Good Figs…New Territory

  S (Scripture): Jeremiah 24:1
The Lord showed me two baskets of figs sitting before his temple. This happened after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon deported Jehoiakim’s son, King Jeconiah… 2 One basket had very good-looking figs in it. They looked like those that had ripened early. The other basket had very bad-looking figs in it, so bad they could not be eaten. 3 The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I answered, “I see figs. The good ones look very good. But the bad ones look very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

4 The Lord said to me, 5 “I, the Lord, the God of Israel, say: ‘The exiles whom I sent away from here to the land of Babylon are like those good figs. I consider them to be good. 6 I will look after their welfare and will restore them to this land. There I will build them up and will not tear them down. I will plant them firmly in the land and will not uproot them. 7 I will give them the desire to acknowledge that I am the Lord. I will be their God and they will be my people. For they will wholeheartedl return to me.’

8 “I, the Lord, also solemnly assert: ‘King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and the people who remain in Jerusalem or who have gone to live in Egypt are like those bad figs. I consider them to be just like those bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten.’…”

O (Observation): The Lord brings in an image to Jeremiah.  The expectation for God’s people is that those who stay and defend their position as rightful heirs of the promised land will be honored, and those who leave will essentially be leaving The Lord and the central place of worship.  Where is God, but in the Temple?  

But God has other things in mind : ).  Those who stay are the bad figs.  Those who are sent to Babylon are the good figs.  

God is bringing about a course correction for His people.   And what’s more, is that God promises to be with those “good figs” who follow God’s call to step away from the home land.  God promises to establish those who are sent to foreign lands.  God promises to NOT abandon God’s people, but promises to be with them in their exile.   

At the end of their capacity, God promises to step in and provide saving grace, along with a promise to re-establish God’s people again, into the Promised Land. 

A (Application):  Following God’s call into a foreign land can seem daunting, even impossible.  Sometimes we need a course-correction.  Sometimes (as the Spirit leads) we just need to go off the reservation for a short time, in order to see that God goes with us.   

That’s where my mind is today.   I don’t particularly think we’ve been bad over at the congregation I serve : )

I simply connect to what it might be like to step off of my “promised land” (aka the building for Advent Lutheran Church) and follow the Spirit into a new territory (Middle TN State University), as we begin our joint campus ministry at The Wesley Foundation.  

I sense that God is in the midst of establishing a home there for us.  That God will call us the “good figs.”   That God will build us up, together, with our Methodist brothers and sisters.  

P (Prayer): Lord, I’m heading into new territory today.  Guide me ever, Great Redeemer.  (I assume you know that hymn, right, God?  : ) Amen. 

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God-Moments

  S (Scripture): 1 Timothy 1:15 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them! 16 But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.

O (Observation):  Paul (author of our letter here to Timothy) used to be Saul.  Saul persecuted / killed those who claimed that Jesus Christ was Lord / Son of God. Why?  Saul was a Pharisee, and considered his slaughter of Christians a strong and powerful showing of the depths of his faith and loyalty to God.  

And Paul recognizes that God has done soemthing extremely special here:  God redeems Saul to show the world the depths of God’s saving power.  That even in the midst of his sin, Paul was redeemed.  

That was a big change from the popular thought of the Jewish (human-constructed) belief system.   One showed their obedience to God and then was identified as a trusted member of God’s household of faith.  

God, In Jesus, changed all of that.  

A (Application):  People make the wrong connections here. A lot of doubters say, “So I just do whatever I want, and God’s cool with that.  God will just say, ‘Oh, I love you, do whatever you want.’ And then they are saved and can do it all over again.”

That’s precisely NOT what grace is about.  Does God’s grace envelope you right where you are?  Yes!  Absolutely!  But is that where you stay?  No! Certainly not!

We are all called to repent and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ.   But before we repent, we have to know that there is something for which we are called to repent.  

Usually, God catches our attention with a kairos – a moment in time that freezes us in our tracks, either a positive or negative experience.  We can dive into those moments to process what’s going on.   Since we mostly will NOT see Jesus face to face, as Saul/Paul did, we can share stories from the Scriptures and our own lives to help that person.  Those moments are best spent with others in the faith to help the person having the kairos.

Can you name a kairos from your life?   Can you point to a moment recently, that took your breath away, for better or worse?

My most recent kairos has to do with engaging in campus ministry at MTSU.   In pursuing what God is saying to me, my close disciple-friends helped me to discern that God is promising to lay out a path for me.  And God has done that.  We begin working with campus ministry later this month!!!  (The processing and communal support are key to dealing with a kairos!)

P (Prayer):  Lord, you come to us, always.   Remind us that we are yours and that we can hear from you any time and any place. Amen.