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Turn – Jeremiah 29

Series : The Gospel & The City

And what we’re talking about is how to take the gospel out of your private life, out of the church, and out into the world.


Life is Scary

Grace – Startle Well my daughter grace just turned 10 weeks old. And I’ve learned a lot of lessons: I’m learning to survive on zero sleep, I’m learning to eat with one a hand, and I’m learning how to celebrate a good poop. Every poop is a victory. Here’s one thing I didn’t realize: Infants are incredibly easy to startle. I don’t mean like real fear, I just mean they jump SO easily. I feel like I scare my daughter 10 times a day. I’m opening the curtains and her whole body tightens up (funny) and I’m like ‘I’m sorry!!!’

Me – Las Vegas And then I’m holding my baby daughter, and this past week I’m seeing on the news these people in Las Vegas running for their lives in absolute and complete terror. And so I’m just sitting there with this tiny little girl in my lap and I’m thinking “what kind of world is this precious baby being born into?! And now I’m starting to get a little scared.

I think there are a lot of people in our city and in our nation that have this sense of just feeling afraid, and disoriented, and displaced.

Think back – life – simple & controlled

I think for a lot of us, we can look back to a time when life felt really simple, and ‘controlled’ And now all of a sudden things feel real unfamiliar. You don’t know where the story is going. My wife and I recently spent two weeks in California, and we stayed in a couple different hotels while we were out there, and there was a couple times when I woke up, and I was just disoriented to not be in my bed in my house, and I was just thinking ‘Where AM I?!’ I think that’s a pretty good illustration for how a lot of people feel right now.

For an Evangelical American Christian, we’re used to being the people who have ‘Inhabited the land’ – We’re used to having a certain level of influence, and voice when it comes to our culture. We’re used to being in control.

Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is this visceral book that’s written to the people of God in exile. Finding themselves in an unfamiliar place and time in history. In a place where they’re constantly feeling out of place and disoriented.

Jeremiah 29:4-7

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: (Jeremiah 29:4)

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. (Jeremiah 29:5)

Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. (Jeremiah 29:6)

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7)

“Not in Charge”

Jeremiah here is writing to people in Exile, who are now having to get used to the fact that they’re really not in charge of anything.

Everything Jeremiah wrote was unpopular. But I can’t imagine anything being more unpopular than this: Jeremiah 29 – by this time, the people of God have been in exile for a pretty long time, Jeremiah has grown much older, And things have been bad for a long time. But they still have to promise from God that he’s going to come and deliver them.

“We’re already persecuted, and already the babylonians are trying to eliminate everything that was unique about us. They’re trying to take away our stories and our songs and our language, and they’re trying to teach us a new language.”

And the worse things get, they’re thinking ‘Surely God’s deliverance is right around the corner. Surely things can’t get any worse than they are right now.’

“Surely things are about to get better.”


Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: (Jeremiah 29:4)

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. (Jeremiah 29:5)

Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. (Jeremiah 29:6)

Translation: “Hey Israel, I know you thought change was just right around the corner. I k ow you thought your deliverance was right around the corner. But I got news for you, you’re gonna be here for awhile. So go ahead and build houses and gardens., Go ahead and have some kids. Go ahead and have some grandkids.”

God’s deliverance is still coming, but it wasn’t coming nearly as soon as these people thought.

This is not what people in exile want to hear, these people want to hear ‘Your deliverance is just around the corner!’ But for these guys, it wasn’t.

Interesting Parallel – Epistles

I think a really interesting parallel to this is when you read the epistles, you can see there’s this beautiful anticipation and hope that the 2nd coming of Jesus is just right around the corner.

And it’s interesting that when you study a little church history, is that it took the church a long time to establish any sort of systems or structures for leadership, b/c they’re not planning on passing anything down to the next generation. They think, any…. second…. now….

So they don’t talk about how to pass a church onto a son, b/c they’re not thinking that far ahead.

And then having to come to the realization “Man, well I guess we better get a few systems in place, b/c we’re getting OLD, and Christ still hasn’t come back.” How awkward.

Reminds me – 80’s.

It reminds me of the 80’s.

People were thinking ‘We don’t need to go to school, we don’t need a retirement account, we don’t need to prepare to have grandkids, because Christs return is right around the corner.

I know I kind of had that same sort of self-imposed expectation when I was a kid. I was just thinking “Well, I don’t KNOW if I can come to your house this weekend Jesse, who KNOWS where I’ll be. The rapture could happen between now and then.

The Lord IS coming. “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Absolutely. I’m just no longer so sure that it will happen by next saturday.

Here’s my point: When the world continues to get crazier and crazier. Of course the message we WANT to hear is “I’ll fly away.” “I’m gonna take a trip on that good ole’ gospel ship.” The imperials sung that I think. It makes sense that when things get really hard, that that’s where our minds will go.

And it’s good to live with that hope, what Paul would call ‘The Blessed Hope’, that’s all good. But what if God is saying to us “You’re gonna be here for awhile.” ??? Then what are we gonna do?

“Good ole days”

I think for a lot of people when they’re feeling anxious about the way the world is going, they’ll think back to a time when the world was simpler, and they’ll start to fanticize about ‘the good ole’ days’.

Different message for another time, but I don’t really believe in the good ole days. Because what we were good days for some, we’re quite so good for others.

And I also know that time has a way of causing us to romanticize the past in ways that are not realistic.

“Making bricks for Pharaoh” I can TOTALLY see these people doing that ‘Man, I remember the good ole days when we were making bricks in Egypt for Pharaoh. Yeah it was horrible, but at least they fed us, at least we had a roof over our head. But we have a way of romanticizing the past, so even if it actually WASN’T awesome, we remember it as being awesome. But it wasn’t.

Reality: Whether or not you believe in the good ole days, here’s the reality: There’s no going back.

  • The World’s not going back.
  • America’s not going back.
  • The church is not going back.
  • History is not going back.

Not gonna happen. What we have now, is this moment, in this place. And the only thing that matters is what you do with this right now.

Read V27 – SEEK welfare CITY

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7)

I wonder if you can imagine how tough this would be to hear. For these people, the last however many years has just been ‘God, get us out of this hellhole’. And then God would come to them and say ‘Hey, take care of the hellhole.’

These people have been pre-occcupied with their own salvation. And I really hope you can see yourself in that. That the world seems really crazy right now, and the thing that matters to me, is me being ok.

But apparently here, God not only has a plan for his people, God has a plan for Babylon too.

However they got where they got. Let me just make the point that it can feel really good to psycho analyze the past. Why we are where we are. Who’s the blame, what administration, listen at some point, you need to just stop, look around, and instead of analyzing the past and blaming, to start looking forward at where we go from here. What are we gonna do, not with the world we want, but the world we have, what are we gonna do with it?

“God, you don’t understand. I’m not well. I can’t even THINK about somebody else right now, I can’t care for somebody else.” “God why are you thinking about other people, we need you to take care of us.”

But that’s the promise “Seek the welfare of city, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare. You tend to the city and I’ll tend to you. Obviously some similarities to Matthew 6:33 – Seek first the kingdom of God..

“I’ll fly away” – I just adopted a baby girl. I need you to be here. I need you to care about this city.

Interesting tension : Captivity – stupidity

Listen to this really interesting tension: Without a doubt, one of the reasons that the Israelites are in captivity is b/c of their own stupidity. That’s just a fact. But then God would come and say ‘Take care of the place I HAVE SENT YOU.’

So maybe you did take some wrong turns along the way. Maybe there are some things you wish you had done differently.

But now for these people there’s this sense of ‘You have been SENT to Babylon.’

You’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is exactly where I want you to be.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve found myself in an uncomfortable place in life and so I think ‘Surely this must mean that God doesn’t want me here.’

What if God comes and says ‘You’re exactly where I want to you be. I have SENT you there. Even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it’s messed up.

“Seek welfare – city – sent you” – LOCAL

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you.”

Listen to how local that is.

If you live in Albuquerque, seek the welfare of Albuquerque.

Like here we all are, wrestling with the huge issues that we have absolutely no effect on. “Where is God going to raise Israel back up.” – Has nothing to do with you.

But what it CAN be is a giant distraction from your responsibility to care for the people that live 2 houses down from you.

Like, oh my gosh politics, how many hundreds of hours do you play armchair quarterback to the president of the United States, and that has LITERALLY ZERO effect on anything. You might be reading Trumps tweets, but he’s not reading yours. So why are you wasting your time on that.

“I can vote.” Yes you can vote, so Vote and then get back to caring for your city.

I think everything comes into a very different kind of perspective when we believe that we’re SENT to this particular place. Of course I’m talking about Albuquerque here, but it’s true for where you’re working right now,

  • Your specific family
  • Your specific community
  • Your specific church

How ironic that we’d be losing our minds about the ‘sanctity of marriage’ all the while neglecting OUR marriage. The marriage we actually have something to do with.


We can just get to lost in the fog of everything that’s going around that we forget that there IS a place we can make a difference, and that’s in OUR city, where WE live.

RESPONSABILITY I just want to tell you that I think we have a responsibility here. That’s it’s not like ‘It would be really cool for you to think about maybe one day caring for your city.’ No, we are the light of the world! We are God’s chosen method of healing the world. But if we’re just so filled with angst, and so focused on all this crap that we have absolutely no control over, and we end up missing our opportunity to bring about real change, well then shame on us.