Monday pm service: 5/6/2013

District Council




TEXT:           Jeremiah 29:4-14;  Daniel 6:3


INTRO:       What do you do when the familiar drastically changes?  Israel was watching the entire world change around them; lots of terrorism and unrest in the nations around them, spiritual decline within their own nation was significant, decaying economic conditions were alarming everyone, including heavy new taxes.  There was a general sense of unease as political unrest was everywhere; even their own politicians were corrupt, as was evidenced by the last several kings of Israel God punished and the rapid turnover of power within their own nation.


Some things never change!  Younger people in Israel didn’t care that much about spiritual things – there was a deep divide between the older generation and younger generation spiritually; the older people in Israel assumed that because they had a great temple to God in Jerusalem God would never permit other nations to destroy them; their confidence was placed in the traditions they maintained as existing structure and traditional worship services.  The younger people had abandoned their spiritual heritage and were much more interested in a wide variety of religious expressions.


Jeremiah however comes forth and states that trusting in a Holy Temple or their heritage won’t help them, only trusting in God can save!  Jeremiah also tries to tell Israel that they need to quit looking for political solutions and politicians to restore their land - only true repentance and prayer will save them.  Israel needed to STAY ON MISSION! 


THE MISSION:  To bless the nations of the earth; to reveal God to all the nations of the earth; to worship God from their hearts, not from some false sense of entitlement that God owed them because they kept up the Temple and traditions!  If they don’t return to mission willingly, God will allow the “conditions of chaos” to get them to refocus back to God.  Enter Babylon and captivity!


PROP. SENT:         The Bible teaches us that our mission has to stay clear!  We are not called to restore America back to a religious nation with a common morality – we are called by God to bring America back to God; and reveal to the world the true nature of God and His love!


I.      CONTRIBUTE INSTEAD OF CONDEMN   Jer. 29:4-9; Dan. 6:3


A.   Counterintuitive!   Jer. 29:4-7; Dan. 6:3

1.   Everything culturally had changed!  The shock of this drastic change left many Israelites confused, angry, critical, and depressed.  They had gone from being the “majority” power in Israel to a minority group in Babylon. 

2.   Confidence in God had been shaken, how could God allow them to be taken captive by a culture that was contrary to God and His word?

3.   Their choices at this point were few;

a.   Either rebel and risk alienation;

b.   Or just give up on faith and God and lose all spiritual power;

c.   Or rediscover what really matters spiritually, and adjust lifestyle to worship God instead of a worshipping in the traditions and a Temple!

4.   Instead of whining about the loss of power – they were to welcome the opportunity to serve!

5.   What does God want?  (Not what do we want!)

a.   God wanted to reside in their hearts, not a massive centrally located Temple!

b.   God wanted Israel to serve Him and teach other nations about Him – yes, even Babylon needed to hear!

c.   God wanted them to trust in Him, not corrupt politicians and kings who only served their own interests.

d.   None of these important things were happening in Israel as a nation, they had gotten bogged down in simply existing, assuming they were privileged as God’s people over other nations - but captivity will accomplish GOOD things for them, and for the other nations of the earth!


ILLUS:            Elephants in circuses are rarely kept behind bars.  They are often only shackled with a leg iron tied to a stake.  While this works well for a baby elephant it is obvious that an adult elephant could easily pull up the stake and walk away.  Why doesn’t it do that, because it has been so conditioned while younger when it was tethered that even though over the years it has grown huge it still thinks it is powerless against that stake.  It never realizes its true power because it is tethered to its past.  Even in a fire the elephant will perish because it does not realize it can easily pull up the stake.



a.   New young righteous leaders would emerge like Daniel – we read in Dan. 6:3 “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.”

b.   This would not only reenergize faith in Israel, it would introduce the reality of God to Babylon.  Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego also rise up as new godly leaders.

c.   Instead of ONE temple with centralized worship, Israel would learn to worship God in smaller groups called Synagogues - the precursor of the modern church.  This would create a greater vitality of spirituality based on relationship to God instead of a relationship based on a special Temple.

7.   God was calling them to embrace the losses for the opportunity to bless others and bring to the world the knowledge of God – TO SERVE!


B.   Change!   Jer. 29:8-9

1.   Fear of change is always real!

a.   When Israel left Egypt and had to face an unknown wilderness they often expressed the desire to “go back to Egypt– a cry for stability, but God didn’t want them to go backwards, only forward!

b.   When Israel was about to leave the Wilderness realizing that the comforts of God in the wilderness would end; the Manna would cease, the cloud by day would be gone, the fire by night would be gone, that entrance to the Promise Land meant loss of privileges they had had – they wanted to stay where they were, and refused to go in; in fact, they wailed in the entrance of their tents as protest and didn’t cross over – they all died there as a result, they never progressed to the Promise! 

(1.   Sometimes we all want to go back to what the revivals of the past were – truthfully, we can’t go back to the cloud by day, nor fire by night; we are to move on!  Yesterday’s Manna was just that, yesterday’s blessing – it would not be repeated the same way in the future.

(2.   Abraham was asked to leave his home and history and trust God for where He was leading him, and to never return!

c.   In uncertain times there is a tendency to desire to return to the past, but a new day requires a new way!

2.   This was the same problem in Jesus’ day!  He came and said, “You have heard of old - yet I say unto you…”  The Pharisees were more concerned about preserving their spiritual positions and the past in their society than hearing the “new thing” God was doing!

a.   Jesus was rejected in spite of miracles because He was upsetting the status quo!

b.   Jesus did not want to abolish the old law, but fulfill it; and bring a new understanding of the realities of the kingdom of God – under a “NEW COVENANT.”

c.   The religious old guard however didn’t want “new - just a return to whatever would keep them in power and preserve their way of life.

d.   Jesus lamented their indifference to adjusting to the new realities, He cried in Matthew 23:37 (NIV) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

e.   They wouldn’t change and embrace the new!

3.   Is it possible for us today to do the same thing?  Are we afraid of the losses we have endured as Christians in America so much that we only complain and long for the “old days” when we as Christians were the majority?  OR – are we looking for the new opportunities God is giving us to not only minister to America, but the whole world?

4.   Change is here!  For Israel Jeremiah says God wants them to “CONTRIBUTE” to the pagan culture, not just “CONDEMN!” - “settle down … seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” – Jer. 29:5a,7

5.   Maybe we could learn from Israel’s experience and calling!

a.   Instead of fighting against the changes, God through Jeremiah tells Israel to embrace the change as an opportunity to serve, to bless, to reveal God!

b.   God is asking them to not only BE GOOD, but to DO GOOD!

6.   God warns them to be careful not to listen to “FALSE PROPHETS” who promise them only a short time in captivity; and to avoid listening to those prophets who preach doom and gloom on Babylon in the near future and a quick return to power and blessing for Israel!

a.   This kind of preaching was only meant to enhance the prestige of those prophets and to satisfy those in Israel who would rather hate their hosts instead of loving them!

b.   We need to beware of those same prophets today too! 

c.   Israel might be a minority group in a pagan culture for quite a while - but God will be accomplishing greater purposes in BOTH them and Babylon during this time frame!

d.   We need to see this today too – our lives are not about creature comforts and politic power, our lives about serving Christ and preaching the Gospel to EVERYONE!


II.    COVENANT AND CLARITY!   Jer. 29:10-14


A.   Clarity!  Jer. 29:10-11

1.   God was doing two very important things during this long period of minority status for Israel and their captivity!

a.   First, God was restoring Israel to a real relationship with God!  With their trust in all the familiar things gone they had no choice but to turn to God with all their hearts!

(1.  No longer was there a centralized temple in a capital.  The “Synagogue” was the “new” model for worship; which increased relationships, intimacy with God, brought leaders closer to the people, etc.

(2.  No longer would they be isolated and live for just their own benefits.

(3.  No longer would their historical connection to Abraham allow them to feel superior to all other nations.

b.   Their arrogance was gone now!  God was healing them and calling them into a deeper relationship with Him!

2.   Seventy years in Babylon would also give Babylon and the Medo-Persian Empire a long grace period to hear and respond to God, and as the sole superpower left in the world it would create conditions to also broadcast the reality of the one and only true God!

a.   This fleshes itself out in Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego after their deliverance by God in the fire: Daniel 3:28-29
28  Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
29  Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."

b.   This fleshes out in fact during Daniel’s good life and service – God’s name is broadcast around the world by king Darius after the lion’s den: Daniel 6:25-26 
25  Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: "May you prosper greatly!
26  "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.

c.   Captivity wasn’t just about opposition, it was also about opportunity!

3.   God tells them NOW that though they suffer for many years in captivity His plan is to fully restore them!  Jer. 29:10

a.   For some it was not what they wanted to hear however!

b.   For others it became the great opportunity to show a pagan culture just what faith can do in God!

c.   What will be our response to living in the new realities in America where we are now the minority, the outcasts of our pagan culture?  Are we going to mourn the opposition, or long for the past to return, or utilize this time for the opportunities to demonstrate real Christian faith?

4.   God’s plans were GOOD for both Israel and Babylon!


B.   Cleansing!   Jer. 29:12-14


a.   New realities will help Israel call on the Lord!  Jer. 29:12a

b.   New realities will encourage Israel to pray!    Jer. 29:12b

c.   New realities will mean answered pray!   Jer. 29:12c

d.   New realities will move Israel to worship God with full passion of heart, not divided heart.  Jer. 29:13

2.   CLEAR PASSION:  Jer. 29:14

a.   Their relationship with God will drastically improve their present lives, and their future lives!

b.   God wasn’t trying to destroy anyone, He was working to redeem His people, and offer the chance for other nations to know Him too!

c.   What Israel saw as “punishment” was God’s passion for them and others!

d.   We have lived with a passionless church in America; perhaps our losses should be viewed in a new light too!

3.   God’s view of people is so different from ours!  We need to see from His point of view, not ours!   (SHOW VIDEO – “Get Service!”)


CONCLUSION: How will we respond today to the new realities around us?  Will we like Israel complain bitterly about the losses we feel, or begin to refocus our own passion and priorities to see the opportunities of the mission field before us?  We must NOT get sidetracked about styles of music; about styles of worship, about styles of churches, about the cultural things we don’t like or agree with today … and STAY ON MISSION!