Community Group Study “Jeremiah 29: Love The Place You Are”
Read Jeremiah 29:1-14
As we look forward to 2020 as a church community we want to first remember “who we are” and then look to how we think God is pushing us to grow as a church this year. If you’ve been around the church for a while you’ve heard us talk about being a church committed to worship, community and mission. As we look at the scripture we see that the life of a disciple of Jesus is characterized by a love for God, a love and devotion for other followers of Jesus and a love for those who don’t know Jesus. Worship is giving God glory and praise in all areas of our lives. We desire to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength as we gather together corporately and as we go about our week in private worship through the word, prayer, generosity, obedience to the word and other ways we reflect our devotion go God. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we are to present our whole life to God as worship and that God will transform us as we do. Community is belonging to the body of Christ. It is where we open up the Bible together, share a meal together, pray together, love together and through all of that God forms deeper connections in the local church. Colossians 3:12-17 connects our community and our worship of God together. Paul encourages us to grow in compassion, love, humility and patience; he tells the church to forgive and bear with one another and to live in harmony. This comes from, Colossians 3:15-16, the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts and the word of Christ dwelling in us. The value of mission is a call to make disciples. A disciple is someone who follows Jesus and desires to put into practice what he taught. God has gifted every follower of Jesus in such a way that they can build up the body of Christ and help others to know him. 1 Peter 2:9-10 tell us that we are not our own but we belong to Jesus for the purpose of proclaiming Jesus to the world. This means that each of us have a place and opportunity where we can point to Christ and help others to know him more.
Our hope is to focus in on this value of mission as a church this year. We do not want to add more programs or give the church more to do, but instead challenge all of us to consider where God has placed us and how we can proclaim Jesus there. Our desire this year is to focus in on Jeremiah 29:4-7 to help us to know and understand this call that God has placed on his people.
When you read this passage it is actually quite shocking. The people of God have been exiled out of the promised land. They had false prophets proclaiming that they’d be there for a short time and restored back to their home. Jeremiah’s message is “settle in” and put down roots. They wanted to live like they were camping, as if it was just a temporary set back. Instead, God tells them to invest and put down roots. The exiles were to build, plant and have families. Essentially they were to think about the future instead of looking to the past and praying for an opportunity to leave as quickly as possible. This all culminates in Jeremiah 29:7 “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Instead of praying for an opportunity to leave or praying for the city to fail they were to pray for the city to prosper. The word “welfare” is the Hebrew word “shalom” which means peace and wellbeing. The people of God, in exile, were to seek the flourishing of their enemy. The people of God were to make the most of the opportunity they were given to see God honored and for people to come to know him and the peace he gives.
Do you feel the same way about where God has placed you? Our hope is that this year God will challenge us to live as deeply rooted exiles. People who are different and strange to the world, but who love and care for the place God has put us in such a way that people will come to know and follow Christ and bring him glory and honor.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
As a group summarize our values of worship, community and mission. Which one do you find to be the most challenging in our life to grow in? What are some reasons for that?
Based on the message and this study guide, how do Worship and Community empower or lead to Mission?
Read Jeremiah 29:1-14 as a group
Describe the situation the exiles were in, for example: who was exiled, who were they listening to and why were they in exile (look at Jeremiah 29:18)?
What is the ultimate hope they’re given (see Jeremiah 29:10-14)?
What barriers would exist for them to want to seek the welfare of where God sent them?
Even though we are not in the same situation today, there are similarities. 1 Peter 2:11 calls believers in every age exiles and strangers and many of us find either active or passive resistance to our faith from family, neighbors and co-workers. Instead of responding with hostility or passivity, we should respond with prayer and seeking to bless the place God has put us. Read Colossians 4:5-6, Hebrews 13:2 and 1 Peter 2:9-12. How doe these verses echo Jeremiah 29:4-7? Are there any thoughts or attitudes in your life that need to change in response to what we’ve read?
Where is the primary place you see this value of mission lived out in your life? Are there any steps you’d like to take or specific things you’d like to pray for in relation to what you learned in this study guide or heard in the sermon?