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Touching God for our Cities

January 17, 2016

Topic: Prayer Passage: Jeremiah 29:1–29:14

Jer. 29:1-14
II. HighTouch Church

What’s the closest you’ve ever been/experienced to being an immigrant or exile? What can you imagine it would be like?

Intro: Ancient history can seem a drag, but I assure you it was anything but when it was happening! Think of it this way: Two Political Parties in Judah: Reigning King Josiah and other conservatives like Jeremiah are pro-Babylon VS. a liberal party, pro-Egypt (Who is Pro-Assyria).

When waning superpower Assyria is attacked by Babylon(612 B.C.) the Egyptians come to his aid. Josiah agrees to get in Egypt’s way and is killed by Neco of Egypt, who places liberal Jehoiakim (pro-Egypt) on the throne. Now things get dicey for conservative Jeremiah who is forbidden to even enter the Temple (He sends his unpopular messages by way of his secretary, Baruch.) Jehoiakim stops sending his monthly rent checks to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian responds by bringing siege against Jerusalem. Egypt, predictably, does not come to Judah’s aid and eventually Jehoiakim must settle with Nebuchadnezzar.

Scores of influential and well educated Jews (likely Daniel and Co.) are exiled to Babylon along with Jehoiakim. Zedekiah is placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah, who had been supportive of Babylon is rewarded w/ a sweet deal in Babylon but opts to remain on task in Jerusalem. Part of his God-given responsibility now is to write the exiles, giving them God’s instructions about living as exiles. The letter is preserved in vv. 4 – 32. We’ll focus on vv. 4-11. Pleases read them, if you haven’t already.
God’s word to those living in exile. (Doesn’t that include us in a way? 1 Peter 1:1ff., 2:11)

A. God is Sovereign. “Thus says the Lord…” v. 4
a. What’s your biggest challenge to believing in God’s complete sovereignty today? (Get honest; be real.)
b. What must we affirm from the Scriptures about God’s sovereignty? What misconceptions exist? (References?)
c. How do you respond to the following challenge? “If God we all powerful, there wouldn’t be evil in the world?”

B. Get to living. “Build houses and live in them…” v. 5
a. What are the several activities listed in vv. 5-6 and what is suggested by naming them?
b. Jeremiah must have been tempted to sympathize with the exiles. After all, he wasn’t with them. Still this uninvited counsel might have sounded harsh. Why was it what they needed to hear?
c. Recall and describe a time when you wanted sympathy buts needed a “word from God” about the “new normal” you needed to accept?

C. Seek the welfare of your city. “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…”
a. How would you pray for President Obama, in his last term of office? Do pray, like a conversation with God, for President and Michelle Obama…
b. How would you pray for the mayor of your community? Do pray, now, for your Mayor’s and City Councils…
c. Share what you believe to be “business needs” in your communities...Lift them up to God, with eyes wide open, aware of each other’s presence, aware of God’s presence and care for the concerns of your city.
d. Share educational needs….conversing with God and each other…Commit those needs to God.
e. Share some Scripture/words of trust in God.

Why does conversational prayer feel awkward? Is it helpful?