God Has Specific Plans For You

Learning The Importance Of Trusting God's Plan For Our Lives.

Ross Sawyers
Aug 23, 2020    53m
Trusting God's plan for our lives can feel scary. Yet, in examining the story of the prophet Jeremiah, we learn that when God has a plan for you He is not asking you to do it on your own, He is with you. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: 00:06 Well, how awesome was that with the baptisms just a few minutes ago? And I just love it when God gets hold of somebody's heart, and then they start to walk in obedience to him, ad one of those steps for obedience is in baptism. And I just love the courage and the boldness and the desire for them to share what's going on in their lives. And I hope for all of us that God grabs our hearts the same way, and that we're walking with him in really healthy and strong ways.

Ross Sawyers: 00:38 In North Africa there are a number of things that go on with families who are following Christ, and these are areas that are difficult and challenging areas, living out our faith. In one particular incident is a little boy named Hassan, five years old. And he and his family were out and around, and Hassan was just looking to play with his friends, but they had to duck because rocks were being thrown at them. And the dad quickly swooped in, as a rock was thrown at his five-year-old son, picked him up and then headed away from there. And Hassan, a little boy saying to his dad, he just wants to play, and this isn't necessarily an unusual incident for them. And they made their way home, and Hassan, disappointed asked his dad, you know, why can we not just play? Why does this happen? And his dad said, it's because we're different, it's because we're followers of Jesus. And in the village and the town that we live in most of the people have a different religion, and they don't accept who we are and what our religion is. Can you imagine being a parent and raising a child in an area of the world where simply because you're a follower of Jesus, that you would have to consider how to swoop your child up to avoid having rocks thrown at them because they know Jesus, they're follower of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 02:20 If you'll turn in your Bibles to Jeremiah chapter one, you heard that read just a few minutes ago, and that's where we'll hang out in our time, in Jeremiah chapter 1 verses 4 through 10. We're thinking about the underground church, and the underground church are those followers of Jesus that are meeting secretly in parts of the world because of their faith. And then there are a number of places across the world, including our own country today where people are being persecuted because of their faith in Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 02:51 We laid the groundwork for this last week in Matthew chapter 5 verses 10 through 12, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Jesus actually says that the person who has a total state of wellbeing, is the person who's persecuted because of righteousness, the righteousness of Jesus. And then he says it another way, he says, "Blessed are those who persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against, you and insult you, because of me." And Jesus says the kind of persecution I'm referring to, is that persecution that's because of Jesus, because of being a follower of Jesus. And then he says, the way we're to respond to that is to rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, and so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Joy in looking forward to heaven, to the reward in heaven, and that is where he tells us to look. And it's a privilege for us to work with each other, for each other's joy. For each other to have a glad heart, a glad heart that can only come in Christ.

Ross Sawyers: 04:08 And then we lean towards what Paul says when he's writing to the Thessalonians. And he says to them that the ones who have come to faith in Christ, that are following Jesus, that he's had the privilege to walk with. He says, you are my joy, and when Jesus comes back, you'll be my joy before him. So we're thinking about the underground church, and what it means to be persecuted for our faith. We're thinking about how we can be inspired by them, our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. And it matters because God is gathering up a family of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation all over the world, and this is family who are being persecuted all over the world. And my hope would be that in these months together, in thinking about the underground church and the persecuted, that we would not only be aware of what's going on across the world, but we would become enmeshed in such a way that we would pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and the situations they're in, and that we would learn from them. So that as persecution continues to amp up in our own country, that we might be best prepared to enter into that season with joy, and with our eyes fixed on heaven and the reward that's beyond our place here.

Ross Sawyers: 05:36 We want to anchor ourselves in God's word in Jeremiah, and that's where we'll hang out in these coming weeks. If you missed the last two weeks, or one of the last two weeks, could I encourage you to go back? Because it sets the course for where we're headed for these next few months, with these eight ways of following Jesus' commands of loving God and loving our neighbor, and then the underground church and the ways that we hope to simulate that in the days ahead.

Ross Sawyers: 06:08 When we think about Jeremiah, just give a little background, and it's important that we understand background of the books of the Bible that we study. We want to understand context and why things are written for us, and why they're written in a way that honors God. When we think about Jeremiah, the prophet, he had a really difficult life. It was a challenging life that he led. He was born in a small town, just a few miles outside of Jerusalem's. So he was near the big city, but he was in a rural kind of setting. He was called to be a prophet somewhere around the mid six-twenties, BC. And we think, the best we know, that he was probably in his early twenties, maybe in his late teenage years, when he began, what would be a 40 year run as a prophet for the Lord. He was young when he was called, and he was raised in a family that was a priestly family. So he had probably a rich lineage of faith, he understood worship, he understood the sacrificial system, he understood quite a bit about God's law. So here we have a young man from a small town in a priestly setting, and this is the man that God calls out in this season of time.

Ross Sawyers: 07:36 From what we know about Jeremiah, he was never married. And in his 40 years we see very little fruit, maybe is a good word to say, from his ministry. There are two known converts for Jeremiah during that time, Baruch who we'll see later in the study, and then an Ethiopian Eunuch, are two that we know responded to the message. Think about that for a minute, in our day where we thrive so much for success in our churches to go 40 years being faithful to God, and the bulk of those years you see nothing change, you actually only see it get worse, and yet he persevered. Some think about Jeremiah as the weeping prophet, for those who are familiar with scripture, you would have heard along the way, Jeremiah is the weeping prophet. We see a lot more emotion in Jeremiah than we see perhaps in other prophets, and other people in the scripture. And I like what somebody said though, I think that that doesn't really do him well, because when we look at what Jeremiah went through, the way he persevered in difficult times, that really the persevering prophet might be a better way to describe him. I like the descriptor that someone gave in that way. And a few weeks ago we talked about Martin Luther King, and King talked about Christians being tough minded and tender hearted. And when I think about Jeremiah, I think about someone that was tough minded and then tender hearted towards the Lord.

Ross Sawyers: 09:18 And why did Jeremiah have such a difficult life? It's because he lived in troubled times. He lived in a difficult season of Israel's history. At this point, Judah, which is the Southern half of Israel, is the one that remains. Israel, the northern half had been taken into exile by the Assyrians. In this season of time, in the 600's BC, Assyria was the world power. And you can just think about today, think about how our nation's roll today, when I describe how it rolled in Jeremiah's day. Assyria was the world power, and Josiah had emerged as the King of Judah. Josiah was really young when he became the King, and he was in his 13th year of his reign, he would have been in his twenties when Jeremiah emerged as a prophet. So you have this young King, and he's actually the last faithful King before exile would come to the people of Judah. So Jeremiah becomes a prophet during a time when there was a King who was faithful to God, there were reforms going on under King Josiah, but it didn't take long after Josiah's death for the demise of the nation. It doesn't take long when a leader passes, for a nation to totally shift, it doesn't take long at all. And we see in Israel's history that there is a quick demise here, specifically in Judah. And once Josiah dies, there's a political, social, financial, and moral decay that took hold of this tiny little nation at a rapid pace, and it happened under the poor leadership of kings.

Ross Sawyers: 11:26 Assyria had been the world power, but there's a shift going on in world power right now, and Babylon becomes the new power. In an attempt to not be overcome by Babylon, Judah, this small little nation tried to align themselves with different nations. But it ended in 586, 587 BC, when the Babylonians overtook Judah and the bulk of them were taken into exile. In Jeremiah's lifespan as a prophet 40 years, he emerged under a good King, he saw several kings that were unfaithful, he watched a shift in world power, and then he saw the demise of his own nation. There's a judgment from God because of their disobedience to him, yet, Jeremiah faithful to the end. This is why I want us to hang out in Jeremiah in this season of time, that we might be like him. That regardless of the times that we live, that we would be faithful to what it is that God has called us to be, and to do.

Ross Sawyers: 12:53 And what I'd like to think about as we launch into Jeremiah today, is this idea that God has specific plans for you. Well, we want to look at God's specific plans for Jeremiah, and I'm not by any way, indicating that the same plan that God had for Jeremiah is the same plan that he has for you. But what I would say from here, is that we know that God has a very specific plan for you, very specific. And I want to see it unfold as we tie in the scripture, and then roam around a little bit into other parts of God's word. And I hope if you don't already understand this idea that there are specific plans for you, God has specific plans for you. If you're in your living room this morning, God has a specific plan for you. If you're just listening, he has a specific plan for you. If you're sitting in here, he has a plan for you. God has not forgotten you, God did not design you without something in mind for you, God has a specific plan for you. I want you to make sure you hear that today, that God has a specific plan for you. He has a plan for you. In verses 4 and 5, he initiates the plan. God has a specific plan for you, and it's not your plan, it's not my plan, it's God's plan and he initiates the plan. We're simply getting in on the plan that God initiate, it's his plan.

Ross Sawyers: 14:32 What do I mean by that with Jeremiah? Let's look in verses 4 and 5 on that first thought, that God is the initiator of the plan. "Now the word of the Lord came to me saying..." So he's speaking to Jeremiah, in verse 5, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Now that's clearly from the Lord, he hears from the Lord. And it would seem that Jeremiah had developed some kind of relationship with God over this period of time in his growing up years, and here he is, he's able to hear God's word.

Ross Sawyers: 15:10 And this is what God says, "Before I formed you..." Now, I want you to know today, I'm not going to go here and just hang out on life in the womb. But I'd be remiss if I didn't make the comment that will be very clear as we look at this part, that God sees life beginning in the womb, even before you're in the womb. This is a life, whenever there is conception, that is life at that moment. And before that moment, God knows who that is at conception. Life, life in the womb, it is not okay as a Christian, really to me as a human, to not see that life begins at conception in the womb. And God knows somebody before they're even at that point, it's a person at that point. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Jeremiah, before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. In Ephesians chapter 1, the scripture says that God chose us in him. When? When you trust Jesus? These young men just trusted Jesus, is that when? No, see He chose them before the foundation of the world. Before the world was even created, in eternity God already had in his mind that he would choose these young men, how cool is that?

Ross Sawyers: 17:16 Before you were ever in the womb, I knew you. That word knew is to say, it means to foreknow. It's Romans 8:29, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son." The image of Jesus. Foreknew, there is a knowing before we ever are in the womb. In Psalm 139, you heard that read, and inside the womb God is fearfully and wonderfully designing. Making every person, personality, the giftings, the vocational ideas that he has, in the womb shaping and forming that child. Can you imagine? To think about this moment if you're carrying a child in the womb, that God is the one fashioning that baby inside of you. Before you were in the womb, I chose you. You're in the womb, I'm designing and making you.

Ross Sawyers: 18:23 In Acts 17:26, the scripture says that God is the one who determines our appointed times and boundaries of our habitation. So God, before the foundation of the world, chooses us, and then he knits us in our mother's womb, and he designed us for an appointed time. It's no mistake that we live in the generation in which we live. This is the moment in time where God designed for us to be, and he has specific plans for you and for me, that he's initiated to be in this appointed time, in this habitation. Wherever it is that you live right now, God has appointed that you would be in that place, in that neighborhood, in that work environment, in that school, in this region of the world. Whichever region he has you today, the scripture says he's appointed those times and the boundaries of their habitation. Before I formed you in the womb, Jeremiah, I knew you.

Ross Sawyers: 19:34 In Deuteronomy 7, when God talks about choosing Israel as his own, he says to them, it's not because you're more in number than everybody else, it's not because of any other reason except for I set my love and affection on you. Just think about that a minute, that the God of the universe sets his affection and love on us. In Ephesians 1, it says he lavishes his grace on us, all this, according to his good pleasure, it's his pleasure to do so. Do you know that today? In the depth of your heart, do you believe that God has good pleasure on you, that he sets his affection and his love on you? And not for one thing that you or I can do, simply because of who we are, he designed us for himself.

Ross Sawyers: 20:46 "Before were born, I consecrated you." That word consecrated means, I set you apart. And then, "I've appointed you a prophet to the nations." This is God's specific call, specific plan that he's initiated for Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations, he's appointed him. Now, do we see other times in scripture where God does this before someone even comes out of the womb? Yeah. In Galatians chapter 1 verses 15 and 16, Paul says that God set me apart from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, through his lavish grace He called me. Now think about that for a minute, here's Paul who persecuted the church, he was going door to door, taking people out that were following Jesus. So we never give up on those who are persecuting Christians, God might have set them apart in the womb as well, just waiting to see them rescued and adopted as his sons and daughters.

Ross Sawyers: 22:02 David was called out, Jeremiah, Paul, the Ephesian Christians. And when I read this in scripture, I think we can bring it to today and say that God has uniquely made you, he's uniquely designed you, he has uniquely made you for this generation of time. He has given each of us a set number of days, we don't know what those days are, we want to be faithful in the days that he gives. And what God is doing is designing, forming, and weaving everyone together for his purposes and his glory. I just think it has to be the coolest perspective from God's view to look and see that he has specific plans for every person, and with every person that he has specific plans for, that he's weaving that together all over the world for the sake of his own glory and his own kingdom, to gather more and more people in and to be followers of his. Now, in this weaving together in the specific plans God has for you, not everybody is going to be a prophet to the nations. You read this and you think, I'm out on the prophet thing, I don't see myself being a prophet to the nations, I can't see that. For some, God will be calling you to the nations, but for most, I think we can be fair today and say, most are not going to be called as prophets to the nations.

Ross Sawyers: 23:48 What God does have is different vocational callings for every person. And what we want to know is that we're walking intimately and tightly with God, so that we hear, just as Jeremiah did, what our call is. What is that vocational calling? What is it that he has invited me and designed for me to do? There are those that God has specifically designed to be financial planners. There are those that God has wired to be entrepreneurs. They're those that God has called very specifically to be teachers. There are those that God has specific plans to be mechanics. There are those that God has called to be business people. They're those that God has called very specifically and designed to be first responders. They're those that God has called to be military. There are those that God has called to be politicians in this day, God has called some to be athletes, and to have influence in that realm. God has called others to be artists. And God has specifically called out some to be vocational missionaries all over the globe. What has God specifically designed you to do? What plan does he have for you?

Ross Sawyers: 25:31 And our vocations are a gift from God, for the common good of humanity, and we value the vocation in and of itself. Sometimes you hear from the church that the reason you work is so you make money so you can give, or so that you can be with other people so you can share the gospel, or that you with others that you can encourage as Christians. I would say, all of that is true, and your work itself is of value. Enjoy the work, because. God has designed specific people for specific jobs. And as a Christian, if you're his, he's given you specific giftings in the body of Christ to be used for himself. So that every person has something that God has given you to be a part of, to help build up other Christians. Those giftings range in a number of ways, those may be serving, it might be teaching, it might be hospitality, it might be generosity, it might be a wide number of things that are giftings in the body.

Ross Sawyers: 26:48 Not only has God vocationally given us specific callings, he's also given us specific giftings in the body of Christ. And what I want to encourage parents because you have, and grandparents, and whoever the particular caregivers are of children, you have a particularly high calling to understand the bent of your children and the way God has wired them and made them in the womb, so that you raise them according to that bent and that they might best thrive in the way that God has designed and called them. God has specific plans for every child, and whatever the vocation is that we're a part of, embedded in it is being an ambassador for Christ. God specifically has called every one of us to be ambassadors for him. And ambassadors are representative, I'm simply representing Christ in whatever vocation and gifting he's given me. As parents, I think it's crucial that you model for your kids, that it's clear that God has called you into this vocation. And then the giftings that you have in the church, in the body that you're using to build up each other, that you're utilizing those. Children imitate, we can tell them all day long this is what you're supposed to do, what they're going to do most of the time is what they see you do. It's an incredible responsibility God has given.

Ross Sawyers: 28:35 In Deuteronomy chapter 6, familiar to some maybe not to others, verses 4 through 7, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently..." To who? "...to your sons and to your daughters. And you shall talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up." Every parent, I know this much for specific plans for you, and that is if God has gifted you with children, that when they rise up in the morning, and when they walk about through the day, and when they sit down, and when they stand up, and when they lie down, I know it is your specific responsibility to nurture them in the ways of God, in the love of God, in the Word of God. That They are immersed and flooded with the mercies and grace of God, that they're hearing it taught, and they're seeing it modeled. Look, I know we're not perfect, and I'm not suggesting that. I think one of the best things we can do with our kids is tell them we're sorry when we don't get it right. But I know this is the high call, that our kids are nurtured in a way that they know what the specific plans are that God has for them. I would say it's incredibly more important now.

Ross Sawyers: 30:24 One of our guys on staff, he says to me, the other day, it just really resonated when he said it. He goes, this is a time where parents have to step it up even more. Your kids, right now in light of what our cultural moment is, even parents that their kids just graduated high school. If you've got one's younger, it's already a whole new world that you'll be parenting in then the rest of us did, from pre-K on up. And I love what this guy said, it is time for parents to step up your game. And I can tell you this, with somewhat certainty. Now God will reach in, and he's gracious a lot of times when we don't do our part, but if you're not the one immersing and flooding your kids with a ways of God, it won't take long before their minds are shaped and molded by culture in a world that wants your child. And they want to shape your child, they want to shape the mind of your child, they want to indoctrinate your child, that's what they want to do with your child. And this is a moment where you get to decide, am I going to lead them in the ways of God, or am I going to let the world have them and shape their minds young and lead them? Who will lead in your home? So many parents here, you're doing fantastic in leading your kids. We're praying with you and for you in these moments, and that your kids will be warriors in the kingdom.

Ross Sawyers: 32:10 A few years ago at a California college a speech prof, just to give you an example, this is a few years ago. The prof was bullying one of his students in his speech class. Why? Because Jonathan Lopez spoke and did a speech about his beliefs on marriage. And when he started his speech on marriage from a biblical perspective, this is a speech at a university campus, the professor stopped him and started to bully him and call him names and refused to let him finish. He continued his harassment over the course of the semester, and then an organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom eventually in court ruled in favor of Jonathan Lopez, he persevered in his class. And I just want you to know today, that's happening in our elementary schools, that's happening in our middle schools, that's happening in our high schools, it's happening in our colleges. And we're sending our students away to colleges today where the worldview is the furthest thing from a Christian worldview. And we walk away stunned, when at 23, they come back and their minds are shaped the way they've been shaped. We have just a few years to love, to model, to show the love Christ. They'll be able to withstand, and not only withstand, but to persevere and to thrive with joy in a culture that will increasingly be against them.

Ross Sawyers: 33:46 God initiates the plans for us in this cultural moment, and he's with you to do the plan. So you think, okay, that's great, I have this plan. God has this plan for me, I'm about the plan, and now how do I do it? Well, he's with you ,verses 6 through 8, Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” Alas, Lord, look, I don't know how to speak, I'm a youth. He immediately explains to God, this is why I can't do this. So when God initiate his plan for us, oftentimes we say, I can't do that. You're asking me to do this, no, I'm not able, I'm too young, I don't have enough experience, I don't do well. Moses, in Exodus 4:10, he immediately told God when God said, hey, by the way, I'm calling you out to lead my people out of slavery from Egypt, kind of a big task I have for you, and I think you'll do a fantastic job at it. And Moses immediately says, I can't do that, I'm not eloquent enough, I never have been. I'm slow of speech and slow of tongue, he says.

Ross Sawyers: 34:57 In verse 7, the Lord says, don't say that. "But the Lord said to me, do not say..." As soon as we start saying why we can't do something, God is the one who initiated the plan, and God is the one will be with you to do the plan no matter how difficult, and Jeremiah's was incredibly difficult. The Lord said, don't say that, don't make excuses, don't give me your list of reasons why you cannot, this isn't about you. If I thought you could do it without me, then I would just let you go and do it. But I have plans for you, that the only way you'll get those done is with me being with you, I'm with you. So, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak." Like everywhere you go, I am sending, you just go where I send you, and speak what I give you to speak. Go where I send you and speak what I give you to speak, I'll give it to you. This would be somewhat like being the parent of a teenager. When you have teenagers, there's a season of time and it's probably children as well at this point, but you really don't have to plan anything anymore. It's all planned for you, it's just a matter of, okay, how do we work it out today? Here's the plan. And God says, Hey look, Jeremiah, I've got the plan for you. I know where I'm going to send you, and I know what I want you to say. So just stay attuned to God's designs, I'm not dependent on your life experience. You say, well, I don't have enough experience to do that, got to start somewhere. I've got to plan for you, here's where I want you to go, this is what I want you to say. You just get moving in it, I'll take care of it, I'll lead you along the way.

Ross Sawyers: 37:15 It's not dependent on your credibility. How often do we think, gosh, if that person just came to Jesus, they would have such an impact, and they would just turn the world upside down. I don't know if they would or not. It might be the kid in the school that you don't even know their name because you've never met them, and they're sitting in the back and nobody ever talks to them. And God's got his affections and loves set on that child, and that child is going to be the game changer, not the leader in the school. Now it might be the leader in the school, I have no idea, but it's not about necessarily our experience, or our credibility, or our strengths, or our giftings. And by the way, I can easily fall into this trap, I assume most of us can. And we say, okay, well, God might want to use this, but not that. Well, no, let's just see what God wants to do. This is super natural, what's happening here, if it's something that you and I can do on our own, maybe that's not God's plan. God is going to have things for us, that the only way it will occur is supernaturally, and because he's in on it and then it'll happen.

Ross Sawyers: 38:37 In verse 8, he says, what all of us need to hear, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD." And when we see Jeremiah's life, we'll understand why God told him upfront, Don't be afraid, I'll deliver you. He gets in so many precarious circumstances, apart from that promise, there's no way he thinks he survives. So, don't be afraid, don't be afraid. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" The Psalmist says in chapter 27, verse 1, "The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?" Romans 8:31, "I'm with you. If I'm with you, then who can be against you?" He's with us, we need to hear that he's with us, he's with us to deliver us. He is with Jeremiah, he'll be with us, and he'll give us what we need in the moment.

Ross Sawyers: 39:33 One of the coolest things to me about Jesus and his disciples, is that when Jesus was walking with these 12 men, they were with him, they were with him. And when he ascended, he said his spirit would come. And for those who know Jesus, now his spirit is with us. And he said, his spirit is the one that will give us what we need in the moment, he'll give us what we need to say in the moment. The Holy Spirit, the same spirit of God, the same spirit who's with Jesus, the same spirit who was with all of these men and women of the faith through the years. If you know Jesus, the same Holy Spirit is in you, is in you. He's with you and me.

Ross Sawyers: 40:21 We can choose to either fear God or fear man, fear God or fear man. In Proverbs 29:25 it says, The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted." I can't do this, I can't do that. I'm afraid of what people think, I need the approval of other people. No, that's fear of man. Instead, it's a fear of God, and with the fear of God comes wisdom. Paul writes Timothy in Second Timothy 1:7, and he says to him not to be timid. We're not of those that are timid, but from God, we have power love, discipline. Paul's last letter that he writes before he dies, he knows he's about to die. He writes to Timothy, and he's having to tell Timothy to not be timid. This is the same Timothy writes and says in that letter in chapter 2, verses 1 and 2, "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, And then take what I've given you and pass it on to faithful men who will pass it on to faithful men." I'm grateful that Paul, in his last days, in his final words to someone would say to someone that was timid, fearful, hey, that's not who we are in Christ, there's power in him, and I'm trusting you to take what I said and to pass it on, and to pass it on, and to pass it on, and it goes through the generations.

Ross Sawyers: 42:08 We do this by being tethered to the Word of God in Psalm 1:2 and 3, "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers." We're tethered to God's word. This is how we can do any of what we're being asked to do, is to meditate and think on God's word. In Iran right now, there is a number of people that are coming to Jesus, coming to faith in Christ. In one of the ways they're preparing themselves for the persecution they face in their country, is to hide in meditate and memorize God's word. We saw a list the other day, I can't remember, it sounded like it was a hundred verses or something that they're memorizing. They're just locking God's word away, so that if there's a day they don't have it, that it's locked away in their hearts. They're meditating on it, they're thinking on it day and night. When we hide it in our hearts, we can't help but have it flow through. May our houses be flooded with the Word of God, and that our children are strong trees that emerge out of our homes and that they're bearing fruit for all of their days.

Ross Sawyers: 43:22 One of the Bible translations that we've done, and funded through 121, is with the Riga people in India. And in their particular community, it practices witchcraft and they're animists. And with the translation of the scripture, and the missionaries that are there, and with God's word, a number of people are coming to Christ, turning to Christianity. But the local and state governments as they've seen them come to Christ, have started to refuse subsidies and aid to those who follow Jesus. So it makes it difficult for people to embrace Christ, because they're going to lose their source of food, water, security, and income. What would God say to them? Don't be afraid, I'm going to deliver you. It might look different than the government subsidies, but don't be afraid, I've got a plan for you and I'm with you. We can be encouraged today, our brothers and sisters in Christ in hard places, are coming to Christ.

Ross Sawyers: 44:34 And we're encouraged by Jesus himself in Hebrews 12:3, "For consider him who endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart." We consider Jesus more than anything when persecution comes. One thought I had recently in thinking about the kinds of things we're talking about, when there's persecution, we'll read our Bibles differently. Most of us have come to Christ in times when it's been easy in our country, and we skip over those places about fear, persecution, and the evil, and the onslaught of evil. We can read more of our Bible now, it comes a little bit more alive in understanding when we understand our own context.

Ross Sawyers: 45:30 Well, not only does God initiate the plan, and be with us during the plan, he gives the message for the plan. In verses 9 and 10, "The LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. (I am going to give you exactly what you need) “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” What is he saying there? One, we know that these words are from God. These are not suggestions for Jeremiah, these are not advice for him to consider, this is not a counseling session to walk away from and decide, I don't want to do this, or not do this, I like what they said, I did not like what they said. No, this is God's word, God is authoritative, he is the one who is in charge.
Ross Sawyers: 46:19 And Jesus said that all authority has been given to him. God gave Jesus authority, and what he said is to
go and make disciples of all the nations. God has a heart for the nations, that's his desire. He loves all peoples all over the planet, and he's gathering people up from among all those people to be part of his family. A chosen race, he describes in First Peter chapter 2 verse 9. And a group of people who will sing for joy. In Psalm 67, it says, "Let the nations be glad and sing for joy. And this is the message that Jeremiah is bringing, you have the opportunity for joy, but he says first pluck up and to break down and that's around sin. These people, they have rebelled against God, they're following other idols, they're exploiting the poor among them. And they are in sin, and he's going to destroy and overthrow, God is. And what that means is, God's bringing judgment. And that plays out in Jeremiah's lifetime, when Babylon takes Judah into exile, that is God's judgment on the people for their disobedience to him. But he says, there's hope, there's always hope in the gospel to build and to plant he says, you'll build and plant. There is hope, and that hope is in God, himself.

Ross Sawyers: 47:33 And in Jeremiah 31, we see a new covenant that will come into play, and it will play out in Jesus Christ himself. Jesus, who came to condemn sin in the flesh. Jesus, who on the cross, took your sin and my sin on himself. God, who raised Jesus from the dead, the grave is empty. Jesus, who appeared to many, ascended to his Father, praying for us right now, interceding for us, preparing a place for us in the future. We have a future hope, and we have a present hope in Jesus. Do you believe that, what Jesus did? What Christ did and Christ alone?

Ross Sawyers: 48:18 I was reading in Matthew chapter 13 the other day, and Jesus tells a parable. And it's a parable about the sower and the seed. And he says that as his disciples, that we are to sow the seed, that we're to keep tossing it out there, and it's going to land in different places. It going to land on hard ground, and rocky ground, and thorny ground, and it's not going to take. The world's going to choke it out, and persecution is going to come and people will flee, and then Satan will snatch it before ever takes root. But the parable that struck me was the one right after it that Jesus told. It's about the wheat and the tares. A farmer has this land, and he's planted the wheat, and at night when everyone's asleep, an enemy comes in and plant seeds that are the tares. When they arise, the workers come and tell the farmer, the one that owns the land. They said, Hey, an enemy came and planted tares among the wheat. Do you want us to take up the tares? And he said, no, if you do that, you'll also pull up the wheat. Let's wait until the harvest, we're going to allow them to grow together. And when the harvest comes, the wheat and the tares will be pulled up. The tears will be separated, bundled, and burned, and then the wheat I have for the harvest. What struck me as I read that parable, is it the same time that the wheat is simultaneously growing and growing strong, simultaneous to that the tares are growing strong as well. So while the enemy is growing strong right now, so is the wheat. Christians are growing strong all over the world., and so is the enemy, stronger and stronger. But we have a future and a hope that we look towards, and we look towards that citizenship that we have in heaven. In the meantime, we can see what does God want to do with us now? So the more and more of those who are away from God and headed towards the destiny of being bundled and burned, that instead they'd have the privilege, the joy, the reward, the hope, the life, the love that's in Christ in an eternal kingdom. That's what Jesus came to do, to establish worship where there is none, worship of his name.

Ross Sawyers: 50:50 This message for the plan, sometimes we have the heart for it, but we don't know quite how to share it. The eight ways we've been talking about to follow Jesus, his commands, of loving God and loving others. That's a biblical, solid message in way to be able to do exactly what we're talking about for that part of God's plan. Could I encourage you, if you're not already, to jump in, get inside of a life group, so that you can know the message to be able to share with others. And you might say, ah, I don't have time for that. I don't see myself ever really doing that. Yeah, I don't know, I'm kind of out on that. Is that the same as saying, I'm just a youth, I don't have the experience for that. God says, don't say that, get in there and I'll give you what you need.

Ross Sawyers: 51:59 Father, thank you today for your kindness towards us, and thank you for the strength of your word. And Father, I pray that we would all walk in a way that we are obedient to it. And Father, I thank you that just, as you had a specific design for Jeremiah, that we trust you have a specific plan that you initiate, that you are with us. And then God, that you have the message for us to deliver in that plan. Will you help us God to thrive in these days, whatever comes, that we might be like Jeremiah and persevere well. and live out the vocational, and the biblical giftings, every aspect of you've designed us to be. And help guide our parents to nurture their kids in a way that they raise up, and they are valiant warriors in the kingdom, that they're bright lights in a dark world, and God that they are flaming arrows in a dark world God.

Ross Sawyers: 53:01 And we thank you for the privilege and gift, and the encouragement from people all over the world in much harder spots than we are, that are raising their children to follow you in difficult spaces, and the deep joy that comes amidst the pain. We're grateful, and I pray in Jesus' name. Let's be quiet before the Lord, and just sit for a moment and allow God to say whatever he wants to say about the things you've heard, sung, seen in the baptisms. Is he saying something specific to you today? And we want to hear that, and acknowledge that to him, and then walk in it.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051