For the last couple of weeks we have been encountering the stories of the Jesus’ disciples and the way which they were called. I was left with a question; how to continue being a disciple, practically? What do I need to do?
One of the greatest scriptures for me that attempt to answering this question, we find in Jeremiah 29. And we all probably know verse 11 off by heart. “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.
Understanding the context of this verse, we need to understand that Israel has been going through an identity crisis. Once they were the state church. They had all the man-made structures needed to live a productive life. But one day, after numerous warnings from God, the Babylonians came and declared war on Israel. What is worse is that they demolished the entire country. Destroyed their security systems, and violating what was once sacred to Israel by destroying the temple. And for the first time Israel had no idea who they were or what they were supposed to do. In the blink of an eye they lost everything once important to them.
Doesn’t it sound familiar? I kind of think we struggle with the same question. How do we do life in a world where Biblical principles no longer are the norms? How do we do varsity with so many confrontations of people pretending to have their own versions of the truth, far from being the truth? How do I worship the King of all kings during the day, when His name is not being used to glorify Him?
In Jeremiah 29 we find Jeremiah’s burning message to these broke people of God. Read with me. Read 29:4-14.
Wow! Doesn’t Jeremiah proclaim one of the most precious privileges we have as children of the Living God. We have a future, we have hope!!!! Amen!!
Jeremiah’s letter is divided into three parts. The instruction, our responsibility, the warning, the lie and the Divine Plan, our privilege.
The instruction, our responsibility
Jeremiah writes to Isreal saying that they need to realise that they are going be there in Babylon for a while. 70 years to be exact. He is telling them that they are there to stay and they need to start doing something. See, according to Jeremiah they are just surviving there in Babylon, and not really living. So he gives them the instruction of starting to build up the city. Since, caring for the city, their neighbourhood had a direct influence on their own lives.
In 2019 we have the exact same responsibility. We don’t really need to build houses. But we need to stop surviving where we are now, here in Bloemfontein, in Universitas, at varsity and we need to start living. John 10:10 says that God came to give life in abundance. In other words, God doesn’t call us to be his disciples just to be survivors, but victors. If we are merely surviving we are not building up our city, our neighbourhood, our student house, our community, our church. Sorry to say, then we are just part of the problem. But one we true life, by building up the city, we become part of the solution.
How do we build? Not with bricks and cement? We build with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I want us to divide in to smaller groups, not more than 5. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to come and move in our minds, our hearts and in our conversations to identify ways in which we can build there where we walk and work.
Feedback. Prayer in groups for building up our city, our community, our church, our house, our varsity.
The warning, the lies
Next Jeremiah give a warning of false prophets and diviners. See these two groups Jeremiah warns against can both be found in the world and in the church. Scary right. See these lies infiltrate our ears, root in our hearts and bear fruit in our minds. Dethroning God in our lives and recalculating our attention to something completely different than God. The scariest part is that these lies frequently come in the form of the truth just twisted a little bit. It sounds like the truth, but is far from it.
In the same groups, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to come and move in our minds, our hearts and in our conversations to identify and deroot these false prophecies and lies that we hear and see and rid them out of our lives.
The Divine Plan, our privilege
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. The verse that probably give us the most hope. And what an awesome verse. There is just a small difference in the way Jeremiah intended it, and what we assume it means.
The moment we hear prosper, our minds hear katjing, katjing and we see how our bank balance starts to increase. But Jeremiah uses the word shalom, which means well-being. Total emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Wholeness, peace. Thus, the plans God has for us doesn’t imply that we all will take the highest positions in companies, or that we will be on the list of the 20th wealthiest people in South Africa. But rather wellness and well-being.
The second privilege we have as children of God is that God doesn’t have just this one fixed plan, that you either hit or miss in your life time. Jeremiah rather says that God knows the designs the plans He is designing on us. Being a child of God has the privilege of God actively creating new plans and designs as you journey together. How cool is that.
The question thus is, how do I get to that place of shalom of well-being? And the answer almost sound too easy. Read verse 12&13 again. It is only within obedience that we can have shalom well-being. Discipleship doesn’t only require seeking God and His Word and will with all your heart, but actually doing it. By actually getting off the coach and by building your city, community and church and by identifying the lies the world tell you.
The hope we have is a future filled with God’s plans and us executing them. We find shalom in obedience. One of the ways in which we can be obedient is by giving our offerings. Moment for The Giving.
Divine Plan sermon by Zilke Mahabeer 10 March 2019 at Centre of Faith Universitas , Bloemfontein