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Kingdom Refugees - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2024 6:00 am

Kingdom Refugees - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 29, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Skip begins a message from the book of Jeremiah about how to live as a kingdom person in a world that’s forgotten about God.

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Jeremiah 29 is one of the most famous passages in the Bible, all because of one verse. Do you know that verse? 29, 11, I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord.

Thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Most of us know that verse, many of us have memorized that verse, but there's far more here than just that one verse. What I find in this chapter is it's one of the greatest places that speaks about living in this world. Jeremiah 29 is about how to live as kingdom refugees. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Pastor Skip begins a message from Jeremiah that's all about how to live as a kingdom person in a world that's forgotten about God.

We're glad you've tuned in today. Connect with Skip is all about helping listeners like you strengthen your walk with Christ. Today, we invite you to connect others like you to the life-changing power of the gospel with a gift to help keep these teachings you love on the air all around the world. Your support is essential to help grow this ministry to reach many others by expanding into more major US cities. Just call 800-922-1888. That's 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Okay, now we're ready to start.

Let's turn to Jeremiah 29 and join Skip. So the US Census Bureau is taking a census and they hired several workers. One of them was working back in West Virginia, in the hills of West Virginia. And he came to an old kind of rundown shack, knocked on the door, and a little girl answered the door. Clipboard in hand, the census taker said, is your mother home? And to his surprise, a little girl looked up and said, nope, she ran off with the town drunk. And so he said, well, is your father home? She said, no, he ain't home either.

He only comes in about once a month, take a bath. And so he continued, well, do you have an older sister? Uh-huh, I do. Well, could I speak to her? Nope, she's in jail.

She shot the sheriff. So undaunted, he said, well, do you have an older brother? And the little girl said, yeah, but he's at Harvard. The census worker said, Harvard? What's he studying at Harvard?

She said, he ain't studying nothing, they're studying him. You know, there's just some people that don't seem to fit in. They seem like an anomaly. And that's us. We don't fit in.

We're not from here. We have another home. Peter said, we are pilgrims and strangers. And he even said that the world looks at us as we're strange because we don't do what they do. They want to look at you and they're studying us. Because we are pilgrims and strangers. And we're more than that, we are refugees. Because this world is not our home, because our real home is in heaven, as Jesus said, you are in the world, but not of the world. Larry Norman used to sing, what a mess the world is in.

I wonder who began it. Don't ask me. I'm only visiting. I'm only visiting. I'm only visiting. I'm only visiting this planet. And then he's saying, the world is not my home.

I'm just passing through. Jeremiah 29 is one of the most famous passages in the Bible, all because of one verse. Do you know that verse? 29, 11, I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Most of us know that verse. Many of us have memorized that verse. But there's far more here than just that one verse. What I find in this chapter is it's one of the greatest places that speaks about living in this world. Jeremiah 29 is about how to live as kingdom refugees, how to be godly people displaced in a godless world, how to be in the world and not of the world.

It is, in effect, a spiritual survival guide. Now, last week, if you remember, we talked about Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount. You are the salt of the earth.

You are the light of the world. And this chapter is like the is like the Old Testament equivalent of that famous passage that Jesus spoke. It is a practical example of that, how to exhibit kingdom values in a world that does not share your values. Now, we're going to read several verses in this chapter, but let me give you the setting of it.

Okay, the year, not that this is vitally important, and no, I won't quiz you at the end of this, but 597 BC is the setting of this letter. And what is going on is a national catastrophe for the Jews. Jerusalem has been assaulted. It's been attacked by the Babylonians. Several people in town have been taken as exiles, refugees, captives, all the way to the city of Babylon, about 750 and 50 miles away from Jerusalem.

There were actually three different assaults. 605 BC is the first one. When that happened, Daniel and his three buddies, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, you know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, those four guys went to Babylon.

That was 605 BC. This is 597 BC, and during this year, the political leaders and the religious leaders were now taken captive to Babylon. So Jeremiah writes a letter, and chapter 29 is essentially the letter of Jeremiah to the captives who are in Jerusalem. He's writing them to encourage them, to instruct them, and to tell them, you're going to be here a long time. You're not going home anytime soon.

Prepare for a long stay. Seventy years they were in captivity. That's a lifetime. If they were 20 years old or above, chances are they're going to die in Babylon. Now, I see a parallel. I see a parallel because the lifespan that we enjoy is about 70 years.

Actually, it's 76.4 years is the average lifespan. But the Bible in Psalm 90 says, the days of our lives are 70 years, and if by reason of strength they are 80 years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off and we fly away. So here we are, so to speak, living in Babylon, displaced from our eternal home. What do we do? How do we live?

Well, that's what I want to talk about. And I'm going to give you several things we should be doing. First of all, be sustained by the truth. Be sustained by the truth. You and I, we have a letter from God, a letter that He wrote us with enough truth to keep us going and to sustain us even in difficult times.

The first thing I heard when I was a Christian from an older Christian brother is, buy a Bible and read that Bible every day. So let's look at verse one, Jeremiah 29. Now, these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive, to the priests, the prophets, all the people who Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.

This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. The letter was sent by the hand of Alassah, the son of Shaphan, Gomariah, the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah, the king of Judah, sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, saying. So that's the introduction to the letter of Jeremiah to the captives. He's writing to encourage them, instruct them, warn them, comfort them, sustain them.

He's writing it but it's not just his words, it's the Word of God. Verse 4, thus says the Lord of hosts. That's a very authoritative statement often found in the prophets. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. Go down to verse 8, for thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. Verse 10, for thus says the Lord. So, yes, it's Jeremiah's letter, but Jeremiah is giving to them a letter from God, so to speak, to sustain them in their most difficult trial. In their most difficult trial. Job went through a very difficult time in his life. His most difficult trial is when he lost all of his kids, lost his health, had his friends around him not comforting him, and he said this, I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

In other words, I am being sustained by the Word of God and by the promises of God. I once saw a plaque, I don't exactly remember where I saw it, but I do remember what it said. It said right on this plaque, I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. I've earned it. I deserve it. I've worked hard for it.

And no one's going to keep me from having it. Oh, I guess that's one way to face life. But a better way to face life is I'm walking through a difficult time, but I am being carried and sustained by God and His truth. And so this letter was written to do exactly that.

I get to watch people in a time of crisis. One of the things I do as a pastor, I meet people all the time who are going through difficult times. And I've noticed that everyone leans on something, a friend, a drink, a snort, a self-help book, or God's Word and God's truth. We have a letter. We have a thus says the Lord.

We have what Peter called a more sure word of prophecy. Charles Spurgeon used to say, a Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't. You got a Bible? Hold it up.

Let's see how many of those babies are used. Now, mine looks pretty good, actually. Okay, so a Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to somebody who isn't. That doesn't mean take your Bible home and run over it with your car and make it look really gnarly like you're a serious Bible student.

Hey, hey, just read it a lot and that'll happen to it. A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to somebody who doesn't or who isn't. There is, and this is the troubling part to me, there is a growing biblical illiteracy in our culture in general and in our churches in particular. And it's troubling because it shows in people's lives.

It shows in frazzled lives. One survey I found noted that 90% of frequent Bible readers say that they feel at peace all of the time or most of the time. 90% of frequent Bible readers feel at peace all the time or 90% or most of the time compared to 58% of infrequent Bible readers. So we have a letter, we have the Word of God that sustains us.

And what will that do for us? It'll motivate you. Hebrews 4 says, the Word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword.

It'll give you direction for your future. Psalm 119, your word is a lamp to my feet, a light into my path. It'll keep you from sin, also Psalm 119, your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you. It'll purify you, Jesus said in John 13, now you are clean through the word that I have spoken to you, and it will bring you peace. Also spoken by Jesus, but in John 16, these things I have spoken to you that in me you might have peace. So there's enough in this letter to keep you going and keep you growing and bring you peace and purify your life.

So be sustained by the truth. Second, be comforted by God's control. Be comforted by God's control. Do you know God's in control? Do you know that life sometimes seems out of control?

Of course you do, but it never is. It just seems that way. God is always in control. So here they are. They're in Babylon. They're displaced.

They are a displaced people group taken to a foreign land as hostages. They need to be reminded that God is in control. Look at verse 4.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, now watch this, to all who are carried away captive, watch, whom I have caused to be carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. God assumes responsibility for this, right? I did it. I caused it. I did it.

I caused it. Now, they're in captivity because they turned away from God. And God told them, promised them, you know, there's a lot of promises in the Bible we never want to underline or we'd probably stay away from.

It's there. It's a promise. You can bank on it, but you don't want to make it your life verse. So there was a promise way back in the law, back in Deuteronomy.

That's how far back it goes. God knew that His people would turn away from Him and warned them. When that happens, I'm going to take you into foreign captivity. This is Deuteronomy 28.

Let me read the promise. The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth. It will swoop down on you like an eagle.

It is a nation whose language you do not understand. They will lay siege to your cities until all the fortified walls in your land, the walls you trusted in to protect you are knocked down. They will attack all the towns in the land the Lord your God has given you. That's a promise.

It's now happening. He even is more specific in Isaiah chapter 39, the book before Jeremiah. Listen to this promise. The time is coming when everything you have, all the treasures stored up by your ancestors, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. Some of your own descendants will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon's king, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah.

All fulfill that prediction. Now history shows this is what happened. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was a rising political military superstar. In 605 BC, a very famous historical battle took place called the Battle of Karshamesh.

It was a pivotal moment. At that battle, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies defeated the combined armies of Egypt and Assyria. Because Nebuchadnezzar won that battle, he took over the whole world.

Everybody else was like a mop-up operation. So he came against Jerusalem in 605, again in 597, and also in 586. Here's why I'm telling you all this. There's always two sides of history. There's the factual side, but then there's the actual side. There's the facts, who, what, when, where. Those are all the facts, but then there's the actual, the why.

So I want you to notice this. Here's the factual, that's verse one. Nebuchadnezzar carried away captives to Babylon, but the actual side is in verse four. God says, whom I have caused to be carried away captive.

You get that? Nebuchadnezzar is only the human instrument, the pawn on the chessboard that God is moving to enact his will, even though it's a very severe mercy to get his people's attention by sending them into captivity. But God is saying, I'm in control.

I caused this to happen. That's sovereignty, folks. That's absolute sovereignty of God. World events, God is in control of. I don't know what he's doing.

You don't need to know what he's doing. While you're waiting, God is working. But let me take it to verse 10, because there's something else God says he's going to cause. For thus says the Lord, after 70 years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you and cause you to return to this place.

That's the promise of going back home. So I hope this comforts you. I hope you realize when things happen around you that there's a God who not only knows about it, but in many cases has predicted it, even with all this confusion going on in the Middle East, this war in Israel.

And there's so many people I talk to that are sort of at their wits' end, and they're very, very confused. But we know God has predicted much of this. It doesn't really surprise us. He said these things are going to happen. And it says in Proverbs 21, the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord like the rivers of water. He turns it wherever he wishes. So just be comforted by the fact that God is in control, even though so often it does not seem that way. And you even say things like, no, my life seems so out of control.

To you it does. God isn't wringing His hands. God didn't go, oh no, now what am I going to do? This is so out of my control.

Are you kidding? We like to say God rules the universe with His feet up. He's got it all under control.

So in our waiting, God is working. Be sustained by truth. Be comforted by God's control.

Third, be responsible where you are. I'm living in Babylon. What do I do? I'm living in a world that doesn't share my value system.

What do I do? Dig in. That's what you do.

Look at verse 5. Build houses and dwell in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters. Have kids. Take wives for your sons. Give your daughters to husbands so they may bear sons and daughters.

Here's the reason. That you may be increased there and not diminished. And, verse 7, seek the peace of the city where I've caused you to be carried away captive and pray to the Lord for it, for in its peace you will have peace.

Now, I'm guessing they were not expecting to hear this, but Jeremiah is saying, you know what? You're going to be there for like a lifetime. You're not going back anytime soon, so make the best of it. Make most of the situation that you're in. Back to verse 5. Build homes and dwell in them. Get a house, get a job, get a life. Verse 6, take wives, beget sons and daughters. Get married, have kids, have grandkids.

In other words, integrate into the society and culture that you are a part of. That's being salt and light. That's Skip Hyten showing you how to live for God among ungodly people. It's a teaching from his series, Kingdom City.

Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Now we want to tell you about a biography unlike any other you've ever read. Does God exist? And if He does, is it possible to know Him?

How you answer those questions shapes how you see the world and navigate life. And Skip Hyten knows how important it is to have an accurate view of God's character. I've noticed that almost every problem that a person has in their life stems from an inadequate view of God. In Skip Hyten's book, Biography of God, learn to recognize and remove the limits you may have placed on your idea of who God is. The truth is, I am a fellow traveler on this same road that you are on.

And we have access to the same information, the same documents, but I hope to offer a fresh perspective on God Himself. Biography of God is our way to thank you for supporting Connect with Skip Heitzig as we reach a lost world with the gospel. Request your copy with a gift of $50 or more when you give securely online at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888.

That's connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. We love to partner with friends like you to share God's life-changing truth with people all around the world through Connect with Skip Heitzig. Through your generous gift to support this ministry and keep this program reaching you and others around our nation and all across the globe, you can take part in this life-changing work today. To make a gift to help grow this ministry and continue to share God's love with more people, visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate or call 800-922-1888.

800-922-1888. Thank you for helping change lives. Come back tomorrow for an encouraging message from Skip that reminds you that God knows you, loves you, and truly thinks about you. You know how often God thinks about you? Psalm 139, how precious are your thoughts to me, O God. How great is the sum of them. If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand. That's how often God thinks about you. He thinks about you all the time. . Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-29 05:17:27 / 2024-05-29 05:26:32 / 9

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