Rise Daily: April 19
THIS WEEK’S THEME & PASSAGE
Serving the City – Jeremiah 29:1-14
This week’s sermon from the series “Where We are Going: The City and the Mission“
THIS WEEK’S MEMORY VERSE
Memorizing scripture is a way to keep God’s word close to our hearts. Each week we will select one verse of scripture to remember as a community.
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Each day’s devotion will focus on one part of the week’s passage.
4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.
MEDITATION ON THE WORD
In our busyness and distraction, it is easy to skim through our reading rather than taking it in. Yet we believe this is the inspired word of God. Take a moment to pause, thank God for the scriptures and ask him to speak to you through them today.
It might be tempting to think that when God carried his people into Babylonian exile, it was nothing more than a cold repayment for their injustice and idolatry.
God was angry, and rightly so. In spurning him, his people had not only hurt themselves, but had committed gross injustices against those they were meant to bless. Their nation, through the promise made centuries before to their forefather Abraham, was chosen and established by God to benefit the world:
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”” (Genesis 12:2–3)
The nation Abraham would father was to embody God’s goodness to the world. Jerusalem was to be the shining city of God to which the nations would flock. But instead, the people had so descended into idolatry and injustice that they became indistinguishable from the nations that surrounded them. Had God not acted, they would have disintegrated and his unconditional promise made to Abraham and his children would be forever broken.
Exile was God’s divine choice for his wayward people. But, as we considered yesterday, he did not abandon them there. As a matter of fact, as we see in today’s passage, he blessed them (29: 4-5, cf. Jer. 24:4-7). He tells them to build homes, grow food, and have children. God provided all they needed to flourish during their long stay (seventy years) in Babylon.
This is the love of our Heavenly Father. As God is love (1 John 4:8), even his discipline is loving and is meant to restore mutual love. This love is the foundation of his relationship to us and the resource for our relationships with each other. It is the foundation of the eternal shalom (peace and flourishing) that began to dawn when the Son of God, the Light of the World, overcame the world’s darkness on the cross.
THIS WEEK’S RISE REFLECTION
How are you being called to be part of this vision of reaching a tipping point of gospel renewal in our city? How is God calling you to use your gifts and resources to bring growth and flourishing to the city? Our hope is that this would be a spiritual process before it’s ever a financial calculation. So as you reflect, pray that God might work through you and others as we pursue this vision—knowing it will stretch us in our faith as we make our commitments. We know that this vision and its financial goal is something that only God can make possible. But we trust a God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
For your Heart: Pray for God to help lead your life to bless others in our city, for the sake of helping others flourish. Pray that God would help you envision what this kind of life might look like for you.
For your Church: Pray for God to increase our awareness of how we can fall into being consumers of the city and that we would instead be a church that sacrificially serves and seeks the good of the city.
For our City: Pray for shalom—peace and flourishing—in spheres of this city that may seem overwhelming or hopeless to you. Pray for glimmers of hope that you’ve seen or experienced that offer a foretaste of that shalom.
Our vision is a city renewed by the gospel. This vision needs all of us.
We are calling on everyone at Redeemer to rise and say “I’m in” to pray, engage, and give as part of a gospel movement for the good of the city. Are you in?