Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chuuk #2–Preaching at Berea Church

SAMSUNG            On my final day in Chuuk on Sunday I spent most of the day with the people of Berea Church; in the Sunday morning worship service and then with some of the pastors at lunch afterward. SAMSUNGI saw many old friends there and, as always, enjoyed the congregational singing immensely. They lift the roof off the place with high volume multi-part melodies and harmonies that give familiar hymns a very unique sound. I also appreciate the way so many, including the kids, are involved in the service. I preached on Jeremiah 29.1-14 as one of the most misunderstood and misused passages in all of scripture in our modern churches. They asked me to post the outline and main points of the sermon so here it is below…

I titled the sermon “A prosperity theology for God’s people today.” The main point is that God rules and will bring about his eternal future prosperous kingdom (the shalom of God’s presence forever). To be part of that future prosperity you must conform to his plan for present prosperity, which is to “live as an exile” in this present world by being focused on sacrificially bringing God’s blessing to the community you live in. As Jesus said, when you do that (give up all to follow him), you will receive “prosperity,” but with persecution. We “prosper” now as we give over everything to the service of Christ by serving our community as an investment toward our prosperity in the future kingdom.

Jeremiah wrote the letter to the exiles in Babylon to tell them the exile would be long. God’s promises of return and blessing in Jerusalem would not happen in their lifetime. Thus, they should settle down in Babylon and bring God’s blessing (prayer) by serving the communities in Babylon. Their present prosperity would depend on how Babylon prospered. Future kingdom prosperity would come in God’s timing. God is the “God of armies” who controls all time and events and He will make it happen.

We prosper when we live in the world as exiles. Our focus must be on God’s kingdom business. Our job is to serve the communities in which God has placed us by prayer, witness and loving daily mundane acts of love. We, as walking, talking ambassadors of God’s kingdom, are to bring the presence of Christ into these communities in a holistic way (meet the needs). God will prosper us by giving us the resources we need to do this. (We prosper in order to give it away) In the midst of this we will be misunderstood and be persecuted. (see Daniel 1-6 for an example of how to wisely this way).

The ultimate kingdom will be brought about by God in his timing and His way. The judgment for entry into ultimate prosperity will be based on “did we follow Jesus” and “did we serve his people.” Just as God eventually restored exiled Israel, our exile will also end when we meet Jesus in death or at his return.

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