Category: Jeremiah

He Bought the Farm

he-bought-the-farmThis past Sunday, we looked at a passage from Jeremiah chapter 32 where we find him purchasing a plot of land from his uncle Hanamel. God asks Jeremiah to buy this plot of land and he is “all in” with his relationship with God, so much so that the other circumstances don’t seem to matter to Jeremiah.

First, Judah is about to be overrun by the Babylonians. It is not only evident, but it is also immanent. It is coming and coming soon. Second, Jeremiah is being held by the king in the courtyard of the guard, he is in prison. So God’s request might sound a little bit crazy.

But then again, this is nothing new. God asks many people, maybe even you, to do some pretty wild things. Things that don’t make a lot of sense. Let’s look at a few references from scripture.

Ananias, follower of Jesus Christ, was asked to go to a house on straight street and restore sight to Saul. You know, Saul, persecutor of Christians, authority figure who approved the stoning of Stephen. God, you really want me to go and willfully see this man, stand right in front of him. Really God?

Abraham, resolute father, finally has his son, Isaac, and he is so proud of him. He is so thankful that God has blessed him and his wife, Sarah, with this son. Then God asks him to take his son, Isaac, up the mountain and sacrifice him on an altar. His son, who should be the heir to the family name, the beginning of the family line, the reason Abraham’s name will continue. Sacrifice him. Really God?

Moses, stuttering man of God, is told to go and face the Pharaoh. Tell he Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, free them from their slavery. That would be the slaves that are building all of the Pharaoh’s temples and buildings, the ones he would not be able to erect without their help. And Moses is supposed to stand before this powerful man and demand something like this. Really God?

Noah, really. A boat in the middle of the desert. He couldn’t make use of a kayak if he wanted to and God wants him to build an ark. There’s nothing for me to float it on, and how do you expect to get all those animals inside. And on another note, why couldn’t he have left the mosquitos off the boat, did he really have to bring them along? Really God?

2012 God whispered something in my ear. At the time I was a manager, almost part owner of a rental business in Rockford. We weren’t doing great, but it wasn’t that bad either. It seemed like everything was going along just fine. Sherry, the girls, and I were doing ok. I felt like I was achieving the “American dream,” whatever that is. Life was good.

But then that still small voice, you belong in the ministry. What? I’m not sure you have the right person for this. I’m too shy, I’m not comfortable in certain situations, I don’t know everything about the Bible, I’m not the guy you want. Public speaking was never really my strong point. Really God?

What about you? Has God has asked you to do something that you answered with, “really God?” Is God telling you today that you need to do something, to reach out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in many years, to make a phone call to a brother or sister that you don’t get along with, to start a new job, to quit your old job, anything that seems a little difficult, a little crazy and so you’re saying those words, maybe just under your breath. Really God?

Well take Jeremiah, he purchases a plot of land that was caught in the middle of a losing battle, while he himself is in prison. But he does it because God asks him to. He redeems the land by purchasing it from his uncle, keeping it in the family name. He does this so that the people of Judah will know that God’s covenant remains intact. He does it so that the people know that God loves them and wants to restore not only the land, but also their relationship with him.

Jeremiah redeemed a field so the people of Judah would see that God’s covenant still stood, and that they would soon be able to purchase houses, fields, and vineyards in the land once again. Jesus Christ redeemed us all, the whole human race, by dying on a cross.

When God asks you to do something a little out of the box, remember that he himself went way out of the box when he sent his Son to this earth to die for us, to redeem us. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Heart Check

LighthouseThis past Sunday we talked about a passage from Jeremiah, chapter 8. This was one of the many times we witness Jeremiah crying out to God for the people of Israel. So why does he?

Well, Israel is worshiping false idols, doing their own thing, and disobeying God. God provided for the Israelites, gave them a land to live in, full of good things. They are living in the promised land, the place where “milk and honey flow.” And are the people grateful? Are they thankful for all that God has provided them with? No. they want more, and this breaks God’s heart.

If we need an example of this in our world today, we don’t need to look much further than many of the remembrances we had last Sunday from the attacks 15 years ago. Or we can look at all the violence in our cities, even the latest police shootings of Terence Crutcher.

We need someone who is willing to speak out for God, to speak against all of this violence and hatred. We need a Jeremiah. We need an Ezekiel. We need a Jonah. We need someone who will cry out for the violence and hatred we see.

Now we could see Jeremiah, with all the authority of God, proclaiming judgement to the people, taking the position of authority. The position of feeling like he was higher than everyone else, that he was better than everyone else. We could see a disconnect between Jeremiah and the people. It would be really easy to shake the dust off his feet and leave, but we don’t.

What we do see is a man who cares deeply for these people, regardless of how they were treating him. So much so that he cries out to God, hoping that he will forgive them, hoping that God will give them a second chance. Jeremiah has a heart for the people that he was trying to help.

Where is your heart? When we think about all the violence, the terrorism, the bullying, the anger, and the hatred, where is our heart in all of this? Are we just as angry at them as they are to the world around them? Do we desire more violence in order to punish the offenders? Or do we have a heart like Jeremiah’s?

Is the first thing we think about when we hear of another police shooting, or school shooting, or even the gang violence in cities across the nation, is how justice will be played out, how will the perpetrator be punished? Or do we, like Jeremiah, see a life that has traveled so far from God that they seem to not be able to find their way back? I believe that we are called to do more. Certainly justice has a plan within our society, we need rules and a way to enforce them. These help us to live in community with one another. But there is another level of community which we are called. God desires us to belong to a community with all people in love and peace.

Jeremiah shows us one of those ways to reach that kind of community. We need to look at people as who they really are. They, like you, are all children of God. We are adopted into God’s family, we are sons and daughters of the one true King. And when we lose family members to violence, our hearts break. When we see a friend walk away from God, from good decisions, from following the straight and narrow path, it should break our hearts. We need to be crying out to God, asking for just one more chance. Asking for another opportunity for forgiveness.

We need to pray for them. Praying for their hearts to be changed, praying that the love of God reaches into their lives, praying for them to realize what they are doing is wrong and they stand in the need of forgiveness. We need to be the ones who reach out to them, letting them know that no one is beyond the love and grace of God.

Before Paul was the great church planter and evangelist, he was persecuting Christians, throwing them in jail, even killing them. If Paul’s life can be changed, anyone’s can. God’s love reached Paul and convicted his heart to his past mistakes and deliberate disobedience of God and brought him back to a right relationship with him. No one is beyond the love and grace of God.

Sometimes we don’t know when there is a problem with our hearts, but other times, we get a pain that signals something is wrong. Then it is time to get a heart checkup, EKG, echocardiograms, angiograms, and so many other test that will tell us what’s wrong and what we need to do to fix it.

Same thing here, we begin to feel something is wrong in a relationship, in some hatred or violence. This pain should drive us to our knees in prayer. I hope that it signals you to do something, to pray for those, to pray for the love and grace of God to reach into their hearts and change their lives.