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Helpless Flourishing

Helpless Flourishing

 

Jeremiah 1:1-10

ICE BREAKER

Jeremiah had some fear when God called him. 

He is not afraid of the enemies of God, He is afraid of how he will be treated by God’s own people. God, in verse 8, reassures him by saying, “…Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah anticipated being discarded because of his faith and his prophetic role.

Have you ever been in a situation(school, work, family) in which you were discarded because of your faith in Christ? How did it feel? How did you handle the fear aspect?

So, the larger question is, “How should we act in times of resistance and oppression?“

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How can you and I seek the good of the city where God has placed us? Think about these three categories to “be salt” in: relationships, our work, and our leisure. 

    First, our relationships. Where are the weeds? Are the weeds in our words, our body language, our tone, or in our refusal to engage? At times the first 5 words someone speaks can bring a cloud of discouragement. Words are weeds that choke or our words are salt that brings life. 

    The second area to be salt in is in our work. When good work is done it is a beautiful thing. I will try to bring good out of the people I work with. 

    The third area is our leisure. In our leisure we can diminish good or enhance it. Do we listen to or fill our minds with what is not good in our leisure? If we do this it diminishes good. 

  2. In Jeremiah 3:6-7 God is longing for the northern kingdom to return from seeking false gods. When we stray from God and life falls apart around us the last one we want to turn to at times is God. 

    Judah watched Israel turn away from God and now they duplicate it. We must always hold on to this powerful truth about the heart of God: whenever we turn back to God with our heart He will take us back.Reflect together on two things:

    First, reflect together on the fiber of God’s heart that He would react in this way. What qualities of heart would do this(and do this repeatedly)?

    Second, reflect together on your own lives and share one of the times God took you back. It could be that your dismissal of God in your life was a long season or perhaps you can reflect on the shorter ones( each time I am not loving God and loving people I am turning my back on God. When I think of this His mercy begins to feel both plentiful and desperately needed).

    Consider praying together and thanking Him for His good heart and for His courageous, humble love for each one of us in spite of our failures. He wants us to taste and to receive His kindness; He does not want us filled with shame or guilt.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Babylon is the dominant nation at the time of Jeremiah. During Jeremiah’s lifetime the southern kingdom of Judah will fall to Babylon. They will live in captivity.

Yet, there is a promise of hope in Jeremiah 32:37-39: “Behold, I will gather them from all the countries….and they shall be my people and I will be their God. I will give them one heart…that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.” God is saying that when we are apart from Me you are fatherless. He invites us to come to Him and He will give us a name and a family. 

When you are apart from Me you are homeless, you are a wanderer.

All you seek apart from Me results in trouble, discord and war.

If you return to Me I will take you under My wing and you will have safety and peace so that you will flourish.

Judah falls to Babylon.

In Jeremiah 39:1-3a Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon captures Judah. Imagine a news flash that declares an enemy has raided the east coast and now they have taken Washington DC. What would we feel: dejection, fear, or deep grief?

We can imagine the nation of Judah thinking: “So, I worship the all powerful God and now we are conquered.”

How will they respond?

In Jeremiah 29: 5-7 God tells them how to respond. They are told to build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have children. …seek the welfare of the city….and pray to the LORD on its behalf. God tells them in its(Babylons’) welfare they will find welfare.

In essence God is saying He is not going to rescue them from captivity. He is also saying do not turn to the worldly schemes of power to get out of this.

In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 Christ says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under foot.”

The larger context in which Christ is speaking at this time is one of grave unfairness and persecution. 

Seek the good of the city equals: “…you are the salt of the earth.”

So, we are to seek the good in the nation we are planted in.

So, both Jeremiah and Jesus are telling us to be like salt. 

Salt has 4 purposes: seasoning, fertilizer, preservative and covenant.

The first purpose of salt is seasoning. When you put salt on a piece of melon it accentuates the flavors that are in the melon. It brings out the best of the food and it unleashes the good flavor we want.

When thinking of seasoning think in these three broad categories: 

The Good

The True

The Beautiful

We are called to be moving toward the good. Each person has a purpose they were created for. This reveals there is truth underlying the purpose each person has. But, where there is truth there are lies. To know our purpose we must know the truth.

Good is unleashed by applying the truth.

Gardening…at times over the years a flowing plant will be crowded out. So, we pull the weeks to give the plant room to grow. The plant will then flourish.

So, the gardener gives room for the plant to do what it was made to do. I have to know what is the weed (lies) and what is the plant (truth).

The second purpose of salt is to fertilize. To be salt is to be like fertilizer.  Minerals are in the fertilizer. All the nutrients are held together with salt. Salt enables the plant to grab hold of the mineral.

Jeremiah is not saying put your faith on the shelf and blend in. No! He is saying: “Be salt!”  Grow the kingdom relationally and spiritually.

Sharing our faith is one important way to be salt.

Finally, salt is a preservative. It stops decay. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

So, our church invests in works where Christ is at the center. 

We are salt when we engage the 4 pillars of blicial justice. With these pillars we fight decay. 

The final use of salt is covenant. 

Leviticus 2:13 says to season your grain with offerings with salt. Why? Salt in water dissolves. If all water dries up in the cup you will find salt at the bottom of the cup. The salt stays salt. It is enduring and it does not deteriorate. It maintains its saltiness. It has staying power. And no matter what happens it remains true.

His word remains true like salt.

We make and we keep our promises in HIs name. We keep our marriage vows, and we keep our word to our friends.