're facing today, no matter what's going on in your life today, I want you to realize what Satan is trying to do, and don't let the bastard win. We'll let him move. It's okay. To be angry. It's okay to be upset. Just realize the source and focus that anger on the source, not the savior, but the source in second Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 18 and 19, the apostle Paul was given a special treat by God to get a glimpse into heaven. And so that he wouldn't take too much pride in that God allowed a thorn in the flesh to come into his life. We're not sure what that was, but it was painful a difficult time. And so Paul says this in verse eight, three different times. I begged the Lord to take it away. This Soren in the flesh, there are different times.

And each time he said, my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. I love this because he said, I asked him three times, God, take this away. And God said, my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. Okay? God, I get that. God, please take this away from me. God said, listen, listen, my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. God is God perfect. Thank you. But God would you please take this away from me. You ever been there? And each time God says, my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So he says, so I'm glad to boast in about my weakness so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weakness and the insults and the hardship and the persecutions and the troubles that I suffer for Christ for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Now let me take you back to the words of Jesus in John chapter 16, verse 33, Jesus said this, I have told you all this so that in me, you might have peace here on earth. You will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart because I have overcome the world. Now, fix friends, Jesus states an undeniable truth. Here, trouble on this earth is a certainty. He says, look, it's going to happen. It's not. If it's when and, and when it gets over with just not, if it's when trouble in this world is going to happen, it's a certainty. See when, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, when they God told them not to. And they did, when they chose to disobey God, they effectively told God to shove off. We're going to do it our way. And God said, that's what you want.

I love you enough. Not to make you do something. I give you free will to do it. And this resulted in us, living in a fallen world where sickness and evil and death and COVID happens. There's moral, evil, where man is injust to mankind. And there's natural evil, where the world seems to work against mankind. And this moral, evil, and naturally will, will reign and will do so until Jesus comes back. That's why Jesus said here on this earth, you will have trouble. It's a result of the fall. And Peter says in first, Peter, four 12, dear friends, don't be surprised that the fiery trials that you're going through as if something strange were happening to you, I mean, Jesus told us is going to be that way from the very beginning. So in this first in John chapter 16, verse 33 in this verse, Jesus tells us how to live through the troubles of life, how to live through the troubles of life, troubles are going to happen.

And they are unpredictable who would have questioned a year ago that we'd be dealing with what we're dealing with, but we are with God's help can have the victory. So how do we do that? How do we do so how can we live through the troubles of life? Well, first of all, by making sure our peace is in Jesus before the trouble comes before the trouble comes, Jesus said, I've told you all this so that you may have peace in me. It's coming. So have peace in me. There's an old adage that says four warned is four armed. And Jesus wanted us to understand. So we won't be blindsided when this stuff happened that we're prepared for it when it comes. And that means that we need to find our peace in Jesus. Let me remind you of our son's words. He said, I just don't know how anyone could get through this without Jesus.

And because Jesus is in his life, Jesus gave him strength to deal with. Walt seemed to be an impossible situation. Friends, listen, Jesus is where the power to endure trouble is found in Jesus. That's where the power to endure troubled is found. And if you don't know him today, if you don't know him as your savior and your Lord, if you don't know him, then I encourage you to find him as your savior. And Lord Northgate is more than willing and happy and desire. Some fact exists for that. Very purpose of helping people find and follow Jesus. And so if you don't know Christ as your savior, I challenge you to make that decision today. And once you're connected to Christ, you need to grow deeper and deeper and deeper and stronger and stronger and stronger because Satan's trials will become deeper, deeper, and stronger.

And the world's troubles will become stronger. You need to be prepared to deal with them. Paul says in Ephesians chapter six, verses 10 in verse 13, instead of final word, final word, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power put on all of God's armor. So you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil. We'll put on every piece of armor so that you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. And then after the battle battles coming folks, after the battle, you will be standing firm. When, when the smoke clears and the dust settles, you'll be standing with your foot on the neck of Satan, in the victory on Christ. The solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand. So, and we live through the troubles of life while we're making sure our peace is in Jesus before the trouble comes.

And secondly, by guarding our hearts during the troubles, by guarding our hearts during the troubles, that's critical, Jesus said, take heart hardest word. And we're not talking about the blood pumper. We were talking about the wheel, the seat of emotions. And he said, you need to protect your heart. During that time, the proverb writer says, guard your hearts, Proverbs four 23, guard your heart above all else above all else, guard your heart for it. Determines the course of your life. Protecting your spiritual heart is critical. Balloon trials and tribulations come that seem insurmountable. There are ways to guard your heart. And when the troubles come, you need to have a wall of protection around your heart. So how do you do that? Well, there's many ways that you can, but one of the ways I want to share with you today is in ecclesiastic chapter four, nine, and 10, and there Solomon, the world's wisest man said this too.

People are better off than one for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help him up. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Friends. Listen, when you find yourself in trial, you need brothers and sisters around you to help hold you up. That's part of the reason why God created the church. That's why you need to be in a community group here. So when those times of trials come, you've got someone to help hold onto you and help you be strong. In Daniel chapter two, Daniel Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were some of the ones who are taken captive during the time of Jeremiah and taken to Babylon. And while they are there never can, as her had a dream and never measures a dream was scared him. And so he went to his wise men and he said to them, Hey, listen, I want you to tell me that the message of my dream, what it means.

And they said, you tell us the dream. We'll tell you what it means you have. No, no, no, no, that's too easy. You could trick me. I want you to tell me what the dream was. And then tell me what it means. And the Wiseman said, well, nobody can do that. And he said, if you can't do it three days off with your heads. So Daniel's handler went to him and said, Daniel, if you don't tell, never can ask, answer what his dream. Wasn't what it means. Then you're going to be killed. So Daniel said, go back until they came. Give me a little more time. This is important. Just give me a little more time to deal with this. And he ran back to his friend, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and he got them together. And he said, guys, let me tell you, what's going to happen.

They go, that's impossible. And he said, no, because it's not because God's in this. And so they all got together and they prayed and they fasted. And when the three days were over, God gave Daniel the answer, an impossible situation it's made possible because of God and support of those around him. That's why community is so very important to guard your heart. You need to have a support team. You need to have a support team to help you get through it. In Galatians chapter six, verse two, the scripture says, share each other's burdens. And in this way, obey the law of Christ. When you carry each other's burdens, it makes the impossible be divided by the number of people carrying it. And what is divided suddenly becomes possible. You get that. And our church, we used to say, get it and I'd say, get it.

And you'd say, got it. And I say, good. So get it good. All right. So we can live through our troubles of life by making sure our pieces in Jesus before the trouble comes and by guarding our hearts during the troubles. And then thirdly, by keeping our focus beyond the troubles, keeping our focus beyond the troubles. Jesus said, I have overcome the world. Now, son, because of his hemophilia was required to get IVs from actually first one was about six months left and Nancy and or nine months. And then thereafter, he would, we'd have to go to the hospital routinely. She'd give me a call. So Jeremy banged, his head doctor said, bring him in. So we'd take him down. We'd at that time we lived in the east bay, we'd drive down to Oakland and twin the Oakland children's hospital. And they'd start an IV in him pumping full of this clotting factor.

And so that was just a frequent occurrence. And w w when he was about three, because of a certain condition, he needed to get clotting factor every third day. And so they're, so it's silly to bring them in the hospital for all that. So they arranged to have a home health nurse come to our house. And so this little three year old boy, and we would lay them out on the kitchen table because it was flattened big and they would prepare him and they would start IVs. Now, how many of you like to get shots? Anybody in here? I didn't think so. Can you imagine a three-year-old who's had it again and again and again. And so we would try to do things to take his mind off of. And I would, we would sing, Jesus loves me. In fact, one time we were singing, Jesus loved me in the car and he started to cry because he thought he was going to the hospital.

And I would tell him the story of David and Goliath. And he's the David. And then hemophilia is the Goliath and throw the stone at him. And, and then on our table, we had a picture think a picture's gonna come up here. And just a minute, hopefully it's going to come up. Maybe not. Well, if it does, it does, it was a picture of the image of eternity. It was a picture of an image of heaven and the great banquet feast that was there. And while that was listed, I would tell Jeremy, you know, there's, there's going to come a time in your life, in my life where you're going to, you're going to see a Jesus and there'll be no more. What we call bumblebee stings. There'll be no more bumblebee stinks. So right now we have to go through it, but there's going to come a time where we're going to live forever.

And you're never going to have to have never bumblebee sting folks. Listen, sometimes you need to keep that focus beyond the trouble. Keep looking beyond it. Rick Warren, it says, God created you to live in a heaven with him for eternity. Heaven is your home. Her, that's why you sometimes experience Discontentment and this fat, this satisfaction in your life, you're not completely happier because you're not supposed to be. If you were totally happy on earth, you might think you could live without God, but God created you to long for something much better. A home in heaven with him, fish would never be happy to living on the land because it was made for water. And the Eagle could never feel satisfied if it wasn't allowed to fry and you will never feel completely satisfied on earth because you were made for more. So keep looking up.

I want to experience happy moments, but nothing compared to what God has planned for you in heaven, there are no more bumblebees. There may be times of troubles. We wonder why dot God doesn't show up or why he doesn't seem to answer our prayers. Why circumstances seems so unfair, but when we realize life on earth is just temporary, it can radically change our values, eternal values, not temporal ones become the deciding factor emotions and the decisions that you make. So Paul and second Corinthians chapter four, verse 17 and 18 for our present troubles are small. Won't last very long, and they seem huge at the time. Don't they? But they're small. They won't last very long. Yet. They produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them all and will last forever. So don't look at the troubles where we don't look at troubles. As we see now, rather we fix our gaze on the things that cannot be seen for the things we see will soon be gone.

But the things we cannot see will last, how long will last forever. When our son Jeremy was born, even before he was born, we chose his name and we dedicated a life verse him. You know, this verse, everybody seems to know this first Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11 says for, I know the plans I have for you says the Lord they're plans for good and not for disaster to give you a future and hope when Jeremy was born with his hemophilia and that verse became centered in our life. And when he contracted HIV and aids, it caused us to re understand the fact that we weren't made for here. We were made for heaven. Amen. Keep your eyes looking up. Did it mean there'd be no more troubles in life? No, that it mean that there'd be no seemingly impossible situations that we would face. No, that it mean that there would never be times when we felt like our backs were against the wall. No, but what it meant was that God knows, God knows what you're going through and God cares, and God has a plan. That's what God told Jeremiah. That's what Jesus told his people. And that's what he tells us this morning. Just trust. Just wait, just watch, just see. Okay. Has Jeremy has illness progressed? He became sicker and sicker. The infection got into his brain. He began to drift in and out of coma because of the pressure on the basis of the brain. His eyes began to glass over. There are times he couldn't see times he couldn't yeah, Speak. He was weak. So weak the last couple weeks of his life. And after we had some friends that came to visit family members, I picked him up and carried him back to his room, put him in. And I turned to Jeremy and I could see his eyes were open. Like he was looking at me and I said, Jeremy, how you doing? And at this time, because his strength was so weak. He was just given one word answers. And so I said, how you doing Jeremy? And he said, I'm okay, dad. And I said, I'm not talking about up here. I'm talking about down here and friends as I stand before you today, I want you to know that I saw his eyes clear to that beautiful blue that they add been since he was born. And I heard a strength in his voice. I hadn't heard in weeks. And my son Jeremy said to me, I'm not afraid, dad.

And those were the very last words he ever smoked and seemingly impossible situation. And if my God can help a 15 year old boy face a seemingly insurmountable, impossible trouble and situation and do so without fear, then my God can do anything. I, the Lord have spoken. So the Psalmist says, as you go through those times in Psalm 34, 18 and 19, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to rescue each time. And so I encouragement to you here today is one of my life verses in Galatians chapter six, verse nine, the apostle Paul says, let us not get tired of doing what is right for after a while. We'll reap a harvest of blessing if we don't get discouraged. And if we don't give up.

And one of the ways that we celebrate that as believers in Christ, as Christ followers, one of the ways we celebrate that victory as we take the Lord's supper. If you want to take your cup out now and very carefully, I encourage you to peel off the top layer and take that little piece of bread out of it. Hold it up in front of you. Would you do that? We hold this bread. We are saying, I believe that God took on flesh. That Jesus is God. In the flesh. I acknowledged that he came into this world and because he came into this world, I can leave this world in victory. So he is the bread of life as we take communion. Would you remember that? And declare today that Jesus is God in the flesh. Amen.

No, turn the cup over, pull back. The tab carefully. The juice in this reminds us of the blood of Jesus. Jesus called us to do so. And he said, this is, this is the cup of the new covenant, but it means there's all the old stuff it's gone. We have victory because of the blood of Jesus. And he reminds his disciples at that time that when you take this, remember that I will be with you even to the end of the age. This is a covenant for now and forever. And no matter what you go through in life, you'll never alone because Jesus died to be with you. Amen. So as they take this cup, remember that God wants to be real. Even the difficult times of life. And as we close the service here, I want you to focus on the words of the song that we're going to sing. The words are these. Don't let your heart be troubled. Hold your head up high don't fear evil. Fix your eyes on this one. Truth. God is madly in love with you. So take courage. Hold on me strong. Remember where your help comes from? Amen.




Jeremiah - Week Three

Our current cultural moment needs are not more people attending church. It's not more than people just seeing songs saying the right religious language and the things. But instead people who are committed to living the way of Jesus.






Jeremiah - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Good morning friends. How are y'all doing good. Hey, there's people in the room. I'm excited about that. If you're with us online, I'm so glad that you're here too. As you can see, we're ready when you are ready to come back here. And now there's lots of summer plans. I would love to be one of those plans, if you would come and check it out. So I think it's really important for us to be in community together. There's something really important about that. One of those options, like Vanessa just mentioned Brendan McDonough. He's going to be here in a couple of weeks killer guy. We have a really cool story. We actually know each other through some different friends and knew one of the guys that one of his brothers that he lost. Vanessa had mentioned the movie. If you wanted to watch the movie, it's called only the brave. It was out a couple of years ago, Jeff Bridges, and as a killer, very emotional, you kind of already know what's going to happen. So you can be prepared if it's appropriate for you. But I talked to him this last week again, and I was like, what would you change about the movie? Like if you thought this has done well or not, well, or miss something. And he said, unfortunately it told his story really well. And you'll see why he says, unfortunately, but there's good news on the back end of that. And then he said, Hey, it's Hollywood. And you can't spend that much time going into each one of these men's life and that intimate level. So to understand them. So hopefully get a better view of all of those things that we can learn from him, what he's learned about God, and then collectively what we can learn about God together with that. So, yeah. Excited about that in a couple of weeks today, I have titled this message moving beyond cultural Christianity. That's going to be a fun one buckle up. It's going to be good. Moving beyond cultural Christianity. If simply believing in stuff is enough to like make a difference. Can you think about how different our lives would be if we just believed in the right thing? Can you think about how different our lives would be like the believing in like, yes, we believe in nutrition and health and exercise and the difference that would actually make in our bodies that have just believing that would actually make that come to fruition, please. Jesus, let it be. So if just believing that stuff, actually, then it came about if, if no one then would struggle addictions because we have this belief that addictions hurt things and hurt people and can hurt us. Or we wouldn't have money issues. Like we wouldn't struggle with our finances because we believe in that there's good decisions financially and having a budget and a structure and not getting into debt. And we believe those things. And so we wouldn't be struggling on preparation for school, right? Our preparations, really, for anything that we believe it's important to be prepared, right? And so then we don't really need to prepare because we believe it that you should be prepared for something and the impact that it's going to make. So rather than this study through Jeremiah, that we started just a couple of weeks ago. And this, this book in Jeremiah is about a prophet named Jeremiah. And he is tasked with the most difficult task of telling God's people, Hey, you're messing it up. You're not living the way that you should be living. And there's going to be destruction. That's going to come upon you because of this. And so today we find ourselves actually in Jeremiah seven in the temple where he gives what would be a message. And so God says, Hey, you need to go there to the temple where these people are hanging out and you're going to give this sermon or this message. A lot of poetry is just before this, that we kind of walked through in the last couple of weeks. And then after this. So Jeremiah seven, that is different. I'm going to read it from here. That's messing with my eyes. This is the word that came from Jeremiah from the Lord. Stand at the gate of the Lord's house and proclaim this message. Hear the word of the Lord. All of the people of Judea came through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord almighty God of Israel says. So this is when he now says, so Jeremiah is now standing. And he's now going to tell and give this word of the Lord to people who are in church or in this temple areas is reformed your way and your actions. And I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, and say, this is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. If you really change your ways and your actions in deal with, if you really change your ways and deal with each other justly, if you do not press the foreigner, the fatherless, the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. And if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you. I live in this place in the land I gave your ancestors forever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words and are worthless. These are like powerful words that he's giving them right now saying, what are you doing? Look at your life outside of here and how you're acting. And you come to this place and you're like, this is the temple of the Lord. This is the temple of the we're good on the reform of many people. At this time, this was just a surface level reform, like a window dressing, where they went to this holy place. They use the right language, the words they understood the vernacular, but they didn't engage. So their lives in the living way and how they lived it out. And you see, we get this, actually, we get this because most of us know, most of us know what we need to know to live better. We know what we need to know to live better. We know that our problem in life, isn't a lack of information. We know we need to be honest. We, no, we need to forgive. We know we need to be more compassionate. We know we need to be more generous, but for the most part, we know everything we need to know or believe everything that we need to believe. But the truth is the truth is that we know this. And we know this, that knowing and believing doesn't really make any difference. And a lot of circumstances, otherwise things would be different. Otherwise things would be different. So here's the thing. God knows this. He knows this. We see all throughout scripture and how it's lived out in the old Testament and lived out through Jesus and the new Testament because of this. He, you didn't invite people to believe. And this might be like really contrary to what you've heard or how you grew up. What you've been taught. We see that in Jesus, that he didn't spend a lot of time trying to get people to believe the things he said, Hey, we should believe this thing that I'm talking about. He actually invited them over and over and again and again. And we see this in God and God through Jesus, that he actually invites us not to know things, but to do things. He invited them to do things because he knows what we know that doing makes all the difference. Friends. If we believe all the right things and don't do it, our faith then becomes weak and fragile. We consistently see in scripture that God and God through Jesus was not just asking people to believe in him. Hey guys, you should really believe in me. His invitation as to follow me, his invitation was to follow me. It was relational. It was active. It was interactive. And over the time the church has actually done this down. Some of you maybe have never actually heard the phrase, follow me. You heard what I heard you. And I heard it a lot. You heard believe in me. And so the reduced follow me to believe in me. You just need to believe in me. And you may know this from experience. Believe in me is a lot easier than follow me. It's a lot easier than follow me. Believe in me is safer. It's far less demanding. How many of you guys by show of hands here in the room? How many guys think my kid should have good grades? Like they should get good grades. A lot of you. Yeah. You believe it. So how many of you guys are going to like start calling and saying, how can I tutor your kids? Because I want to see them have good grades. Like they need to follow this a couple of years out, hit me up. That's great. I got four. It's far less demanding. Like it's from a distance. Yeah. I believe that. How many times have you had an interaction or even found yourself in a season of distance or somebody else? And they're like, no, I believe, I believe in Jesus. I believe in God. This is exactly what we're seeing in Jeremiah right here. And then you're like, what really? That's weird that you could just hit your train to Jesus because I'm watching your life and how you're living or how you're acting. And now I'm going to find myself like Jeremiah at the gates being like, what are you doing? Look at where you're at right now. This is what you're actually doing. Not what you believe. And unfortunately, believe in me can leave you exactly where you are. No change required. Just believe it. God did. And Jesus did not merely invite people to believe in him. As he read and see throughout the scriptures, these face stories, you know, the very beginning with Abraham and God said like, I have this beautiful thing for you. This land, this space, this blessing for you. But you have to leave everything that you know, and you just have to go, right? He could have been like, I believe you. I really do. But I don't want to take that step of faith. He didn't know where it was going to go. And he had to take that step. You see it all throughout. You see Abraham, you see, even Ashley talked about Moses and God calling Moses to go into Egypt and tell, set his people free. He could have been like, I believe you want to set them free and you can do all those things. I believe it. But it took an hour, an actionable step to do something. He said, follow me, follow me, go, you see Noah? Yeah. He could have said, God, I believe there's a flood coming. And then God was like, you better build a boat. Right? He could have just stuck with, I believe it. And then watch the kind of storm come along. And hadn't built the boat. Gideon. You see the story of Gideon and how God used him in his steps forward of faithfulness to her, what God asks him to conquer. You see it in Joshua. This is like the kids' stories and the walls of Jericho. Like, Hey, I'm going to tear down the walls of Jericho. And what did he say? He said, you got to like, actually take some steps. You're going to walk around that. A bunch of times you're going to blow some horns. And then the walls are going to come down. The difference between believing and doing and following you, see it all throughout the gospels. Jesus invited people to live this life that actually reflected our confidence, our faith and our trust in God that he actually is God. And he has to be God and a lot of moments in my life. So we can say, well, what does that look like? Like what does it look like to actually trust in God? Well, God is most honored. And again, through all of these stories, we see it all throughout the entirety of the scriptures. God is most honored by our active faith. That following part you see in Jeremiah, how dishonored he is by the opposite. He says, we, you still, and you'll commit adultery and perjury burn incense to ball and follow other gods that you have not known. And then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my name and say, we're safe. We're safe. So safe to do all these detestable things has this house, which bears my name become a den of robbers. We see Jesus say the same thing later in the new Testament. But I have been watching declares the Lord that he sees this Jesus. When he comes into the temple, you know, there's a famous story of him flipping stuff over, and there's a passionate, you know what people call it, passionate rage that is in us. And he talks, well, you're just making this a den of robbers. And this wasn't because these people were doing bad things in the temple they were doing in temple work. Just like these people in Jeremiah, they're doing the temple work. And he's saying, this has become a den of robbers where you're out there doing everything else that we have said, don't do, like, you're not living this out. You are a different person. You know, he used to say like, you, you have your weekend hat or your work hat or your home hat, right. It depends on what hat you're putting on a different hat on. And then you're coming in. This has become a den of robbers where you just hang out and you feel safe in your safe place. You're just going through the motions by showing up and putting on face friends. God is most honored by act of faith. You have a story. I know you have a story. You've heard stories of someone's active faith when they acted on something and it became real, their faith became real a minute grew. I remember I could share so many. I remember I had a, I had a really clear line into the corporate world. I had moved up quickly and corporate industry and had a really clear vision of where that was going to land very quickly in my life. And I remember very clearly how God said you're feeding people, the wrong thing. I happened to be working in the food industry. So it connected a little bit. And, and that was a step I had to take, which led to another step, which led to another step. And I saw God's faithfulness, even though I didn't understand it, I'm getting in my car and driving to another state and showing it with school and being like, I guess I got to do this. I guess I got to figure this out. I'm gonna leave everything that I knew. I remember his faithfulness when this isn't as applicable to everybody in here, but he said, Hey, plant a church. Maybe for you. It's like move and go somewhere else to do a work that I've asking you to do. That's difficult. Maybe doesn't pay as much. So for me, planting a church meant like I'm going to leave all my friends, all my family. We're going to go somewhere and I'm going to live on macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly and hope I survive. Right? It's applicable to you and your situation. But I got to see like the fruitfulness and it grew my faith because I actually had to rely on God and who he was and what he invited me to do. I remember really specifically, God called my wife and I and said, Hey, we really believe orphans are important. And I was like, I believe that too. He was like, what are you gonna do about it? No, I don't want to. And I remember it's actually going to be just in a couple of weeks. We said, okay, we'll, we'll take steps. We don't know where this journey ends. And we took all of these steps towards adopting a little boy in Ethiopia and we continued to go through those. And then we felt like, I felt like at least it was done and prayed to God and was like, Hey, I think that we've learned what we're supposed to learn in. Our faith has grown and we've seen you move. We've done these things. And this has been so hard, but such a blessing. And I remember we even got to a point and it's somewhat embarrassing to say that I fleeced God and said, you told us it is, if you're really going to do this, you better do it like this and now, or I'm done, right. It was a very much a Gideon situation. And lo and behold, that asks specifically was a couple of weeks, which was just a couple of weeks from now is my wife's birthday. And it was like, you know, what would be great for her on our birthday, a birthday present that we'll never forget is that if we hear about this little boy, that you've selected for us to scoop up and take into our house and doggone it on her birthday, we got a call at 10 30 in the morning and said, we've got a little boy for you. And that grew our faith that grew our faith coming here to north gate, leaving this church, plant the family. The thing that we thought we had built in a space, you know, you ever been somewhere, you thought you're just gonna be a lifer leaving that because you felt like you were called to do something different. For me specifically, I felt really called to come here and allow our founding pastor to be my pastor first and my boss second. And to lift him up through what I thought were going to be some of the richest years of ministry of his life. And to experience that collectively, I felt like I was called to be as Aaron to lift him up. And those were hard steps of faith. He didn't want to do it. I didn't want to do the difficult work that that took going over to Uganda with my friend, Rick small, just the two of us to actually deliver a bunch of nickels that in our kids area had raised for nets. We did a small little campaign that took off called niggles for nets, and we were going to help with malaria. And then the school district got involved in it. And then the whole community got involved in this. This is a really cool thing. And we went over and we thought we were just delivering nets. And then we saw the water situation. And we were like, yeah, I believe that that's real bad. And God was like, what you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? And so we came back and we started this thing called the Benicia water project, which then turned into walk for water, where we have all these plaques all over the place for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been raised just through this faith community for water Wells. This goes on, you've heard those stories where your faith grows bigger. You've been connected with them. You're like, wow, look at God moving when I'm doing, when I'm actually following him. Why friends? Because when our active faith intersects with God's faithfulness, our faith grows when our active faith intersects with gods faithfulness, our faith grows. When you feel nudged that little nudge to serve someone else, to make things right with somebody that you do not want to make things right with, right? When you say like, Hey, I should serve that person. And you feel that nudge, I really should reconcile with that person. And you don't want to, but you finally take those steps in doing that afterwards. You're like, man, what a rush? Like what a hi, you're going to serve someone and just been like, feel like the best person in the world, even though it's not really you, but that's what it is. It's this rush God's saying, Hey, your active faith honors me right now. You just reconciled with that person. And you're so thankful that you did because now you see God's faithfulness and your faith grows. So whenever we follow God and Jesus in an area where it's challenging or cost us something, when our faithfulness to God intersects with God's faithfulness, our faith gets bigger and you see our faith. It's like a muscle. And if you want your muscle to grow, you can't just believe that your muscle will grow. You have to do something about it, right? And if you don't ever do anything about it, if you don't ever exercise, then it atrophies and it goes away and that can be difficult and it can be really difficult. And we can go down that trail and just the moment, but you can start with little things and get little links, right. And be like, okay, I'm going to do serve project. Or I'm going to show up in student ministry and children's ministry. And I'm going to show up in a painful situation. And I'm going to flex my muscle little bit and be like, okay, three pounds. It's so hard. No more. I can do this. This is pretty good. Right? Or you can take like that step. And I can remember, you know, when I finally figured out how to, and decided I'm going to reconcile with my dad, I'm going to reconcile with my dad. And I'm going to see the faithfulness God's faithfulness on the other side of that and what that feels like, because I'm going to flex that muscle. Or, you know, you're going to take that next big step into like making sure that you're taking care of you and the other people around you. And I'm, you know what? I'm going to get some help. I'm going to show up right there and believe that God's faithful enough to take care of me, whatever that thing is. And it just gets bigger and bigger and you can keep going to do this. This is scary. This is getting really big. Come on son. You're like, this is a big step Lord in my weakness. You're strong And you get to do that stuff. And it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And you get to flex that muscle. And then you get to see those people. That's why we call them spiritual heavyweights because they're just like yoked, right? They're like, God is good. I know this. You're like, whoa, I don't know. I was scared. This is the theme all throughout scriptures. Those who have experienced living out practically what you believe you're, you've experienced the reward. You've experienced the reward of that. Now, if you're with us online, if you're in the room and he took a little nap, her, I lost you for a minute. I'm going to ask you to tune back in. Cause this is, this is what we learn about God from Jeremiah in this moment and what we learn from Jesus in this moment. And it's staggering. We learn, we learn. I learned that it's possible for you and I to attend some kind of gathering every week, maybe every week of your life, maybe twice a week, multiple times a week, that it is possible to hear. And it is possible to believe and yet have a life that ultimately undermines your faith it's possible. And when we do that, when, when we can find ourself in a place where we can believe, and yet have a life that ultimately undermines our faith, this eventually will produce a faith crisis in itself. A crisis of faith in itself. This is where I would say, if that you're not a follower of Jesus yet you're here in this space. You're not a Christian and you're here or you're with us online. This is where I want to apologize. I think an apology could be do, because one of the reasons that you gave up on Christianity, or maybe one of the reasons that you never have explored it, isn't simply that you don't believe it. You wonder sometimes if we, it, you wonder sometimes if we believe it, you've heard our rhetoric and what we've said about God and the Bible and truth and love and all that stuff. And then you look at the way that we actually live the way that we actually treat people the way that we actually treat people, the way that we actually treat people. The reason that you're not more open to believing in what we believe is because you just don't know if we believe it because we don't live it out. And that's actually what God's message was through Jeremiah, wake up guys. That's what he's saying. Hey, look, it, this is like, it's all just window dressing. And here's what I would say to you. If that's the way that you felt, would you just ignore us for a moment, ignore us and read through the gospels or just read through one of them. Matthew, mark, Luke, or John. This is the story. Life is the best way to see this. Follow me, lived out. Cause that's what he constantly asked people to do. He didn't just say, believe me. He said do this. And it was hard stuff. Would you just read one of the gospels and at least consider following Jesus because our inability to do what we believe doesn't undermine the invitation and the love that Jesus has for you and wrapping this up. I'm gonna jump to the new Testament. And James was actually the half-brother of Jesus, which is so cool about the book of James. There's so much in there and right off the bat we see in James one, the first chapter verse 22, it says do not merely listen to the word. And so deceive yourself, do not merely listen to the word and just show up and then deceive yourself. Like I believe it. I think that's a good, Hey, great talk. Right? Good challenge. I believe that says this do not merely listen to the word. And so deceive yourself. Do what it says. Do what it says. Faith is a muscle in faith that does not do any good friends is no good. We need to grow our faith. And then James goes right into this little story about a mirror, about how, Hey, imagine this, imagine that you wake up in the morning and you walk into the bathroom area and you look in the mirror and you go, oh, You're a mess, right? And you're Like, oh man, I need to do some work. I need to do some work on me. Get myself presentable. Right? Professional. Maybe it would clean up the breath situation. All of that. He says, Hey, you wake up. You look in the smear you look at. And you're like, man, I need some work, but then you do nothing about it. You just throw your bathroom. Why don't you show up at work? And everyone's like, whoa, Right? You believed you needed to do the work, but you don't do the work. God says, God says, somehow you can retreat to. But I believe all things are right. If I believe then all the things are right. And you must build a strong faith because one day friends we're going to need It. And it won't be there. You will meet it. And God says, Jesus says, I want you to be ready. Follow me, follow me, follow me. And then James ends this whole statement with, but whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it. Not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it. They will be blessed in what they do. If you want to experience God friends, you've got to do something with What you believe. And what we learn all throughout scriptures is what happens to people when they don't listen and they don't respond or live it out, is that like storms come, God knows storms. Just show up. And when the storms come, there's a crash and it's going to expose your faith and who you are. We got to hear powerful testimony from What's like my dad last week, Roger, my pastor of when a storm comes kind of funny as last name storms, what happens when that great crash comes, what's underneath? Why is this going to be difficult? Because our faith could be fragile and weak. Even though you believe, even though you believed you had not exercised to be prepared for the storms in life, and this should disturb some of you, it should disturb some of you that's. What's so disturbing about Jesus's message and God's message about follow me because believing again is easy. Jesus disturbed people when he preached, cause they didn't say, believe this new idea. He says, you need to do this. You need to pray for your enemy. What? No, no, no. This is a follow me. Pray for your enemy. Turn your cheek, that disturbed people. And ultimately you actually see a disturbed people to the point where you see in like the book of Johnny talked about that people actually in the midst of his message were like picking up stones to throw stones in the stone or almost push them off of a cliff, which is why there's a lot of distance right here in a stage. So that way, when we have to have difficult conversations, but from time to time friends There's tension. And we See in Jeremiah right here, this was a tension moment. And it's important that we actually live in that tension. So what our cultural, our current cultural moment needs is not more people attending church. It's not more than people just seeing songs saying the right religious language and the things. But instead people who are committed to living the way of Jesus Could do the personal Work of examining their interior lives and aligning the reality of their lives to the life, the ministry And the teachings of Jesus. Would you pray with me, father God, we thank you so much that you challenge us, that you push us, that you invite us. You Don't just say, believe this, that you actually invite us into something. And so today may we respond and follow you, not just the knowing, But in doing, and may you be honored by our active faith? God, if you will. And if it's your Will, may we just receive the blessings from that? And if anything grows stronger faith muscle, we love you and your name, we pray. Amen.



Jeremiah - Week Four

We have a freedom to actually negatively affect one another. And we also use that freedom and sinful ways to override another person's freedom. We can also use this in positive ways.






Jeremiah - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Well, Hey, good morning. And welcome if you're with us online, I'm glad that you're here. Happy father's day. I'm assuming all your dads are barbecuing that aren't here and you're watching because church is important to you and that's good, man. I'll tell you what dads, you have massive influence. Don't give that away. Take that opportunity. It's a day. If you are a dad, take that opportunity. Don't miss that opportunity up to shake it all off and say two things to those around you, because it's that important. I love you is really good, but a bigger, more powerful one is I'm proud of you and call it out and name it and give respect. Because I know as a man and us men, like the love stuff is cool, but we want to feel respected. And so when another man gives a younger man or someone around them, respect, man, the cashew just put in the bank.

So don't miss that opportunity. Drop the pride, the ego, the dude stuff, and lean in all the way and be a good dad. And for those of you who know that don't have a dad that's here around right now, stepping on their behalf step right into that season and give the same thing to somebody else. So dad's pops. I see you. I love you. I'm thankful for you. And I hope you're proud of me. So so today we're asking this big question, we're asking the question. If God knows the future, how can we really have choice or this free choice? If the scripture is already written, if the script is already written ahead of time, if we, we are, we just determining our part in this? And if that's the case, how can God hold us accountable for the choices that we make? Because he's really already choosing the choices that we make.

It all becomes quite this, fill out philosophical conundrum. When we look into it and we're going to work through that today. And there's some stuff in Jeremiah, we're going to pull out of as we've been walking through that. But first of all, we're going to start out by pointing a verse. This is one of the favorites within the Christian quiche culture. It's this one, Jeremiah 29, 11 verse 11 for I know plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope a future that we've seen this in pictures. You've seen it in jewelry. Some of you have it tattooed on your body. You're seeing tattoos. We love that verse. I mean, all right, Christians love that verse. It's like the thing we give away to graduates and you know, it sits on our desk and on our wall.

And it's all predicated on this. The idea that if God has a plan for our future, it will come about. Now this challenges, the whole idea, this whole concept of free choice. But if you believe in free choice, just because God has a plan for your future, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will come about because when God says I have a plan for you future, he's offering you something. He's, he's giving you a proposal. So what if you, who's not the follow his plan. Can you do that? Or does anything you do actually then become his plan? How does that all work out? Let me just say this to you. The entire Bible and all of his scriptures is predicated on the fact that we don't always follow God's plan. If we always followed God's plan and be a very short book. In fact, it'd probably be more like a pamphlet because the whole plot, the whole plot line of scripture, this whole, this whole scope and sequence is that God actually has a plan for Israel to start with.

And Israel keeps walking away and we see this through Jeremiah, he's giving this message has come as a messenger to say, Hey, Israel, you keep walking away from God's plan. Then the church and the new Testament, continually God having a plan that we all keep walking away from. So to just put this piece of scripture up on a poster, have it tattooed on you saying, God has a plan for your life. It could be a really hopeful verse, or if you're someone who's stubborn and you keep walking away, it could just be a really sad reminder of how far you're straying. Even in Jeremiah, we see that in this poetry, he knows that they're about to go into exile. So it doesn't sound that prosperous. And they're not going to be harmed that if you read this and who it was written to and how it goes, he's saying, Hey, you're getting ready to go.

And exhale. I don't know for how long, but what ends up happening is actually going to exile into Babylon for 70 years. Then the plan begins to come about because of their decisions. And so we want to look at the concept of plan, purpose, and then where we fit in as free choice agents and how that goes. It's kind of where we're headed today. So if God knows the future, do we have free choice? Let me give you an answer in one sentence. It's this knowing what someone will do is not the same as causing men to act that way for God is not controlling history here in his friends. He's redeeming it. Knowing what someone will do. That's not the same as causing them to act that way for God's not controlling history. He is redeeming it. That is not, he's not forcing history to move in a certain direction in all detail.

But what he's bringing out is he's bringing up good out of all things in all times. So does God know the future then? Yes, absolutely. There's two ways that he knows the future and there might be more, but here are just two ways that he knows sure. One is causally Causely. He knows much about the sure, because there's many things he's going to do in the future. And he knows what he is going to do or what's because, and there's also relationally, relationally. He knows each of us intimately and infinitely so he can predict our choices, actor accurately. And I'm gonna talk about some examples from scripture about how God knows the future and knowing the future doesn't necessarily actually cause the future casually. He can say certain things gonna happen and they're going to happen because he'll bring them about right. But you know, all of us can do that to a certain degree. We can cause something to happen. You can say tomorrow, I'm going to do this and then you do it. And then you just predicted the future and then the future. But can you give me another example and ask you all to stand up, go ahead. Some of you guys can stand up now, say this, you ready for this? I love in and out. Ready? That's great. You can have seat. Perfect. So I just want to let you know that I prophesied this this week that most of you would stand up today and say, I love in and out. I'm going to show you. I put on a slide. I predict people will stand up and say, I love in and out on father's day, June 20th, 21. Now how did I know the future? I knew the future because I knew what I was going to do in the future. And that didn't mean I forcefully coerced you, or you seized to be free agents about your choice. You chose to participate with my choice for what we were going to do. And some of you didn't stand. I saw you. You chose not to. So you chose to opt out, right? It doesn't override your free choice. You opt in or you opt out relationally. And God knows the future regularly on scripture. He says that he knows our hearts. He he's known us since we were in the womb. He knows all the details, our lives. It even says he knows the numbers of hairs on our head. And so we also get to make relational choices. We get to make predictive choices about what we're going to do, like a plan for the summer. We're today, casual choices. I say that this will happen because I will do it. And then I do it. And then it happens. It's what we do. God does that. But he just does this on an infinite scale. And so we also make predictions about the future. We know people well enough in your life that we can actually predict the things that they're going to do. Right? You can actually predict the things that they're going to do of the things that they're going to choose.

Like what ice cream, they would choose that they're sitting there at 31 flavors, right? You can know them well enough to know what they like. You can predict the future based on your relational knowledge. And God does this, but he also just does this infinitely in a larger scale. If you know anything about me or if you're around me for a period of time, in a closer way, there's a bunch of stuff that you would be able to then predict about me, what it would say or what I would do. Or you would know that I'm going to try to scare you. At some point, you would know that there's ever pizza in front of me. I'm going to eat it because pizza is like my favorite. Right? And you don't even have to know me that well, but you can just predict that you put a slice of pizza in front of me.

I'm not going to just let it sit there. Just go to waste. You know, someone like a spouse or a friend or someone that's been close to you or even workmates what they like or what they don't. And these are things that you would get to know. And you could predict them with a fairly regular accuracy because you know them intimately and God knows all of us intimately and infinitely to the point where he even knows us more. A lot of times than we even know ourselves. So the question that people ask then is a, that God knows the future. Why do we even have to live it out? Like, what do we have to go through this? He already knows how the novel ends. Why go on another day? He knows it all. Let's just give up. But you know what? Here's the deal experiencing something is different than intellectually knowing something.

If I know my wife is a good kisser, I don't say, well, I know that let's check that one off the list. Right? And I don't need to experience that anymore. Let's move on to the next thing. No way. Are you kidding me? Because I know it. I want to experience it more. Right? Happy father's day. My son's in here. I'm embarrassed. And right now he's like, oh my gosh, you guys kiss. I want to experience it even more. Right? Been on a roller coaster before. You're like, nah, that's a roller coaster. Been there, done that, right? No way. What do we do? We get back in line. We're like on that again, it's the same exact track goes the same as that direction. You see, God may know things about the future, but that doesn't mean it's passe to him. He actually wants to engage with all of us and live it out and experience what it's like to be friends with.

You bring out good out of things. Even in bad situations in our lives. The entire biblical narrative is based on the premise that God may know the future. But at the same time, we are definitely free to choose things. Being made in his image, in his likeness, being partners, in making decisions to make history come about, we still have wills and affects that the world around us and to actually affect other people. And so we read things in scripture, like in Matthew 23, it says this verse 37, this is Jesus talking to the Pharisees. He says, how often have I longed to gather your children together? As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were not willing. And Luke seven, but the Pharisees and experts of the law, we see what they're actually rejected. God's purpose for themselves. And he had a plan for their life.

He says, I know the plans I have for you says the Lord a good plan, but they chose to reject it. In Genesis six, you see the story of Noah where God regretted. It said that he made human beings on the earth and his heart was deeply troubled or some translations. Actually it was deeply grieved. And so his heart was filled with grief. If everything that we did was because God was meticulously controlling, we were simply simply acting out all of his choices. Then why would his heartbeat or grieving and sad because we weren't willing to partner with him and live this life together. He would have just simply said, oh yeah, everything is going according to plan. But God has a plan. Part of his plan was actually to make us image bears who can make choices to walk away from his plan. We get that choice.

He's allowed for that. But he grieves when we do walk away from his goodness, the entire biblical marriage is God chasing down, wanting good for you and me and his people throughout the entire narrative that continues to go. We're part of his story. And so when someone say, but wait a second, doesn't sometimes in scripture, God override this whole idea of free choice. Doesn't he sometimes step in, at least sometimes in scripture, it seems like God makes choices of who will be healed or not healed or something or what catastrophe will be fall or what judgment or punishment is going to take place or arrest someone in their life. And it's going to choose a different path for them. Absolutely, absolutely. God chooses to override or intervene at places and times in people's lives because that's what free agents do. God is simply an infinite version of that.

But you do that. Also. I do that also. It doesn't necessarily remove there's free will, but it does have a greater power over them. For instance, human beings that override other people's free will will at sometime you can graph it out this way. We have a freedom and we have the power to affect our world, including the lives of the people around us. We actually have been given that freedom to affect the people around us, based on our choices. It's both, you see it play out in both sinful and non sinful ways. Our freedom allows us to affect the lives of others. Anytime there is an abuser or a murderer, they obviously are. You serve being the freedom of someone else. They're using their freedom to override the freedom of someone else's and you see it to be true in this free group of people.

We have a freedom to actually negatively affect one another. And we also use that freedom and sinful ways to override another person's freedom. We can also use this in positive ways. You see this done in a lot of different positive ways. A teacher, for an example, a teacher overrides much of the freedom of his or her class, a parent. If you're a parent overrides the freedom of their children, it doesn't mean that their children are no longer have a free will and they can't do anything anymore. This has dealt quite honestly. And really frankly, in scripture, you see this in the old Testament in Deuteronomy 30 says this day, I call the heavens and the earth as witness against you. That I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses now choose life so that you and your children may live. And that you may love the Lord.

Your God listened to his voice and hold fast to him. Very honestly, there's a choice. Clearly laid out that the choices that you make will actually affect others, for instance, your descendants and the choices we make. Here's a simple example, the choices we make in this generation generation, do you believe that it's actually going to have an effect on the right? You have children or not even directly, the choices that you make that I make will affect the generation and the choices that the generation have affected us. All the previous generations decisions made an effect in the life that we live today for good and for bad, right? And to be completely free means we have an effect, not only on our own life, but the lives of others and then the world around us. And God, of course, it's a free agent. He's the greatest of all free agents.

And so we shouldn't be surprised when he has an effect on us, but that doesn't present for prevent us from being freewill agents ourselves. We can see how this works out. And Jeremiah we've been going through the book of Jeremiah, which is filled full of poems. Jeremiah was a, a young man who was appointed by God and God said, Hey, I'm gonna have you deliver a very difficult message to my people who are straying away. This is Israel, and he's letting them know, Hey, you need to turn away. You're not walking the walk. You're just talking the talk. And it's just a sham. And you started doing your own things and you're deviating and you're not doing this life with God. And they were hurting him. They were hurting each other and hurting other people. And so he, his job was to go and to let them know, Hey, this isn't going to work out.

There's going to be destruction. That's going to come upon us. If we don't fix what we're doing or turn our ways. And so we've been walking through what this looks like, this loss and calling and conviction and redemptive aspects of this. And what we do is we find ourselves today in Jeremiah 18. And this is another poem or another moment that I think is really set up for this idea that God is just puppeteering and controlling it. All right? You would think walking into this, he's going to use an example of a Potter in clay, right? And this representation of God being the Potter and being in control over. And so you would think like, Hey, this is perfectly set up to show I'm in control of everything. And this is how everything's going to go. And this is how it's going to happen. So let's go ahead and hop in and read here Jeremiah 18 one through nine.

So this is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, go down to the Potter's house. And there, I will give you my message. So I, this is Jeremiah went down to the Potter's house and I saw him working at the wheel, but the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands. So the Potter formed it into another, shaping it, as it seemed best to, to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, can I not do with you Israel as this Potter does declares the Lord like clay in the hand of a Potter. So are you in my hand, Israel, if at any time I announced that a nation, a kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed. And if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on a disaster that I've planned.

And if at another time I announced that a nation or kingdom is to be built up is to be built up and planted. And if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider good that I intended for it. Do you see a reflection of this in the new Testament? Paul writes in Romans nine about the Potter and the clay, and many people read this harsh determinism into that. When I would see just the opposite that this is the foundational passage for that. And I think that the message of the Potter and the clay is that I have complete authority to do whatever I want. If I want to just determine your life, I could, I have the authority that the Potter has over the clay, but actually I don't want to use that authority to overpower you. I want to bring out the best in you that as it shifts and makes its own decisions as a piece of clay, that I want to bring out the best in you, that I'm going to come along side of you and help form it into something beautiful again.

And I want to do this collaboratively. He has all authority, but he uses his authority to create a content next for relationship and justice, because that's the case. It could be that God has all knowledge of the future, but he chooses limit or withhold so that he can work within us to take a ride with us. But he actually chooses to limit his knowledge or even withhold some of his knowledge about the decisions we're making. So he can actually come alongside of us and go on the ride with us. There's this fascinating passage where Abraham you've maybe heard this Abraham and Isaac, and it's this crazy thing. He asked him to go sacrifice his son, Isaac. And literally Isaac has no idea what's going on. And you know, it makes them Kerry had the wood and like participate in what's about to happen. And just as he's preparing to actually sacrifice his son, a Ram gets stuck in a Bush right next to him that he could use for sacrifice and an angel of the Lord.

It says, then it shows up and says to him, because now I know that you fear God, there's no longer the sacrifice of your son that's needed. And you go, why? What? Because now that you know that you fear God, now that you know, I fear God, what I thought, God knows everything. God doesn't know that already. And we see when we look at it that there's some sense that God either withholds his knowledge or limits it and says, even though I may know something intellectually, I want to know it experientially. And I'm going to take a ride with you. God's commitment to not control everything that happens. Just why we will hurt ourselves, which is why we hurt others. And others hurt us. But this is so important friends. His commitment is to bring good out of it. See we screw up and he uses our screw ups to bless us. That's called grace. And then what do we do? We screw up again. Right? And what does he do? He blesses us again, let me screw up some more. And he blesses us some more. And then at some point it dawns on all of us. God really is as beautiful and loving and gracious. As I've been told, he really does love me that much. May I just say at this moment that when that dawns on you, that will be your moment of greatest choice in your life. You'll have a moment to respond to grace and your choice will head in one of two directions. You may say, wow, I keep screwing up and God keeps turning into a blessing. I learned the secret to life. I get to live, right? I've learned the secret that I keep screwing up and God keeps blessing me here.

However, I just want to keep abusing whatever. And whoever I want to, I want to be as hateful or spiteful or self-centered as I want. And you actually then deviate from God's plan because you think grace is there to be abused and some make that choice. But friends, grace is intended to reveal the heart of God to give you an opportunity, to be wooed by love. And to say you, you mean you're going to love me me no matter what I want to get closer to you. And you're going to have a moment where you have the opportunity to just fall in love with Jesus and grace becomes that, which convicts and calls and woos and loves us and makes us want to get closer to Jesus and to live better lives because it's not the threat of punishment. It's the beauty of grace that changed our hearts. That's your moment of choice. And we have that moment right now. You're that moment right now. So when I asked him to get your phones, or you can take out your notes and you can write this down, this is something for you to take next steps with, or have conversations with the car, the way home. Here's some questions. How can you have an effect, not only on your own life, but on the lives of others and on the world around us. How can you as a free choice, agent have an effect on not only your own life, but on the lives of others, because of your choices and even on the world around us or this, how are you experiencing life with God? And not just intellectually knowing something about him? Are you experiencing his grace? How are you doing life with him? Where's it just, I intellectually know something about him or what are you experiencing? And lastly, how are you responding to grace right now in your life? Are you abusing it? Are you using it? Are you saying, oh, this is great. You're going to do what I want to do. Thank God for grace. It's good. I figured out that key. I'm going to take that badge on. I'm going to put that bracelet on or are you leaning all the way in being wooed by the love of God and leaning in and saying, I have free choice right now. I need a partner. I need hope I need a friend and somebody to talk to you. I need somebody. That's proud of me. Somebody who loves me.

We're going to stand right now and respond and worship and so on and invite you to do so.



Jeremiah - Week Five

There's nothing so dead that God cannot resurrect it through the power of Jesus & there's nothing so broken that he can't mend it.





Jeremiah - Brendan McDonough

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Sort of very young age, I started using marijuana and alcohol and I started to embrace that identity. And that's when, you know, my life just completely was out of control. I was in class one night and I hear some guys talking about an opening on a hot shot crew. I'm thinking to myself, I have my search. I can do that job. I need this. I can't put into words how that moment of my life puts such a trajectory into the man. I am today after two and a half years of fighting fire. Like my life was back on track and I left drugs in the, in the past, no, June 30th, 2013 would be called to a fire and yard now. And as a relatively small fire, my superintendent captain are sitting right there, standing right there and they go, Hey, Bernie, you want to be the lookout today? I said, of course I'd love to, I'm watching the fire and the fire's moving completely away from us. It's going north. And we're on the south end of this fire. And so I'm relaying stuff back to my superintendent and he's like, yeah, we're seeing similar things up here and, you know, just keep us informed. And around that afternoon, late afternoon, we get a weather event update. And it's saying that there's this storm coming in from the north. And it's going to bring winds of like 50 to 60 miles an hour. And it's going to turn this fire around. So instead of going north, it's going to head south over the next few minutes. It starts really picking up moving south towards us. And I'm closer to the fire then my crew. So this fire now has turned around and it's pushing towards town and we don't have time. And this fire's starting to burn homes and I'm watching it continue to progress to where they're at and it's moving fast. The only way I can describe it is it just kind of skipped with the wind. And so we pull out, we pull everybody out of that area and they start pulling everyone off the fire line because this weather event has come in a lot sooner than they had suspected. And there was another one behind it pushing it. And we get back into town and kind of wondering like, Hey, where are my brothers at? You know, and I'm thinking to myself, it's kind of getting a little hectic, stay off the radio. They've got plenty of experience. They're all together. They know what they're doing. And I start hearing calls over the radio that they're trying to get water dropped. And then I hear my superintendent over the radio, say that they're getting ready to deploy their fire shelters. I'm thinking like what's happened. And we're trying to find a way into where they're at. And we can't find a way, and there's just too much fire on the ground. There's no road in. So they finally, they get a helicopter up and they've got a paramedic on board and you can hear over the radio has got eyes on the crew. You can see their shelters. And so they find a spot to land the helicopter. And I can only imagine from his accounts hiking down and I hear over the radio a few minutes later, he says, I've got 19 confirmed. And it hit me that they had just passed away that this fire just took them in life, man, everything that had led to the man I am today was gone and I didn't really have a strong family growing up. They, they did the best they could, but those men had defined me as a father, me as a community member, and continually tried to help me rebuild my relationship with God and I had lost it all. And in the blink of an eye, it would be months of shock funerals memorials. After the tragedy, I didn't turn back to heroin, but I've turned to the bottle throughout the day. I couldn't escape the reality of what happened. And when I went to bed, my my mind was haunted by the things I had seen and experienced. And I started to drink really heavy. My life was, I can't put it. It was living hell every where I went there. I was sitting in the mirror wondering why didn't I die that day? You know? And it's, it took me a while to get honest with myself. And I just started praying and crying. I'm like, God, I can't live like this anymore. And I never wanted to ever question why that day happened, but I do want to know, can you remove this from my life? Because I can't do it on my own. So after hitting rock bottom and having these moments of contemplating suicide, I found myself in counseling and I thought I knew what recovery was and, but I had no clue. I had no clue what my relationship with Christ looked like. I had no clue recovery looked like, but I found a brotherhood and that meeting again, and it changed my life. I had men again that were willing to rally alongside me and walk alongside me and lead me to a deeper relationship with Christ that heel pain and fill the void that I never could fill with anything else. And that was only his love only his forgiveness and only his hope and purpose for my future. That puts me here today. Well, will you welcome Brendan McDonough with me? Yeah. From Prescott. That's how you say it. Just want to tell you right now. Michelle and I actually lived there for a little while. And so we talked about it. It's not Prescott. It's Prescott, Prescott like biscuit. Yeah. That's what you say. You've been there a long time. Yeah. And we, we found out we got a little special connection. My wife and I had the privilege and I more so had the privilege of knowing actually one of his brothers and that hotshot crew and did church and life together. And so just so thankful to have him out here this weekend. And we're gonna have a fairly raw conversation. Not like it hasn't started that already. I don't know if you guys have seen many of you maybe have seen the movie only the brave. It's a good depiction and maybe we'll talk about that in a little bit. But we have been going, like I said, through this series and Jeremiah and as we talked about potentially the opportunity for Brendan to come out here, there was just a week that matched up with this, like when God feels absent and far away. And when you're lonely and angry and we've been on a journey walking through some of those things of this poetry in this book, in the Bible, in the old Testament, how Jeremiah had to give this message to people and how difficult it was and how he saw people hurting and dying. And eventually we're going to go off into exile. And he, he himself was going through all of the emotions and he has in Jeremiah 15, this just prayer, that's a poem. That's just, just a guttural prayer, really to God of how lonely he is, how angry he is, how hurt and sorrowful that he feels. And so just really to get right off the bat. Let's just talk about that for a minute and how, where you've found yourself, where you can really do a me too moment with us that you know, where we've been there. You've been there. Yeah. So for me after that tragedy, I, I felt so banned and by God. So I grew up going to church in my younger youth in elementary school and throughout high school turned to addiction and really just found myself lost. And so after losing my brothers, I was mad. I was mad that a God took their lives and didn't take mine. Like, why would you take men that have fought so hard for something? And I was the addict. I was the felon. I was the, you know, the, the dad who was divorced kind of concept and idea. And it bared me to the bottom of my life. And I couldn't, I couldn't hold this pressure and weight cause I wouldn't ask why, because I remember just as a young kid, you just don't question God. And I was at a point where I was suicidal. I was drinking almost every night and I couldn't escape my reality. And I was just broken and lonely. And I felt this, this pressure to do it on my own because I had so many people telling me like, Hey, God saw God has something so amazing plan for you burden. And there's such a big purpose as a reason why you're here And you're not even want to hear that. Right. Then that's The last thing I'm wanting to hear. And so that's just putting more weight, more pressure to be this, this larger than life kind of hero. And I, and I folded and I continually folded and I wouldn't go to God because they would tell me, God's not going to give you more than you can handle. And so I'm sitting there thinking to myself, physically, I can carry a lot of weight. I can do a 16 hour shift, two weeks at a time 32 hour shifts straight. I can dig line, like I can put in physical work. So I thought that's what had to happen emotionally and spiritually. I didn't get that second piece of that conversation of God will not give you more than you can handle it. It took years for me to find that and it didn't happen. So I was multiple times out bottom. It wasn't a one-time deal of like, man, I'm suicidal. I need to reach out. It was three, four times multiple blackouts, just at a point of, I'm not going to make it to 25. And I've got a little girl who needs a father. Right. And something's got to change. So just like with Jeremiah, we see that in that place where he's just expressing loneliness and hurt and anger. And it's really out of that honesty that God can meet Jeremiah when we read through that and call them forward into this new life. And so I know that's something that you had experienced. It took a lot of time to experience it, but can you walk us through that just a little Bit? Yeah, it was, I was attending I guess I wasn't attending anything at the time. I would get invited to church study youth, pastor that invite me inside. I go and I'd be so nervous. I'd have like chewing tobacco in and I'm like, you're chewing a church brand. Like you might as well just light up a cigarette. Like what are you doing? And no inside don't Do that. Right. And so I walk out and I just felt so just so awkward. Yeah. And his patches just kept me with me and he kept just having conversations with me. I just kept trying to scare him away. You know, he likes to look, we'd meet on Mondays. So after the weekend of drinking and so I tell him what happened, he like, okay. So, you know, when you're going to make a different decision, I said, I don't think it's a problem. And he invited me to this Bible study and it was recovery based and he was super smart. Cause he knew how to get me, get me in there. He goes, Hey, I think you've got a lot to offer people, you know? Cause you were struggling with drugs. And I think you can, I think you've helped some people. And I was far from true, but I was like, yeah, I think I can help. So I wanted to help. I was in the fire service I wanted to give back. So how's he guessed, man? I didn't say no. I attended every single funeral that I could. I attended every single Morial. I did everything that I possibly could to honor my brothers. And so I remember showing up and I'm sitting in this Bible study and I'm hearing these men that are in treatment that have nothing. And from the outside, looking in, I've got a house of God, a fiance, I've got two kids at the time. I've got a truck, I've got a home. My bills are paid. And so from the outside, looking in, I've got this great life. These men had nothing. They'd hit bottom. They had the bags in their backpack that they got and went to treatment in. And I'm hearing them talk about the relationship of Christ and their sobriety. And I'm sitting there thinking to myself, I've got this all wrong. Like I thought I had to carry this weight. And so I just keep this kind of stoke face because we're a small community and I've got to be this hero. I've got to be perfect. I've got to wear this. Right. That's a huge way. Cause you're still living in the community where this tragedy kind of took place. Yeah. I mean, we're, we're right there. Right. You know, every corner, there's a sticker, a shirt. And so I get my truck and I get home. I'm sitting out there and I remember just, just crying out to God and I'm like, God, I can't do this anymore. Like why? Like the question I was so afraid to ask spent so many years sitting there tell him myself, because I thought I knew what a man was. I thought I knew what it meant to be strong, but all I needed to do was just ask why I said, God, why, why am I here? Please just take it away or just make it easier because I can't do it on my own anymore. I don't have it in me. And I'll have another day. I'll have another fight I'm done. So I'll wake up the next morning. And St. Patty's day, I'm Irish, my whole family, my Irish drink whiskey. My whole dad's side of the family's from south Boston. My grandmother was an immigrant. And so I go, me and my friend, Hey Brianna, why don't you come out? And okay, let's go out. We're sitting down and small town and server comes right. Hey, you want the usual? I am a hold off. Okay. By the second or third time, I said, I'm a hold off. She's like you, okay. You sick, you got a fever, got the flu. What's going on? You got to fly a plane or something. I might not just, I got something to do tomorrow. And so we get done with dinner and the guys were like, Hey, you want to go downtown? When like, you know, I got something important to do tomorrow. And really I had nothing. Yeah. And I remember getting in my truck, I'm sitting there and I didn't, I didn't understand this. I don't understand how serious this problem was until that very moment. I just broke down. Like, God, thank you. But then I didn't have to drink. I didn't have to forget. I didn't have to go so far in a place of being numb to just not remember that I could just rest in him. And it was very unfamiliar for me because as a kid growing up, it's like just rainbows, butterflies. Some people go through trauma as a kid, but for me it was pretty, pretty, pretty good life. And I just, every day I just continued to pray the same thing. God, please remove this from me. Please remove this from me. And so week after week, I kept going to this Bible study and I kept seeing this transformation of the more I gave him. Cause I only gave him a few pieces at a time. You know, I didn't give it all and was like, Hey, here's a little bit, here's a little bit. And then I remember sit down my pastor probably after a month. He was like, when are you going to give it all? Yeah. I'm not going to know how to, this is just give it all. I'm like, it's easier said than done. Right. And I just kept praying that same prayer. And I seen this miracle work in my life of, I had every opportunity to go to any treatment center in the country, 40, 50, $60,000 a month. And it couldn't fix me. And it was a simple moment of saying, God, I surrender, I'm broken, I'm lost. I don't have hope. I need you in overnight. He said, okay, I've been waiting. Leave the 99 for the one who you are. Yeah, my son. Wow. Yeah. I think that's something that's really important. We learned from that. We learned from testimony from people. We learn this from, you know, just as we're going through this moment with Jeremiah where that we don't actually have to hide our experiences and our emotions. You know, we don't have to think that God can't handle like our honest conversation or that, you know, all he wants to, you know, just needs to hear a why, but he can take it all. Can have that all in that. I think that that can really challenge us and I really feel like that's what you're doing to us right now is it's challenging us. Like how do we confront the things that we need to confront to actually move forward? So as you began to like confront those things, what do you feel like? You know, cause it's easy to be. It's hard for people to understand in reality and you know, this, that you say, like, it just happened. I said, take it. And he took it and it went away. And like for some of us it's just so heavy and so big or so hidden. We're so broken that we're like, that just doesn't need that's that's fairytale stuff, You know? And so I thought, yeah. So how do we, what does that, what does that look like? And then what did that actually lead to in your life really right now, what you feel like is living out your purpose on this side of this tragedy and you know, in this time, in your life. Yeah, I was so convinced that my life was going to be like that every day that I would wake up with anxiety, that I would have these nightmares and you know, everyone kept telling me, man, you've got to surrender and I'm like, it's not work. Like you don't get it. You don't understand how do I pull this out? And for me, what, what helped was just piece by piece, giving it over. And so as I started to see healing in it, it was almost a snowball effect for me personally. And it was like, okay, God did this in my life today. And I had to be really focused on what changed. And so I'd have a day without anxiety And I'm going to get to specifically call that out. Yeah. So I specifically called that out and I see, and I go, okay, I've had a day without anxiety. I haven't had a day without anxiety. And for years I was medicated and still had anxiety. Yeah. As Medicaid and couldn't sleep. Yeah. And so I see that and go, okay, God, that's, that's a miracle in my life for me. Cause it's haunting. Yeah. I go to sleep the next week and I sleep six, seven hours of slept six, seven hours in years. There's moments where I have to sleep on the couch. I'll wake up screaming, clench, screaming, wake up, my wife, wake up my kids and I sleep for a week or two. And I go, that's God, that's not me. I've tried it all. I've tried the therapy. I've tried the medication NyQuil I've chased the bottom of that bottle multiple times. It ain't put me to sleep. Yeah. I've gone to the psychiatrist, everything. And so I see these victories, which on the outside may seem like, oh yeah, I sleep. You know, but for me that was, that was a mountain. I didn't think I was going to be able to climb. And so I just pray and just keep praying, just keep going back to God and saying, okay, God, I see these changes in my life. I want more of them. Show me how yeah. You know, show me how, because it's only through you. I can't do this. There's no part of me that has the power to do this. This is the holy spirit. This is your son's sacrifice. The resurrection of Christ living in me. Yeah. And so it's like, okay, maybe you might be sitting there thinking, well, Brendan, I didn't lose 19 people. I don't have that big trauma. Your, your pain is pain. There's value to that pain, whatever it may be that you're going through and God wants to meet you there. That's what he's waiting for. And it's our, for me, it was ego that was etching God out. That's where ego stands for, for me, etching God out. And when I let go of that, the pride in the fear of telling someone I'm suicidal town, some of them struggling with alcohol what's kept in dark isn't dark and was brought to the light is in the light. That's when the healing begins. And so it was just an overflow. It was weeks past like, Hey man, this is a lot like, we're talking about a lot here, you know? And I'm like, well, you told me here's the surrender. Like here it goes, man, Slow down, slow. You're overwhelmed. I was full born Life. You know, everything is porn, addiction, anger, depression, just everything. And I just kept pouring out, pouring out. God just kept bam, bam, bam. I'm like, this is, this is my father. I didn't grow up with a father said, this is my father. This is the man I've been waiting for. And I just wouldn't open that door. I was in fear of judgment. Yeah. There's so many things that aren't real when you're, when you're in tune with who God is and who Christ is in our lives. I actually loved the definition of ego. You just gave us. Don't miss that. If you write stuff down, etching God out. Yeah. That's so profound. I think that we can find multiple times just in our day or our weeks or whatever situation where we're like, I got this, you know, like you're saying, I gotta be strong. I gotta be the face. I gotta be stoic. I gotta be strong for other people on their behalf. Because they're feeling weak and need your strength. I wanted to give you just I know that when we talked about some stuff that you specifically felt led to start something called hold fast and kind of walk us through, like, how did that happen? Did you always plant? You thought, oh, this is totally what I'm going to do. Or, you know, were you ever thinking about, am I going to get back out there in the fire service? Or What was that? So I spent a few years working on writing a book and the film. And so that was kind of my life for a while. And so if God's timing right, that I couldn't even see, I get sober a five, my relationship with Christ, the movie's release from six months sober. I've got men and women that are praying for me setting the Bible verses I'm going to Hollywood, I'm traveling around. We, we discussed this, the movie comes out. You're only six months sober. The movie doesn't depict that you, what kind of spiral that you kind of went back into afterwards. I mean, it just stops. And, and then you go through a lot of years of this. And so I think you were telling me that, you know, when, when you were discussing with Hollywood PDL, you were like, you're the man you're seeing today is not the man that I was before. The actor who portrayed me. When we sat down, I had to explain to him, you're not getting me pre tragedy because that's what you're depicting. As I said, you need to spend time with the people, the men and women who knew me before, because you're not getting an accurate portrayal. You're, you're, you're, you're seeing a broken person. I can give him. I was able to give him 10, 15 minutes of that before I had found my relationship with Christ. But by the time I had done that, we'd been done filming. And so everything comes out and I'm just like, God, please let me stay sober. Please let me stay sober through this entire time, please be with me. And he was every day. And there was a few people that had involved in the movie that had a, kind of a personal attachment to my sobriety. And so they would check on me, one of the actors he was in, in, in, in sobriety. And so he'd come to my hotel and clean out my mini fridge with me, you know? And so it was just those little things. And so I'm praying to God. I said, God, what do you have next? Like, do you want me to go back to the fire service? I'm still young. I was 26 at the time. You know, I'm, I'm pretty healthy. I'm pretty fit. I think, I think I can do it mentally now that I have in my life. And I know what I can tackle and challenge. Do you want me to go back to school? And I was praying one night, he said, Hey, I want you to open a Christian treatment center. I'm like, you've got the wrong Know. I'm like, you got the wrong dude. I think like the telephone lines, the old movies for the Ambulance to come check on you tomorrow, we got a different compensation. I think you got the Jack's hooked up properly and psyche praying about it. And I'm thinking Brennan, the statistics of what people like you go through. But not good. The recidivism rate, the suicide rate, the addiction rate. They're not, they're not good. And so God's brought you to quote unquote, the 1% right. Leaving the 99 for the one. So he's going to pull you whatever he wants through you. Right. And so you're going to open a Christian treatment center, so, okay, God, you want me to do this? And I'm praying. I said, just, just put the right people in my life please. Cause I'm a knuckle dragon hotshot. Like I used to enjoy being off season and still not showering for like a week. Like that's how I just, that was me. You know, my wife still gets kind of mad about it today. But and so I meet with my pastor. I'm kind of hoping that he shuts it down, that he's like, Hey, like you still got quite a bit of work to do. Like you're not married. You're living with, you know, you're soon to be wife. You, you know, you're kind of just getting your feet wet. I'm thinking of all the reasons why I can't do it. So I tell him and he's like, he's, I've been waiting for this. I'm like, what are you Like, Bob? He's like, I've been waiting for this. This is it, honey. You know, he knew a lot of those men to claim, right? Yeah. And he's sitting there and he's like, this is how you are. I go find the broken, go find a loss, go find the hopeless, bring him home, be a vessel, be a catalyst. I said, all right, I'll do it. I'll do it. I'll put the same energy and effort I did in the fight and fire and saving lives. That oath, we took that oath. I'm gonna take today with God. I'm yours. I'm here to serve you. And so from that moment, which I know nothing about business, nothing about counseling memo, personal experience, we opened a nine months. God put the people in place. God put the building, the counselors, the commissions, the finances to open the licensing. And we opened it up, sitting there and I'm like, wow, what a dream come true. So we've been doing it for three years. And so now I sit in front of you and we're expanding and we're growing a member of the vision that God put my mind. And I'm like, whoa, I didn't think it was possible. Yeah. I didn't think it was. And here I am today getting to live it out. Now he's putting more beauty in my life. And now married, I've got a third child and my wife, we've got a two year old son and now I got to come out here to Benicia. Right. He said it right. I get to spend time with some of the fire departments and share my experience and what Christ has done in my life. I get to sit up here and share this and I'm blown away. It's not pinched me. Right. Because four years ago, Four years ago. It wasn't, it wasn't possible to get me out of bed. It was a struggle. And now God has just w Zim, Romans talks about endurance. And I feel like I gazelle that. I just get to run with Christ. It gets a tackle these things in life with people. And there's no greater joy I've had is to be able to do what I get to do today and then come up here and just share some scars, share some, some tears of laughter, some joy and fellowship and learn. Yeah, this is just as important for me and who I am. And my family is, it is what it is. Beautiful. Yeah. So this morning at breakfast, we were talking and I was explained to you like real quickly you know, about our theology and what it just boils down to. And the saying that we have around here, that there's nothing so dead, that it can't be resurrected again because that's what God does. He makes dead things alive. And that there's nothing so lost that it cannot be found that you can be found in your beautiful example of so far the two. And in reality, the third one, which is there's nothing so broken, that it can't be mended on this side of eternity, that God will do a mending work. However, broken you are in your brokenness. You know, we've got a couple more minutes left. I know that this is so important to me, but to you, will you just share with all of us, you know, whoever's here with us online or whoever's coming into this space, just what those three aspects looked like, because I know that what you're most passionate about. And as we talked like all the time, you know, we could have talked about recovery a ton, but every time that we had a conversation has gone back to like, man, I just want to tell people about Jesus and the transformational work that Jesus does and did in your life. And so would you just, I know you've done it and you know, you've kind of walked around it, but like just get right there of those pieces and what that looked like for you and what it can look like for us. Yeah. So Jesus, I think I was reading history. I kind of liked history, but I'm not too smart. And then in ancient times they they'd have these, these vases that would be broken and you would think they'd be just done value, nothing, nothing of importance, but they would, they'd glue these, these vases back together with gold in leaf. And that brokenness is how I see Christ in my life. Like now it's invaluable or it's, there's not a value that can be placed on it. Right. And I was I was I was a lost child. I was so far out there, my turn, my back a million times and I couldn't muster the courage to say, God, I need you. And from that point of surrendering to today is night and day difference. My wife file record a cliff one day of her sharing, what that difference looked like. Cause she walked through it all with me. She seen the stumbled nights in the floor, sleeping on the dead dog bed to now helping me share this purpose that Christ has given me. And what I found out is the bigger, the void that we have in our heart is the bigger, the fill from Christ. See some more that we pour out to let him in as the more healing and renewal that he brings to us. And I was young. I didn't know that until life hit. And I just became enamored by his belief in me, his trust in me, his love for me, his compassion for me is, is his willingness to send his son to die for a wretch like me, a person that was broken and dead on the inside. I remember my mom told me once. He said, you're a, you're a shell of the son. I once knew I was angry that she had said that, but it was true. I wasn't in here. There was nothing going on in here. This was pretty empty and pretty haunted. And I remember spending time with my daughter and I was just like, babysitting. That hurts me to say that, but I was just babysitting my daughter. And when Christ came into my life and he showed me what a real father looked like, I didn't have a father. He spent 16 years in prison, met him twice in the last 10 years since then. And when he showed me what a real father was, I became one to, to my children. He showed me how to be a husband. What? I didn't know how to do that. And have my example was go to prison for 16 years. And I almost did that. And so he's given me this new found purpose of, of serving others in it. It's like the more I give up, which the world tells us not to do, don't give it up, take it, get the fast lane, get the, get the fast food, get you want it. Now you got to take it. Now, the more I do the opposite of that and follow him, he just continues to pour blessings into my life. When I just simple decisions, run like cheese or pepperoni on my God, what do you think? What kind of slice we have in a day? You know? Like what do you, what do you Want when I say surrender? I mean everything. Yeah. Like, you know, In distress, the world that I had in my life just dissipates. I don't want to make decisions without Christ in my heart. I want to make the small decisions with him because he's, what's gotten me here today. Wow. Never, ever. Could I have done it? I thought I could. If you'd asked 22 year old me be here today on your own, I say, yeah. Would, would you have asked me when I was broken a loss? I said, I never could imagine it happening, but with, with Jesus and my life and that gazelle like endurance because of the holy spirit that's, that's in me, you know, I get to fulfill this purpose. And then he throws these like little beautiful moments. I hate brunch. Just remember we've just begun. Yeah. And so if you're, if you're going through something in life, if you're struggling through something in life, this earthly world that we live in my new, you said that you said this amending on earth and healing and eternity in heaven. Amen. I'll take it today. What you gave me today, I'll take it. And I, and I'm so excited for that eternity and just just what he's done in my life, in these few years. Yeah. I'm just, and I get to spend the rest of my life. My wife, my children praising him, loving him, walking through some rough waters, even within the last few months of my life. Right. There's storms come, but now I know what to hold fast to it'll hold fast to the worldly views. I hold fast to Christ because he's not going to fail me through any storm I walked through. And that's who Jesus is in my heart. That's who he is to every single person in this room. Whether you know him or not, he's waiting. He's like, come on, knock on that door. Open that door son, my daughter, my child. I love you. You were a son of the king, a child of the king. And I wear that today. Not with the weight, but with the, with a belief that that's what protects me. I get to put on the arm. I get to put on the armor of God and I get to walk along and I get to be carried to like a little child that I didn't get. When I was a kid, I get to have that with God. And I surrender to it. I'm a grown man. I don't, I don't need to be carried, but my father, he needs to carry me. Cause there's some days there's some days that we'd need that. And so those, those three pieces, when you said that it hit me and it was just like, that's, that's who Christ is. Like, he's a Redeemer and don't miss the miracles in life because he's willing to work them in every facet. It's not just for those, with the platform. It's not, that's not what it is. God, we're straight here and I'll have to go through nobody to get to him. And I love it. And it is life changing. So one last fun thing is how we actually got connected is Brendan reached out purely actually to say like, Hey, do you know people who need help with recovery? And it was really, it wasn't like, Hey, can I come speak at your church? Or let me come tell my story. It was, and it's called hold fast recovery. You've said that a couple of different ways. Actually. I like how you even said that night at the bar, you were like, hold off, hold off. I thought there was some cool connection to that. But reached out to us and said, Hey, we have this, this program now in a facility and scholarships and all of those things out in Prescott and do you know anybody who could use this? And we'd love to get you connected and connected to other people. And so then that's what turned into like, oh my gosh, small world connection, which then was, I know your story. And then, Hey, can we come here? And you can come here and share the story. So what we're doing now is actually a small part of your weekend. You've already gotten to go and visit. So, you know, there was a couple of conversations that we had that I had with you just to share what I've experienced of his heart and for us to understand what this looks like. And I think it has challenged me. There's a couple of times that we were having a conversation about like, Hey, this is kind of what we'll do. And this is what the week's gonna look like. And I'm really specifically a first responder walked in and he was like, oh, Hey, I got to go. Something's going on? And it was just like, no matter what, when he could see someone walk through a door or come into his presence that needed his presence, that might be going through something. It was like, I needed to be fully present for that. And so that like challenged me to be like, wait, we're, we're having a conversation to like, oh no, this, this is like secondary. Like if you see somebody in your life that needs to know that there's resurrection, that needs to know that there's mending, that needs to know that there's ability to be found, show up. And that's exactly what you're saying. God has pushed you into. And it's because people showed up in your life continually and we're fully present that we get to have you sit here right now, here today and for God to express his goodness and redemption through the work that you're doing out in Prescott. So even today after this, we have you guys all participate actually already with adult and teen challenge in the city. And it's one of the mission organizations that we support. So he's going to go over there and gets to hang out with the adult and teen challenge guys, and then gotten to go and spend some times with multiple different fire agencies around really just the different counties around here, the whole bay area and going to get to can use to do that. The other thing that's really important. And I want you guys to know, maybe you don't know this, or maybe, you know, someone who could use this is that we have a recovery group here that meets and every single Monday night rain or shine, it meets in club 45, like six 30, no matter what. And it's free for anyone to show up, to, to walk into to make those baby steps. And if that's something that you're interested in saying, like, I can go once and check it out. Right. Cause that's usually just go one, one time. That's not to go all the time. Don't go from zero to hero. It's just like today, you know, it's saying like today I didn't have anxiety and celebrate it. But like today, I'm just going to go once and check it out. You can go. We'd love to give you information about that. We'd love to get you connected. There's some stuff at the information table. In fact, I think tomorrow they're actually doing a special dinner with you. And so that's something that you know, if you're like saying like, I can go once from the strength from someone else, I'm sure you're willing to give some of your strength. Oh yeah. To let somebody show up wholeheartedly. So you can do that information desk, or you can tell somebody else about that and lean into that. But we don't want to leave here without those types of things being known. And like my name's Larry I'm in recovery, like we're all in recovery. There's something like our pain is used for God's goodness. If we allow it, then he is redeeming history all the time. If we allow him, he's not causing all this craziness to happen, but he's right there with us. And so thank you for coming. I want to just give everybody a next step. We have this, this journalist called, this changes everything. If you're with us today and Brendan got to share just his own testimony and really you got preachy for a second dude. It was good. God, it's like another dragon hotspot the vocabulary. I liked it. But that, you know, that's serious line to us. That's a serious theological statement to us that there's nothing so dead that God cannot resurrect it through the power of Jesus. There's nothing so broken that he can't mend. It. There's nothing. So lots of it can't be found. And if you're ready to take a step into this surrender that he was talking about to experience what only God can do through surrender. And you're like, so what, now this is a great next step for you. It's a 21 day journal kind of walk you through just who God is and what that looks like. It's not going to give you everything, but it's a great start. I'd love to give this as a free gift to you. We got a spot out in the lobby here, or if you're with us online, you can text TCE one to 9, 4 0, 0, 0, and love to get you a copy of this. I know you would love to hear that people walked into those things and how do we get so amazed celebrate and see how God is doing a good work and even a good work in through you. So, dude, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We'll have them out in In the lobby and just a couple of minutes, but you know, we could have sat here the whole time and like John into the details of the nitty gritty and lived it. But I think we can just all get there. Like you said, we all have our own pain and our own trauma and no matter what we can relate, you don't have to have lost 19 brothers in a very public incident. You know, you could have, you know a problem that you think is small, but it's making a profound impact and God still says, yeah, that's enough. Come here. I'll take it. I don't pass up that opportunity. We want to send you off for the blessing. And I'm actually going to ask him to do it. If we have this posture of giving up and receiving. And so you just hang onto this towards God posture towards God. And would you just in the self with a blessing, brilliant God, we Stu you bless us to just have these open arms and open heart and surrender Lord. And that we are open minded that we're not alone in our, in our darkest moments, Lord, that you are always there with the city. You were willing to leave the 99 for the one. And we are that one, whether it's large, big, small, different in the depths of our brain hidden, you will find it Lord. And I ask that you continue to seek our heart and we continue to seek you and be blessed by your presence in our fellowship and your love and sacrifice. Amen. We'll see you next week. Friends. Love you. Thank you.



Jeremiah - Week Six

What kind of character do you want to have 23 years from now? What kind of stories do you want your family to tell?





Jeremiah - Mike Goldsworthy

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

It is good to see you. It's good to be with you.

My name again is Mike Goldsworthy, if I haven't had a chance to meet you yet. And I love my north gate family. I love the opportunity to get to be up here with you and we get to gather again in person. And so we get to be together in person and what a joy that is. And one of the things that I get to do is I get to spend some of my time traveling around the country, caring for pastors in different kinds of spaces around the country. And, and I got to tell you, I know that you know this, but the last 15 months have been incredibly hard on pastors, incredibly hard. And they're not the only ones, right? I know that we've got frontline workers in the room and this has been a difficulties. And for you, we're so grateful for you.

We've got teachers in the room like teachers, like you are incredible. You have done incredible work or last 15 months. We're so grateful for you. But my ministry, my work is with pastors. And so if I were, if my work was with teachers, I would be saying this to like superintendents of schools, or if my work was with frontline workers, I'd be in hospitals saying this, but, but here's what I want you to know is that I'm grateful that this is a church that we create space for pastor Larry, to get some time away, to be, to have some restoration and to be with his family. Recent Barna poll came out that said 29% of pastors are seriously considering quitting coming out of COVID about a third of pastors across the country are giving serious consideration the weight, the emotional burden that our pastors have been sitting with is heavy.

And so like, I can say that because, cause I get to come in and let you know that like that's something that like Larry wouldn't necessarily stand up here and say, and so I want you to know that that burden, that burden has been true across the country. And so creating this kind of space for your pastor is incredibly significant, so grateful that you would do that. And so we've been in this series a, on this ancient prophet named Jeremiah and I love, I love the idea of Jeremiah providing us with some framework and some for how is it that we re-engage coming out of everything that has happened over the past 15 months, because for Jeremiah as this ancient prophet, he had this vision for the way that the people of God should live. He had this intention for what it would look like for them to be the community of God's people in their time, in their place, in their cultural moment. But the problem was that that vision kept getting disrupted. There kept being turmoil. There kept being things that would happen roadblocks that would show up that would cause the people of God to get derailed from this vision, from this way that they were called to from this picture that they had for them. It's almost a bit like what you and I have experienced over the past 15 months because you and I, we had these visions, these pictures of ways things would be, and they would get disrupted that, that, wasn't how you thought your senior year should look. That wasn't the vision that you had and it got disrupted. Chaos happened in it, disrupted it. What you thought that season of life would look like with your kids, ended up looking very different. It got disrupted. You were on this trajectory in your career where it was just taking off.

And then all of a sudden it stalls out all the sudden you're furloughed. You're laid off that that area no longer exists anymore. And you're having to figure new things out. It was disrupted. And this is the experience for Jeremiah. As he's speaking to the people of God and helping to be the voice of God, to them speaking through Jeremiah, to them, here's how we're called the live. Here's the vision we have of the way things should be of what life should look like. And it keeps getting disrupted and they keep having to figure it out. And we, we hit this point today in the story of Jeremiah. If you've been tracking with us over these weeks where his frustration with missing the way that they're called to has sort of boiled over and I want to pay attention to not only what Jeremiah says, but I want to pay attention to what he says, what it says about him.

And so look at what, in Jeremiah chapter 25, look at what, and we'll be up on the screens free here, Jeremiah 25. Listen to what he says in verse three, it says for 23 years from the 13th year of Josiah son of Amun king of Judah until this very day, the word of the Lord has come to me and I've spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. Let's just stop at that moment for a bit 23 years, he says for 23 years, I've consistently done this thing for 23 years. I have been persistently faithful for 23 years. I have done the thing that you have called me to do God. For 23 years, I have lived way that you've called me to live God for 23 years. I have said the things that you have called me to say God, for 23 years, I've done it again and again and again and again, and yet it doesn't seem to be working.

I have kept at it. And yet there is no response. There is no traction. It almost feels like it wasn't worth it. Most of the time, it almost feels like I speak into the wind and it just sort of like dissipates and it goes away. I mean, how many of us have actually been doing anything for 23 years over and over and over. That's not normative for most of us in generations, older than mine. Maybe for some of you, it would have been normal to have been in a job for a long period of time that you would have been in that job. That same job you would have gotten your golden watch and you would have spent your entire, and then you, you retire and you had been at that same place for that entire time, but that's not normal anymore. Our cultural moment is different.

It's not right or wrong, good or bad. It's just different. We no longer stay in our jobs for our entire careers. Not only do we not stay in a job with one company for entire careers, we shift careers multiple times. Now this is new. This is a new kind of experience. So doing something for 23 years, like how many of us do that? I we've got a few. You are incredible. Many of us are not doing that. My wife and I, we are next month. We're going to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. So we're, we're moving towards the 23 years. And the reason that you are clapping is because she has put up with me for that long, because if I were to tell any of our friends who know us and have known us for a while, that we're celebrating 21 years, they would be shocked because they're like, you tricked her into this thing.

But now like, now she's choosing to be with you. Like now she knows what she's gotten into and she's choosing that thing. But doing something for that long is not my normative experience. What my normative experiences is. Maybe what some of you experienced too at times is that I get excited about a thing. I go full in on the thing. And then I very quickly give up on the thing. Like for instance, several years ago, I decided I was going to be a surfer. I live in long beach, California, and we're about 10 to 15 minutes from the beach. And I thought like, I need to be a surfer because I would travel to other places. And they'd say, where are you from? And I'd say long beach. And they're like, oh, do you surf? And I was just tired of saying no. And so I thought I'm going to become a surfer.

And I thought this is going to be this great spiritual discipline. I'm going to paddle out in the water and it's going to be me and God. And I'm going to like, it's going to be restorative. It's going to be this great hobby. I'm going to love it. My brother had a surfboard that I borrowed from him. I went out and I bought a wetsuit and I was like, I'm going to be a, and I don't know if you've ever tried surfing before, but it's a bit of work. You get on the surfboard and you paddle out there and it's a lot of work paddling out there. And then when you paddle out there and you think this is going, this is when the fun stuff happens. No, it is not when the fun stuff happens. Instead, what happens is you sit on the board and you sit there waiting for a wave and you wait and you wait and you wait.

And then a wave starts to come. And so you start paddling to catch that wave, but it's not a wave that's going to break. And so you put in all that effort and you didn't get to ride in. So you paddle back out again and you wait and you wait and you wait some more until finally a wave starts to come. That's going to crest just right. And you paddle into that weight and you catch it and you stand up on it. And you're standing up on that wave for 4.7 seconds. And then it's over. And I was, I had this realization while I was a surfer, that it is a lot of work for very little payoff. And so, so I was a surfer for two weeks and I gave my brother back his surf board. And on a completely unrelated note, I happen to have a used wet suit for sale. It's hardly used if anybody needs one that that's, for me, that's my much more normal experience that what happens for me is it's not that I do a thing with a long commitment and persistence been. Instead, I throw myself into something with passion and with fervor and excitement only to watch it sort of wane. And that especially becomes true if it becomes difficult along the way, because I have a vision of the way something's going to be. When I started, I have this intention that this is going to be incredible. And I throw myself into that thing. And then something is hard. I'm not as good at it. As I thought I should be. I've watched lots of YouTube videos and it wasn't as easy as a YouTube videos made it out to be. I do. And suddenly it gets hard. And then I dissipate with it.

I mean, the thing is, it's not really hard to start something, but seeing it through and finishing it that that's difficult. And that becomes true in all sorts of areas of our life. And so for Jeremiah, to, in the midst of his anguish complaint, that we also get a picture of his persistent faithfulness. I mean, he's complaining about how long he has been at this thing without getting a response, but his complaint gives us a window into the fact of like, you have kept at it. You've continued going 23 years. You have done this thing. And in fact, what he's done is, is what the author and pastor Eugene Peterson would call a long obedience in the same direction. I love, I love that phrase, a long obedience in the same direction. That line has become one of my life goals. That my hope would be that like I would get to the end of my life and that when people reflecting back on my life, when people are reflecting back on sort of the waves of my life and how it like touched them, impacted them in some sort of way that one of the phrases that would be true, that people would say is that Mike, Mike lived a long obedience in the same direction.

And for Jeremiah, his long obedience in the same direction, it wasn't easy. And it's never easy for any of us, for some of us that that route is a little bit easier than others. For some that route has a lot more roadblocks and a lot more difficulties along the way, but it is never easy for Jeremiah was met with hostility for Jeremiah was met with difficulties. But the thing is that for Jeremiah, that roadblocks, they weren't in his control. It was the way that people responded to him. And that was outside of his control. He could only do the thing that he was called to do, but he couldn't control what happened with that. He couldn't control the roadblocks. He couldn't control the difficulties. In fact, look at, look at how it goes on here in Jeremiah in verse four, it goes on and he says, and though the Lord has sent all his servants, the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention.

They said, turn out each of you from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land. The Lord gave to you and to your ancestors forever and ever, he says, look, this isn't new. Your non-response the way that you aren't listening. The way that you aren't, this isn't new. This isn't because of me, this isn't because my methods aren't working this isn't because of something that I'm doing, this, this is on you. And what Jeremiah could have done is he could have allowed the people in the situations outside of his control to derail him. And there is the thing that he was called to do. There is who he was called to be. There was the kind of life he was called to live the things he was called to say, there are all of those things. And then there was the stuff that was trying to derail it, and he could have let those things derail it, but they were out of his control that he says, look, you have been doing this for years and years and years.

And so he could have given up so many times along the way, because he just wasn't getting the response that he wanted things weren't working out. And that's the thing sometimes is that when we do what is good and right, and true, it doesn't always mean that we're going to get the response that is good, that we want to have. It doesn't mean that it's always going to work in the way that we want it to work. That is not the sign of Jeremiah's effectiveness of his ministry. The effectiveness of Jeremiah's ministry is not whether or not people turn and follow what he's calling them to because they don't otherwise, he would've given up a long time ago that the picture of the effectiveness of his ministry is, was he faithful to what was good? Right. And true. Was he faithful to who God had called him to be?

Was he faithful to the way that he was called to live? I mean, for Jeremiah, he could have started strong. He could have started with passion and energy and excitement here is who we are called to be as the people of God. And he could have hit these roadblocks where again, and again, and again, he says that they didn't listen and they didn't respond. And they turned against him and he could have easily given up. And yet the reason that you and I are talking about Jeremiah today, thousands of years after he would live, the reason that there'd be a book in the Bible that bears his name, the reason that one day that Jesus would be born and he would have followers and he would go out and he would be teaching and then he would be performing miracles. And that when he would ask some of his followers, who do people say that I am, they would say, some people are comparing you to Jeremiah, that you remind us of this prophet of old, that there is something about Jeremiah that continued on that kept in the waters that stayed significant to the people of God that they're like, there's something about this prophet.

There's something about the way that he lived. There's something about the ministry that he did. There was something about the work that he was committed to, that he did not give up, that he was persistent and faithful. And that one day that Jesus, when he's, when he's asking people, who do you say I am, that people would say that you remind us a bit of this prophet of old. And the reason that all of that would be true is because Jeremiah defied the normal experience of just fizzling out. He defied the normal experience of being inspired and hitting difficulties. And then just sort of tapping out and saying that this, this isn't for me. Instead, he gets to this point where he's able to say in the midst of his anguish and complaints, he's able to say for 23 years, I've consistently done what I was called to do for 23 years. I've consistently done the right thing regardless. And to do that, wasn't easy for Jeremiah. If you're to read throughout the entire book of Jeremiah and read the account, that's there. What you find is constantly throughout the book is that he wants to give up over and over and over again that he's like, God, this is hard. Why did you call me to this? This isn't what I want to do it. In fact, at one point in Jeremiah 19, it's one of my favorite lines in the book. The way the Hebrew actually reads is, is that he says to God, God, you seduced me. You tricked me into this. You pulled me into this. You put up a facade. I thought that this was going to be good and beautiful. Like I thought that this was going to be this way. That was going to be like, life-giving had to have so much energy and God instead, it's been hard.

It's been difficult. All that happens is that people call me names and they come after me. And I go out and I speak the words that you've given me to speak. And it's like, it falls on deaf ears. God, like, why did you call me to this thing? And so at this one point at this one point, there's this moment where he's offering one of these complaints to God like, God, why do you have me do this thing? I'm tired. I'm over it. There are other things that I could be doing. I would rather be doing the other stuff that looks a lot easier. And it's in the midst of that in Jeremiah chapter 12, that here's what God's response then would be to Jeremiah. God says to Jeremiah, if you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?

And if you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets? By the Jordan? Here's what he's saying. He's giving a metaphor. God's giving this metaphor, this picture. And he's saying, Jeremiah, if you are worn out racing men on foot, how are you going to compete with horses? Because this one is easier and that one's going to be a whole lot harder. And if, if you have this path that you're walking on, if you're hiking and you have this path that it's state it's, it's flat and it's easy and there's nothing in your way. And you have a hard time with that. How are you going to handle it? When it's overgrown with thickets, how are you going to handle it? When there's all the brush in your way, how are you going to handle it when it's much more difficult? In other words, what God is saying is saying, Jeremiah, how will you handle the harder, more difficult experiences of life?

If you can't handle these ones that are right in front of you right now, that actually require less of you than what's to come. Jeremiah, you're going to have these moments that are going to call for more from you. You're, you're going to be confronted in ways that you can't even imagine. Right now, you can't even fathom the ways that you're going to be confronted. You can't even begin to picture the difficulties that you'll experience. You don't have a category for them because they have not yet happened to you. And if right now you can't handle the things that are happening to you now, and you want to tap out now and you want to give up now, how will you handle these difficulties that are going to come to you later in life? Jeremiah, what you're going to come across later is going to feel like a walk in the park to what you're going through.

Now, it's going to feel like the difference between running a race against people versus running a race against a horse. It's going to feel like the difference between going on a path that is clear and easy versus going on a path that's covered over. And it's difficult if you can't handle now, how will you handle later? And the thing is the thing is that, that your life right now, it's setting the trajectory for the way that you'll handle the things that you'll experience that are going to be harder and more difficult later in life. The things that you don't know that will be asked of you, the demands on your life, that haven't been put on you, the choices and decisions that you make. Now, they're actually training you for how you're going to respond in those moments that you don't know what they will be, but what you do now is training you for how you'll respond in those moments, because your life is built on a series of small decisions.

And so we're not going to do the big, difficult thing later. If we haven't been doing the small things that will help us get to that place. Like, like for instance, I have this, I have this vision that like, at some point, at some point I'm going to be called to radical generosity city in order to help somebody. And when that moment comes, when that moment sort of crosses my path, I want to be the kind of person who's going to respond with radical generosity in that moment. Like, don't you want to be that kind of person that when this moment is called of you, that you would be somebody who would be able to be radically generous in a way that would actually change the trajectory of somebody's life in that I want to be that kind of person, but here's what I know.

Studies actually show that if you're going to be that person that has nothing to do with how much money you are making at that point, when the opportunity presents itself, and it has nothing to do with how much money you have in your bank account. When the opportunity presents itself has nothing to do with what your liquid assets are at that point. Here's what it has to do with whether or not you will respond with radical generosity. When the moment presents itself, it has to do with whether or not you have been making smaller, generous decisions. Up until that point, it's like a muscle that we develop because we don't like show up to the gym and be inspired and have this vision that I'm going to be a bodybuilder. And I'm going to bench press 250 pounds, and I'm going to show up and do that thing.

You go do that thing and you will be dead, right? Like you're not going to be able to do that. Instead, what you do is you consistently show up weekend, week out with smaller weights, and then you work up to a little bit heavier weights and you consistently week in, week out show up and then eventually over time, because you have been consistent with the small things, then eventually you're able to handle the larger thing. There are going to be these moments in your life where you're going to be called to engage in something that's bigger. And are you doing the things that will help lead you there? Like there's going to be moments where maybe like your character is going to be attacked. There's going to be moments where it's going to feel like people have turned against you in some sort of way, big ways, small ways, some sort of way.

It's going to feel like people. And I'll tell you that when those, that moment happens for me, I want to be the kind of person who there are two responses that I want to have. I want to have empathy. And I want to have curiosity. I want to have empathy towards the person who's responding in that way. And curiosity wondering like, what is it that has like, what brokenness are you going? What hurt are you going through? That's causing you to act in this way. It's causing you to treat me in this way. What's going on for you. But here's what I know is that I will not naturally respond in that way. If I want that to be true, then, then I have to find small ways for that's true now. And a small way might look like when I'm on the freeway and somebody is driving like a jerk and they're like cutting people off and they're going quick.

And what my natural responses is that I make up a narrative about who that person is about, why they're driving that way and all the things that are true of him that I can say in my car that they won't hear me say, because like, I'm in my nice, safe bubble of my car saying those things. But what if instead when those moments happen, I instead invite empathy and curiosity. And I say, huh, I wonder, I wonder if like, there's somebody pregnant in their car and they're trying to get to the hospital. It's probably not true, but like, why not? I'll never know it's actually true in the car. So why not let it be something like that? That gives me empathy for the person. Maybe they're incredibly late for a business meeting. That's so important that they're going to lose their job if they don't get there in time.

And I just started being curious and having empathy for what's going on there. And this little thing that doesn't cost me something so that I'm building the muscle. So that one day when there is the bigger thing that does cost me something, that muscle is already there, I've been practicing it. I've been rehearsing it. And so do you want to build the capacity to do something more significant? You want to build the capacity to handle things that are more difficult, your smaller habits that you're engaging in now will help to reflect the direction that your life is headed. And so are they reflecting the direction that you want to have? Like, what do you want to be true in your life 23 years from now? And what are the small things that you can be doing today that helped to build that muscle? What will happen as you build that muscle over time is the same thing that happened to Jeremiah.

As we get to the end of Jeremiah's story, which we won't get to today, but you'll get to incoming weeks. What begins to happen is that people, there are some people who begin to trust. Jeremiah began to look to him for direction, begin to realize that Jeremiah has some cache that comes with him because of the way that he has lived consistently over a long period of time, because he has lived a long obedience in the same direction that there is a weight of character that he carries with him. So they begin to recognize this wisdom that comes with Jeremiah. And over time, living consistently in the same direction will begin to produce wisdom. Now, wisdom does not happen. You don't get to be wise just because you got older. There are a lot of people who are older, who are not wise, but you do get to become wise without getting older.

There are no 20 year old sages. There are no 30 year old sages. There are no 40 year old stages. You have to have live life to become a Sage. You have to have lived life to gain wisdom. Okay? And it's living the life of consistency in the same direction. Doesn't mean that we don't mess up. It doesn't mean that we don't get derailed at times, but it means that we keep bringing ourselves back to that point. Wisdom is gained through that persistent faithfulness course, correcting along the way to ensure that the trajectory goes and continues in the right direction. It's a friend's friends. I'm not asking you today. I'm not asking you to be somebody who's in the same job for the next 50 years. Maybe some of you that will be true of my guess is that most of you, that won't be true of.

I'm not asking you to never move and to stay in the same house that you're in now to not make changes. I'm not asking you to not change majors in college and to not change career paths along the way. I'm not asking you to have some hobby that you try out and that you feel like I can't ever abandon because Mike told that story about like, so I I'm going to be a surfer because I decided I'm going to be a Sur. I hate doing it, but I'm going to do it. Like, I'm not asking you to do that. But here's what I am asking you to do. I'm asking you to consider what kind of person do you want to be 23 years from now? What kind of character do you want to have 23 years from now? What kind of stories do you want your kids to tell?

What kind of stories you want your neighbors to tell 23 years from now? What kinds of ways do you want to be responding to moments? You don't even know that you'll be confronted with 23 years from now? What kinds of things you hope people will stand up? And one day say about you as they're reflecting in your life. And you get to start determining that now. Well, whether you're 15 or whether you're 50, you can start living in a way that one day, perhaps someone may say of you that you lived a long obedience in the same direction. May you be able to say like Jeremiah for 23 years, I've been doing this. And regardless of what, what, like what has happened along the way, regardless of the roadblocks that have shown up for 23 years, I have been doing this, may that be true of your marriage?

And then you're able to say it for another 23 years. May that be true of the way you parent your kids? And then you're able to continue to be saying that may that be true of the way that you started your business with this idea of the way that you would treat people and what you would do. And then along the way, there was reality of stuff. And may it be true of you that 23 years into the business that you started, that you would be able to say, this has been consistently true of the way I've treated my employees and my customers. What do you want to be true of you 23 years of now that that begins now in the small things that we're doing now.

And so today, today we have an opportunity to celebrate communion together. And communion is a reflection and a remembrance and an entering into the last meal that Jesus would celebrate with his disciples. It's this way of remembering and reflecting on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, where we remember that though, the path to the cross was difficult. And though the path to the cross was in some ways not what we would want it to be, that he chose to go that path. Anyways, I think of, I think of what the author of Hebrews writes about Jesus going to the cross, The author of Hebrews says this that let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us. Let, let us continue a long obedience in the same direction. And the author of Hebrews says, this is how we do that. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith for the joy set before him, He endured the cross scorning its shame And sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, Consider him consider Jesus who endured such opposition from sinners so that you do not grow weary and do not lose heart in the midst of the difficulties of life. In the midst of the difficulties of trying to figure out what does it look like for us to live as faithful people of God in this moment, in this time, and this place, the author of Hebrews says that we, we turned to Jesus. We fix our eyes on him. We remember that for the joy set before him, that he would endure the cross at theologian steelers is to spend all kinds of time trying to figure Out what is the joy set before him. And there's all, there's all sorts of things. There's all sorts of things that that joy may be. But I'll tell you what one of them is. One of them is you are the joy who has set before him that for God, so loved the world that he would give himself up for you. And so what I want to ask you to do is I want to ask if you had take on the bottom, don't take off the top yet because you'll spill your juice on the bottom. There's a small wafer. And if you take that out, when we take this, we remember it, that last meal that Jesus would share with his disciples, that he would take bread and he would break it and he would give thanks. Then he would say this about the bread that he would say, this is my body, which has given for you that when you take it, do this in remembrance of me, the body of Christ, and likewise, he took the cup and he also gave things. And he said that this cup represents my blood, which has been poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink of it, do this in remembrance of me, remember the life that I live, remember that I would go to the cross, remember that death couldn't hold me and that I'd be raised from the dead. And so as we drink this, we do it in remembrance of Jesus.

I want to invite you to just take a moment of quiet reflection, remembering Jesus, who would endure the cross for the joy set before him.



Jeremiah - Week Seven

God gives us the miracle of a hope and a future. And that's what it is. Hope is a miracle. The future, it's a miracle. God gives us the miracle of hope and a future so we can share our hope with others.






Jeremiah - Pastor Kayla Hurst

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

I'm glad I wore my tall today. This table grew from the last time I was here. I'm so glad to be with you guys today. I'm so glad to be with you all online. Some of you I haven't seen in several months, so thank you for being here. Thank you for being here. I know we have some San Francisco folks in the room, so thank you. And I know we have some Ms. San Francisco folks online too. So thank you all for being here. I'm excited to learn from God's word with you all. You guys are in the middle of a Jeremiah series and I'm going to stick right with that. In fact, I was given the very best part to preach on. I think it was a very sweet thing that Larry did to give me this, except then we had some cheaters in our midst these last few weeks.

So the passage I'm preaching on today's Jeremiah 29 and there's a pretty famous verse right in the middle of that Jeremiah 29 11 that says for, I know the plans I have for you. Yeah. That one you've probably seen it on Pinterest, maybe on a greeting card lately. I know that I've had this verse written in a lot of cards to me lately. I'm sure you can imagine this verse is pretty famous, but there were some cheaters. There are some cheaters. I went back and listened. At least three of the preachers you've had have said my verse and they stole it. So ignore everything they said. And we're going to learn about it today. Just kidding. It's all good. So the verse, the passage we're we're doing is Jeremiah 29, but let's go ahead and read that famous verse. I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future. Now, this verse is it's super popular. You see it, especially around graduation time. We see that on a lot of gift cards that go to new graduates that are getting ready to step into this brand new really cool part of life. We love to share this verse with people who are really hurting and they're not sure what's coming next. And so we love to say this, Hey, good news. Don't worry. God has plans for you. It's prince the prosper, you not to harm you for a hope and a future. And what's almost as if we think this verse says, whatever is coming is going to be better than what you've got. And you just need to hold your breath because it's coming around the corner. And I wish that that was what this meant. I super wish that's what it meant right now, but it's not because here's a truth that we need to know. Scripture is for us, all of scripture is for us, but it wasn't written to us.

So to really know what the passage means, we have to know why it was written. Who was it written to? What context are we talking about? What were the people that Jeremiah was saying? These things to the prophet, Jeremiah, what was he trying to tell them? Because it can't mean something to us that it didn't mean to them. And so let's take some time today and let's dig into what exactly it was that God was trying to tell his people. What were these people experiencing? And what can we learn? Because here's the good news. This is good news for us. I'm not going to ruin Jeremiah 29 11 for you. I'm not, I promise it is good news, but let's hear why it's good news. Let's learn. Let's dig. Let's know why this is truly good news. So quick review Jeremiah is found in the old Testament.

If you're new to the Bible, the Bible is split into six. Well, one book 66 books split into two main parts. Old Testament is the story of God and his people. And the new Testament is a story of Jesus and the early church. So Jeremiah is here in the old Testament. Here is the story that we're in. You kind of got to know where we're coming from to know where we're going to. So the old Testament starts with the story of creation, right? I promise. I'm not gonna tell you the whole story. The Bible right here, Larry's real nervous right now.

I made a slide instead. So the old Testament starts with the creation story. It takes us through God and his relationship with these people, the Israelites, his chosen people, God made a covenant with a man named Abraham who became Abraham. And the covenant was, I will be your God and you will be my people. So it was a covenant with a promise. It was a two way covenant. He said, obey me, follow me. And I will take care of you and give you everything you need. But listen, this story is not all butterflies and bubbles. For sure. God had set these people apart and he made a covenant with them and he had taken great lengths to take care of him. We read about when he rescued them from, from Pharaoh in Egypt, he pulled them out of that with a man named Moses. He takes them to the promised land.

He fed them with bread from the and water from a rock. He pulled out all the stops to care for these people. And they continuously complained when the heaven bread came. They said, I want meat. In fact, they went so far as to say, why don't you just leave us in Egypt? We were better off there. Can you imagine? So they continuously complained and God continually provided through his kindness. He would bring them back. And he said, listen, guys, this isn't going to work out. This covenant is a two way thing. I will be your God. And you will be my people. So start acting like my people and these guys, they were like, listen, God, we're seeing all the other kingdoms. And they all have Kings. And we want one of those. And God says, you don't need one. You have God. That's like way better than a king. And they were like, no, no, no, no. We want a king because they have a king. And that's what we want. This sounds like a five-year-old like, I want that toy. Cause she's got it. So I want that one. And so God said a really one that you're going to like this very much, but I'll give you a king. So he gave him a king and God was right. Shocking. God was right. And it didn't go well, we see Saul. And then David King, David, the one Slingshot guy, David Solomon, his son, and after Solomon died, things got worse and worse and worse. And the country split. So now we have two sets of Kings to keep track of. And if you read through the old Testament, I actually highlight the good ones and cross out the bad ones because it's hard to keep track because it's kind of up and down, up and down, everything's all over the place.

There was good Kings and there was bad Kings. It was a mess. And during this time, God used people called prophets as his mouthpiece. So God used these men and women. He would call them and say, I need you to say to these people what I want to say to them. And everybody wants to be a prophet because how cool would it be to be like, God tells you something and you say it not a great job. It isn't. Everybody wants to be a profit until you actually read the prophets. And then it's like, no, no, no, no, thank you. They had a horrible job because you see God, didn't always have nice things to say to his people. Most often the prophet's job were to say, Hey, stopping, dumdums pay attention. Turn around. God is still providing for you. Can you pull yourself together? That was the prophet's job. And they often wanted to kill the messenger. They often killed the messenger. And that's who we're talking about in Jeremiah. Jeremiah was one of these prophets was a mouthpiece of God. And Jeremiah was specifically tasked to do the dirty job to go and tell these people, pull it together. I need you to pay attention because what about to happen is what God has always said was going to happen. There will be judgment. He's going to bring you back to himself one way or the other.

And so turn, turn, turn. He told him, have to turn back to God. You know, the one who's taking care of us over and over. In fact, if we don't this whole, thing's going to blow up in our faces. And that's exactly what it did. The surrounding powers came in and conquered them. But instead of responding with humility, the Israelites doubled down, they continued to disregard both the Lord's commandments and the dangers that were swirling around them, that they could actually see. So let's hop into our text, Jeremiah 29, verse one. At this point, the Babylonians have come and taken several of the Israelites off to Babylon. And 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 verse four.

This is what the Lord almighty. The God of Israel says to all those. I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Jeremiah wrote these words to the exiles who had been deported from Jerusalem to Babylon. He specifically wrote it to their leaders, to the elders, the priests and the prophets, this message that beautiful verse. It wasn't written to one individual. It was written to all God's people. And that's something we can learn that this message, this plan, isn't just for one person it's for God's people. Overall, when God said, I know the plans I have for you, he wasn't just speaking directly to you or to me or to anybody we know personally, God didn't make this promise to just one person. He made it to God's people as a group. So God spoke these words to a nation that had been around for hundreds of years, hundreds of years, there was a lot of history he had in relationship to these people.

This was the, I will be your God. And you will be my people, people that's who this was written to. And they didn't hold up their end of the covenant over and over. They failed. They chased after all kinds of other gods, they disobeyed over and over. Even though God constantly took care of them until finally God did what he repeatedly warned he would do. And he let the Babylons invade their nation and take a chunk of them off as prisoners of war. God, didn't say this. He didn't say this to a people who were on the brink of the very best moment of their life. These people were not recent high school graduates. He was saying this to a people who were in complete distress, their lives. Weren't just about to begin their lives to end life. As they knew it, their homes, their there, everything was about to be gone. Even the temple where God had dwelled for hundreds of years, it was going to be destroyed. Rebel. They were taken from a land that had been promised to them by God that's who God was saying this to that's who this promise was for. So when God spoke through Jeremiah, his plans to give these people hope in a future, he was talking to a people who had already messed up their future. And their only hope, their only hope was that God wasn't through with them yet. And that he would come and rescue them. So if we skip down a little bit, we'll also see that Jeremiah's voice was not the only voice they were hearing from verse eight says this, yes, this is what the Lord almighty. The God of Israel says, do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.

They are prophesying lies to you in my name, I have not sent them to Claire's the Lord. There were other prophets, not just Jeremiah, but there were other profits that were filling people's ears with what they wanted to hear. They were filling their heads with false hope and messages that they most certainly did not get from God. They were saying, I know this looks bad, but don't worry. God's about to come through. He'll be fine. It's fine. Just wait a second. And by Christmas, God will be here. Amy. Him. Exactly that. But basically that's what they were saying. Just hold on a minute. God's on our side. This will blow over soon. Then we can go home. Well, God sent Jeremiah to say, Nope. I never said that. Don't listen to these guys who are just telling you what you want to hear to make you feel better.

That's like putting lipstick on a pig. Am I look better? But still stink side note. I think that Jeremiah addressed this to the leaders of the people on purpose. I think he addressed it to them because these leaders had been listening to these ding-dongs the whole time. That is what got them in this position in the first place. See the false prophets were just yes-men. They would just discern whatever it is that the leaders wanted to hear other gods. Sure. No problem. Just make sure you save room for God. Is it okay to get rich and overlook the widows and the orphans and the corridors? Sure. They probably weren't doing want wanting to do anyway. Cause otherwise what would be that position profits are supposed to be the mouthpieces of God. But these guys came up with words to make the leaders feel good about whatever it is that they wanted to do.

And that's kind of how God's people ended up in exile. Isn't it? One rationalization at a time, as they listened to whichever voice made them feel better, more and more, they could hear the voice of God, less and less. They stopped hearing the cries of the poor and oppressed among them. As they rationalize the way to a life that they thought they wanted. They wandered further and further from the life that God wanted for them. As they became indifferent to God, they became a different to the cries and the needs of the people that surrounded them until they became irrelevant to God's plans to heal the world. And that's when God put them in timeout, a 70 year timeout and it's to those people sitting in a timeout that will last the rest of their lives. That's who God said. I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.

You see, even in exile, God wanted his people to know that he only tears one thing down to build up something new. He only tears something down so that he can build up something new. Now, I don't know if you remember this, but the first time that I came and preached here in Benicia, I came in and I had scratches all over my arms because I had gotten into a fight with my rosebush. It's not even like a Bush, it's an insane plant angry situation. And we had had a fight and I chopped it down basically is what happened? I was pruning it and then it had to die because it attacked me. In fact, I have a picture of what it looks like after I was finished with it. And I shared this with you last night, that was all that was left of her. That I was done. She had attacked me. And so she had to go. I was told by experts. That's never coming back. Like I thought that maybe, you know, pruning is good, Kayla, but that is not pruning. You done killed it. And I was like, good, good. Riddens can I show you what it looks like right now?

This is like, you need to know that this is the top of my house right here. The whole, it just keeps growing and growing. And you know what? It's not my problem anymore, like four days. So somebody else can deal with that. Say tannic plant. But that actually totally ruins the story. Cause what I meant was look how beautiful it is because see God's, here's one thing down to build up something beautiful. We see it in our lives all the time. So God put his people into exile to remake them from the bottom up to remake them from the bottom up and Jeremiah, one of them to embrace what God was doing, not to fight it, not to despair forever over what they lost, not to feel defeated and paralyzed so that they couldn't move forward. Jeremiah told him to put down roots in Babylon to start rebuilding right where they were to live well in exile, which was very different than what the other prophets were saying.

They were saying, don't unpack your bags. Don't put anything on the walls because we're about to get out of here. God's going to rescue us and Jeremiah God through Jeremiah said, plant yourself right here, plant yourself off right here. So this is what God's specifically told the exiles here. First five build houses and settle down, increase in number there. Do not decrease. Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you in exile. Pray to the Lord for it. Because if it prospers you too will prosper. God called for the people to make wherever they landed. A better richer, more fuller, beautiful, more like heaven place while they were there. Jeremiah calls them not to long for Jerusalem, not to long for what was, but instead to work toward the good of Babylon where they were right, then he said, don't waste this time.

Invest in this time, live well in exile, which is really what God had wanted them to do all along their whole story. That's what God wanted them to do. So God promised them this. He said, I plan to prosper and not to harm you. And that included their neighbors and the poor and the oppressed among them. He said, I'm going to give you hope and a future. But that included, knowing that he wasn't done with them yet, exile was the place that God sent him. God sent them to find him again. And so God promised them in verse 13, you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart no more. Half-Hearted whenever I get around to it kind of seeking, seek with all your heart, the Hebrew word that's translated. Heart is not just talking about your emotions, your feelings.

It's not that at all. It's about the inner self, your mind, your will, your feelings, everything in you. That's what he was calling them to seek with. Seek God with everything that you are, put your whole self into it. These beautiful words. I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you plans to give you hope. And a future. These words were written to a people who were losing everything, but God spoke these words to reassure these people that he wasn't finished with them. Yet. Third Jeremiah's words, God told them the way to a future filled with hope was not instead of, or in spite of exile, but through it through exile. So now that we know what this verse meant to the people, it was regionally written to what can that mean to us? Those of us who are not in Babylon?

Well, Eugene Peterson says that the essential meaning of exile is that we are aware we don't want to be. And with that definition, I'm guessing there are several of us who find ourselves in exile today. Yeah. So we can know. We can know that there is something in this verse for all of us. We hang on to the truth of God's promise to his people who were exiles before us. The way to a future filled with hope is not. Instead of, or in spite of this exile, this place where you find yourself. But through it, when we find ourselves in a place where we don't want to be, we follow the same instructions. God gave his people. Verse 12, you will call on me and come and pray to me. And I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I love these verses because there's something for everybody in them, whatever place in your journey with God that you find yourself, there is something for you here. For some of you, it's going to start with calling on Jesus, praying to him, having conversation with God. It's simple, but it's not necessarily easy when you just start. So for those of you that have never prayed for anything other than your dinner and it James it's okay, that it feels a little weird. I get it. I get it. You start with asking him to help you pray. What if you just start and say, God, will you help me pray? It's really tricky because just by doing that, you're praying, you see how we eased into that. So we start by asking God to help us pray. And then we tell him what we know to be true about him.

Okay? So you can just start telling God what you know is already true about henna. If you need to borrow somebody's words because you're not so sure yet go to the Psalms and pray those to him. Just read through the Psalms and say, God, this is what I know to be true about you because it's what your word says about you. And then finally tell him what you need. What is it that feels heavy? And Burgard some right now ask God to intervene on your behalf, ask him to step in to where it is that you are feeling pain and you have called on Jesus. So maybe you start there or maybe for some of you, it's time to seek him maybe for the first time, or maybe you have been seeking him for a while, but you know, you've been holding part of yourself back. Maybe you've been seeking him just with your feelings. You're good during worship time. But then the rest is kind of iffy. Maybe it's the rest of your week. Maybe Sundays, you and God tight. But the minute you drive into work or log on to work is over.

So what does it look like to seek God with every part of us, with everything that we are well, first get into his word. It's a beautiful thing to know. God, we can get to know Jesus. So start in the gospels. The gospels are the first four books of the new Testament, which is the second half of the Bible. And it's good to know Jesus because he's not only the founder of our faith. He is the content of our faith.

So if you can know about Jesus, you can know that is true about God as well. Jesus is the gospel. He is the good news. So you can start there, read them and seek to know the person of Jesus and then seek him in every part of your life. Hear me closely. I'm not saying put God in every part of your life. He's ready. Okay? The trick is interact with him in every part of your life. Look for him, open your eyes and ask Him how you can get involved with where he is already moving. Sometimes I think that we invite God into things and he's like, where have you been been here the whole time? Thank you for noticing. He doesn't need an invitation to where you are. You just need to pay attention and interact with God wherever you are. The promise is this. It's always a successful endeavor to find him. When you seek him with all your heart, it's a promise. So if you seek him, you will find him. It's not like looking for your, you will find him when you seek him with all of your heart, but you can't seek him with all your heart. If you're consumed with something else, you just can't. When we feel displaced, like something has been taken from us. The temptation is to look around and look backwards, to live in a way, trying to reclaim what was.

But when we do that, we're going to miss out on what God is doing, where we are right now, what he has for us in this moment. So we can't live looking back. We can't, we are being called to put down roots, to dig down deep, to settle in, to live fully and where God has us right now to make beautiful, more full, more like heaven, anywhere that you find yourself. Yes. Even where you are in exile. God's plan to give us hope in a future is knowing that he isn't done yet. That's his plan. And I think sometimes we need to be reminded that the church she's always living in exile in the world. In fact, Peter calls us foreigners and exiles, and first Peter two. And honestly, when we embrace our status as exiles, when we recognize that we are at a place where we don't necessarily belong, that is when we can truly hear Jeremiah 29 11, the way God meant it to be heard.

So let me read it to you one more time. I know the plans I have for you plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future. But remember just like it did for Israel. This promise comes with a responsibility and that responsibility is to seek the peace and prosperity of the place. God put you because if it prospers you too will prosper. God ties our peace and our prosperity, our wellbeing, our wholeness, our hope, our future to the peace and prosperity of the place. He puts us not quite done yet.

I mean, I, I can walk like this. We can go. I'm so sorry. I was on a roll. Okay. Here's the thing I'm almost done. I promise Maya so sorry. God gives us the miracle of a hope and a future. And that's what it is. Hope is a miracle. The future, it's a miracle. God gives us the miracle of hope and a future so we can share our hope with others. God calls us to express our hope by working for the wholeness and wellbeing of the place and the people around us so that they can have this miracle of hope too. That's God's plan. That's our miracle of hope. Listen, it does not take away the sadness and disappointment of exile. This is not some cheap silver line and nonsense. I'm giving you right now. I wouldn't do that to you. Not today. It does not take away the sadness and disappointment of exile. That is true. And it is real. In fact, it's just as real as God's goodness, His love, His power, His faithfulness, the miracle and our pain. It's all true. And somehow, somehow when we seek God with all our hearts in the midst of all of that, we will find him in the mix. The middle of all of it.

That's the miracle. That is our miracle. These people, the Israelites, they were getting another chance in the middle of their exile and even better than their miraculous rescue from exile, which did come 70 years later, even better was God's ultimate plan for their future. The miracle of an empty grave, because you see, we needed a miracle too. We needed a rescuing from exile. So God sent his son down to earth to live a perfect life and then take all of the mistakes and sin and, and rejection. All of that, that we experienced and that we contribute to take it to the cross and let it die.

And then three days later, he came back to life. He defeated sin and death and disappointment. He defeated exile and he gave us the miracle of hope. And now we can see the miracle in an empty grave. The one we thought was dead has come to life again. We can see a miracle and every chain that we break because the power of heaven roars in us, I've asked McKinsey to sing a song, and I want you to listen to these words. If you know it, you're welcome to sing it. And if you don't just allow yourself to be sung over, allow that miracle of hope to become something. A part of you, please respond with me and worship as we sing.



Jeremiah - Week Eight

Maybe sometimes you're trying to keep everything going and it just tiring and frustrating. Reading through Lamenations will guide us.






Jeremiah - John Scott

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

I felt like your applause is a little premature. So if you want to go do that now it'd be maybe be more. Yeah, no, it's great to be here. It's great to be here. I got to tell you one thing about me. It's like when I meet people in my community, I don't tell them I'm a pastor right away, because I know that that'll shut all kinds of doors. Right. And one of the things I missed during COVID was just sitting like in a Starbucks or in a restaurant, just, just meeting people and then not knowing a pastor. So it's kind of fun. Like I was sitting there one day, this is pre COVID. I'm sitting there one day and this particular Starbucks only has two comfortable chairs. I think they do that on purpose, but it was only, I had one of them and this guy plots down next to me.

He goes, do you mind? I'm like, no, no problem. So we're sitting there for a while. He starts into this whole thing. I find out like, he's a nurse. He works three 12 hour shifts a week. But he's thinking about getting a job at Starbucks. And I'm like, really? Why would you do that? And he goes to meet the ladies. No joke. He proceeded to tell me which girls who worked there were the most attractive who had the best smile who had the best eyes the entire time. This is probably takes 15 minutes for him to tell me his whole plan, his whole strategy. I'm just listening the whole time. A number of people come through a number of women come through Starbucks. Every one of them knows me. Every one of them walks in. Hey John. Hi. Hi. After a while, like a couple of times he like looked at me and he keeps telling the story how he wants to meet women. This guy knows every woman that's walked in here. How is this possible? And then one of them walks out and she says, my pastor, he says, did she say master?

I said, yes, she did. Adam. Just sit with that for a few minutes. And then I told him, no, actually she said pastor, but I'll tell you, speaking of pastors, I love yours. Larry Davis. Great, great guy. He and I go way back. Yeah, you can clap for him anytime. He, and I go way back. I may tell you a little bit about that later, but I just want to say, man, it's so good to be back here. Throughout the year, Larry and I talk and we just get on the phone and just check in on each other. And I know that this has been a rough year in a lot of ways for a lot of, a lot of churches all over the place. And it's just nice to know. And now being able to be back after a couple of years how, how good things are happening going on and how good things are going right now.

I've been tracking with your series, the series of Jeremiah. And I started with the very first one back. Well, I think it was like Memorial day weekend. And Larry kicked that off. But I was really interested last week because Kayla was talking and she had the best verse that anybody could have during the series, Jeremiah 29 11. Right. And so she actually was saying like, there's other people though in the series that had stolen her verse, you remember that if you were here last week, you remember it's like, they'd stopped. Like three other people had used her verse. Like, that's my verse. Like Larry gave me lemon tations. Ain't nobody been stealing my verses. I'm just telling you right now. It's like, he asked me months ago, if this weekend would work, I'm like, yes. And I was so excited. And then just all like, I don't know, like a month or two ago, he goes, Hey, this is the series we're going to be in.

I want you to cover some stuff in Lamentations. I'm like, where is that in the Bible? I have not, I've never done a message out of laminate, like preach through limitations. And we're going to get there in a minute. But I want to set this up that this guy is in his pet delivery truck. And as he pulls up to the light, he jumps out. He has a two by four. He hits the side of this truck and he jumps back in, goes to the next light. Red light, jumps out and grabs a two by four starts banging on this truck, jumps back in, goes to the next light. And there's people with him and traffical what is going on. And so one guy just rolls down his window. Next stop. He gets out, hits the side of this truck and he goes, what are you doing? He goes, I've got four tons of canaries in here, but it's only a two ton truck. I got to keep half of them in the air all the time.

When I read that story, I was like, does that, does that sound like your life? Maybe sometimes you're trying to, they keep everything going and it just it's, it's tiring. And it's frustrating. And then as crazy and weird as life is, then you add a worldwide pandemic on top of that. I mean, that's a pretty good description of last year. You got, you're beating the side of this truck and you got COVID. It's like so many things went wrong long in the last, you know, 16, 17 months. And I know good has come out of it, but, but Lamentations takes us to a place where we just kind of take a moment and we pause, wait, wait a minute. What have we lost?

Let let's let's name the hurt. Let's understand where we've been. And what's happened instead of just being, you know, Pollyanna and looking for the silver lining right away. It's like, there needs to be this time where we kind of stop and we look around and we embrace it. Now, before I get to limitations, I'm going to read this passage out of Matthew and it's out of a translation called the message. So it's maybe a little bit more wordy than the translation you're used to, if this is a familiar passage, but this is out of Matthew 11, listen to this. Are you tired? Look at this, burned out on religion. Come to me, get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me, watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

And what an amazing invitation when life is crazy to the max, how inviting is that yet? I read that and I think, but there's a whole bunch of people who don't Jesus up on his offer. Why not? Let me give you just a few reasons why we may not do that. And then I'm going to make the connection between like where Israel is at in this book of Lamentations in just a moment. But let's just, this is an amazing invitation. Why wouldn't we take him up on that kind of an offer, right? And so here's a few reasons. First one is pride. Sometimes we just don't want to admit that we need help. Like my life is crazy. And on top of that as COVID, but I got this. That's how we say it. I've got this and pride. Pride can be a problem for a lot of reasons.

In fact, the Bible has tons of verses about pride. One of them is in Proverbs 18. Look at this. It says proud people will be ruined. I mean, that's enough proud people, movie ruined, but the humble will be honored. Sometimes pride gets in our way. Sometimes just guilt gets in our way. And the guilt is just saying like, I am so ashamed. I don't like I'm too ashamed to even admit that I need help or that I could ask God for I'm too ashamed to go there. Psalm 40 says this, I'm going to read this for you. This is so good. Now God, don't hold out on me. Don't hold back. Your passion, your love and your truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles, when troubles, ganged up on me, a mob of sins, past counting, I was so swamped by guilt. I couldn't see my way clear. Now listen to this more guilt in my heart, then hair on my head. Like, why does it have to go there every time? Right?

So heavy. The guilt that my heart gave out, I don't know about you. I always spot those verses that. Talk about God, numbering the hairs on our head and all that. And there it is so much more guilt in my heart then hairs on my head. But you know, that feeling right? So much guilt. So, so shame. Like I can't ask God for help again, for the same thing again, because I blew it again. I don't want to go to him. I don't want to have, because of that guilt, another reason is fear. It's just the fear of, you know I'm so afraid that maybe I'm going to mess up. Maybe I'm going to give up in the middle of it. I don't want to, I don't want to do that.

Yeah. It's just fear. When one guys fallen off of the cliff and I like to mountain bike and we have mountains all around us and I love it. And one time my wife, who's stunningly beautiful and she's sitting over there anyway. I always tried to make sure she knows how I feel about her. But anyway, one time she asked me to go play tennis with her because she loves pit tennis. And I said to her, I don't want to play. Cause I might get hurt. And that I couldn't ride. And she says, wait, you ride on the edge of cliffs. And you're afraid of getting hurt in tennis, right? So I know about falling. So anyway, this guy falls off this cliff and is literally hundreds of feet, but he grabs this one branch and he's just holding on for everything he's got. And he hears this voice. It says, let go, and I will catch you.

Who is this? It's God, let go. And I will catch you. Anybody else up there?

I don't want to let go. Right? So what, what if, what is that fear? It's just kinda like paralyzes us sometimes mark 8 36 says this, what good is it for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul? I think sometimes our fear gets in the way of us making the most important decision we could ever make. And we hang on instead of letting go, another one is worried and worry is a simple one. Really? It's like I confuse, well, I called the decision phase with the problem solving phase. The decision phase is the part I just gotta make. But we, we, we don't get there because we're trying to figure out, well, what would that look like? What would I have to give up? If I'm going to follow Jesus, if I'm going to take him up as an invitation, you know what, where does that go?

Instead of just saying, you know what, I'm going to follow him back in 1963, it was a good year I was born. Which just means I'm all like, some of you are like, you were born before 2000. Wow. Yeah. Way back then. But our president at the time, John F. Kennedy said in 1963, before the decade is over, we will what? We're going to put a man on the moon. Did they have it all figured out yet? No decision was made though. And so everybody worked on it and the decision to follow Jesus. Sometimes it might be scary. It might be a fear-filled thing, but it's also one of those things where I don't have to worry about how it's all going to work out. Just just know that he is going to be with me and walk with me through those changes. He wants to bring in my life.

And here's the good news. I love this in Philippians one six, check this out. It says, and I am certain that God who began the good work within you will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. He's not gonna let you hang. He's going to be there with you. He's gonna walk with you through all of this, but, but there's still another one. And that's a doubt. Doubt. Sometimes just gets in the way of me wanting to follow him. I love the story in the Bible of a guy named gyrus. He has a daughter who's really sick. And he says, geez, if you, if you would, I know you can. It's like, if you would, you, you could heal her. And Jesus says, you just have to believe. And Gyra says something that I absolutely love and I can connect to.

He says, I do believe help me with my unbelief. You know, that place where like, oh, I, I believe, but I'm not sure I believe enough. Like it's okay. Don't let that be the thing that hangs you and hold you back. Like it's okay. I think all those reasons are why we get stuck sometimes. And we don't take Jesus up on his invitation, but they're also mixed into all the reasons why Israel was in trouble at the time of Jeremiah's teaching. And when he writes the book of limitations, you know, we know like they had turned their back on God. They had gone there. But why maybe some of those reasons, you know, doubt, fear, worry, pride, all those things that get in the way for them as they get in the way for us. But when we get to the book of Lamentations, it's kind of smack dab in the middle of what Jeremiah writes about it.

And actually there's no place in Jeremiah that says, or in limitations that says Jeremiah wrote this, but most scholars believe it was Jeremiah. And it's the same time period. And it's the same kind of thing where he's walking through this city. That once was their pride, that once held the temple, that once had these amazing Kings who ruled over other nations, it's like, it was this amazing place. And it's just rubble. Now everybody has been taken away except for the poorest of poor to kind of maintain some of the broken down vineyards. That's all who's left and they just walk around and it's just, it's depressing. But there's this lamenting that happens, this lamenting, that that goes on. And I'm just going to look at a few different places. It's just a short little book, but I don't want to look in chapter one. And he says this in verse one.

How does lies the city one? So full of people. He says how like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations. She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave. I read that. First-Line how deserted lies the city once so full of people. And I thought it's hard to read that without thinking about COVID in the early days, remember the full lockdown, like nobody's on the freeways, nobody's walking around. It was like, it had that eerie kind of a feeling. And just a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I and my dad was over. We were, we just kind of find old action movies and watch me watched San Andreus. You remember that one? So in San Andrea's, the entire city of San Francisco is shaken and then crumbles. And then on top of that, a tidal wave wipes.

It's like I had that too, when I was reading that. And you know how deserted lies the city because of this earthquake in his tidal wave. But then he's walking around the very real scene of Jerusalem in ruins. If you read through the old Testament, you come across another book by a guy named Nehemiah, and he's actually one of the ones who's been taken into captivity. He's not there, but he gets word of how bad it is. And he breaks down and cry and fastened praise and ask God to show him what to do. How can you help? I mean, it's, it's bad. Look at verse two, he says bitterly. She w weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks among all her lovers. There is no one to comfort her, by the way, that's kind of a weird reference here, but he's saying you have committed spiritual adultery.

Like you left me to run after all these false gods and now look, what, so where are they to help you now? That's the reference he's given here. He's like we had this intimate relationship. You're my people. And you walked away from me and now there's all kinds of consequences, but you read kind of chapter one, there there's more there, but I'm just going to say this. When you read chapter one, you get the sense that lament corporate, like, we need to kind of like go through this together and name some of these together. And we feel these things and experience these things together. There's part of this corporate experience and it requires maybe what we've lost, maybe as immunity or as a church or as a family. We, we go through these things together. I live in a valley. That's had major changes when I went there 34 years ago, it was really primarily known as a retirement community. There was more money on our main street called Florida avenue than any other street in America, except for wall street, retired people move there, put their money in the bank. And it's like literally more banks and more money on any street in America, except for wall street. That all changed over time. It was changing already, but in 2008, when the crash hit a lot of people, I would say a third of the people in our valley moved, just left, had to find work or got out for whatever reason. And they were replaced by, by people who were just getting out of prison by gangs, by other issues. Our, our valley really made a big, big change just a few years back. And there is a sense of lamenting that's gone on in our valley. In fact, I like to listen to on other people's conversations in restaurants, that's a bad habit, but it's kind of fun sometimes. But typically like in our town, like you go to a little diner and you get some old, good old boys sitting there. And they're like, yeah, I remember when we never had to lock our front door.

I remember one just stay out. As long as we get, when we were kids, we didn't have to come home to the lights. The street lights went on, you know, it's like, and now you can't let your kid go anywhere. Cause they might get abducted. Right? So it's like, they're talking about the past, lamenting the past, going through all of that. In fact, I looked up the name of my town. It's called Hemet. It's not very popular every now, then it makes the news for not a good reason. And up on a thing called an urban dictionary. I encourage you. Don't go there if you're offended by strong language. But urban dictionary is interesting. I looked up him. It did I give you a slight for this one? Maybe I didn't. Okay. Well, I'm going to read this to you. It said this urban dictionary here. It is a small city in the inland empire of Southern California, known for meth, evangelical Christian, extremist, racist and gun toting hillbillies. The vast majority of young people. There have absolutely no ambition to go any further than working at Walmart said, youth are also encouraged to pump out kids as soon as possible. This ties into the town's typical religious views. It is far out of the way of any other bastion of civilization and takes about 30 minutes out of town just to get to a freeway. And then in all caps, you know what that means avoid at all.

That was one of the depressing definitions of the town that I live in. Now, by the way, I looked up Benicia, nothing so bad. I just thought this was interesting. Every teenager says he or she hates this place, but secretly loves it. Oh, that's so sweet. I've got gun toting hillbillies. And you have kids that can't admit that they like it. There's there's a big difference. That's right. When I met Larry Davis, your pastor, he was a little kid. The church that I'm a part of was a little tiny church that had broken away from another church that was doing nothing to reach young people. But they said we're going to reach young people. So a group of retired people left that church to start a church, to reach young people. That was their vision. Now you can imagine that a church of retired people is not really a magnet for young people. They asked me to be their youth pastor in 1987. And I went through in 1987.

There was two kids in the church, two middle schoolers. So we don't want you to take care of our two kids. We want you to get kids. We want you to minister, to young families. We want to do what our church was started to do. And then about three years into that, they asked me to be the minister, the pastor. And there's all a bunch of baggage that came with that because the guy before me had some issues, but they said we still want to reach younger. So I was, I was there at that time and that's when I met Larry. He would come and visit his grandparents at that church. When he was a kid, by the way, his parents, his grandparents were lamenting the church that it used to be. It sang the songs they wanted and did things the way they wanted. And Larry himself would argue with them and say, no, I like him. He's doing what needs to happen. If you're going to reach young people, he's a young person. He's like, I like this change, right? Lamenting is something any of us could do for any kind of in any number of reasons, like whether we're just lamenting the good old boys or what, but in this case, in Israel, in Jerusalem, they're lamenting the fact that what once was their pride, like the temple, the city of Jerusalem high on a hill was just in rebels.

We have skip on to chapter three and he says this. I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord's wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light. Indeed. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long, he has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with a bitterness and a hardship. He has made me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. He w he started with this corporate picture, but then he really says, lament is also very personal. He's like this, this feels like God has done this to me. And then maybe like, I have to own a part of like my sin. I have to own a part of my, my walking away from God. And maybe that wasn't Jeremiah's story, but he's understanding same thing with Nehemiah and Linden, when he does pray to God, he says, hi, you hear how bad it is. God forgive me because I'm a part of this too. This is my people I’m in is it's very personal. And I think the lament that is personal is when we begin to name what we lost. And maybe this year you lost and you lost friends and maybe it was related to COVID. Maybe it wasn't, the COVID made it so much worse. You couldn't sit with him in the hospital. You couldn't have the Memorial service that you wanted. What did we lose? Some of you lost a job. Some of you lost financial security. Some of you lost a lot of things. This last year, it's like in a personal way, while we all experienced it, there's some personal ways. It really hit home for us. We all go through it, but we all go through it differently. And then we get to chapter five, kind of skip down towards the end of that one and verses 20 and 21 says this.

Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long, restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return renew our days of old, look at the stove. Why do you always forget us? Have God forgotten them? No, but that's what it feels like, like literally, like lament honestly acknowledges that space between what feels like and what is, what it feels like as a God's miles and miles and miles away. But in reality, he's still there. There's also another kind of space and tension that we have to deal with when we're dealing with difficult things. And it's that tension between maybe I brought on myself by my own stupid choices. I don't know if anybody else has ever made those. I have, right. We bring on some of our own consequences. And there's other times we're in the midst of consequences. We did not bring on ourself like this, this last year.

Like I don't, I'm not sure that anybody in the room or even watching online was responsible for COVID. Right. But man, we all had to deal with it. And so sometimes like I bring it on. Sometimes it's, it's brought to me, but I have to deal with this pain. And I have to, I have to find somehow that God is still in the midst of it. Even though he feels like he's a long way off. I mentioned before, my wife loves tennis. She really does, but I love watching tennis. I like to play, but I like watching tennis just as much as she does. And so when the grand slam of ins, come on, we sit down together. We watch those. I remember just a month ago or so it was the French open and it reminded me. Tennis is the only sport that I know of where you can literally give up and still win.

What you talking about Willis. Yeah. It's the only sport that I know of where you can completely give up and still win. You can give up on one set. Maybe, maybe for whatever reason, it's just your, your serves not clicking. Something's not happening. Or the other person is on fire and you see that you're down early. And so you just like, eh, I'm not going to win this set. Don't worry about it. I'm not going to spend much energy either trying to get back in this set. I'm just going to, I'm just going to let it go. Like Novak Djokovic. She's the number one player in the world right now. He did that in the fringe open. He's just like, and once I just like I'm done. And so it doesn't mean that he just like walked away and didn't, didn't try to hit a ball, but it may be maybe during that time, instead of spending energy, writing back and forth, if they hit the ball over there and he's like, okay, good shot.

But if I'm going to work on my backend or I'm going to work on my server or whatever, during this time, I'm going to give up on this one set, but I'm not getting it. He came back and he won the match and then round one won the championship. And I've seen that over and over in people's lives. There's times where maybe what I have to do is I have to give up this one thing in order to find the win in something else. And that's where I really want us to focus on as we wrap this up. And when I say wrap this up, don't get all excited. Like I'm not even near done. Larry said be done by noon. And so I will, I will work on that, right? It's like, how do I find the win in the loss? That's what I want us to focus on. That's what they had to do in Israel. But I want to make it personal for us. Can we show them the picture of the Awan sauce? I just noticed it. I don't know anybody like a one sauce. Come on. Our hands in the air. You like a one sauce, a few of you. All right. But I don't know if you ever noticed this established in 1862.

I was like, that was smack in the middle of the civil war. Like somebody says, you know what? This country really needs is a great steak sauce, right there. There's a wind in the middle of a huge, painful conflict going on. So unless humorous way, maybe in a more practical way, we, how do we find the win in those things in life where it didn't go? How do we find the win in the midst of a worldwide pandemic? How do we get there? And I think maybe some of you are like, are already getting there. You've already kind of wait a minute. How many of you will show of hands? How many of you did something that you had been putting off for a long time? And then the world finally came to a screeching, halt, anybody do something around your house or try something, anybody learn a new skill during COVID like I started doing, I do photography, but I started working and learning how to do video stuff and how to edit videos.

That was all part of like YouTube university during COVID. Right. So I learned how to do some things like that. Some of you maybe learned a new skill. Somebody who maybe dove deeper into relationships with family and friends are reconnected in ways because there was more time. I don't, I don't know, but I see already some wins that have come out of it for people. But I think at the very heart of what Israel was going through and maybe at the very heart of whatever we go through, the most important win is that we reconnect with our God that's what has to happen. And that's where we need to get. So let me just quickly do this. I'm going to give you a few ways. We can reconnect to God or connect to him in the first place, whatever our situation might be. But as we, as we go through difficult times and it feels like God's miles away, but he's really not.

He's actually right here. How do I reconnect with him in the midst of that kind of pain? And there are some choices that I have to make. So I'd encourage you with these choices. Number one, I want to accept God's son as my savior. I mean, that's, that's like starting launching point to everything we're going to say, but this, this is key. This is important. This may be the very step that some of you took a long time ago and you got like knocked off track a little bit. Oh yeah. You're still showing up at church, but it's like, let's just admit that we're not really where we need to be in our relationship with him. And then don't make the mistake that he is just our savior.

Akia is king. He is Lord. I mean, He is Lord. Think about that. Calls the shots in our life. We're not just using Jesus as an add onto our life. I'm like, I've talked to people say, yeah, but if I become a Christian and when I have to go to church, all right. So here's the idea, basically becoming a Christian means, say the same person I am get God's help occasionally when I need it, because I can't do that by myself. And then I have to add church to my schedule. Woo. That just sounds so enticing. No, Jesus is not just an add on, and he's not just a get out of hell free card. He is Lord he's Lord.

And that, that just got needs to hit home to us over and over and over again. So even those of us who have made that decision to before, yes, I want Jesus as Lord and savior in my life. Like we need to re up like every day, every week and come in this place in this space and rub shoulders with people who are getting in the same direction. We need that kind of encouragement because it's the most important decision we make. Romans 10, nine, and 10 says this. If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart. Believe in your heart. That God raised him from the dead you'll be saved for is with your heart. You believe and are justified. And it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Number two, I accept God's word as my standard.

I mean, God's word literally is the foundational rock for my life. When everything around me shifts and moves like the culture. I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but the culture changes. Its mind. Sometimes it's shifting, it's moving. It's always on the move, but the word of God is like a rock. I can build my life on that. And I want to make sure that I accept God's word as the standard for my life. Second Timothy three 16 says this all scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true. And to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

It just so happened that Friday night, we got a chance to meet Larry and Michelle for dinner. And Larry said, at one point on the freeway, we were actually right by each other. We didn't know it like he saw my Jeep, but didn't know it, my Jeep. And he's looking at the license plate and my license plate is epic LF. So it stands for epic life, but I couldn't get all those letters on there. My, my niece and nephew thought it said epic leaf. They thought that was funny. So epic life. But that really is not just about being in a Jeep or being on a mountain bike. It's really about four commitments we made at our church C and the east ends for everyday with Jesus. So we just got our people to say, we're going to commit to this every single day, we're going to read our Bible.

We're going to pray every, every single day we're going to be in the word of God, because it is the standard for our life. It's not just a catchy phrase every day with Jesus sounds so nice. It's like, no, we're going to do that. We're going to do that. And other ones I will accept God's will as my strategy, gee, God, like, what do you want to do to me today? By the way I woke up today, I was breathing. So God must still have something for me to do. Like, God, who do you want to love through me? What do you want to do through me? Like if we could just make that our, our opening prayer every day, God, what do you want to do through me? Who do you want to love through me? And let him work and move it. Like let his will be our strategy.

Psalm 40 verse eight says, I take joy doing your will. My God for your instructions are written on my heart. I take joy. Number four, I accept God's power. As my strength, I accept God's power. I know you're not going to I'll remember all these different things we talked about today. Maybe there's one thing that you needed to, but, but I love that last phrase. God, God's power is our strength in mark chapter five, Jesus heals the guy who's filled with demons. He's been ostracized by the community. They don't know what to do. They've actually tried to tie him up and he just bust out of the ropes, the chains, whatever he has a supernatural strength. He hangs out in the cemetery, oftentimes cutting himself. He's possessed. And Jesus shows up and heals the guy. And then the people come out. If you know the story, there's some other things that happen, but the people come out and they see this guy sitting there and he's clothed.

That's a new thing. He's clothed. And he's in his right mind. And one of the people do, Jesus, would you, would you leave? Like, it's scary. Like what? This Jesus comes on the scene and deals with the person they couldn't deal with. And he begs Jesus to go with them. And Jesus says, no. I mean, I would, I would want to go with Jesus. He says, no. He goes, I want you to go back. And I want you to tell everybody what God has done for you. Next time, just kind of flipped through the book of mark. The next time Jesus shows up in that area. He feeds over 4,000 people. Why? Because that guy couldn't stop telling everybody what God had done for him. And by the time Jesus comes back the next time everybody's like, I've heard of this Jesus. And they come running and they went over that. That's the picture of transformation. But that story itself reminds me of what you guys hear on a regular basis. Listen to this. There's nothing so dead that can be resurrected again. Nothing's so lost that it cannot be found. There's nothing so broken that cannot be mended on this side of eternity, but we've got to go to him and whatever the loss we're feeling, whatever we think is going on. It's like, it always is not a bad plan to say, I'm going to reconnect with God. I want Jesus as my savior and my Lord and my king. Maybe, maybe one of the best verses in the Bible about finding the win. And the loss is in Matthew chapter 10, verse 39. Here's what it says. Whoever finds their life will lose it. Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Whoever loses her life for my sake will find it. Here's what I want you to hear. I want you to see this picture. I don't know if you know the person Henry Nowan he's a world famous writer, but before that he was a Catholic priest. He also excelled in education. He had multiple Ivy league degrees, multiple PhDs. He was the top of the game. Like he was teaching at Notre Dame at Harvard, at Yale. He was world renowned. Everybody knew who he was in his mid fifties. He gave it all up and he went to serve at a special needs facility in Canada, changing diapers for adults who couldn't change their own diapers, bathing people who couldn't bathe themselves. He lost the life he had because he felt like he really wasn't with Jesus and letting Jesus flow through him.

I just came across this story recently, but he, he, he had this guy that he had met had become a friend who was one of the patients there. His name is Trevor and Trevor had serious psychiatric issues. And so they had to take him to a psychiatric hospital for some ongoing testing and treatment. And so Henry now who cared about his friend wanted to go visit his friend. So he called the hospital and made arrangements for him to come and visit his friend word, got out that the famous Henry Nowan was coming to this hospital. And before you know it, by the time Henry got there, they had a special event planned like a special lunch in a special room. And that hospital, it was rarely used. It literally had fine China. It literally had like the most precious silver where it's like special room. They had just for these kinds of things. And so can now, and he gets there and they Osher him into this room, the golden room it's called. And it goes in there and he's sitting there. All of these people, all these doctors, all these important people are there, people that come to it just because they got word of mouth, they were invited. They, they were there. And Henry keeps looking at for his friend. He goes, where's Trevor. And the guy in charge says, oh, we have a strict policy here that doctors and patients don't eat together. We just don't think that's right. He says, well, if Trevor's not here, I'm Al I guess I figured it was more embarrassing to have Trevor in the room then have their famous person leave. And so they bring Trevor him and he sits down right by Henry and, and a meal together, all these people. And in entering Alan's in a conversation with the guy next to him on this side, and Trevor is maybe a little bored. He gets up, he walks around winds up on stage with a microphone.

All of a sudden they spotted him because he says, if you're happy and you know, it raise your glass. You can just hear the murmurs in the room like, whoa, who gave him away? How did you get there? Who is, I wonder what was going on? If you're happy and you know what ratings you got, if you're happy and you know, then your face will surely show it. If you have BN, you know, raise your glass. And everybody's just like, but Trevor, wouldn't give up. If you're happy and you know, raise your glass. And then a few people started singing with them. If you're happy and you know, raise your glass. And then more people are singing. If you're happy and you know, then your face was early. Show it. If you're FBN, you know, raise your glass. By the time he was done, the whole place was on their feet. They're all singing. They're all grazed in there. They're all laughing. They're, they're just having a great time all because one guy said, I know I'm important in a lot of people's minds, I'm gonna go work in a special needs place in the middle of nowhere. So the people like Trevor know the Jesus loves him because Henry showed that kind of to Trevor. Trevor was able to show something to these stuffy people. And maybe they had a chance for a moment to lose the life that they were caught up into. And they got to get a glimpse of what really life could be. I'm going to pray for you. I don't know where you're at. I don't, I don't know spiritually in your journey where you're at, but I just want to pray for you.

You'd be willing to like say, okay, God, I'm going to lose control of my life so you can, can take control of my life and let's pray. God, we thank you for your, your presence with us today for being with us, Emmanuel with us. Thank God we know that there's been a lot of hurt and pain in the last year and a half lots of it. But in that you have not been absent. You have been with us. And so God, my prayer today is simple. I just want anyone here who, who wants to connect or reconnect with you to have that opportunity to do that? God, let them see you with arms wide open, ready to welcome them home and to your family in the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.



Jeremiah - Week Nine

God is for you. He's not against you. And he is on your side. And he is using us as a church and as individuals to respond to this world that so desperately needs that moral compass, the light to lead people to the light of Jesus.






Jeremiah - Jon Talbert

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

I like that. Que applause. Very nice. Good job. You guys did your job and you win. This is really fun for me. I love coming here. I was here last gosh, when was I here? Last couple of months ago? Maybe a couple. Yeah. And I had so much fun that I came back, you know, it takes me an hour and a half to get here. And now I'm like, is that too far to drive for Sunday morning? Cause this is a pretty cool church, you know, like, and I, and I enjoyed. And so I came back and I told my wife and I speak at different churches. And so she'll hear, oh, this is great. And this is, and then, and then we just move on with our day. I'm like, babe, you got to come to this church. This is pretty epic. And so we get here, we leave Santa Cruz early this morning, we come and we think it's going to be super hot.

And then I forgot to say that Benicia in Latin means torrential wind. Right? Because she can't even, she can't even, she gets her door open. She can't even close it. And I'm like, what is going on? Y'all are used to this. Right? You just buy a lot of Aquanet and just do the whole thing. We're like going, we're like holding on to each other. Please don't go down the hill. Cause that would be a game changer for us actually that whole wind thing kind of crazy. But we would, we would come here on Sundays. If, if, if, if Larry just happens to fly through the Bermuda triangle and disappears forever, I'd be happy to come back here. Anytime I liked this place anyway, my wife. So I brought my wife this morning. He's at back here in the back end and I snuck back there during worship and she's just like, oh my gosh, they are so good.

I'm like, I told you, you gotta listen to me. And then I was listening to the band. I'm like, wow, they really are good. You guys are. I mean, I get to go to a lot of churches, but you guys are really blessed here to have a worship team. That's good. And then I was thinking my mind, yeah, my mind spins a little bit. And I, you know, it's it just, it Marcy a little bit. My wife spent my mind, my mind spins all the time. And so I'm back and I'm thinking, you know, when we're in heaven and we're worshiping all the time, wouldn't it be cool if it's like, you know, Northgate band gets rotate in one of the sessions right now. They probably are. They probably got a band up there. Maybe. I mean, maybe I don't know, but I mean it's every day it's 24 7.

I mean, it's like a whole thing. So, you know, they might need a break. Wouldn't it be cool if the worship band gets to rotate in from time to time? Yes. We forgot the on switch. Yes. There it is. Now watch the game while I'm talking. I'm just like how's the game. Oh, Jeremiah. Okay. so anyway, I don't know. I, I just was sharing that thought in my head and I thought I'd share it with you. Maybe it's not a good idea. Ah, anyway, awesome to be with you. And I, I'm thrilled to be back and encouraging you all. Larry and I met we are at a pastor's gathering and when it was over, we sat for two hours and just built a friendship and a connection. And he's been able to walk with me during difficult times. I've been able to walk with him during difficult times and I love your pastor.

He's a good man. And you guys are blessed to have him as well. So take good care of him. Don't let him fly through the Bermuda triangle. He does. You got my number. So have you been in a situation where you're watching something go down and intuitively you think, I think this is wrong. You ever had that happen? Yeah. Actions or behaviors, maybe of a neighbor or a coworker or just a random person. You come in contact with acting in a way that just violates something inside of you. Yeah. And you, you watch it, you hear it or you see it play out and automatically you think this needs some course, correction never had that happen. Pretty sure you do, because it happens all the time where something inside of you goes this isn't right. And we either jump into the fray. Well, other times we avoided altogether. And that's what that, that's what I wanted to share about this morning. I have a neighbor when we first moved to the bay area and we lived in San Jose, we had a neighbor lived across the street. His name was ed. He lived right across the street from us, from our house, grumpy old guy. Yeah. I set in his ways and everyone in the neighborhood saw him that way. And one day, while he was out, he had a tractor mower for his small little lawn and that he would go out and do the tractor mower twice a week. And he, he was out there mowing. And my son who was just five at the time, stands at the curb because my friend, my son is just a very gregarious happy-go-lucky kid. What stand at the curb. And he would say hi to all the neighbors.

And he would yell to ed and yell. Hi ed, hi ed. And all of a sudden, my son gets verbally assaulted by ed. And it's like, it wasn't swear words or anything else, but it was something where I'm like, whoa, you just went too far. He's five. And so jumping into a course, correction, verbal attack on my son because he didn't like my son. And so I went over there and I said, I just said, Hey, ed, what's what's going on. And then he started attacking me and it was this weird course of action that took place where I first saw, Hey, this is wrong and I should do something. And then it led to a series of things. So I S I started a third of the conversation with him and I said, is, did my son do something? And he goes, I don't like your son because I don't like his dad.

And I'm like, I wasn't sure if he knew I'm his dad. He goes, yeah. I said, have I done something to offend you? And then he goes into a thing and he says, well, I don't like drug dealers on the street. And I'm like, I'm not a drug dealer. And he thought I was a drug dealer. I'm like, I don't even look, I don't know what they look like, but I'm sure I don't look like one. So I'm in this, I'm in this weird conversation that I go to defend my son. And it just takes this weird course where I'm having a dialogue with ed. And he's saying about, I don't like drug dealers. And of course you're dealing with drugs and I'm, I'm like ed, I'm a pastor. And he's like, pastor, you're not doing any pastor. And I'm like, I'm going to be a pastor.

That's what I do all day. He says, I see people coming into your house all the time, apparently getting drugs and what had happened and what it was reduced to down to was somebody parked in front of his house because you know, people are pretty possessive of their curb space. And on Mondays we put out our green waste and we didn't have Greenways bins. You just put your green waste on the street. And somebody ran through, it could have been anybody, but apparently it was the drug dealers, people. And he just took that and stewed on it all the time. And I began to ask questions and it turns out ed hated everyone.

And no one did anything. They just went along with the neighborhood narrative. Ed's mean he's old, he's grumpy. And the kids keep your distance and ignore him. And it was weird for me. And I just thought about that story as I was asked to teach on this topic this morning because instinctively, I just remember when it happened, there was something instinctively that said, this is wrong. And I stepped into it. I didn't know what I was going to say. I didn't know where I was going to. I certainly didn't know how the conversation was going to play out, but I knew I needed to go inside. And I know it. I knew I needed to do something. I reacted and acted in a certain way. And I can't tell you where I fall. I didn't want to follow the neighborhood narrative and ignore it.

And I wanted to do the right thing and address it. But I can't tell you how many times that I've been on the wrong side of that situation, seeing something that's wrong, sensing something that's and then going with the narrative instead, ignoring it. I don't want to get involved or nice. And that your assessment of the situation might be contrary to popular or opinion. And who wants to be in the minority, especially in this time where mob mentality, often rules. I don't want to stand up. I don't want to, I just need to be quiet and keep my peace. And when you, you think about it this morning, we're continuing a series in Jeremiah and coming into this unique story that introduces us to this random guy name, he bed Melik who is fronted with a situation where he can either go with the national narrative and ignore what's going on, or take a stand a lonely soul stand and do what's right.

And so this man, if you have your Bible, you can turn to Jeremiah chapter 37, and we're going to unpack this story together, just a couple of chapters. And it's telling Jeremiah's story, but we get this tiny little window of this guy named Ebedmelech. So let's pray and ask the Lord to walk us. As we walk through this and open our eyes to the scriptures and what he has for us this morning. He said, pray with me, father. We thank you for the opportunity to be together and gather in this community to open your word, to be challenged, to be encouraged, to be convicted, to be sensitive to what it is that you want us to see and to know, and to learn to live differently because of your interaction in our lives. And we pray that you eliminate eyes. We pray these things in Christ's name.

Amen. Here's a picture from Jeremiah in the Sistine chapel right here. So he's important enough to be by Michelangelo in the Sistine chapel. And here here's a little closeup of him, so you can get a better shot of what he actually looks like, but this is him here. So I had to, I always have to get some sort of mental image and picture of what this guy looks like, because I want to begin to understand and get into a story. Whether that really looks like him or not. I need a mental image for me. It really helps me as I study the scriptures, I'll learn about somebody and I'll Google image that person's name and I'll find something. And then I locked into something where I can actually journey with this individual in mind. And I wanted to do, that's just a personal exercise.

I want to do that with you guys this morning, Jeremiah was one of the prophets of God. His ministry began back in 6, 627 BC and at sometime around 500 to BC and with his prophecy to the Jews who fled to Egypt and for the majority, I already have a time Jeremiah based his ministry, Jerusalem and the Southern kingdom of Judah had fell during his prophetic ministry. I'm in 5 86 BC, which is a very significant time in Israel's history and having been threatened for many years outside powers first to Syria and Egypt, and then eventually conquered by Babylon. So it was just a real quick summary. Jeremiah is one of those prophets during a critical time in Israel's history, where they found himself addressing a nation that's hurdling, headlong towards a judgment from God. And he's right at that juncture. When it happens that Israelites may have feared the future as outsiders and powers group drew near, but rather than respond as he had called them to with humility and with repentance, the people of Judah primarily lived in these islands unto themselves and disregarded both the Lord's commands and the increasing danger and the result of their disobedience.

And so that's where we are in the story. That's just a real big picture, 30,000 foot view of what the book of Jeremiah is in the context and in the narrative of God's story with Israel. And so the chapters that we're going to cover this this week, Jeremiah is bringing his unpopular message to Judah and he's paying the price for it. So we're in chapter 37 and I'm just going to just go, I'm not going to read the whole chapter, just picking verses, and then we'll unpack it a little bit. So Jeremiah chapter 37, starting in verse one, it says Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar who was king of Babylon. He reigned in the place of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin the son of Josiah Kim. These are previous Kings before him and was placed there by Nebuchadnezzar. He's like a puppet leader.

I'm putting you here, you're going to do this. And so not really groomed to lead, neither he nor his attendance, nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words of the Lord had spoken through the prophet and through Jeremiah the prophet. So that gives you really a nutshell of what's going on. Here's this here's the individuals. Here's the setup. Here's the the, the propped up by the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar. And Jeremiah is coming in and saying, no, no, this is turn. This is, this is wrong. And he's being completely ignored. We jumped down to verse seven and it says, Pharaoh's army. This is Jeremiah speaking, Pharaoh's army, which has marched out to support you as an ally. We'll go back to its own land to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city and they will capture it and they will burn it down.

Now, this is a group of people, especially the king and his court, the princes, and all the people that are part of it are saying, we're good. We got this. This is our thing. And he comes in with this very unpopular message. And then he says, in verse nine, he says, do not deceive yourselves and thinking the Babylonians will surely leave us. They will not. Is it Jeremiah speaking? Even if you were to defeat the entire Babylonian army that is attacking you and only wounded were left in their tents, they would come out and burn this city down. It wasn't a hit. He just brought it down. He doubled down. Even if you, even if everybody's wounded, you're still going to be taken down by this group. And so this is the, this is the leadership. And as a prophetic voice speaking into the collective, and they're going, who is this guy?

They're saying, even if everyone's wounded, you're still going to be defeated. So Jeremiah, his message was counter to popular belief and it got him in trouble. He's prophesied in the fall of Jerusalem and speaking to you, king Zedekiah and the officials, the princes of the city, the army officials, anyone who would hear Jeremiah spoke of the impending on the city, super contrary to national narrative and Egypt would sticker that Egypt would even stick around as an ally ally, and they'd be okay. And they weren't. So before all that actual prophecy is fulfilled, then it says this in verse chapter 38 of verse six, it says this, it says they took Jeremiah. They put him in a sister of Malkia that's the king son, which was in the courtyard of the guard and they lowered Jeremiah by roped into the cistern. It had no water in it, only mud and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.

So basically they give Jeremiah the slow death sentence by lowering him into a cistern. And a cistern was a common in ground feature near Eastern ancient, near Eastern culture. It was used as it was a pit that was dug out and it had no, and to collect water rainwater, whatever else for them to draw from. And this particular sister had no water and it was just a Schloss Shashi, neck, deep mud. And basically they sink him into this escapable Meyer only to let them die, either starvation exposure, disease. And that's where the story is inter Ebedmelech. So here's the prophet of God coming in saying what he's saying. And somebody from the side comes in and sees, this is wrong. Here we are in verse seven, but Ebedmelech a Cushite or an Ethiopian official in the Royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the sister.

And while the king was sitting in the Benjamin gate, Ebedmelech, Ebedmelech went out of the palace and said to him, my Lord, the king, these men have acted wickedly. And all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern where they will start, where he will starve to death. When there's no longer any bread in the city, verse 10, it says the king commanded. Ebedmelech the crochet take 30 men from, from here with you to live Jeremiah the prophet out of the system before he dies. So verse 11, it says, so Ebedmelech took men with him and went to a room under the treasury and the pallets. He took some old rags and worn out clothes from there and let them down with the ropes to Jeremiah, to the sister, even Malik, the cushy cushy said to Jeremiah, put those old rags and worn out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.

So Jeremiah did, and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted them out of the sister. And in Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard. There's a picture that I found again, just give you this reference point, Ethiopian lifting him out, the old man out of the sister. It's kind of a weird story. Cause that's all we know, that's it here's something that intuitively everyone else, the national narrative, okay. This is where we're going on. Whether people agreed or disagreed, the narrative was, this is what we're going to do. And one guy says this isn't right.

Israel is in a mess. And right in the middle of the story, we see somebody that says, I'm going to do something about it. And that's what we want to focus on today. Becoming a person who does, what is right. What does that mean? I think about the story about bed Malik, and we don't know much beyond what's mentioned here, so I can only make assumptions based on the passages. And I, part of me, I like looking at that because I like looking at it and sitting with it and going, what am I, what do I see here? Because I don't want to conjecture anything or project anything onto the passage that isn't there. But I also want to look at that and be able to say, based on this, how should we live our lives? Because there's nothing in here that says, be like, Ebedmelech, that's not gonna fit really well on a banner, you know, WWE bed.

Melik do you know what I mean? It's just not gonna work. Right. And people like who, you know, so we want to take the story and let that story take us into, what does it mean to walk like Jesus today and respond to things that intuitively might, we might feel this doesn't seem right? How do we do that? But I want to first start with what we can, what assumptions and things that we can make about even Melik versus this, he's an outsider. It's not his country. It's not his people. So why should he care? Cultures back then were very tribal. So they show any concern from someone outside of your tribe, demonstrates something about your character. This person's different from a different area, different, maybe economical status. There's something that says I'm jumping in. It doesn't matter. So he's an outsider. Second thing that we see, he's an official.

It says that he's in the Royal court. So he has the ability to leverage whatever it has to leverage his position, to question and to act whatever, whatever he has. He doesn't have the position to just do it. But whatever the limit of his position is, and his title is allows him to do something. And he leveraged that right to the edge. So we see he's an outsider. He's an official, he's an influencer, he's an influencer. It says that he went to the king. He told him directly that this was wrong. And he convinced him something needed to be done. You know, something about the king to just straight up the king. Yes. Throwing the pit. Oh, don't throw in the pit. All right. Take them out of the pit. I mean, King's kinda, you know, he's all over the map, but the fact that he used his influence and he didn't say you have to do this.

He came to the king and said, this is wrong. And he used his influence to see something. So, so he's an influencer. He's a, he's an outsider. He's an official he's an influencer. He's also a convener and says that he was assigned 30 men. But then he began to give the men a task. This is what we're going to do. This is how we're going to do it. And he's convening these people that might've been part of the national narrative to rescue the man that he said, this is wrong. And we've got to do something different and he's convening. And he leverages his convening power to pull the people together, do something is a convener. And the last thing that I see just in that little, little tiny bit of the story is he's compassionate, especially about the details. It's just one thing to pull them out. All right, hang on this rope. All right, put those under your arms. But I love the details of this. The story gives details that it's not just pulling them out of the system, but how they did it take these rags. I mean the bulk of the story, this two sentence story, he goes down, gets rags and old clothes. So it's not going to hurt the old man, put these under your arms. So the roads don't hurt you.

He thinking of the pain and the discomfort, and that's all we know about it. So I'm not sure that I can develop a message out of that. I just look at it and say, that clicks me into something else that says, how do we react when something's wrong? Went inherently and intuitively. And in, in my mind, I see it. And maybe everyone around me, I might have an advocate. I might have somebody that agrees with me, partially agrees with me. I might be standing alone. What do I do? And how do I respond? And if ever were a time in our culture, in our society that is divided, polarized, and then calling each other out on all kinds of things who the heck wants to stand up for anything that might be right. I'll have my conviction posted anonymously on Facebook or next door. Hope nobody kills me.

And then go on as a church. And as followers of Jesus, how do we train ourselves to respond the right way? When things come up, do we jump in the fray or do we avoid it altogether? Think of it this way. And when you see a buoy, if I've got a buoy here, when you see a buoy, you see something floating in the water that moves a bit here and there because of the wind or because of the tides or because maybe the wake of a boat. But that buoy is tethered to an anchor. It's tethered to an anchor that keeps it from drifting out the sea or Washington shore, or getting lost in some random place in the bay. And the buoy is like our actions. It can shift and it moves some given the circumstances of what's going on, where you're like, man, I'm not really sure I'm not, but this is where this goes and the issues that arise in our life, but it should be tethered to an anchor.

Our motivational value that is rooted in who we are in Christ. We actually sang it in a song and we did not plan this, but we, we talked about being, being anchored, right? And our values and formed in us as Christ followers serves as our anchor. And what happens on the surface that everyone can see is our buoy, our actions and our attitudes and how we handle things. When things seems off, things seem often, and maybe, you know, maybe we're, you know, I haven't handled it correctly, but I, but I'm tethered back and we intuitive the think this is wrong when something is in violation of our moral value system as a Christian or when popular opinion or group think is Cron, contrary to your anchor, what do you do when you're in the minority as a Christian, when it's pushed out by group think or dismissed, do you go along with popular opinion, you stand your ground, you stand in the face of opposition and do what is right.

Especially when you're the only one. And like Ebedmelech, there's something he knew inherently was wrong with what had happened. Jeremiah, regardless of the national narrative, regardless of the King's position, regardless of being unpopular, he saw what was happening, knew it was wrong, knew it violated something inside of him. And he did something. So what do we do to become a person that does the right thing does what is right. So here's what I came up with. And I just sat with this story. I sat with it and I, I said, okay, what, what is it that, what is it that God wants me to offload you guys? And some of it's just super practical. Some of it has biblical nuggets that are inside of that, but it's certainly not an exposition of this passage in Jeremiah, except for the fact that that's what took us down this road into this topic.

So I'm going to give you my explanation. Certainly not exhausted. It works for me. And I call it trained to respond, got seven points within train to respond. You're going to write them down. It's just something to be able to think through of how do I respond? What are the habits that I get into and force myself to get into this mindset? So when these things are, I actually do the right thing. So trained to respond. The first one is this. I start with just an internal. What's the clarity on battle ownership, clarity, battle ownership. There are passages all over the Bible that talk about God's role in standing with us in times of conflict. And so when I get clarity that the battle is not necessarily mine. This is God's battle. I'm just his steward, his ambassador, sometimes his voice person, sometimes the voice of reason, but this is God's battle.

The passages say this in Isaiah chapter 41. It says, so do not fear for, I am with you. Do not be dismayed for, I am your God. I will strengthen you. I'll help you all pulled you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah, if you want to look it up later, 41, verse 10, Romans chapter eight, verse 31. It says, if God is Forrest, who can be against us basically saying, God chosen us. Whereas children who were his heirs, God's the judge. And he's for us. No one can condemn us. No one can separate us from his love. And God is a God of justice and righteousness and truth. So the battles, the Lords and an awareness of who owns the bottle actually right-sized is it for me? Am I a bike? Am I about to fight a battle that is rooted in maybe a personal preference or a bias or as mine battle may be politically driven?

Am I ignorantly fighting something that I know very little about? Am I standing up for God's agenda or my own? And those are the that's where I begin to look at it and say, when did they say that line? Choose your battle is this God's battle that violates his law his way for righteousness. That's the first thing, the second thing and trained to respond is what I say. Always grounded, growing and ready, always grounded, always growing, always ready again. This is, this is like pre-work. Before you get to anything that would actually come into your way, see, it's one thing to get into a situation and then go shoot. I don't even really know. I don't even know who I am. And so there should be this constant learning and growing and rooting of who you are in Christ. One of the best ways to stand ready is to be growing and grounded in what is right.

And the passage in Psalms chapter one, verse one, two, and three, it speaks directly to the impact of the wrong crowd and indirectly sitting with life, giving crowd and taking on life. Giving word of God. It says this in Psalm one, it says blessed is this man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law, he meditates day and night and he shall be, this is the result of that. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in its right season and its leaves don't wither and whatever he does, he will prosper. There is a beautiful picture of this rooted and grounded tree that is producing fruit and responding the way because it has spent the time meditating on God's word.

What does that look like? It looks like different for everybody. And there's all these formulas of how to meditate on God's word and get rooted and grounded. You know what? Sometimes I do, because I would always here, people do talk about spiritual disciplines and fasting. They get up early in the morning and they would pray for an hour. And I'm like, man, I'm having a hard time, just praying for five minutes without my mind going on monkey brain. And so, and they would light a candle and have a journal. And I'm like, yeah, that's just not me. And so I needed other spiritual disciplines that helped me ground myself. And one of them was taking one passage and reading it over and having the discipline to just read it over 10, 15, 20 times. Just read it back to back to back the back-to-back. And then I take a nap who doesn't love a nap, because what happens is your subconscious has just immersed itself in that verse.

And your consciousness has just shut off and say, we're going to take a nap and then God can do all this stuff inside your brain. And he just download all this stuff for me, it works brilliantly. I think God has designed us to take naps. I encourage you to take naps, just not now, but different ways to find yourself to be grounded and strengthened and prepared and producing fruit. Ephesians talks about this. Also meme being prepared or being ready. It says this Ephesians, it talks about the full armor of God and preparation to take a stand. When you're faced with opposition to do the right thing, the belt of truth, the breasts breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, where we're Shalom or peace bringers, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit allows us to be strong in the Lord and in his power.

So this is the, the first two things is clarity on battle ownership, always grounded, growing and ready. The next thing, and this is when it gets a little bit more complicated. Okay. Ask more questions, ask more questions. When something comes your way and you're like, whoa, this and you feel it. Or like, you know, it's wrong or it is like blatantly wrong or you're like, huh? Ask more questions, always ask more questions. When something goes down, I feel something's wrong. And greatest thing I've learned is ask more. Jesus asked 307 questions, gospels, he's the master at asking questions. If we're going to become more like Jesus and do what he did, we must become careful and wise at asking good questions as well. But Jesus uses questions differently than we would commonly do today. We ask questions for information. Jesus asks his questions to provoke transformation.

We ask questions for answers. Jesus asks questions for awareness. Jesus asks questions to confront the listener with their own thought processes and preconceptions and assumptions and beliefs. And so for me, the best way to ask a question to ask a question is to ask this simple question when I'm like, wow, and it's really simple. Help me understand, just start with that. When something seems off to you, help me understand and allow it to take its, I see Ebedmelech saying to the king, Hey, help me. Your reason behind this. It almost disarms the person because I'm not telling you you're wrong. I'm asking you to help me get clarity and oftentimes it right, sizes itself. The next thing, and this one, this one's, one of my favorites is give your gut some credit, give your gut credit. I learned from a Stanford graduate professor about this idea of how our gut has these thousands upon thousands of receptors to see and to sense and to know things that go on that's outside of what's happening in our brain.

And he was teaching us to not respond when something happens with our brain or our heart, but with our gut, what's your gut telling you? And it was weird. I actually had to, instead of making decisions this way, I had to make decisions this way, instead of hearing it and deciding, confirming it in my heart and ignoring my gut, I had to sense what my gut was saying, confirming my heart. And then with my brain say, this is what I'm going to do. It was this decision-making process this way, rather than this way. If that makes sense. One of my favorite things to look at, it's interesting because I believe that God has hardwired our physiology to intuitively sense when something is wrong. Cause you've heard the phrases trust your gut. I had a gut feeling I should have gone with my gut. Why do we say those things?

Those statements come from our God-given DNA to discern when something seems off and the gut feelings are an actual thing. The gut has the same chemical release as the brain does when it goes through things through its receptors. And the difference is the gut doesn't have the ability to doubt itself like the brain does. So often the discerning feeling you get as part of your hard wiring that God's made you to actually make the right choice to sense the things you sense and to do the right thing. We actually need to learn to train ourselves, to use the useful equipment that God has given us. I don't shy away from the physiology because I think God has designed us uniquely when you, I don't care. What culture are you in? I don't care what background you have when when someone sees a ball rolling in the street and a kid chasing after I don't care what I don't care.

Any of that, you intuitively know I have to do something because a kid's going to get hurt. You can be of the worst of the worst nation ever, or the best of the best nation. You're still going to do the same thing. It's intuitive. It's God-given and we need to trust it. We need to give it some credit and do it before your brain has a chance to dismiss things based on fear or bias or rationalizing it away. Trust your gut, give your gut some credit. The next one is what I call first objections. First objections. When something seems off to me or is clearly a break from my moral compass, I offer what I call my first objections in a certain way. My first objection is start with a self-reflective statement. So when, so something's, something's going down. And so I'll say, I'll say it this way.

I have a check in my mind about this reflective statement or something seems off to me, or this is unsettling in my spirit. When I pause and I pause after I'll say something like that, which invariably prompts the question. Why, which then affords me the opportunity to articulate my convictions rather than going and saying you're wrong. You shouldn't do this. This is bad. This is here's why you, I say this doesn't sit well with me. I'm not sure I have a check about this. My self-reflective objection, disarms the other party from feeling attacked by merely pointing to my own convictions and provides a redemptive window for others to follow your lead first objections. The next one is what I call faith filled action. Faith filled action. Faith filled action. Sometimes when self-reflection objections, fall short of anything, changing that's times when you are required to stand.

When things get to this point, it requires movement. It requires action. Even the Bible challenges this way, it says in James chapter four, verse 17, it says if anyone then knows they ought to do good and doesn't do it. That's sin for them. Scriptures teach that Micah six, eight. It says he has shown you a man, what is good? And what the Lord requires of you to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. There's a Paul talks about it and the individuals are faced with moral and doctrinal issues that they know intuitively are wrong. He says, speak the truth in what in love. And he gives us these stand up and do these things. Faith-Filled actually requires us to take a stand, to speak up verbally, to show up physically to pony up economically times the moral imperative calls us not to hide behind our computer screen, but to self identify, physically show up and do the right thing.

The last one is commitment to convictions and sometimes the consequences. Sometimes the consequences, the last nothing worse than a half bake commitment to anything, let alone your convictions. The thing about convictions that stand out to me, convictions aren't worth anything. If they don't guide you to act, if they don't prompt you to move, if they're merely opinions or observations, acting on your convictions also can cost you something. So those are just practical thoughts. There's seven thoughts that came to my mind. Some of them have the biblical thing and some are just practical. Wisdom says, this is where I believe God is calling us as Shalom brings us peace, peace bringers, as people that are called to justice and faith to respond in a very specific way.

I believe that God is constantly working in us and through us to build his kingdom, to respond to the needs of this world. And the crazy thing is he brings about his justice and conviction and compassion and connection. And we are the light in dark places where the salt and bland pellet places. And so there's opportunities all around us to do the right thing. I want to go back to my neighbor, ed. It was a couple years after that had happened. And I remember driving by and things that just kind of slowly slipped back to where ed was just the grumpy old guy again. And he was marginalized by the neighborhood. And one day I'm driving home and I felt, God prompting me to do the right thing. I felt this prompting to go talk to ed. And it was literally that go talk to ed and he's out there doing his thing. And it happened a couple of different times that week. Go talk to ed. And I even talked to one of my family members about it. I talked to my daughter and I said, I feel like God's calling me to go talk to ed. She's like, we probably to talk to head. I say, I should, I shouldn't, I don't do anything. And a week later he dies. I regretted that. Like I didn't, I had the chance and I didn't do anything. I realized that as followers of Christ, we have these gut reactions to respond, to do something, to do the right thing. So a week later I have another prompting because I could see the family and having people come over and I thought I need to go over and just say something to them. So I go over and I knock on the door, I'm gonna follow God's prompting. And it really like pushed. I'm going to follow God's prompting. I knock on the door. His son answers the door. Yeah. I just want to wish, you know, our, our, you know, just express our condolences to the family. I'm a neighbor across the street. And he goes, which one?

I'm the one who doesn't like, I'm the drug dealer. And he said, come on in. I've never been in that house ever. I'm going, oh my gosh, I'm going in dad's house. And I go in and I meet Mary, his wife and she gives me a hug. And I said, I'm, I'm sorry. I felt like I should have talked to ed earlier. And she goes, it's okay. I, I don't know. He didn't like me. She goes, he didn't like, he didn't like me either. He didn't like anybody, so. Okay. And she said, if you do, would you like to come to Memorial? It's in, it's in an, you know, just an hour. I'm like, I'd be honored. And again, I felt God's prompting go to the Memorial. So I go home and I'm like, I'm all you know, and this is the beauty is that God is redeeming this for me. Right. So I get all ready. And I know it's at the cemetery nearby a really large cemetery there. So I go there, I'm going to, I told them I'm going to be a little bit late, but I'll, I'll get there. I get there. I pull in and I, I, and I'm, I'm there in the back. I don't know anybody. So I'm just sitting in the back and I'm praying. I got a bulletin if you know, sign a guest book and just praying for the family. I don't recognize anybody, but it's not right. It's present. And it's time for us to leave. And you know, they had an open casket. And so I walk up to the casket and it's not ed I'm in the wrong funeral. And I look at the funeral director and I say, this is an ed. And I looked at program and said, Eugene, I just thought maybe, you know, fun fact, that was his name. Right? I said, this is an ed. He goes not to Eugene. I'm standing there in front of everybody. And I'm like, where's that? He goes, that's Eugene. I said, I know that Eugene, but where's the head that isn't ed. I know. And then I leave. And those people were like, yeah, that guy was pretty emotionally broken up. You know, I've signed the guest card and everything. I'm like praying for these people. I'm at the wrong funeral. And then I went home and the family was gathered and I walked over and I said, Mary said, oh, you're going to come to the funeral. I said, I did. I was just that Eugene is cruises Eugene. I don't know. But I prayed for him. I told him the story and I've never seen a family laugh so hard at my failure.

And we sat and we laughed and we enjoy the company of one another. And we ministered to one another. I prayed for the family and God had redemptive, silly, stupid thing where his glory, because he gives us second chances. Even when we make we're, we're called to make the right decision. And we don't, we miss it. He's a God of second chances and another chance and another chance to be able to be his agents of change and to bring something about in this role. And so my challenge to you church is to lean into that, to trust your gut, to speak into it. God is for you. He's not against you. And he is on your side. And he is using us as a church and as individuals to respond to this world that so desperately needs that moral compass, the light to lead people to the light of Jesus. So we stand with me and pray and just pray over you. And then we'll worship. Thank you for the chance to be here with my friends here at north gate. And I pray a blessing over them as we go into a moment of worship that we are encouraged and strengthened, convicted, and moved to be the people that you've designed us to be agents of change in our community, just as we bless you in our worship time of Christ. Amen.



Jeremiah - Week Ten

Sometimes our hopes often our hopes are all about us, but very often God's purposes are much, much bigger than that.






Jeremiah - Ken Jensen

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Well, good morning north gate, it is so good to be back with you. And for those of you who are joining us online, welcome, glad that you are here with us. I just want to say first off how appreciative I am of pastor Larry. I have, I just want you to know this has been probably the most difficult year and a half to lead a church. I can't imagine I told him not too long ago. I think I retired at the right time. I hope that you pray for him regularly. I do.

Leading a church pastor in a church. Caring for people is hard enough, but to have to do it in the conditions that he has had to deal within our whole staff really for the last year and a half. So I hope you do appreciate them. I hope you send them letters and encouragement and thanks. And I hope you pray for them often because they can use your prayers. So it is great to be back with you. And we are in this series in Jeremiah and I want to start off with there's. One of my favorite movies from the eighties is actually one of my favorite movies of all time is back to the future. Now, if you have not seen the movie back to the future quick little update, this is so Marty McFly, as a teenager, he ends up going back in time in a DeLorean time machine.

And he ends up actually doing something that interrupts where his parents met and, and he kinda gets inserted in the middle of their relationship. And, and so what happens is if they don't get together, they don't get married. If they don't get married, Marty never gets born. Okay. So this is like a really important thing. So the whole movie is him trying to get his parents back together and, and he's got this family photo that he carries with him. And as the movie progresses, he looks and his siblings start to fade from the picture. And so his whole future is disappearing. And so he's got to get his parents back together. And the moment that they had their first kiss was at the high school prom enchantment under the sea. And he is working this whole movie, trying to get them both there at the, at the dance and making sure that they have that first kiss. And, and this is kind of how it plays out. Watch this on the screen.

Like I said, it's one of my favorites of all time. We all have kind of a mental picture of our future. Whether it has to do with our relationships, our family, our education, our career, our home, where we're going to live. We've all got this kind of picture. And that picture is really our hopes and our dreams that that's our future. And we're all looking forward to that. And, and sometimes it's clear as day and you know it, and it's all mapped out for you. And there's other times where it starts to kind of fade. And you wonder about the hopes and dreams that you had for your future. If they're really going to come about in that picture that we all have of our future is the thing that, that keeps our hopes alive. And I've heard a lot of sermons and I preached a lot of sermons over my years of pastoral ministry about faith, but not quite so many about hope, but hope and faith are inseparably.

The writer of Hebrews put it this way in Hebrews 11. One faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things. Not yet seen that hope and faith are tied together. And when we lose hope, it affects our faith. And so if we're going to increase our faith, we need to keep our hopes alive. And this story that we're going to look at today from Jeremiah's life is about this connection between hope and faith. And I'm going to have to ask you to kind of, there's a lot of history. It's a kind of a weird little story in the middle of Jeremiah's life here, and it has a lot of historical background to it. So I'm going to have to do a little bit of heavy lifting, kind of bring you up to speed historically. So I'm going to really need you to kind of hang with me for a bit. Okay. Okay. I'm really gonna need for you to hang with me for a little bit. Okay. All right. We are not off to a good start here today. So let me give you the background. The story so far is the nation of Israel actually ended up historically divided into two separate kingdoms, the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah, and both kingdoms, both halves of this kingdom started rebelling against God doing their own thing, God involved in some heavy idol worship and just grotesque things involved with that, like child sacrifice and all kinds of detestable things that God just finally said, you know, if you don't straighten up, you know, this is the end of this kingdom. And they continued to pursue in God, sent profits to warn them. And eventually what happened was the Assyrians came in and conquered the Northern kingdom. So Israel was totally destroyed. And in the Southern kingdom has a Kaia was the king and he saw what was happening.

And he has said about some reforms in the kingdom. And actually the Southern kingdom kind of had a rebirth for a while, but then eventually another king came along and then Manasseh came along. He was king and then things just really went downhill and it just got to the worst. And then there was one last attempt under king Josiah to bring about some reforms, but it was really kind of too little too late and another super power, not the Assyrians. Now this time, it's the Babylonians and the Babylonians come in and they conquered the Southern kingdom. And what the Babylonians did was they took kind of the ruling class, the elites, and they carted them off into exile in Babylon and left a remnant back in Judah. And Jeremiah is part of the remnant. That's still back in Judah and Jeremiah back there in Judah is now under a puppet government because the Babylonians then set up their own king to rule over it.

And so that went on for about 11 years and eventually the Southern kingdom got a little tired of being ruled over by the Babylonian puppet king. And so they kind of made this Alliance with Egypt, that they were going to overthrow the Babylonians and get back to that they wanted to do and, and back to normal. Well of course that didn't work out the Egyptians bailed at the last minute, the Babylonians came in, started to just really clamp down. And actually at this point now the Babylonian army has surrounded the capital Jerusalem and they've laid siege to the Capitol and Jeremiah in the middle of all this Jeremiah is called by God to be the prophet, to the nation of Israel. And he keeps telling them when they're trying to build this Alliance with Egypt, this is not going to work. God's judgment is coming.

The Egyptians are going to bail on you. And of course they don't like hearing that. And so they threw him in jail and they beat him and he ended up in a muddy sister and for a while, and just all these things and it just went on and on and on. And meanwhile, Babylon just, just surrounds the whole city of Jerusalem. And that's where we find ourselves in the story. And we come to Jeremiah, I have 32 and Jeremiah now prophet in Israel says, gets, this word, says the word of the Lord came to me saying behold, Hannah Melva, son of Shallum, your uncle is coming to you saying, buy for yourself, my field, which is an Anathoth for you have the right of redemption to buy it. Then an ML. My uncle son came to me in the court of the guard. According to the word of the Lord had said to me, by my field, please, that is an Anna thought, which is in the land of Benjamin for you have the right of possession and the redemption is buy it for yourself.

Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. So I bought it the field that was in Anathoth from Hannah, Mel, my uncle son, and I weighed out the silver for him. 17 shekels of silver. I signed and sealed the deed called in witnesses, weighed out the silver on the scales. Then I took the deeds of purchase, both the sealed copy, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy. And I gave the DDA purchase to Baruch. The son of Nariah, the son of Messiah, the son in the sight of Hanameel my uncle's son. And in the sight of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase before the Jews who were sitting in the court of the card. And I commanded Baruch in their presence saying, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase and this open date and put them in an earthenware jar where they will blast for a long time for thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought and sold in this land.

After I had given the DDA purchase to Baruch, the son of Nariah, I prayed to the Lord, our sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and your outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Now. That's just kind of a weird little story. What is buying real estate in Anathoth have anything to do with the work of God. Okay. But it has all kinds of implications for us because it's all about hope and faith. The city is surrounded. Things are about to go down big time. And Jeremiah is called to buy a piece of land really about hope. And, and maybe you're here this morning and you're kind of discouraged. Maybe it looks like all of your hopes and your dreams are fading. And you're wondering what your future looks like. Or maybe, maybe you're faced with some really difficult decision. And you're not sure how it's all going to hand out. And, and you're just kind of hoping it's all going to work out. And you're wondering, where is God in the middle of all of this? Well, sustaining hope is what feeds your faith. And so what I want to talk about today for last few minutes that I have is how to sustain hope. What is some hope building habits and does some characteristics in this story of Jeremiah's like this little vignette in Jeremiah's life that gives us some really good recommendations for sustaining hope and building your faith. And the first one is this, that hopeful people rely on God's director. Our hope is ultimately in God and our hope relies on his character. Jeremiah is sometimes called the weeping prophet. And for a lot of reasons, it, his whole life really was a prophecy. It's not so much his words, but all of his life experiences. And he had all kinds of really difficult experiences. In fact, when God called him, called him to be a prophet to the nation of Judah he told them at the very beginning, I'm going to call you, you're going to be my profit. You're going to speak my words at the people, but nobody's going to listen to you.

I don't know how you go about recruiting people, you know, but that doesn't really work too well. But that's what he said. You're going to be my voice. You're going to speak to these people. And nobody's going to listen to you. He didn't even want to be a prophet. He argued with God throughout his whole ministry about why did you give me this burden? And his and his prophecy was always unpopular because it was always about the coming destruction. So of course the Kings didn't like him. They hated him. The false prophet spoke up against him and derided him. And it was just, he was kind of all on his own. He actually wrote another book, the book right after this, the book of Lamentations, the Lament, And it just pouring out his heart to God. He faced continual opposition throughout his ministry. He was beaten. He had death threats. He had all kinds of things happen to him. And yet he is the most hopeful of all the profits. In fact, in the book of Jeremiah and in the book of limitation, the word hope occurs 14 times. That is more often than all the other profits combined. He had, he had a difficult ministry. He had a difficult time. And yet it is always filled with hope because he believed in the character of God. He wrote this in limitations 3 21. Yes. I called to mind. And therefore I have hope the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. This, I called the mine and therefore I have hope God's steadfast. Love his new mercies every day. And his faithfulness.

That was his source of hope. The Character of God, mercy, steadfast love faithfulness. In my 40 something years of pastoral ministry, I had lots of ups and downs and I had some pretty discouraging times. And then I had times actually, when I was just, I didn't understand what God was doing with my life or doing with my ministry. And there were times I was actually angry at God and told him so, But he can handle it Because that's his character. His he's never come to an end. They're new every morning. He is faithful. And that's what Jeremiah knew. Another book of sentence from limitations. Chapter three, no one is cast off by the Lord forever. No, no, it doesn't make sense right now, even though it seems like God has abandoned you, but no one is cast off by the Lord forever though. He brings grief. He will show compassion. So great. Is his unfailing love for, he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. See, that's what Jeremiah knew. And that's what he held on to Lloyd Ogilvie puts it this way. Nothing can happen that God won't use to deepen our relationship with him. And so when Jeremiah is called to, to buy this piece of property and it doesn't understand it, it doesn't make much sense. He seals it with the prayer and he says, sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. It's morning, close them for service. When it's shared together in communion, God gave us a constant reminder that we would share on a regular basis to remember this is his character. This is his love. This is his mercy. This is his compassion for you. And hopeful people Rely on that. Second thing is second habit is that hopeful people buy into God's promises. It's one thing to, to think about it and say, okay, I believe that. But when you actually have to take action, that's a different story and hopeful people. This is where faith and hope come together. Hopeful people actually buy into it. They do something about it. It said earlier that that Babylon had carried off the best and brightest of, of Judah. And these people now are living in Babylon and they're strangers in a strange land. It's, it's it, they don't know the language. They don't know the culture. Everything about it is different than, and maybe you find yourself in that kind of situation right now you find yourself like a stranger in a strange land. Your whole world has been turned so upside down looks familiar to you anymore. And it's possible that you would lose hope that the future that I had pictured is not turning out at all, or maybe it is, but I'm not sure how it's all going to end. And God has Jeremiah write a letter to the exiles that are in Babylon. And it's a very familiar passage. In fact, I think pastor Kayla preached on it just a couple of weeks ago, he wrote these words. I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future. Now we take that verse and that's usually what we reversed that we writing cards, graduation for our high school seniors, you know, and it sounds like a wonderful promise, but think of what it meant to these people who are often exile in Babylon to get a word from God that says, I know the plans that I have for you, they may not be working up the way that you thought, and it may not be happening in the timing that you thought. But I know that plans that I have for you and they are to prosper you and to get not to harm you, to give you a future, to give you hope.

See we can choose hope even in the middle of difficulty, because we can focus on the possibilities they got. Doesn't promises everything we hope for, but he does promise that his plans for us will always be good. And then what he does is he asked Jeremiah, okay, now I've told you these things. I've had, you send his word of encouragement to Babylon. Now I want you to do something. And what I want you to do is to buy this property, literally says, now you've got to put your money where your mouth is. The word of the Lord came to me, Hannah, Mel son of Shallum. Your uncle is going to say to you come and said, you buy my field and Anna, which is at Anathoth because nearest relativity is your right and duty Buy it. Huh? What in the world? But this is where faith and hope come together. He has to take a step. He he's hopeful in God's character, but now he's, God's saying, okay, now you need to do something with it. This is where that faith part comes in. And that's, what's true about hope. True hope requires some kind of action. And that's the act of faith. The Olympics are going on right now and a year late. But all of these competitors, all of these athletes that are competing now in the Olympics, they didn't just pick up and start yesterday in their particular discipline. They have trained for years. The week we call them Olympic hopefuls to be an Olympic hopeful, started years and years and years ago. And it determines their diet. It determines their sleep patterns. It determines their practices. It determines everything about their life because they have hoped to compete. And even maybe metal in the Olympics, they spend a year giving themselves to it. See that's what hope does hope gives us the goal. Cope gives us that dream, but the steps that we take to get there, that's the act of faith, the person who lives by faith trust that good things can happen because God is able to make them happen. And so I take those steps of faith that move me forward towards that hope that I have. And that's what hopeful people do. They actually put their money where their mouth is. If you will, they take the steps towards those hopes and those dreams. And then the last thing is that hopeful people now to look for God's purposes, because there's a bigger picture that we need to look for.

Sometimes our hopes often our hopes are all about us, but very often God's purposes are much, much bigger than that. Louis Meads wrote a book called keeping hope alive. And he says, one of the things that's really helpful is to be able to distinguish what he calls three different categories of hope that we understand that some hopes are more vital than others. And so he gives kind of three different categories of hopes. He calls the first one, preferential hopes, preferential hopes are about preferred outcomes, but it's not going to break me if they go unfulfilled. Like I really hope chocolate cake is on the menu for dessert, but if it ends up being an ice cream sundae, that's okay. All right. That's, that's a preferential hope. It's like, yeah, I hope, but you know, if something else happens, I'll be okay with that. But then there's this next one.

He calls vital hopes, vital hopes carry serious benefits or serious personal loss. They are crucial to your wellbeing. You may have an example of different between a preferential hope and a vital hope, preferential hope. Okay. We just, we just got back actually Tuesday from a vacation in Italy that how you've been planning for a year and a half, this was supposed to happen last year, a big family vacation. We were all going to go to Italy together. And of course, hope COVID came around. And so we canceled the trip and, but I had these airline credits. So I thought, well, okay, I'm going to do the smart thing. What I'm going to do is I'm just going to reschedule and hope that, you know, in next month it's going to open up and we'll be able to go. So I rescheduled because I could keep it the same price on the tickets, on the airfare. So I did that. Well, then June came and went, then now it's like, well, maybe July and then maybe August and then maybe September. And then our last hope last year was October. And that didn't happen. So we started all over again in may this year and I rescheduled for may. And then I rescheduled for June. And finally in July we took our trip.

Now that's, there was a preferential hope, but it was borderline vital hope. But that hope to take that vacation is not nearly, nearly as critical and vital as the hope that you have about the biopsy coming back negative. See that's the difference. Vital hopes carries serious benefits or serious personal loss. They're, they're critical to our well-being, but there are even more serious hopes. And they're what he calls fall back hopes or what I call bedrock hopes, bedrock hopes, or fallbacks hopes though, through the hopes that support all other living hopes. And it's not so much about something as it is about someone, someone who sustains hope, even when it seems that all hope is lost. That is our hoping God, when our preferential hopes don't come about when our vital hopes even seem to be dimming, there is a fallback hope that we have in God. And he is the one who sustains every other hope. This whole idea of buying this piece of property seems just really kind of strange in human terms. It is not a very good investment because actually I told you earlier, the Babylonians were surrounding the city of Jerusalem. They were camped out in Anathoth on the very property. No wonder his cousin wanted to sell the property. And God says to him, yeah, you go ahead and you buy that property. This is a piece of property that Jeremiah will never live on. He will never plant the vineyard there. He will never have a summer cottage there. He will never see that piece of property in his own lifetime. And God tells him you buy that piece of property. So it says, I bought the field in Anathoth from my cousin, Hannah and weighed out for him, 17 shekels of silver. I signed and sealed the deed and had it witnessed and weighed out and on and on and on and on it goes, he wanted to make sure that everybody knew he was buying this piece of property. Why are you buying a piece of property that you will never live on? That you will never even see most likely? Why are you doing this and why? And very detailed. I mean, you, we read the whole thing, you know, make sure that the seal deed and the, and the open deed and you put them in clay pot and make sure they're safe. Make sure everybody knows that I bought this piece of property. Why? Because it wasn't about him. And here is the thing about God's purposes and hopeful. People understand this. Why does God asks you to do some things that are hard? Because Very often it's not about you. It's about what God is doing. And God wanted all of Israel and all of Judah to know this for this is what the Lord almighty. The God of Israel says, houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land. Jeremiah, you're never going to enjoy this piece of property, but I want the whole nation to know that there come a day when the nation will be restored and people will buy and sell property once again. And they will plant vineyards and they will live once again in peace. There is a time coming. It's not in the immediate future, but I want all the nation to know. And you are going to be the one to show them your confidence in my purposes, very often God's purposes are not about me. And they're not about you very often dearest about something much bigger and beyond you. And we sometimes, because we put such an emphasis and I don't knock this because it is a personal relationship we have with God. But so often we make judgements about God's goodness, because how he's treating me right now. And we make that the measure of how good God really is or how generous God is the way, how, how I'm feeling right now, how much money I have in my bank account right now, how my life is going right now. And very often, very often God is doing something much, much bigger. And we are just a part of that. And we may never see there. There are some things, there are some aspects of my life and experiences of my life and ministry that I look back on. And they still don't make sense to me. God, why did you have me go through that? And yet there's part of me that says, I don't need to know. Cause somehow God had me in that situation. At that time, with that group of people, for a purpose that had nothing to do with me. And that's what hopeful people understand that God is doing something in this world and what God is doing in this world is always good. It is always redemptive. It is always in love and it doesn't always make sense, but because I know of his character and I've bought into his promises, then I will learn to recognize and look for his purposes. Instead of my own, Eugene Peterson puts it this way. Hope determined actions participate in the future that God is bringing into being Noah. Smeeds wrote it this way. The most important thing we ever hope for from God Is God himself hope that he will be with us on our troubles. Not necessarily for him to take our troubles away, but to always be there under rest, to hold us up ahead of us, to lead the way behind us, to push us along over Us, to keep an eye on us and in us to keep our hopes of getting beyond our troubles alive. You bow your heads with me, who would have thought that a seemingly foolish real estate transaction thousands of years ago would have the depth of meaning that it has for us thousands of years later, what are your hopes? Can you entrust them to God? Can you trust God? Even if they don't seem to be coming together or what difficult situation, what difficult challenge, what typical step of faith is God asking you to take right now? You can trust him. His mercies never end. He is faithful. He will never leave you or forsake you. So I'm going to ask you just in a moment of reflection right now, what hopes do you have the God might be doing in you and for you and through you? Would you be willing to say, yes, Lord, what step of faith would you be willing to say, okay, God, I don't fully understand. It. Doesn't seem to make sense to me right now, but yes, I'm going to trust you. Maybe today. It's a first step of faith that just simply says, God, I have been doing things my own way for far too long. And what I really need is to surrender to you. I'm going to invite you to just make that your parents, we close Lord, You know, us each and every one of us in and out, through and through. And you do have plans for each of us and a purpose for our lives. And honestly, there are times we don't understand it and doesn't seem to make sense today. We're going to say, I trust you and I'm going to follow you. And I'm going to obey you because I know your goodness. I know your character. And I'm going to buy into the promises. You fulfill your purpose in Jesus' name. Amen. So we are going to close our time together in communion. You should have all received one of these on the way in. If you didn't just raise your hand and someone, one of our ushers will get it to you. If you would take the bread. First, the last night Jesus spent with his followers. He shared a meal with them, not at the end of the meal. He said, this piece of bread, this broken piece of bread. This is my body, which is broken for you. Eat this in remembrance of me. And after supper, he took the, and said, this cup is the new covenant in my blood given for you drink this in remembrance of me because when you eat this bread and you drink this cup, you proclaim his death until he comes. So Lord, we eat together and we drink together in communion, not just with each other, but with you. And we do so with grateful hearts for your broken body and your shed blood, which has meant life.




Jeremiah - Week Eleven

The story of Jeremiah really is about living in uncertain times. It's about how do we go through things that we didn't see coming that have taken the rug out from underneath us and left us quite disoriented.






Jeremiah - Nancy Ortberg

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

As Larry mentioned, transforming the bay with Christ and we're working to help catalyze a holistic gospel movement in the bay area. We're in 11 counties, 256 cities. We go down as far south as Solidad and king city and Benicia. You are right almost at the top of the north end of our scope. And it was delightful a couple years ago when I got introduced to your pastor, Larry shy, retiring, quiet. Yes, we had lunch together and literally within three minutes, I felt like I had known him my entire life. And you just need to know that he talked with such glowing love for this congregation. So I'm proud of you before I even got to meet you. And we are going to dig in this morning to the story of Jeremiah. You might ask yourself why in the world would we spend time on a story that's 2,500 years old? Well, this part of the story of Jeremiah really is about living in uncertain times. It's about how do we go through things that we didn't see coming that have taken the rug out from underneath us and left us quite disoriented. I don't know how many of you can relate to that, but the story, all of a sudden doesn't seem so out of touch. And so far away, I'm going to put my reading glasses on because I am old. We're going to look at Jeremiah 42, 43 and 44 this morning. And especially after we get through the story part, then I'm going to spend some time on reflections on what we learned from the story. And that's the part that I liked the best, because I really just have to trust that the holy spirit will land differently on everybody listening, but a few points to draw out of the story. But I'm going to ask you to think about what's some of the most challenging things going on in your life right now. Just bring those to mind and hold them in your head in your heart as we go through the story. And as we go through the reflections, because I think that will allow the holy spirit to whisper to you. Here's what I want you to pay attention to and all the rest of what she's saying, you can just leave.

We start off here in Jeremiah, right before this passage that we're looking at. Jeremiah is a prophet and he's given a choice. Profits were not very popular people. They were people that God had assigned not to foretell the future, but to call out sin and invite God's people to repent. So when you see a profit coming, it wasn't like you were going to open up the door and invite them in for dinner. You looked for a place to hide. People did not like profits. And Jeremiah had this role assigned to him. And he was given a choice, a couple of chapters. Before we come to this part of the story for 20 years, Jeremiah had been warning the people the way you are living, the way you are behaving, God is not pleased and something bad is going to happen. If you don't change your ways for 20 years.

So when you say we didn't see it coming, I'm sure Jeremiah would say, well, you weren't paying attention. And then at the end of 20 years Babylon comes into Jerusalem and conquers the country and takes most of the people from Israel back to Babylon. And God gives Jeremiah a choice. You can go with the Babylonians or you can stay here in Judah, actually going with Babylonians would have made his life more comfortable, staying in Jerusalem to work with the people that were left and the poor and the marginalized. That was the harder call. And Jeremiah made the choice that he would stay with the remnant that was left in Jerusalem. And so most of the people from Israel were gone in captivity. This story is on the heels of back in Joseph's day. When all of Israel came down to Egypt to get out of the famine and they stayed there for 400 years.

And as the years went by, it says there are a Rosa Pharaoh who did not know Joseph. And he began to enslave the Israelites who initially had come down on invitation and were assimilated. And then they became slaves and they languished under the brutality of the pharaohs. And they cried out for God to send them somebody. And Moses came and Moses got them out of the land and said, I'm taking you back to the promised land on a trip that should take five or six days. We're going to spend 40 years in the desert, but we're going to get you back there. And so they had been back in the promised land for a long time. But once again, once again, once again, the same sins emerged the idolatry, the falling away from God. Maybe none of you here in the room can identify with that. But I sure can. I remember seven years old at pioneer Baptist church in Norwalk, California watching Ms. Charlene, [inaudible] put up on the flannel graph board, the story of Israel coming out and getting out of slavery and then complaining immediately about, we wish we could go back to Egypt and then God would do a miracle and they would be on God's side again. And then three days later, they be complaining. I remember at seven or eight years old, watching those stories, thinking I do the same thing. I want to remind all of us this morning. This isn't just Israel story. This isn't just Jeremiah's story. This is our story. So let's keep unpacking this story a little bit. So after 20 years of Babylonian, Babylonian captivity, God said to them, apostasy and idolatry are the problems you're falling away from me. And you're worshiping other idols. Those are the problems. Sometimes we think if God would just tell us what the problems are, we fix them in our lives and we'd follow him more closely. Well, this story shows times when God was very clear with his people about what the right was and they chose not to follow it again, something I can painfully identify from time to time and then came the fall of Jerusalem, where the city that they had built the city that was supposed to be beautiful. The spin city that was supposed to be their salvation was now taken away from them.

And they had been warned. They could have prevented it. And they were taken out of the country that they loved so much. And then there was the captivity and there was a small group of people that were left the remnant, and they weren't sure what to do. The people that got pulled back to Babylon, they're terrified too. But the small group that's left there in their own country. That's been decimated. Most of their friends and relatives have been captured in, are gone. They've hold down in a little town called Bethlehem. And they're thinking we should probably go to Egypt, get away from all this because we know there's a good life down in Egypt, but we're not sure what to do. And so the story goes on to say in the middle of this terror and fear and disbelief and not knowing what to do in chapter 42 verses two and three, they came to Jeremiah the prophet and asked him for guidance.

They approached Jeremiah and they said, would you go and pray to God and find out what we're supposed to do and come back and tell us back in the old Testament, this was a very often a process that people would do. They would go to the religious leader. The religious leader would go meet with God and come back with a message. In fact, that people went on to say in the next verse or the next couple of verses in verse six, that when they hear what it is, God says, whether it's favorable or unfair verbal, we will obey the Lord. And so Jeremiah with great confidence goes and seeks out. God's face. He's gone for about 10 days because he knows the people are going to follow whatever it is God says.

And so after about 10 days, it says, Jeremiah came back and he had a message from God. And God was clear. God said, here's what will happen if you stay in, I will build you up. Doesn't it seem like it now seems like everything has gotten torn down. But if you stay here because God often uses a remnant to rebuild. If you stay here, build you up. The other thing that I will do along with that is I will be with you and I will show you compassion. I will be with you. The word Emmanuel is all through scripture. And it really is the bedrock of every promise that God gives us. Some of you may be familiar with Andy crouch. The Christian author is such an amazing writer. And we had him here a couple of years ago, meeting with leaders in the bay area.

And he said, no matter what happens in your life, the ultimate promise is a God is with you. Not that your circumstances will change that God is with you. And I remember thinking that that's, that's not good enough. I want the circumstances to change. Let's be honest, but that has stayed with me all the time. As I have then moved on to times in my life where I would give anything for the circumstances to change, but they haven't. And after getting the shovel out and digging long enough and lamenting and wailing and getting angry and sad, I have found that it is enough and God is saying, I will be with you. And I will show you compassion and thing. I will restore you to your land in the middle, the devastation I'm showing you that there are seeds of hope right now, there are seeds of restoration.

So here's what will happen if you stay in Judah, pretty good news, right? And then God says, I want you to know that here's what's going to happen. If you disobeyed me, me and you go down to Egypt, the sword and the famine will overtake you. It's just reality. There are enemies down there that you don't know about that will kill you. And there is not as much food down there as you think. And over the years, the famine will get worse and there will not be enough for you. So you'll be at danger from your enemies and you will not have enough to eat. The other thing says will happen is dread will follow You.

I don't know how many of you have ever had an experience in your life, where in the middle of the night, our first thing in the morning, or maybe sometime during the day, you feel this welling up sense of fear and panic and dread in you. It's an awful feeling. If somebody, he told me, if I did this dread would follow me. I think I would say, I don't want to go because I don't want dread to follow me. God is very clear. This will be hanging over your head. If you disobey me and you go to Egypt and then God's setting just in case, I'm not clear. Here's the final thing that will happen. You will die. So when you, those two lists together, it's pretty clear what the choice should be and what will happen if you disobey. And so, as you can, because they said favorable or unfavorable, we will follow God. No, you know, what's coming. They called Jeremiah a liar. And in chapter 43 in verse four, head of the army Johannen and the officers and the people following them, disobeyed the Lord's command. They absolutely disobeyed.

And then in chapter 44, verse 12, here's what happened. Here's what God said would happen because of that choice, I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Judah, to Egypt. They will all perish. I love this part of the passage. God knew that they already had their minds made up that when they asked Jeremiah to go get a word from the Lord. And when they heard a word from the Lord, there was a duplicity in them. They were never really intending on obeying, ever prayed to God for something. When you kind of already had your mind made up what you are going to do. Yeah, me neither. Yeah me neither. Not. Nope.

And then there's a fascinating passage. I didn't put these verses in here, but when they're told, but it is not going to go well with them. And that God is mad because they have burned incense to other gods. The husbands start blaming the wives. They're the ones that did it. And the wives start blaming the husbands. And all of a sudden, this starts to sound like the garden of Eden all over again, or in Peter, in, in actually in the book of John, when the story of Peter is told, and Peter said, no, I will never deny. You never deny. You never deny you. I never knew him. I never knew him. I never knew him. These stories are not only our stories. They're the stories of what does it mean to be human? So we're going to spend the rest of the time. Now, now that we know the story, taking a look at some of the implications that we need to spend some time reflecting on. And the first one is this, that the work that God called Jeremiah to took a deep toll on him. There's other prophets, Isaiah Habakkuk, Mike and Nahum go on Amos. They predict what will happen if God's people sin and they're just doing their job. And maybe it was not a big deal to them because Jeremiah is the only prophet where it shows us a little bit of the internal, emotional toll that being a prophet took on Jeremiah. They actually called him the weeping prophet, his empathy with an identical identification, with the people to whom he had to bring bad news was profound. And it kind of helps because when somebody comes to you with bad news, it's sort of nice. If they feel bad for you. It says in different passions in Jeremiah, Jeremiah cries out to God and says, my heart is faint.

Since my people are crushed, I too am crushed. I'm more than the horror that has been given to me. So this was somebody who suffered some mental angle when he was doing his work. I think there's just a little piece for us to remember in our work. Dallas Willard says that your work is your primary place of discipleship. So how you live out your life in Christ shows up in really profound ways in your work years ago, I used to be a nurse for a brief period of time. And I was working with a patient named Mr. Bart, Mr. Bart was 90 years old old time, long time ago, when you couldn't get an IV in a person, you would actually pull up the skin on their knee, on their thighs and insert six or eight inch long needles and run fluid in them that way. This is, I know it's a long time ago, just getting ready for lunch.

And he was the first patient that I ever had that died. And I was working with a male nurse at the time who was helping me take care of doc, Mr. BARR, as he was dying. And then another nurse breezed in. And I think very well-intended and she wasn't cruel, but she just said, you know, this is not the first, last person you're going to see die. I was fighting back the tears. She said, you're going to have to get used to this. And then she went out and Jeff, the male nurse I was working with reached across and put his hand on Mr. Barton said, or not, or tears can come to your eyes every time somebody dies. It's okay. Your work will take a toll on you. And it's okay.

And some, some of our work is as parents that never takes a toll on you. That's super easy. My husband, a number of years ago, did a series on families and he started the first week off saying, what family in the Bible do you most want to emulate? He said, the answer better be absolutely none, because there's not a single story of a family in the Bible. That would be on the focus on the families highlight of the month. There's pain in lots of places in life. And our work takes a toll on us.

Jeremiah was faithful, but he was not successful. He did not get the response that other prophets got where God's people turned, but that's not what he was called to. And faithfulness trumps success in God's eyes all the time.

Second reflection I want to spend some time on this story comes out a time of huge disruption, uncertainty, and fear. And we've been through something similar to that this last year, not just on the pandemic level, but on racial issues and political turbulence. But as soon as this is all over, you know, it'll be something else is, life is not an up into the right adventure. That part of the challenge of our lives is to seek God in the midst of suffering and fear and uncertainty. When what we most want is clarity and comfort you a few years ago, before Billy Graham died, he admitted that he had spent too many years preaching the American dream instead of the kingdom of God, the very different things. And honestly, the Bible is full of reminders that you follow. Jesus is the way of the cross, John 21, when Jesus re-instituted Peter and forgives him for denying him and says, feed my sheep. Lord, do you love me, Peter? Yes, I do feed my sheep. Do you love me? Feed my sheep? Do you love me? Stop asking me God. I said, I love you. And it says Peter was hurt because Jesus kept asking him. And then why Jesus had Peter's attention. He said, let me tell you one more thing that when you were young, you got to go and do whatever you wanted. I tell you, when you're older, you will reach out your hands and someone will lead you to where you do not want to go, oh man, sign me up for that.

What someone will lead you to where you do not want to go. And like this story, we think that when we get clarity from God, we will obey these people. Didn't when Peter heard those words, do you remember the first thing he said, he swung around and looked at John behind him and said, what about him? And Peter committed the sin of comparison. And in the next passage, Jesus says anger at Peter for the sin of comparison is way stronger than the woman caught in adultery. Think about that for awhile. Jesus says, what does that to you? If I allow him to remain alive until I return you follow me, this, Peter is your story. You obey me. And sometimes in the middle of following Jesus, when we're looking for clarity and comfort and joy we get suffering. And the question is, how do we find God?

The third reflection in here is that the remnant asks for God's direction, but they were already committed to a comfortable choice. I think sometimes our prayers are not as honest as they should be. They're not as full as of surrender as God wants them to be. They really are an attempt to impose our will on God. The other piece I want you to remember too, in here's the remnant word, it's such an important word. God has always done his best work through small groups of people. And Jesus came. He didn't speak about tsunamis or seismic shifts or great things. He talked about light and salt and yeast and seed. Why? Because the universe has been built upon a disproportionate impact of small things and maybe what's happening now in the world. And also in the bay area with this last year is churches are being whittled down to a remnant, to a small group that will listen to God and follow God. And just the idea of being really honest in our prayers with God to say, this is what I want. It's the guest so many per this is what I want God, but nevertheless, your will be done. The next point is idolatry was the disaster. Idolatry is such a funky word, isn't it? You know, what's interesting about the word idolatry is you automatically assume those were pagan foreign people that lived thousands of years ago. Maybe, maybe none of us in this room have idols, maybe not.

Certainly we don't carve out of wooden statues or metal or stone, but you and I have things that we put on shelves higher than God. And a lot of it's unconscious. I think because most of our idols are really good things that have become so big in our lives that they've squeezed God over into the corner where he becomes like a nice little pet you can visit, but not a power in your life. And certainly in the bay area, affluence and success, jobs, education, our own will, our families are all, all things that are capable of becoming idols in our lives and the disaster that comes as a result of that to constantly be asking our ourselves the question, what does it mean for God to be the most important thing in my life? Not in a punitive way, but in a way that really believes he's that good. That's why he should occupy that position in my life. When earlier in the passage, Jeremiah talked about idolatry and apostasy were the big things. Apostasy was about pulling away from God, Isaiah 29 says that your hearts are far from me, but your mouths honor me with your lips. There's a big discrepancy between our insides and our outsides. And that's what happens when we're living in idolatry and we're living in apostasy. And what does it mean to come back together and integrate ourselves back with God on the top shelf, in our lives where everything else then falls in place and does not hold that desperate quality in our lives that it never was intended.

And to hold two more things. The next one is blame and scapegoating became attempts to relieve the burden of wrong choices. Blame and scapegoating became attempts to relieve the burdens of wrong choices. I used to have a magnet on my refrigerator that said, I didn't say you did anything wrong. I said, I was going to blame. You just need somebody to take the responsibility. And there is a long thread through scripture of the theme of scapegoating that we are afraid, enabled, incapable of holding our own sin and owning it that we find other people and other circumstances to blame. And it's one of the biggest obstacles to intimacy with God, I didn't do it. It was her fault. Well, if he hadn't done that, I wouldn't have done that. There's a famous French philosopher and I will butcher it. Some of you out here are going to be much smarter than I am on this, but it'll give you enough to Google it and look into it named Rene Girard.

And he was an atheist and a very bright guy. And he studied all the ancient cultures and their creation stories. And it was when he came across the Bible and he saw the creation story where instead of the gods creating human beings to serve them, the story was utterly different than any other story. It was that God created the garden to receive human beings and to serve them. And that intrigued him. And then this idea of scapegoating, which is present in every culture. He began to realize that in the pages of scripture, that Jesus, that God himself became the scape goat for us. And he converted to Roman Catholicism because of this theme of scapegoating and the healthy way of doing it through God and not ourselves. But for us, the bigger issue is when I start to blame and find other people, it's almost always an avoidance for sitting still in quietly with what I've done wrong.

And then the last thing that I, I hope you will leave with is that it, all of this hope never left the horizon. Never once in all of Jeremiah's words, there was the promise of if you turn from this and if you listen to God, he will redeem you. He will build you up. He will be with you and show you compassion. He will never leave you in Genesis chapter three, right on the heels of Adam and Eve sinning, God immediately gives a plan of restoration in the form of the promise of Jesus. Jesus says in John 16 to his disciples, it is good for you that I go away because then the holy spirit can come. And in God's economy, hope is always on the horizon. You can't get away from it. It would be absolutely impossible because of the nature of who God is. And so for the last minute, I want to invite you to sit quietly in what you are most afraid of right now, for some of you, it's going to take the full minute to even admit that you're afraid, but for others of you, it will come more easily. I want you to sit in that and then just quietly. Imagine what my God wants to say to me about that fear.


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