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Seeking Man - Caring God
Our understanding of what God is like will affect our whole spiritual development . What do you think God is like? Many people today see God as an impersonal force who got things started many years ago but is now an old man and doesnít do much anymore. Some people think God is like a Santa Claus who comes once a year to give nice gifts to good boys and girls. Other people see God as a mean old law enforcement officer just waiting for us to make a mistake to get a chance to punish us. Others see God as so holy that He is unapproachable and unknowable. What is your understanding of God. Most of manís understanding suffers from an incomplete or distorted view of God. We have some part truths of God but they do not make up the whole idea of what God is like
I believe that the passage we are going to examine today will help us to understand better what God is really like and what He can do in our lives. There are four concepts which we find in this passage which we want to look at.
1. God is a concerned and caring God who visits people even today.
2. God speaks to us through His messengers and is ready to listen to us - He communicates with us if we seek Him.
3. God will be found by those who diligently seek Him. God is not an illusive or fickle force as many of the gods of the people in the time of Jeremiah. God can always be found by the person who sets out to find God and searches seriously.
4. A fourth truth that we find in Jeremiah 29 about God is that He keeps His Word. When God promises something you can count on it. God promised that He would restore the people to their land and 70 years later all who wanted to return to their homeland were able to. God keeps all his promises whether for our blessing or for our disobedience.
The first few verses of Jeremiah 29 give us the setting of this Word from the Lord. Do you know when Jeremiah lived? He lived about 600 years before Christ and began his ministry before Josiah, a young man of only 8 years old became King in Judah. When Josiah had his servants fix up Godís temple they made a very exciting discovery. They found a very old scroll. A part of the Old Testament which explained how they were to live. The people of Judah were not following God and this scroll said that God would punish the people if they forgot God. Josiah ordered that everyone in his country should destroy all the false idols which they were worshiping and that they were to worship the true God. The people changed spiritually for a short time but after Josiah died they soon were even more wicked than before. God then allowed Egypt and Babylon to come in and conquer the people as their punishment just as he had warned several hundred years before. Some of the people like Daniel, and his 3 friends were taken to Babylon. There were many other rich people and former leaders who were taken to Babylon so that the ruler could keep track of them so they would not stir up trouble. It was to these people that Jeremiah was sending this short letter.
Among the people in Babylon were two false prophets, Ahab and Zedekiah, who were stirring up trouble for the people. They prophesied that the people would not stay in Babylon but that they should try to escape and get back to Jerusalem. God had a different plan and gave this message to Jeremiah in verses 5 - 9. God told them that after 70 years He would visit them. God has a plan for the history of this world and were are not here by chance.
We see in history where God has visited different people The exiles in Babylon went back to their home country under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. When they got back there was also a spiritual revival among them. Today in different parts of the world there are people who are seeing a great outpouring of the Spirit of God. In India there is a great awakening and some huge cities are turning to God as a whole city. This spiritual change has only come through great suffering and diligent seeking of people who want to see the out pouring of Godís spirit.
God sometimes visit people and even nations with blessings but also for punishment. God says in Exodus 20:5, 6 ďI am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, tho those who love Ne and keep my commandments. We see an example of this in Jeremiah 29:20 - 23.
This word of prophesy is like many others which causes the hearers to think soberly and seriously about what God wants them to be doing. In the New Testament, when Jesus or Paul prophesy concerning future events, the emphasis is on being prepared to meet God and living a dedicated Christian life.
God has a special plan for each one of us. In general God always wants to bless us and prosper us, but he cannot bless us when we are disobedient. Verse 11 tells us that the plans God has for us are for our health and well-being and not for our destruction or punishment. God desires that we look forward to the future with joy and rejoicing. How many of you look forward to a life together in heaven with God? Wonít that be wonderful! God wants to give us hope - the lope of eternal life with him. Man cannot live in a world without hope. If we loose hope we will despair and become totally depressed even to the point of committing suicide. When we see how bad the world is - it is easy to loose heart. We should take heart realizing that God continues to work in this world and give hope situations which seem impossible.
Man has a responsibility to seek after God if he wants to experience the future with Godís great blessings. Manís responsibility is to call upon God and seek Godís blessings. This is not just a responsibility but a privilege. We have an invitation by the awesome God who created the whole universe to call on him for help. Does he have the power to help?? What a great opportunity to have the powerful and wise God help us. It is God who asks us to seek what kind of blessings he will do for us if we truly depend on Him.
God is a listening God not just some creation of manís mind and then shaped out of chunk of wood or metal. God has promised to listen and hear each of us if we seek Him with all our being. (Example of Elijah and the prophets of Baal) God is not some illusive force that mocks us when we cannot find him God. God says that we will find him if we seek Him with all our heart. We will not run into God accidently. We must be diligent in searching for God. There are places where we know we cn find Him. God has revealed himself (1) in nature ( Romans 1)
(2) in the scriptures which we are studying; and (3) in people who have learnt from God and experienced God in their lives. Just as there are true prophets and false prophets, there are those who have truly experienced God and those who just fake it. Even in Christian churches many pastors do not experience God in a dynamic way.
The fourth point we can learn from our passage today is that the promises of God hold true. God promised in verse 14 that He would prosper them and they would return to their homeland. The Bible and history records that under the leadership of Zerubbabel in 537 or 538 a group of exiles returned to Jerusalem. There exiles did not return empty handed. God restored the fortune which He had removed form their fathers. Just as the Israelites had left Egypt with gifts from the people, the Israelites left Babylon with gifts and riches. God keeps his promises!!!
The promise that those who seek after God will find Him is still true today. God continues to invite people - Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! Have you ever personally called on Him to make a dramatic change in your life. If you have problems in your life - give them over to Him and He will direct you to solutions if you seek Him. Perhaps you have had problems because you have neglected God - you have gone into a spiritual exile like the Israelites went into an exile to Babylon. You do not have to wait 70 years like the Israelites for God to restore you. You can do that this morning and receive His blessings. God says, ďI know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your hear. I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity.Ē (Jer 29:11 - 14a) What a wonderful God we have. Letís follow and obey Him so that we will be prospered and receive His blessings..
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July 6, 1997