Experience Pastor Barrett Berry and the Empowered Living Church anywhere
KEY SCRIPTURE - JEREMIAH 29:4-7; 11
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
CLOSING THOUGHT / CHALLENGE
I love the story of Dr. King’s “Dream speech” for a closing. Mahalia Jackson says, “Tell them about the dream Martin” in the middle of his speech…he puts his notes aside and utters those four famous words, “I have a dream.” People need to know God’s dream (purpose) for them. Before a plan, people need purpose. God’s purpose for all will always precede God’s plan for you.
God’s people are God’s plan to share God’s purpose (Jesus) For Our City
The goal of week 4 is to convey the centrality of God’s heart for the people who live in our city. The Church must be For Charlotte, because God is making His appeal to The City through The Church.
• We are in the final week of a 4-week unified sermon series, where our church is participating with 73 churches in the greater Charlotte area, reaching over 41,000 people at those churches in our city with a unified message.
• The goal of the ForCLT unified sermon series is to communicate what is at the core of our Christian faith and mission and to cast a vision for how a unified body of Christ can transform our city together. Can you imagine what would happen if the whole church in our city were known for what we are “for”, rather than what we are “against?” What if the whole church was “For Charlotte?”
• Over the past three weeks, we have examined what it means to be For the Gospel, For the Church, and For Our Neighbor. In this final week, we will examine what it means to be For Our City.
The Big Idea: God’s people are God’s plan to share God’s purpose (Jesus) For Our City.
Recent findings reveal that there are some 1 Million people in the greater Charlotte metro area that do not have a relationship with Jesus. God’s #1 plan, for reaching those people, is sitting in the room today. You (church) are God’s plan to share God’s purpose, Jesus.
In other words; Told people, Tell people. God’s counting on it!
All throughout the Bible, we see God’s people being the vessel through which He made Himself known to the entire world. In God’s covenant with Abraham, Jesus’ commission to the disciples, and Paul’s words to the Church, we are reminded that God’s people are God’s plan to share God’s purpose.
In Jeremiah 29:4-7; 11 we see God’s desire for us on display again. You may be familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, but you may not be familiar with the greater story behind it from Jeremiah 29:4-7.
Context: Jeremiah 29:11 is written in the context of a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah to the people of God, who are exiled in Babylon. Babylon was some 800 miles from Jerusalem, and the first wave of captives had been forcibly taken away by a mad man named Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had an insatiable desire to expand the wicked and mighty empire of Babylon.
Babylon was Las Vegas x10 and God’s people didn’t want to be there. All they wanted to do was to go home to Jerusalem. In fact, there were many false prophets who were telling them just that…we’re going home soon. And then we read, Jeremiah 29:4-7 and it tells us a much different story, a bigger story, God’s story.
For some of you, you’re in situations, relationships, locations of great influence in our city. However, these spaces, people, and jobs are difficult and there is much struggle involved. But what if there is a bigger purpose behind it all, what if God is positioning you for His purposes?
Think about what God says to His people in Babylon: Jeremiah 29:4-7
1. I sent you.v.4
• God put them there. Wow. Maybe God sent you too.
• God can use your difficult circumstance for His glory.
• God doesn’t promise easy but He does promise Himself.
• Knowing that God has sent you makes a difference. Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21)
• I find it interesting that the two most formative moments in Israel’s existence, were also its most challenging.
o Egypt and Exile were used by God to shape His people, and to share His purpose.
o Amazingly, both Egypt and Exile reappear in the story of Jesus’ birth (wise men from Babylon, fleeing to Egypt). God can use and redeem the difficult circumstances you find yourself in.
2. Establish Yourself. vs. 5-6
• Settle down and plant roots where God has placed you.
• Stop working on your escape plan and know that God has a plan.
• Build relationships where you are.
• Invest in this community; be salt and light here and now.
3. Seek the Welfare of the City. v. 7
• Welfare: Shalom (Complete wholeness and Life).
• Paul said in Romans 5:1, “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
• As you seek the welfare of your city, remember:
o Good Works, leads to Good Will, which leads to the Good News (Eric Swanson)
• It’s hard to hate someone that you are praying for.
• You can’t have Jeremiah 29:11 without Jeremiah 29:7.
o Meaning, that you can’t know God’s plans for you, without being part of God’s purpose for all.
o Jeremiah 29:11 is a great verse, but it is one of the most misused verses in the Bible because we try to separate God’s plans for me from God’s purposes for all.
APPLICATION OF TEACHING
• We will not experience God’s plans for our church, until we engage in God’s purpose for our city.
• Reiterate Big Idea: God’s people are God’s plan to share God’s purpose (of Jesus) for our city.
• Put your focus on Jeremiah 29:7, and then put your trust in Jeremiah 29:11.
• How can you seek the welfare of the city?
• Where has God sent you?
• Where can you establish yourself?
• Are you praying for Charlotte regularly?
Practical Next Steps:
• Learn the Needs of Our City:
o For more information about the most pressing needs facing our city, please reference the For Charlotte State of the City Report at forcharlotte.org/state-of-the-city.
• Engage the Needs of Our City:
o For more information on how you can meet the needs of our city, please connect to the For Charlotte Mission Platform. Go here: forcharlotte.goentrepid.com