Happy Thanksgiving! Pray for your city; when it has shalom, so will you!
Read / Listen
Read Jeremiah 29:1-9
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 122
Q. What does the first
A. “Hallowed be your name” means,
Help us to really know you,
to bless, worship, and praise you
for all your works
and for all that shines forth
your almighty power, wisdom,
kindness, justice, mercy, and truth.
And it means,
Help us to direct all our living—
what we think, say, and do—
so that your name will never
be blasphemed because of us
but always honored and praised.
In our era of instant communications, most of us have lost the sense of excitement that comes when a letter arrives, especially if we're starved for information and the letter will help us fill in the gaps. So imagine how excited the exiles in Babylon were to receive word from the homeland; and not just from anyone, this letter carried the Word of the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel!
Certainly the letter would contain the good news that God had relented from His anger and bring His people back home again, or so the people hoped. But that's not at all what the letter said.
Jeremiah, who penned the letter, did his duty as a messenger of God's Word. As preachers, we are not at liberty to tell congregations what we think, or what we hope people want to hear, rather we must convey exactly what God has said. Jeremiah does just that.
While they don't hear the good news they wanted - that they'd be rescued - God's Word isn't necessarily bad news either. God tells His people to get comfortable, because they're going to be in Babylon for awhile. He orders them to settle down, build houses, plant gardens and raise families. Work to bring shalom (peace & prosperity) to the city that was now their home.
God gives them two overarching commands: 1) Pray for their new city, which is what grabs our attention today, and 2) don't listen to the 'prophets' among them; these were the guys who presented God's will as being whatever the popular opinions of the day were.
When you pray "hallowed be thy name," you're praying that your own life will reflect God's holiness in every way: that what you "think, say and do" will honor and praise God's name.
God's message to His exiled covenant children (that's us, by the way, not just those Israelites living in Babylon thousands of years ago) is to cast a wider net as you pray. Certainly pray that God's name will be hallowed in your own life, but also pray that God's name will be hallowed in your city (or town, or acreage, or wherever you call home until Christ returns you to your Homeland).
Chances are, you have lots to be thankful for regarding the city in which you live. But keep praying that God's name will be praised and never blasphemed where you live, which will bring the true shalom that every city needs.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your city will praise God's name in every way;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 2 Thessalonians 3