Fresh Start

Northstar Church - January 1, 2023

Jeff Noble

It’s a new year… and so many things I want to say right now…

We wanted to start the year off right.. day old donuts. But still… donuts.

Know His love.

"I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39)

Allow His love to propel you, to energize you, to motivate you.

“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.” (John 15:9)
"For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:27)

Know the times.

“Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, and then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest.” (John 4:35)
He replied, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:2-4, to the Saduccees and Pharisees wanting a sign)
“Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they put out leaves you can see for yourselves and recognize that summer is already near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:29-31)
Why we’ve been studying Revelation...

Be Daniels and Daniellas.

In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it. The Lord handed King Jehoiakim of Judah over to him, along with some of the vessels from the house of God. Nebuchadnezzar carried them to the land of Babylon, to the house of his god, and put the vessels in the treasury of his god.
The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the Israelites from the royal family and from the nobility — young men without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the Chaldean language and literature. The king assigned them daily provisions from the royal food and from the wine that he drank. They were to be trained for three years, and at the end of that time they were to attend the king. Among them, from the Judahites, were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief eunuch gave them names; he gave the name Belteshazzar to Daniel, Shadrach to Hananiah, Meshach to Mishael, and Abednego to Azariah. (Daniel 1:1-7)
What did they do?
"Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief eunuch not to defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8)
What did God do?
"God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind.” (Daniel 1:17)
They kept being tested.
King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon… There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up… Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:1, 12, 16-18)
“...the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an edict that, for thirty days, anyone who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den… When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before." (Daniel 5:6, 10)
What were God’s instructions for living in exile?
This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining exiled elders, the priests, the prophets, and all the people Nebuchadnezzar had deported from Jerusalem to Babylon. .. The letter stated:
This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Find wives for yourselves, and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive.”
For this is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Don’t let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you, and don’t listen to the dreams you elicit from them, for they are prophesying falsely to you in my name. I have not sent them.” This is the LORD’s declaration.
For this is what the LORD says: “When seventy years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place. For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you” — this is the LORD’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place from which I deported you.”
You have said, “The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon! ” But this is what the LORD says concerning the king sitting on David’s throne and concerning all the people living in this city — that is, concerning your brothers who did not go with you into exile. This is what the LORD of Armies says: “I am about to send sword, famine, and plague against them, and I will make them like rotten figs that are inedible because they are so bad. I will pursue them with sword, famine, and plague. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth — a curse and a desolation, an object of scorn and a disgrace among all the nations where I have banished them. I will do this because they have not listened to my words” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “the words that I sent to them with my servants the prophets time and time again. And you too have not listened.” This is the LORD’s declaration. (Jeremiah 29:1-19)
God prepared His people to live in exile well. Bless the culture. Shape the culture. Jesus told us to make disciples. Where do we make them? In the culture. And… a sobering word for those who “escaped” exile. ("concerning your brothers who did not go with you into exile”) Exile was a better place for God’s people! Those left behind were those who had "not listened to my words.” Don’t despair of living in exile.

A few thoughts:

  • How to live in exile… be normal. Routine. Be spiritual. (We are not home yet!)
  • Anchor yourself in complete confidence and assurance of God’s great love for you - even while you may struggle with living in exile.
  • Embrace the value of the people of the culture without embracing the values of the people in the culture.
  • Be different. (humbold & joyFULL) (from state of the church in 2022)
  • Recognize you are in exile.
"Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day he visits.” (1 Peter 2:10-12)
  • Understand God’s perspective of those who are His people but who are not living a distinctly spiritual life. "I will do this because they have not listened to my words."
  • Live with a defiant faith. Like Daniel and friends. Remember, a defiant faith is shaped by love. (Read how to have a defiant faith in 1 Corinthians 13… one reminder is that “Love is not rude.” and “Love rejoices with the truth.")
  • Anchor yourself in complete confidence and assurance of God’s great love for you. Be reminded daily by reading the Word daily. (Apps, Bibles, Etsy bookmarks, design your own…)
"Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40)
Revelation: A Shorter Commentary by G.K. Beale (Eerdmans Publishing, 2015)

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