Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque.
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Before we jump into scripture, let's open up in a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for this opportunity to gather here this evening. On this day, we commemorate love. But also Lord, it's a day we remember repentance, and that it also is the beginning of Lent. So let this time, Lord, be a time where we could dig deep into your word and find truth, Lord, to refresh our souls, to ignite our hearts, and to share with others. And we pray this in Christ's name.
(IN UNISON) Amen.
Amen. On September 7, 1881, Vincent van Gogh, the artist, wrote a letter to his brother Theo, describing his love for a woman. Sadly, the woman replied, never-- never. The letter actually starts out fine. Vincent writes, life has become very dear to me. And I am very glad that I love. My life and my love are one. So far so good, right? But that letter changes. Later, Vincent writes, concerning the woman's response, but no. Never-- never-- is your reply. And then the letter goes from bad to worse. Vincent compares his feelings to a block of ice, which I press to my heart to thaw. Ouch.
Here's the bottom line. Vincent was rejected, and his heart went cold. Many of you are sitting there going, boy, that's an odd letter to read on the day we commemorate love. But it's an interesting day, as I prayed. Not only is it Valentine's Day, the day we celebrate all things related to love, but it's also the beginning of Lent, the day many Christians remember remorse and what it means to have a contrite heart. It's a kind of sweet and salty day, a day of ash and love-- if you will.
So I've decided to combine the two, love and remorse. I've entitles this message, Lesson from a Love Letter. And in this short teaching, I'll turn our attention to another historical letter, but this one written by the prophet Jeremiah. And someone bigger than Vincent van Gogh's heart was broken. And that is the Lord's. But God, through the prophet Jeremiah, sends a letter to his people reminding them of his love. And more than anything tonight, we'll cover some practical steps to improve our relations with our community in which we live. That includes our house and our neighborhood and also how to better serve Christ. So you guys with me on this?
So turn to Jeremiah 29. As you're turning there, I'm going to give you a little bit of background. Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, who was a priest. And Jeremiah was brought up in a small town outside of Jerusalem. And later, Jeremiah was called to be a prophet during King Josiah's reign. And that was roughly the 600 BC. And Josiah was a good king. But during Josiah's reign, there was a lot of political unrest. There was a lot of turmoil, attacks from different nations. And ultimately, the Hebrew people were conquered and sent into captivity.
So this is a time of sorrow and of soul-searching. It's a time of remembrance and remorse. And what we're going to do tonight is look at the first 14 verses of chapter 29. And I've organized these first 14 verses into three parts. And I've begun them all with the letter L to help you remember. The first is we're just going to cover the letter. And then we're going to look at the lessons that we've gleaned from the letter. And then finally, we're going to look at the love that's expressed through the letter.
So let's look at the first part, the letter itself. Follow along as I read verses 1 through 3. Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the Prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive-- to the priests, to the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. This happened after Jeconiah the King and the Queen Mother-- the eunuchs, the princes in Judah and Jerusalem-- the craftsmen, and the smiths-- had departed Jerusalem.
The letter was sent by the hand of Alasa the son of Shaven and to Gomorrah the son of Hilkiah, from Zedekiah, king of Judah, sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, saying-- let me give you a little bit of the background. After the Battle of Carshemish in 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. And after a series of negotiations with Jehoiakim, a tribute was set up where you're going to pay me. Nebuchadnezzar is saying, hey King, you're going to pay me.
Well, at first, Jehoiakim did. But later on, he goes, you know, I'm not paying you anymore. So Nebuchadnezzar got upset again. And once again, he besieged the city of Jerusalem. And this time, he conquered it for good, took the people out that Jeremiah just mentioned, and sent them into captivity-- beginning in 597 BC. So Jeremiah writes this letter to the captives, to those people stuck in Babylon. And essentially, he's advising them for a long stay under Nebuchadnezzar.
And as we read, he references several people-- elders, exiles, priests, prophets, and even the King and the Queen Mother. People from all walks of life, people like you and me, were sent to a foreign land. And Jeremiah, throughout the course of this letter, laments their suffering. But at the same time, Jeremiah sees their exile as an expression of God's divine verdict. People disobeyed the Lord, and the Lord allowed them into captivity. So there is a feeling of remorse and repentance in this letter.
So that's the backdrop to this letter. But secondly, Jeremiah gives lessons found in this letter. And this is where it's really profound, and it has really good application to us. Follow along as I read verses 4 through 9. Jeremiah says, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive-- whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon-- build houses and dwell in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit, take wives, and beget sons and daughters. And take wise for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters-- that you may be increased there and not diminished.
Seek the peace of the city, where I have caused you to be carried away captive. And pray to the Lord for it. For in its peace, you will have peace. For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, do not let your prophets and your diviners, who are in your midst, deceive you-- nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed, for they prophesy falsely to you in my name. I have not sent them, says the Lord.
So with God's people in captivity, Jeremiah gives counsel to the captives. And the gist of this portion of the letter is how to endure in exile, or how to be fruitful in a foreign land. And though the immediate context, Jeremiah was writing to the Jews in Babylon, I think there is profound principles that we can glean for you and I today, as God's people in a wayward world. How are we to represent Christ in our community, in our home, and in our world?
I pull out five points, and I summarize them all with P's. And I'm going to go over them quickly. The first is to be productive. Look at the word there in verse 5, to build. The Hebrew word there means to make or repair, to set up. And Jeremiah is saying this, folks, build a home, build a life, be a blessing in your community. Shine as lights, as stars. Be a representative of God where you're at. So the principle for you and I is to be productive in our life, so the Lord profits. Be a conduit of Christ's love in your community. Build where the Lord has planted you.
And that leads us to the second, and that's plant. Look at the second half of verse 5-- plant. And that word there is Nata, and it means to supply the needs or to plant fruit or vegetables to supply the needs for your family. And what Jeremiah is saying is not only provide for your family, but provide for your community. Again, be a blessing to your community, provide those practical needs in the area in which you live. So the principle is plant today for a fruitful future, for your home, for your church, and your community.
And maybe you're a business owner. Plant in your community. Plant in your neighborhood. Maybe you work for a place that could reach out into your community. Well, God bless you. Do that. That would be something the Lord would be quite proud of you doing. Like flowers that emit an aroma when you walk by them in the neighborhood. Be the aroma of Christ in your community. Be that conduit in our world.
So be productive. Plant. Three is prosper. Look at verse 6. There is a lot of talk about kids here-- a lot of talk. And the point is be fruitful and multiply. Prosper. Jeremiah's point is have kids, if you can, and raise them in godly admonition, teaching them the things of the Lord. And let those kids grow and become godly examples in your community. And if you can't have kids, support the larger church family. Support your community with kids.
Here's the principle, folks. True prosperity is not in money or property. It's found in people, particularly children. And if we're going to prosper, folks, we need to pour into people. Love them and serve them. So we have to be productive, to plant, to prosper. And then look at verse 7. We're to have peace. Jeremiah called the captives to seek peace while in captivity.
There's a similar teaching echoed in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews states, make every effort to live in peace with everyone. So the principle is seek peace with all people. Why? Because when we represent the Lord as peacemakers, we resemble his work of reconciliation. Christ came down as the ultimate peacemaker to reconcile us to the Father. And when we go into our community, and our neighborhoods, and in our city, and we act as peacemakers, we are representing the ultimate peacemaker, Jesus Christ. And it was Christ himself who said what? Blessed are the peacemakers. You're exactly right.
So we are to live at peace with people in our household, with people in our community, with people in our city and world. But the final P is prophets, specifically false prophets. Look at verse 8 and 9. Jeremiah says, beware of false prophets. Watch out for them. And as there were many false prophets in Jeremiah's day, there are so in our day. False prophets abound.
But let me dig a little deeper into this. This means that if we are to understand false teaching, we must understand what? Good teaching. We have to be people who are invested in the Word. We have to be people of the book. We have to allow scripture to pour into us, so it can flow out of us as we speak to others. Jesus said something similar in Matthew 7:15. Jesus said, watch out for the false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing. But inwardly, they are ferocious wolves.
So here's the principle of how to live in our community, in our world, in our home, be on watch for the wolves. Those that will devour your faith and family. Folks, we need to be spiritual guardians of our home. We need to watch what is coming into our home through social media, through the television. We need to be on guard of what is being presented to our children.
Let me make a point to underscore something. I am not suggesting that we be sin sniffers-- that we're, no, you're sinning. You're sinning. You're sinning. That's not what I'm suggesting at all. Rather, what I'm saying is that we need to be doctrine defenders. We need to be those people that speak the truth in love. And then when we hear something that is wrong, that we carefully reason, trying to restore that person to a right understanding of scripture. But we have to do that in truth and love. To bash people over the head is not going to do very much. But to do it in a loving, reasonable way is what God has called us to do. But again-- false prophets.
So how are we to live successfully in this society? We are to be productive, to plant, to prosper, to live in peace, and to watch for false prophets. This will help improve our relationship within our community and our family. So now let's turn to the last L of this letter, before we open it up to questions. The final portion that we're going to cover tonight is found in verses 10 through 14. It's the-- one of the most famous parts, or portions, of scripture in Jeremiah. Follow along as I read it.
For thus saith the Lord, after 70 years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word towards you and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord-- thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me, and you will go and pray to me. And I will listen to you. And you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord. And I will bring you back from your captivity. I will gather you from all nations and from all places where I have driven you, says the Lord. And I will bring to you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.
As pointed out, the immediate context of this letter is that the Lord would lead the Jewish people out of captivity. Well guess what? The Lord did do that in 539 BC. The Lord fulfilled this prophecy spoken by Jeremiah in 539 BC. After the fall of Babylon to the Persian King, Cyrus, the exiled Jews were able to return to the land of Judah. So the immediate prophecy was fulfilled after 70 years, which is amazing. Go God. But there's principles that we can draw from this as well, learning and using it for our own lives. And it's in this section that we clearly see that banner of love, God's heart towards his people.
So I'm going to quickly summarize what we can glean from this section with four P's, helping you remember them. The first is the Lord has a plan. There in verse 10, I want you to notice two key words, visit and perform. God says, he will visit. That word means to care, to keep, to oversee. God is not just out there as an observer going, yeah, yeah, yeah. No. He's with us. He's visiting. He's overseeing us. He has a plan. Through his providence, he's guiding us. Romans 8:28 comes to mind.
But secondly, Jeremiah writes that he will perform. And that word, perform, means there to accomplish, ordain-- meaning his will will be established in our midst. So here's the principle. Rest in God's providence-- the fact that he has a plan for your life. The bottom line is that the Lord does have a plan, and he's going to work out his perfect will for you and I-- for those who are called according to his purpose. Isn't that beautiful? Isn't that something to meditate on and to think about?
So the Lord has a plan. Secondly, the Lord wants to provide us with a future and a hope. And again, notice two key words-- that word, thoughts, there. I love this. That word, thought, means God's intentions-- God's thoughts and intentions towards us. Just think about that. God is thinking about you. He's thinking about you. He's thinking about me. He's thinking about all his creation. God loves you, and God loves me. And he's thinking about us. It's a beautiful thought. It's a beautiful thought.
But then, notice the word future. Future there, in Hebrew, means the idea of close expectation, of attachment, of future hope. And it's this idea that we are closely attached to the Lord. He's got us right here, and he's guiding us towards a future place and a future purpose. It's a beautiful image.
It's not like he's at the end of the road going, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-- come on. Come on. No, nuh, nuh, nuh. No. He's with us. We're right there by him, and he's walking with us. He's visiting with us. He's performing his will through us. It's a gorgeous thought to think about.
So the principle-- the Lord will provide for us according to his plan. So we have a plan, and God will provide. And now, there's two things that we must do. And they are pray and pursue. Notice in verse 12, first we must pray. Jeremiah uses a word there that means to intercede, to entreat and make supplication. We are to talk to God. We are to come before him. We are to commune. We are to reach out to him all day long. Not just on Sundays-- everyday, every time. Lord, I need you in this. I need wisdom here. We're to talk. We're to ask for his advice-- not just other people's advice.
And what I love about this, folks, is attached to this prayer is a promise. Attached to this prayer is a promise. And what's the promise? I will listen. I will listen. And that word there for listen is intelligently, intentive listening. God is discerning what we are saying. He's understanding it. Or put another way, God is listening with care and concern. That should rock your world. It should. Not that we could pray, but that God has promised to listen and to act.
What did Jesus say? Knock, and it shall be given. Ask. These are beautiful promises. So we're to first pray. But secondly, we are to pursue. Look at verse 13. I want you to notice two key words-- to seek and to search. The word seek there means to search out, to strive after, to desire. How many of you guys are desiring God on a day-to-day basis? How many of you wake up each day and say, Lord, you are my desire? That should be our prayer. Lord, let you be my desire. Let you be the person I seek everyday.
And then Jeremiah says, we're to search. And that means to tread after or to diligently follow and inquire. How many of us are diligently following after the Lord, inquiring of him? So here's the principle, we must pursue God above all else, in our lives, in our home, in our community. And our pursuit will ultimately lead to a purity of life. We will be more Christ-like. We will be a better witness to this world.
So let's wrap this up with a couple of application points. True, God has a plan, and he'll provide. But we must pay attention, right? We must pay attention through prayer and pursuing him of what his plan and purposes are. So in spirit of Lent, maybe there is something in your life that you need to repent of. Maybe your relationships with your spouse, or your children, or your mom, or your dad, or your coworkers-- maybe those relationships need repair.
How do you repair relationships? Well, just so happened, I went to this conference this past weekend. And I was blown away-- a gentleman by the name of Ken Sandy-- who wrote a book called Peacemakers-- gave a quick acronym that I'm going to share with you of how to repair and restore and treat people with dignity. And it's simply serve them-- S-E-R-V-E. Serve them.
Listen to this. S stands for smile. When you see people, be it someone in your home or someone in your work, simply smile. Exude love. Show them that they're a human being. You don't have to be grumpy. You don't have to be God's grump. Sort of be God's goof. Be the guy that just smiles. E-- empathize. Show compassion with those around you. Ask how they're doing and mean it. Show empathy. Show compassion.
R is reconcile. Again, to be a peacemaker. Seek to bring peace, to bring that aroma of Christ into every situation that you're in-- in your home, in your work, in your community. Be that peacemaker Christ has called you to be. V is to value the person. Express appreciation and respect for them. Treat them as a human being. Treat them as what? You would want to be treated. We know it is the golden rule, because our Lord said it. And E is encourage them. Give them courage and inspiration.
You wanted these five things in a nutshell? Folks, life is short. Be a blessing. Life is short. Be a blessing. That's how you start mending relationships in home, in your work, in your community, and in this world. So in the spirit of Lent, maybe you need to repent of soured relationships. But in the spirit of St. Valentine's Day, maybe you need to improve upon your love towards others and the Lord. And you do that by praying and pursuing him and all the things we just talked about this evening.
So in the letter van Gogh received from the woman he loved, he heard the word never. But in the letter the Lord wrote through Jeremiah, and the ultimate love letter-- his word, the Bible-- we don't here never. We hear forever. We hear forever. God through Christ has offered us eternal life. He has a plan for you. He wants you to have his peace. He want you to prosper according to his precepts. He wants you to know that you are loved from rooftop to basement-- every part of you. And he's thinking about you.
That's what he wants you to know this evening. In the spirit of love, he wants you to know that he loved you so much that he sent his only begotten son. Will you allow his love to engulf your life? Will you? As I close in prayer, I'm going to invite some pastors to come forward. And you could ask any question about the message or about how to strengthen relationships, how to love other people better. It's your time to have a coffee or tea with a pastor.
But I'm also going to encourage you to pray for the families of the victims shot today in Florida. 17 people dead at the school shooting. I don't need to tell you, folks, the darkness around us is deep. And we need to light the candle of Christ's love, helping penetrate the night with his light. It's true.
So use this time to repent, as a time to draw close to the Lord's love. But let's pray and remember these families. Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for this opportunity to open up your word and to glean truth from its pages. We pray, Lord, that these wouldn't just be words spoken or words taught, but they would be words learned and acted upon. I pray, Lord, for anyone here who has broken relationships, maybe with family or friends or loved ones. I pray that you would restore. That they would learn how to serve-- S-E-R-V-E-- others, and to learn that basic principle. Life is short. Be a blessing.
And Lord, maybe for those whose love has grown cold towards you, I pray that you would ignite it, that you would put them on fire. And remind them, Lord, of your deep and profound love for them, that you are thinking of them, and you have a purpose and a plan. And Father, we pray for these families affected by this shooting in Florida. Comfort them, as only you can. Be their peace. Be their rock. Give wisdom to the teachers and counselors and pastors and chaplains who will be there. Lord, we do live in a dark world. Let us be the light of Christ, helping others find peace in Jesus Christ. We pray this in his name. Amen.
All right. So at this time, we have some pastors. We have Matt. And we have Sean over here. If you have a question about how to be a better person in the world, something about the text, or maybe you have one of those profound questions that none of us could answer. But let this be a time where you could ask pastors questions, and we're going to spread those questions out among the three of us. So come on. Don't be shy. Last time, everyone was shy we did this. And then it started to go. And we got so many towards the end that we didn't have enough time.
So questions. Here's one over here. Say your name first, and then give us the question.
Hi, I'm RJ Murdock. Hi, everybody. Brian, good to see you. Good sermon. I was going to ask about Lent-- two questions. First one is do you practice Lent?
Yeah. I mean, I think generally most Christians practice it. Do we always practice it in the prescribed 40 days? Not necessarily. But Lent, as a practice-- as a Christian practice-- is one that's historical. And two, it's biblical in the sense that the Bible does call us to repent. But whether or not we just have to do that in a 40-day time, not necessarily. But on the same time, it is a good way to remember the importance of repentance.
Awesome. Yeah. I've been studying it. And I didn't know-- I wanted to take part in it this year. But I don't quite understand what is-- as in repentance. And then I know that some people stop eating certain foods, or they take something out of their life for the 40 days.
Yeah-- But I know Colossians doesn't support that idea.
Yeah. Different Christian traditions would have different angles. They would say, during this 40-day period, you deprive yourself of something of that nature. Yeah. And there really isn't a clear-cut biblical teaching on it. But neither is there for, let's say, a Christmas tree. It's something that we've adopted, and we've-- the Christian church has brought in. I think the heart-- the heart beat behind Lent is a good thing. But if that's the only time you repent or the only time you seek remorse, then I would say, you need to re-evaluate the holiday.
Awesome. Thank you.
Question right here. And it could be any of the guys. Sean? Matt? Did you guys have anything to add to that repentance stuff?
Hi, Pastor Nixon.
You know who I am.
So this is regarding-- I grew up Catholic. And lately, I've had a lot of questions addressed to me regarding cremation and ashes and burial place, of course, from family and people that are concerned with that, because they have made little things with ashes in them from their family. What is the truth about that? And what do we do? I know we have to deal with our family. But if say, we get cremated and decide to be in a place of-- a holy ground or whatever they-- a cemetery or whatever. What is your view, and what would--
This is just my personal opinion. And again, I just have to preface it with-- different Christians may take a little different angle. I personally do not think cremation is sin. I do hold that it may be better just for burial. Why cause God to recreate you and do all that? But if you're created, it's not sin. If the Lord could create something out of nothing, he could reassemble you during the final Resurrection.
So about wearing ashes around your neck and everything, that doesn't float my boat. But some people, that may be enduring to them. It may be a way for them to remember that person. And it may be a way for them to just, in a sense, keep them close to their heart. So I think each person is individually responsible before the Lord for that. Probably the best course, or maybe the easiest, would be burial. But that's expensive as well. So here's the bottom line, each person has to talk to the Lord about it and do what the Lord directs them to do.
Does that help? Matt, you have anything more on that?
Yeah. I just think, whatever can't be done in faith, for him it is a sin. So whatever can't be done in faith, it's sin. And so if you are really, really torn up about this, and you're just like, oh man, to get cremated, like maybe it's a sin against God, but I'm going to do it anyway-- if there's a question in your heart about it, it's just best to not do it, right? Because if there's a question that-- oh, maybe I'm not supposed to be doing this certain activity. But maybe, who cares? I'll do it anyway. Well, for us, we don't have confidence that we can do something, then we probably shouldn't be doing it, right?
But yeah, I wholeheartedly just agree with Brian. And even to your point, whether Jesus is reassembling-- whether God is reassembling our ashes into a glorified body, or he's reassembling our rotted corpse, he's-- either way, he's going to have to reassemble us, you know?
Yeah. And you give in to some really-- yeah, you get some big theological-- I mean, not theological, but practical. What if someone-- who died in a house fire? So I don't think it's sin to be cremated. You know, I think it's the conscience of each person.
Sean, did you have anything you wanted to add to it?
I mean, for me, it's basically the Bible says, from dust we were made. And to dust we shall return. So cremation kind of just speeds that process up.
There you have it.
Sorry to be so morbid.
We may have another--
Some more questions. OK. We're-- hands come. One here. One back there.
Hello, my name Corey Pal. Great job on Star 88. I love the 3 degrees to New Mexico.
Aww, you're welcome.
I think it's very interesting.
My little history points. Yeah.
Yeah. It's really entertaining me.
A lot of information I didn't know. My question for you is-- say we wanted to share the gospel with other people and try to-- I don't want to say convince, but have them sway towards maybe even becoming a believer-- are there certain points that you could provide as maybe a ground or a foundation that you should cover in the conversation that you'd have with someone about that?
Yeah. So the question-- if somebody didn't here-- is what are the points that you would share with someone about the gospel? And I think, really, the points that I would focus in on are the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the fulcrum. That is the pinnacle of the Christian faith, with the emphasis being on the Resurrection. And particularly if someone's having difficulty with the rest of Resurrection, you could bring up a lot of apologetics, outside historical mentions of Christ, and so on, and so forth.
But if you're just clearly sharing the gospel, I would keep the attention on Jesus' life, death, and Resurrection. And then on a broader sense, we're all sinners. We've all fallen short of the glory of God. We need a savior. God has provided a Savior. That person is Jesus Christ. He died, and he rose again for you. God so loved the world. So there are some broader points you could bring in. But again, if you're going to share something specific, the Resurrection and Christ is just essential. Matt?
Yeah. Well, and the pastor that's standing right next to you, Sean Kerwin, he actually leads up evangelism here at Calvary. He teaches full courses on evangelism. So he'll probably talk to you for three hours after a service.
We only have three hours.
Whether you want him to or not. But, yeah. To Brian's point, I think you sharing the gospel with people is going to be different depending on each person that you're talking to. So if somebody is hurting, and they know that they are a sinner, and they're so aware of their sin-- maybe they've committed crimes, and their sin is always before them-- then you probably don't need to hammer the fact that they're a sinner really hard. You need to hammer the fact that there is a God that is gracious and just, who paid for their sin, and is excited to forgive them because of what he did on the cross.
Now, if somebody is just like this arrogant religion-- and you'll see that Jesus did this as well. Jesus addressed different people differently, because there are different places, right? But, yes. So you can't go wrong talking about the cross and the Resurrection. But I think the way that you apply the gospel into different people's lives, or the way that you present that gospel, really determines-- is based off of where they are and what they've gone through.
Again, Sean will talk to you for three hours about this.
It's more like three and 1/2 to four, but whatever.
I think just two things that I could add to that would be make sure you're preaching the gospel to yourself every morning, or every-- whenever you want to do it. But every single day, we should be preaching the Gospel to ourselves. We should be living from the cross and the Resurrection of Christ. And so if we have that story so ingrained in our lives, it will be just easier for us to share with other people.
But the second thing too is we're telling people about a God that loves them and cares for them more than anyone else ever has or ever will. And so if we're going to tell people about that, we also need to love and care for them as much as we possibly, humanly, can. And with that, it just comes to listening and figuring out what those objections are and figuring out what is separating them from coming to a relationship with Christ.
That's good. Also a question here.
What brought you to teach this today-- the lesson?
What led me to teach it?
Well, Pastor Skip.
He called me about a few weeks ago. Obviously, he's in-- taking the tour of Israel. And I looked at the date. I just happened to look at the date, and I saw that it was Valentine's Day. And I first of all thought, well, no one's going to be there that night. But look at you guys. Bless your heart. You're here. Give yourself--
Give yourself a hand. And then, I just so happened to look at the fact that it was also Lent. And I just said, wow, two holidays on one day. And it-- immediately, I just thought of a letter, a love letter. And I thought, well, what love letter is in the Bible? And my brain went to Jeremiah 29, where Jeremiah wrote the letter that we just looked at. And then again, we just looked at the first verses of it. The letter goes on. But that's how I started there. So it started with this idea of a letter, and it led me to Jeremiah.
Sean, do you want to answer that question [INAUDIBLE]
Yeah. How do I get to this point, Sean? Another question. Another question. I saw another hand over-- one here and one here. There was one over there. We still have 15 minutes, so we've got some good ones. Jesse.
Yes, Pastor Brian. Going back to Matthew 24, when Jesus predicts, pretty much, the end of the world, how close do you think, your own personal opinion, about Jesus coming back? I mean, like the hurricanes, earthquakes, all these killings.
Yeah. Yeah. I know the exact date. I've written a book, and it should be out in the foyer after this. No. Here's my angle on that. Jesus said it clearly. No one knows the time or the day-- not even I. So my-- the way I look at it is if Jesus, in his humanity, chose not to say and know, who is Brian and his humanity to even guess. What I find in my life is rather than worrying about when Christ is coming, to represent Christ each day until he comes.
Now that said, I do know the date. No, I'm just kidding.
That said, we look at the day in which we live. I mean, I don't know about you guys, but you turn on the TV, and there's 17 more kids dead. And here's the crazy thing, we're becoming numb to it. We're just-- hm, another shooting. Pass me the ketchup or whatever. We just go on. And is that part of what Jesus meant in his Olivet discourse about the love of many will grow cold? Could be.
I just want the Lord to come back sooner than later.
(IN UNISON) Amen.
Maranatha, Lord, because we do-- the darkness around us is deep. And I would love to see his light eventually shine. But I just want to live day-by-day. Sean or Matt.
There's just a verse that I [INAUDIBLE] of the truth that you highlighted. Like, instead of trying to figure out the day, let's just be busy about his business. In Acts 1, chapter 7, right? Or is it-- sorry, acts 1, verse 7, the disciples are like, but is it now? Or is now the time that you're going to set up the kingdom? He says, hey, don't worry about the times or the seasons, but you're going to receive power from the Holy Spirit who's going to come upon you. Then you'll be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, Judea, Sumeria, and the ends of the earth.
And so to your point, Jesus said it. And he says, don't worry about that. Focus on representing me well. So--
I'll always err on Jesus.
Can't go wrong.
Sean, anything you want to add to that? Do you have the Olivet discourse down? Yeah. He's all, yeah, yeah. My book is over in that foyer. Other questions. There was a hand over here. Here we go.
Hi, John Biaba. And Brian, great message-- much needed. A lot of you already know that I serve a ministry called Life Quest USA. And I hear the charge from Jeremiah here that says, that we should serve. And there is great opportunity to serve. And I know that you know that we need lots of teachers and mentors, those who can disciple or those that can just come alongside.
Like many of them, one guy came calling me up and says-- he says, I can't teach anything, but I can come down there and sit with you. And I said, come on down. He became one of the best teachers and best mentors that we've ever had. And I know that there are many of you here that are very capable. And you don't even have to be. The Lord will lead you. When we walk into there, the Holy Spirit will take hold of this.
The other thing was evangelism. I'm really proud of Sean, that he's leading up this thing for evangelism. Carol and I love evangelism, and we'd love to go with you. We go down to UNM and sometimes downtown when we're feeling really brave. But we're feeling brave quite a bit.
Come and join us. If I can help you to get to any of those facilities, please come. My favorite verse is second Timothy 2:2. Says, very simply, these things that you've heard of me when-- when Paul is talking to his disciple Timothy. He says, these things you've heard of me among many witnesses, share these things with others, good and faithful men who will share them also. OK? Let's do it.
Yeah. Good encouragement. Good encouragement. Yeah.
Encouragement to evangelize and, again, be a blessing to people. Another question. Another question. Right here. Oh, wait. I shouldn't--
Hello. Thank you for being here. Thanks for your message. My name is Diane.
And I heard-- we pray. We have faith. Our Lord here's our prayers. There is something I've been praying for that I will learn in a couple of months, the decision. And I pray for God's will. And I want to have faith, but I'm also preparing for the worst. But I feel in my heart that I'm sinning when I'm preparing for the worst-- not what I'm praying for. And I wonder if you see it as a sin to prepare for the worst, or do I just continue to pray and lay, as we say, everything in God?
Yeah. Well first of all, let me answer the second half first. Yeah. Continue to pray. Seek, knock, ask, continue, continue, continue. Be-- persevere in that. Are you sinning? I don't know if doubt is always sin. And the Lord can use doubt. And he could strengthen your faith through doubt. And so I think human nature is like, well Lord, you could do this. But if you don't-- we want to go back. But sometimes, just take the plunge-- faith of a mustard seed. Just go, Lord, I don't know. But I'm going to believe you on this.
The way I look at it is the Lord answers prayer three ways, right? Yes. He'll answer it yes. No. No, I'm not-- no, you're not. No. Or not yet. And in your life, it could be not yet, or it may be yes or no. So in two months, get back to us and let us know what he said. Great question though. Thank you.
Oh, over here.
Hey. So I'm actually really struggling with being a good example on another fellow Christian that-- and it's at the workplace. Her and I are the only two followers of Christ there. And I think I've become so used to being a good example on those who don't know Christ, as opposed to those that it's kind of difficult to be around. So I'm just, I guess, wondering, what is the best way that I can show grace to this fellow believer that everyone else in the workplace is also having a hard time with? I guess I'm just worried about her leaving a bad taste in other people's mouths on having-- like, being a follower of Christ.
Well, you nailed it. Grace. Recognize where you came from. Recognize that you too needed God's mercy, and his compassion and grace. And remember that everyone is on a different journey. They're in a different sojourn through life. I mentioned this Kent Sandy-- a conference I just came back. He actually gave three-- another acronym. He gave acronyms all night long. But it was SOG-- yourself. Know your feelings. Recognize what God has done for you. What are you doing for others? That's the O. And then ultimately, what is God doing in the midst of all this.
So maybe, think of that-- when you walk into a room, go, OK, how am I feeling? Am I mad at this person? Am I upset? Then pray. Lord, don't let me be mad or upset. Let me be a blessing to them. So recognize yourself in this situation. And then try to understand where that other person is coming from. I forgot which Greek philosopher it was. But a Greek philosopher said something along this lines. And don't quote me on this exactly. But he said, show kindness for everyone. You don't know the battles they are waging.
And so when you look at the other person, recognize that, wow, I don't know what's going on in their head or in their life. Their mom may be dying of cancer, or they may be losing their house or something. And then ultimately, go back to the G-component of what's God doing in all of this. But also, ultimately, pray for them. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have as Christians. Yeah.
Matt or Sean, did you guys have something on that?
Yeah. I think to add to that too, like, Jesus clearly lays out in Matthew, chapter 18 what we're supposed to do if we have a problem or a conflict, or we see one of our brothers or sisters in sin. And the first step is just to go to them. And maybe the work place, when you're on the clock, isn't the best environment. But maybe just inviting them like, hey, do you want to get some coffee before or after work? Or do you want to take your lunch break with me, together? And then just sitting down and having a conversation and figuring out, like Brian said, who they are, what is going on in their lives.
And then if necessary, confronting them with the sin. Because if they are a believer, and if they do name the name of Jesus as their Lord, ultimately what they're going to want to do is look more like them. And I think, just back to my own life, some of the most fruitful and the best relationship-building conversations I've had has been when people have called me out on my sin and where I'm falling short, and also where I've called them out on theirs and when they're falling short.
It's perfect. Plus, calling people out is fun for some people.
Just kidding. No. I think you guys adequately answered that.
I have a question.
Oh, right. All right. That's right, this gentleman here.
Time and time again in the Old Testament, God tells the Israelites to not take wives from other nations. Now they got exiled to Babylon. And in our reading tonight, it says, take wives and begot your sons and daughters. And take wives for your sons and your daughters. Why is that, now that they got exiled, that his laws changed then?
The media context Jeremiah's getting at is wives among your people.
Among the Israelites. But it leads to an interesting question. In the Old Testament, there were concubines. There were multiple wives. And the-- so everyone's going to go, well, how come there were-- God allowed that? And today, there's just one. The answer is pretty easy. They disobeyed God in the Old Testament. God's original intention was for what? Adam and Eve, that the one-- the two shall become one flesh. That was his original intention. Through a periodic, year-after-year disobedience, they got off track.
And let me just give you-- I don't want to get too theological or too heady here. But just think, in the Genesis, God gave us, if you will, the blueprint of what he yearned for. Well, through rebellion and disobedience and sin, people got off track-- so far off track that they were way over here. Well, God established this. Well, that's why Christ came. He came to get us back in line, to get us back on that road, to get us back of God's original intentions.
And that's the Apostle Paul's whole point of Romans. We-- before there was the law, we lived by faith. Before there was all this, God had a blueprint. And Christ is the second [INAUDIBLE]. He's come back to lead us according to what God has. So in Christ, we're reconciled. In Christ, we have redemption. In Christ, justification. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life to the Father. He's God's answer to the world's woes.
Yeah. We have time for one more-- one more. One last one. We have one here and one here.
Well, you pick.
Well, it doesn't matter.
You're on the stage.
You pick. And maybe, we can get two more.
Just-- but let's do this.
Hi, my name is Andrew.
Hello. Thanks for the sermon tonight. I just had a question. It's about social media-- can be used for so much wrong and so much right. And my wife and I, we post a lot of scripture on there and devotionals and-- just in hopes that someone will see God's word. And-- but we never know. But sometimes, it's really disheartening, and sometimes I don't want to post anymore. I'm not looking for followers or numbers or anything like that. I'm just praying that people will see God's word, and that the Holy Spirit would speak to them through what we do in the mornings and at night.
But it's been a struggle lately if I want to do it anymore or not. So was just wondering--
Yeah. So the question is what do we do with social media? And Sean and Matt, you guys are much more social media-savvy. I think each individual person has to go before the Lord and get his plans and purposes for you with that. So it's an individual situation. But what I can tell you is more and more research is coming out by the day of the effects social media is having on not only adults but on children, mostly children.
I think I just read a statistic that ages between 10 and 14 here in America, the suicide rate has doubled. And they largely attribute that-- a lot of that is to social-- over active social media use, because their emotions are so in flux. One minute they're liked. Someone is making fun of them-- all of this type of stuff. So I think for your children, particularly, you need to guard what is coming in through social media.
But for you as an adult, an individual, I think you just need to pray. And honestly, that's a beautiful thing, to say, I'm going to put out scripture. I'm going to be a blessing to people. Again, life is short. Be a blessing.
Sean or Matt, anything on that? You guys know social media better than I do. I don't even have a Facebook. Is it a Facebook? Or I only have Facebook.
You are the only person in the room.
I don't have-- I don't have Inst-- well maybe I do. I think--
Someone set up Instagram for me.
Oh, then perfect.
I don't use it, but someone set it up.
No. The only thing that I would add-- because I don't think the question is necessarily all about social media. It's about doing something that you feel, maybe the Lord is leading me to do this. And I don't know if there's fruit or not. And I would just encourage you, don't grow weary in doing good, because maybe you're going to see a harvest one day.
And-- but I would also encourage you, don't allow that to be your only ministry opportunity or the only time that you share the Gospel with people. In fact, sharing the Gospel with people face-to-face would probably make you even better at sharing it over the internet. And so-- because then you get to understand people a little bit more as well. And you get to hear the questions that people are actually asking as well.
So I would just say, if it's not like something that you're worshipping, and it's something that you're able to say, hey, I can encourage a few people-- I'll post a few verses. Who knows what fruits going to come from it. There's no harm in sending as much of God's word into this world as possible. And then also, be an evangelist wherever you are.
Yeah. And we are out of time. But thank you so much for allowing us-- Sean, Matt, myself-- to share with you. Last time we did this, we got such great response of people saying, hey, it was so great to be able to answer-- ask a question and get answers and interaction. We hope you enjoyed it. We hope it was a blessing to you.
God bless you on this Valentine's Day. Remember that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. And if you are not a Christian tonight, and you want to know more about Jesus Christ and God's love through him, there will be pastors, deacons upfront afterwards. And maybe you didn't get your question answered. Feel free to come up and ask one of the guys. But thank you so much. May the Lord richly bless you this day and this week.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying His Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.