Sunday night, the last service before this year’s presidential election, I preached a message to our people concerning some decisions I believed we should make; regardless of the outcome. I was, and remain convinced, that regardless of who wins (or won), our country is in trouble.
I received several comments and texts from our members, and was asked to put a shortened version of the sermon on the blog. I hope it is helpful.
I believe the truths presented here are applicable no matter which candidate won or lost.
We find ourselves living in a country, which we love, but which is moving away from the principles upon which she was founded, and in which Christian principles are tolerated less and less by those in position of political power.
We pray for revival, of course. However, what if God does not send it any time soon?
We look for the return of Christ, as we should. However, what if that time is still many years in the future?
What if we are to live in a place where we find ourselves outnumbered, unappreciated, and increasingly marginalized? What if this will continue to be our condition for the next several generations?
In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, we have the record of many individuals who died having never received the promises of God. We are told they died in faith, committed to the fact that God would fulfill His word. They died confessing that, although they lived in a physical world, they had a citizenship in a heavenly world still to come. They had, if you will, a dual citizenship. We as Christians have a dual citizenship. I am an American by birth. Some of you may have become American citizens at a later time. This is where we live right now, but it is not our final home.
In the book of Jeremiah 29 we have a message from God to the people of Israel who had been carried away captive to Babylon. God’s people found themselves in a position they did not enjoy, primarily because of their disobedience to God. However, it would not be accurate to say that every citizen of Israel had been disobedient. Some innocent people were suffering right along with the guilty. It is always this way.
The problem was that there were prophets among the people who were preaching that God would never allow them to remain in Babylon. He was going to deliver them soon. They didn’t need to worry. God had a desire to bring them back to Jerusalem. This was all just a misunderstanding. They were God’s people!
The only thing wrong with this message was that it was not from God. God had in fact determined that they were going to be in Babylon for quite some time. 70 years in fact. The people were uncomfortable. They were anxious. They were scared. They were confused. They wanted it to be over. Then God sent them a message by way of the prophet Jeremiah. Here is the message.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it:for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. Jeremiah 29:4-8
He said,”You are going to be here a while. ”
In this message from Jeremiah are four pieces of advice which I think are good for us today. We find ourselves in a country that has forsaken God. We are confused. We are anxious. We are looking for the Lord to return. I ask you to consider the following four admonitions as they relate to our election and the future of our country.
1.Determine to live your life
Build ye houses, and dwell in them…(Jer 29:5a)
God was saying. You are going to be here a while. You are going to need somewhere to live for the long-term. Go ahead and build a house. Live in it. Live your life!
I think we can learn from this that while we are looking for the soon return of Christ, it should not stop us from living our life today.
We can do very little about the political corruption, and upheaval around us. Spending all of our time watching network news and wishing things would go another way is not the best use of our time. We have spouses and children who need us. We should be enjoying our families. Living our lives.
This is where God has determined we should be at this time in our history. Trust Him, look to Him, and live your life. Go to work. Provide for your family. Enjoy your family. Go ahead. Build a house and dwell in it. Don’t allow your anxiety about the condition of our nation stop you from living life.
2. Determine to plan for the future.
…and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them. (Jer 29:5b)
The people of Israel were listening to the prophets telling them that God was going to get them out of this right away. Jeremiah was sent with the message that they would be here for 70 years. By telling them to build houses, he was saying, “Live your life where you are.” By telling them to plant gardens and eat the fruit he was encouraging them to plan for the future.
No matter how upset, or happy you are at the outcome of the election, (this one or any one) it is important that we continue to plan for the future.
I believe in the imminent return of Christ. However, so many take that to mean that we should not plan to be here long. Jesus is coming! Yes…He is. The doctrine of the imminent return of Christ should motivate us to be ready to stand before Him at any moment, but should not stop us from planning for the rest of our lives.
I remember a particularly sobering conversation with an elderly preacher who had been forced to retire from the ministry, and had nothing set aside to live on. With tears in his eyes, he told me, “Mark, I really thought Jesus would come back before I got to this point in my life.”
We look around at the mess the world is in. We say, “Jesus has to be coming back soon!” I believe He could. I believe He will return! But just in case that soon is not before supper, I am going to need something to eat.
Planting seeds in the ground told the people of Israel that they were preparing for a time in the future when they would need grain. I think we are making a mistake to think that we are so close to the return of Christ that we should not make plans for our future, in the event He does not return today.
Planning for future needs is not an indication of our lack of belief in the Lord’s return. It simply acknowledges that we do not know when that return will be, and we are to plan to live our lives to their completion.
3. Determine to increase, not decrease.
Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. (Jer 29:6)
There is both a spiritual and physical application to this text.
Practically speaking, God is telling his people to avoid the trap of putting off growing their families simply because they do not like their current surroundings.
“Why would I want to bring children into this messed up world?”
I have heard this too many times. Why should we? Because children are the heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward! That is true in good times and in bad!
God wanted his people to come out of bondage stronger in number than when they went in!
There is a spiritual application to us here as well. It is that we as God’s people are not to get into the “hold the fort” mentality. We are not sit in our churches and shut our eyes and ears to the world and decide to hang on to our little group until Jesus returns. We should be attempting to see new believers birthed into this world. We should be spreading the gospel, and then teaching the new believers to spread the gospel! I believe it is possible for the family of God to increase, in a nation that has turned her back on God.
Ask the house church movement in China. Ask the Christians in the many countries in Africa. Ask the believers in the Middle East.
We are not called to halt our advance. Keep marching onward!
4. Decide to seek the peace of the city.
And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. (Jeremiah 29:7)
It is troubling to me how often I hear Christians using the rhetoric of the world. If you didn’t know any better, you would think some of them want God’s judgement to fall on America.
Consider for a moment the instruction God was giving to the people of Israel, now in bondage. He says that they are to pray for the peace of the very city, the very nation that was their enemy! Why? Because they lived there now!
If Babylon is at peace, then they are at peace. If Babylon is attacked, some of them may die. Guilty people are not the only ones who suffer when there is war. Innocent lives can also be lost, and often are.
Not every member of the nation of Israel had turned their backs on Jehovah. Not everyone carried away captive was guilty of the national sin. God wanted the people to know that he desired them to pray for Babylon, and not a prayer of judgement.
Imagine praying for the peace of Babylon!
Dear Christian, are you troubled by the state of our nation? Are you as troubled as I am with this election cycle? I told our people no matter how the election turned out, America was in trouble. However, are we praying for America? I am not saying to pray for revival. Many of you are already doing that. I mean are we on our knees asking God for the peace of America? Are we asking Him to protect us from all our enemies, foreign and domestic? Are we rabble rousers, or do we seek peace?
This is our country. This is where we live. This is the time in which God has determined we should live. Let us pray for peace. Why? Because the peace of America is our peace as well. We live here. Do what you can to be a voice of reason and peace, rather than a voice of turmoil and antagonism.
I hope this article was a blessing and a challenge to you. If you would like to share it, I thank you. If you have a comment, please feel free to leave one below.