2412 Griffith Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011   (213) 748-0318   info@secondbaptistchurchla.org

SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES

Inspirational messages for Sunday May 17 through Saturday May 23 revised for 135th anniversary

 
Sunday May 17, 2020 / 135th Church Anniversary 


These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 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. 7 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.  Do not listen to the prophets and the diviners who are among you, deceive you and do not listen to the dreams they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name.  Jeremiah 29:1, 4-9

Introduction

Many are touched by adversity, they fall down and they never get back up, whereas some go through adversity and discover their true self.  Mariah Carey / And then a hero comes along / With the strength to carry on / And you cast your fears aside / And you know you can survive / So when you feel like hope is gone / Look inside you and be strong / And you'll finally see the truth / That a hero lies in you ....

Acknowledge the reality of your adversity.  Adversity is an undesirable / unfavorable / unpleasant condition marked by calamity, distress or misfortune.  “Adversity is like a strong wind that holds us back from places we might otherwise go.  Strong winds also give us the opportunity to rise above them by also tearing away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.” (Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha).

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails of our lives to use the wind to our advantage to the best of our ability.  The poetess Ella Wheeler Wilcox puts it in the following words: 

One ship sails East, / And another West, / By the self-same winds that blow, / 'Tis the set of the sails / And not the gales, / That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea / Are the waves of time, / As we journey along through life, / 'Tis the set of the soul, / That determines the goal, / And not the calm or the strife. 

It is the set of the sail that determines the goal and not the way the wind blows.  It’s not what happens that determines your life's future. It’s what you do about what happens. All of us are like a little sailboat and it’s not the blowing of the wind that determines your destination.  It’s the set of the sail.
 
Adversity can break you or make you, the choice is yours.  Life presents us with adverse situations.  It has been suggested you will have to decide what you are going to do until your situation changes or gets better.  What do you do when presented with one of those kinds of situations in life?

We find one of these situations of adversity in Jeremiah 29. Look at verse 1. “This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon"(NIV). These people were wondering, what do we do until this exile is over? God gave them an answer.

We find ourselves facing a situation of adversity with Covid-19 Corona virus which has altered the way we live in ways that require that we practice social distancing, washing of hands frequently, wearing masks, self-quarantining and staying at home.  Large gatherings are not recommended in order to curtail, confine and prevent the spread of this pandemic crisis which is world-wide and has infected at least 4.4 million people world-wide with 303,000 deaths, and 1.4 million in the United States with 86,736 deaths.

Consider what it means to have authentic words from a reliable source to create confidence in times of a pandemic crisis. 


Monday May 18, 2020
 
. 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.

Affirm the reality that God is with you in your adversity.

This verse reminds us that “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”.  God permitted them to be carried to Babylon.  This is a difficult truth to accept.  God may have allowed you to be where you are today.  This is one of the difficult aspects of believing in the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God means that God allows, knows, or permits even challenging difficulty into our lives.

You are where you are for a reason and some would say for a season.  In any event you are where you are because you have been carried there by circumstances whether consequences of your choices, circumstances beyond your control, or conditions due to the lack of control.  All are part of the equation of the winds that blow in our lives whether favorable or unfavorable. 

Jeremiah wasn’t sugar coating the reality.  The reason the Hebrew people had been carried into exile in the first place was because it was a part of the consequences of their choices and it was not something that was going to end very soon. It certainly was not a very popular message. The people wanted to hear that God would turn this around for them in a short while, and they would all be allowed to go home and pick up with their lives and possessions just as before.  But that’s not what Jeremiah told them.  Instead, the message he had for them was this: “God knows what’s being done.  God has a plan despite what's happening. You have to trust the plan that you do not understand.”

One of the practical things we can do when faced with adversity is realize with the psalmist that our times are in God’s hand (care), the good times, the not so good times, and the in-between times (Psalm 31:15). 

Consider what it means that God is with you in your adversity.  What does it mean to you that you are not facing what you are without the Lord knowing what you are going through? 


Tuesday May 19, 2020

Adhere to the advice that is given to be productive where you are. 

Look at what the prophet says God told the people to do. You will find this in verses 5-6. “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 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. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it” (NIV).

God transform their perspective on their predicament.  There is always something you can do. 

5 Build houses and live in them.  (protect and shelter yourself)

Build houses and settle down. God was telling them that it was not time yet to go home, and that they needed to maintain the normal routines of their lives. The most accurate translation of this phrase is build houses and live in them. They needed to understand that it was not an accident that they were in Babylon. True, the sins of the nation had led to this result, but God was in control of the situation as they dealt with the consequences of their choices. It was vitally important that they keep trusting God to see them through. 

By telling them to build houses—by even communicating with them—God was letting them know first of all that God had not forgotten them. God makes it clear in verse four that God was actually the one who had permitted this to happen.  When they are told to build houses it was an indication that the Lord has not abandoned them.   

Build houses and settle down / build houses to protect yourself from the elements that will destroy you / disappoint you / distress you.  Build what you need to protect yourself / emotionally, mentally and psychologically /  build your houses and settle down  / make a decision and resolve what you are going to do once and for all.  

Consider what you need to build to protect and shelter yourself.  Make a list. 


Wednesday May 20, 2020

"Plant gardens and eat what they produce / (produce and provide what you need for sustenance and strength.

The Hebrew word used here designates a walled orchard, containing a grove of trees. It would have been one thing for God to tell them to plant butterbeans, and eat them, but quite another to tell them that they should plant an orchard of trees, and wait for them to produce fruit.  You are going to be going through this for the long haul so you will need to nourish yourself and maintain your health and strength. 

We may be tempted to get bog down in the ugly details of life with adversity. It may be difficult to visualize what tomorrow will be like, much less plan from day to day, or beyond. But that is when it is most necessary. God is not finished with us yet, and in spite of the way things may look at any given moment, it is important for us to realize that we are in God's care.  The sun goes down today, but the eyes of faith allow us to see that the sun will rise tomorrow and many more tomorrows.   

Consider what you need to produce and provide for your sustenance and strength emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually.  Make a list. 


Thursday May 21, 2020

Cherish hopes for the future under the most trying circumstances.
 
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."

 The Jews were to remember the promise of restoration.  They were not to allow their race to die out (v. 6).  A great future was still before them.   History has confirmed the predictions of the prophets.  The scattered and ruined people were recalled, restored and renewed.  From the stock of the despondent exiles there sprang not only all that was great and good in later Jewish history, but Jesus Christ and the Christian Faith. In the darkest moments we should not forget that, though not a ray of light has yet appeared on the horizon, the sun will surely rise and the day return.  Christianity is peculiarly a religion/faith of the future; it encourages us to press forward to the belief that there is always a yet to be, the best is always yet to come.   

Prepare for what you want to be as you make it through what is.  The sun goes down today, but the eyes of faith allow us to see that it will again, again, and again rise many more tomorrows until..........  There is always tomorrow.  The sun will come out tomorrow.  Another day is coming with another opportunity with the promise of the potential of something better. 

Consider the hope you cherish as you make a choice to  reproduce the relationships that will reap the restoration that will replace the ruin adversity has caused. 

Friday May 22, 2020

7 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. 

Seek the peace of the city .....for in the peace thereof you shall have peace.  Act with the loyalty of a responsible citizen.  Though a nation may be under unrighteous rule, it should still be remembered that there are duties under which and by which we live that claim our allegiance, commitment and faith.  If it is our duty to seek the peace of the city where we live, your condition improves as the city improves, the nation improves.  How much more are we bound to interest ourselves in the public duties for the good of our own country?  Citizens personal conditions  improved through the successful discharge of public duties.  The citizens reap the fruits of the peace of the city.  In ministering to others generally we shall discover the secret of our own blessedness. We are blessed as we bless others.  Imagine the reciprocity that occurs with singularity of focus, seeking the welfare of all which ultimately benefits all.  

In fact, the phrase peace and prosperity includes a wide range of things, among them health, blessing, prosperity, basic needs, and satisfaction. This is the Hebrew word shalom, which most of us recognize as being the word for peace. The whole idea here is that you are going to improve the quality of life for everyone even those who took you into captivity.   

Consider what it means to seek the peace as a citizen who fulfills his/her responsibility in accountability for the common good of everyone.   Make a list. 

 
Saturday May 23, 2020

Do not listen to the prophets and the diviners who are among you, deceive you and do not listen to the dreams they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name. 

Concluding  thoughts.  

Listen to and trust the Lord's promises / Do not listen to faithless people. (be discriminating) Look at what God told these people. “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams they encourage you to have.  They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them, ‘declares the Lord.”(vs. 8-9 NIV). These false prophets were faithless people. They did not speak for God.

Borrowing strength from our hope of a promised future is the shape, source and substance of what we find in sacred writ.  The journey in faith is nothing more than the promise of the possibility of the potential of what can be.  We live our lives between the promise of our potential and the possibility of our fulfillment. 
 
Biblical hope is different in meaning from our common usage of the term. In modern English, the word "hope" reflects uncertainty. In the Bible, it is more like waiting patiently for what we know will come, and being motivated by what awaits us.

Consider what it means to have hope in the future that the Lord promises rather than give up to the adversity of contrary winds and faithless people.  Consider what it means to hope in what God has done in Christ about a promising future.