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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Trusting God's Promise, Christmas 2

Jeremiah is the prophet of heart break and doom. He warned the people of God  to no avail. Jeremiah is the man who told God “I wish I had never been born” because being a prophet was too hard. Jeremiah, the prophet priest crying for unrepentant people is often seen as a type of Christ. The Lord Jesus also cried over Jerusalem, “How I longed to bring you under my wings and protect you from the wrath to come, but you refused!” Heart broken by their unbelief, Jesus died for us on the cross, but the temporal wrath of Jerusalem’s destruction was not averted. In 70 AD it was destroyed. I point this out because it makes today’s reading all the more powerful. This message is a-typical from Jeremiah. Warnings, even bleak warnings, are more his style, not consolation. 
God's judgment is in the air and Jerusalem, refusing to heed his warnings, is doomed. Jeremiah, never an optimist, gives us hope in God. The scattered sheep will be gathered. The ones in exile will be ransomed and redeemed. The comfort of God will be a radiant bounty, it will make old and young dance for joy. It is the image of unimaginable blessing and joy. Such a message from Jeremiah is good news indeed, especially as uttered before the fall and exile. He who faces the literal end of his nation is proclaiming good news of God’s future promise to a people not yet born!
 He is not an optimist, doom will come, but neither is he a pessimist, doom is not the final word. He is hopeful because he trusts in God's promise!

This is Paul's vision of God as well. “Blessed be God!” God is to be glorified because in Christ we have every spiritual blessing given us. He has called us into His love (making us holy and blameless). The word blameless in the Jewish Bible doesn’t mean sinless, for all are sinners, blameless means to be freed of the guilt of sin. The sin is no longer a barrier to our place in the Father’s house. In Jesus, the Son, we are adopted as sons and daughters. Adoption in the ancient world had a more political function. It was a means to improve a person's status. We are the children of God. Children of the Kingdom, our future includes every imaginable blessing, but the future has already begun. We have been taken from the world into a new realm, with full status as a child of the King of Kings!

I know a father with a college age son. He told his son, you are stronger than me now. The boy replied, not yet, but someday I will be. This story is the cycle of life, each man dreams that his son will become a better man than He is, that His son will make fewer mistakes and do greater things. It is the mythological core of the story of Lancelot and Galahad! And it is the promise of Jesus.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

The church has a task to believe Jesus is telling the truth. We must embrace the promise of God and believe, here and now, with a rational mind and inquiring heart. [We must avoid simple minded delusions and fantasies. We must also beware of the cynicism and skepticism of an unbelieving heart.] Faith unlocks the power of God's Kingdom in each of our lives.

How can we do more than Jesus? Because He is reigning in heaven, working in and through us!
God in Jesus has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Every one of them. So like Paul let us pray thanks and praise, praise and thanks. Let us glorify the God who has given us, in Christ, every blessing in the heaven. Let us trust God at His word and open to receive every spiritual blessing. Let us live in “the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe.” As we believe more, and more boldly live the promises, then we will see that power in Jesus at work in and through us.

Like Paul and Jeremiah we live in a time when our own "city of God" (wherever we live) is threatened by unbelief and unfaithfulness. We have seen the promise fulfilled in Jesus and know that Jeremiah's hopes have a sure foundation. We also know the dark reality of sin and unbelief. Each day is precious and so we do not want to waste even one. Let us live now as the servants of God.

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