“Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel. To all who were carried away captive, who I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon” (Jeremiah 29: 4)
The assurance and comfort is from the Lord of hosts and He is able to deliver us from captivity. The God of Israel tells us He is still in covenant with His people, so be on guard against anybody and anything that brings disturbance. “Build yourselves houses and dwell in them”. Hope of a return from captivity to freedom, from disturbance to peace, carry on as best you can, resolve to make the best out of the reality that we have and not get disturbed, because we have not all that we would like to have. If the earth is the Lords, then wherever a child of God goes, he does not go off his fathers land. Seek the peace of the City were I have caused you to be carried away captive. Pray for our Church, our City, promote it, proclaim Gods greatness in it. Do not plot or plan to shake off the yoke of captivity. Live Godly lives, peaceable under Him. Be honest and patient, waiting for God in His time to work His plan. Live in peace and you will find peace. Do not let people who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you came to be dreamed. Dreams of our own making, which we have desired. Avoid smooth nice prophecies, that are not totally honest with God and ourselves. 70 years is a long period time (Jeremiah 29: 10). The return to the place where He wants us will not be quick. Even though we are dispersed, some in one place, some in another, we will be brought together in one body. All His thoughts are working towards this end product. When things are working their worst, then they begin to mend. “He will give us the hope, the end of our captivity that we desire in Him. Not the expectations of our own dreams or our fancies, but the expectation of our faith, and the expression of our prayers
When deliverance is coming, we must go forward and meet it in prayer. God has said it, and we can depend upon it. The substance of Jesus’ words are rock. It is not enough to base our foundation on Him, we must also build our Christian character in Him. The house must be well built, for within we fail. Self interest takes place instead of self-renunciation, worldly interests take place of worldly renunciation. Simple character flaws like refusing to admit when we are wrong are a stumbling block to unity. Where self interest lies behind our thinking, our decisions our motive or motivation. Then Christ is pushed to the back, we fall when an issue comes along which needs careful thought and considerate discussion. And we either dismiss it, sweep it under the carpet or get annoyed. We fall, our house of Christian character which has its foundation on Christ is sadly built on sand. Some of the qualities which we regard as rock are in the reality of the gospels, sand. We live in unreality, we say but do not do and so we fall.
Christ in you is the hope of glory not self. We are divided at the centre of our thinking. We look at people, their position in the Church setting and their status outside. We look at what they own, their possessions and their academic achievements. We look with worldly eyes and hope to see the spiritual qualities. Jesus looked at the person and He would simplify them to make them great. God chooses the least, for he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he, and there is none greater than John the Baptist, except he who is least. Who is the least? Who do you or I know who Jesus sees as the least in our fellowship? When did we look at a person with the eyes of Christ and realise that this girl or boy, man or woman is pleasurable to the Lord? Do you know anyone who us In Christ? Someone you want to share fellowship with, spend time with, talk to, listen to what he or she has to say. Take notice, eagerly look forward to seeing again. Who do you or I know who makes us feel good, uplifted and encouraged like Paul at the place of the three Taverns when the Christians from Rome met him? His spirit lifted (Acts 28: 15).
We are divided at the centre of our thinking and a house divided against itself cannot stand. We are the house, if we say we have Christ in us the our character should be like His. We talk of the wonder of the cross, but do our lives resemble in any way the life of the man on the cross/ We need a fresh vision of the Christ of Calvary. We need to get back to basics and be single minded in our thoughts. We need to look again at our Salvation. Have we really accepted the gift in repentance and faith? I personally have not heard a testimony to this in years. How can an unregenerate person go on with God? Is this a new doctrine? Certainly it is not. The apostles doctrine which the early Church continued in, the work of Sanctification or holiness is by nothing else but the blood of Christ. Calvary again. The glorious light, which the Church in all its wisdom has somehow managed to dim, not put out. Never. Light is the over comer of darkness. Justification, sanctified, glorification, this is therefore the threefold wonder of the cross, a full Salvation.
We are held captive by self, self renunciation is something we may talk about now and again, but do not practice. Self rule is rebellion against the cross. It is disobedience against the person of the Holy Spirit. We are going nowhere, our purpose as a fellowship is not controlled by Christ. We desire many things, but nothing supremely. We are inwardly at conflict with ourselves and so the way forward is neutralised, cancelled out by the conflict within. We have no controlling purpose within, our eyes are not single, they are cataracted and the light that is in us sometimes turns to darkness. The fatal twist, we ignore the warning signs, we are divided at the centre of our thinking. Our criticisms are directed at the other person, not ourselves.