************ Sermon on Jeremiah 29:12 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on January 26, 2020

Jeremiah 29:4-14
Jeremiah 29:12
"Hi God, It's Me"
Cadet Sunday 2020

There are 222 prayers in the Bibles -- give or take a few depending on your translation. I am going to read nine of those prayers aloud. Tell me who prayed them and why.
1. (Gen 18:23-24) "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? (24) What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?"
2. (Lk 23:34) "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
3. (1 Ki 3:9) "So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
4. (Mt 6:9) "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name ..."
5. (Gen 15:2) "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"
6. (Gen 32:11) "Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother ... for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children."
7. (Acts 1:24) "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen ..."
8. (2 Ki 6:17) "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see."
9. (Mt 14:30) "Lord, save me!"

Prayer is the subject of the Cadet theme this year. The theme verse comes from Jeremiah:
(Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
I hope prayer is not just something you boys learn about. I hope prayer is something we all do, Cadets and congregation.

Did you know there was a time when there was no prayer? There is an intriguing verse in the Bible right after we are told about the birth of Seth and his son Enosh: "At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD" (Gen 4:26). Prayer started after the birth of these two men. Why? Man realized he needed and wanted communion with God. Man realized he needed a closer walk with God. Man realized something was missing from his life now that he was out of God's presence in the Garden of Eden. Prayer is the response of the soul that wants more of God. Do you boys want more of God? Do you, congregation, want more of God? Then go to Him in prayer!

I Prayer is Worship of God
A (Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Notice the word "come." God is speaking about His people coming to Him. He has a place in mind. So, let me ask, where did God's Old Testament people go, to what place did they come, when they wanted to pray to God? The Temple. God's Old Testament people went to the Temple of pray.

This tells us something about prayer. This tells us prayer is worship because the Temple is all about worship. Prayer is the worship of our majestic God by His adoring people. Boys, congregation, you worship God when you come to Him in prayer.

B (Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Me.

Who is speaking? The LORD (Jer 29:10). The God who makes us, saves us, sanctifies us, and glorifies us. The God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The God Who lives in heaven above and earth below. This God is NOT Allah, Buddha, the Virgin Mary, Confucius. This God is not the sun, moon, or stars. The God we pray to is the one only true God. We don't pray to any other god. The first and second commandments tell us we are to worship only God. Since prayer is worship, this means it can only be offered to the triune God of the Bible.

Any prayer offered to any other god is not true prayer. The prayers of Roman Catholics to Mary or saints are not true prayers. The prayers of Muslims to Allah are not true prayers. The prayers of Jews and Hindus are not true prayers.

II Prayer is Heard
A (Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. I will listen to you.

Because of Christ, we have a direct line to God. In the Old Testament it was the high priest who prayed to God for the people. In the New Testament we all are priests who directly petition God. We don't go through a switch board that loses our call, we don't end up in voice mail where no option seems to fit, we don't go through a secretary who offers to pass on a message but won't connect you. In prayer, we go direct to the throne of God Himself.
Last week the Wall Street Journal had an article about the vanishing administrative or executive assistant. The erosion of these jobs is as dramatic as the decline in manufacturing jobs. More than 1.6 million secretarial and administrative-assistant jobs have vanished since the year 2000, an almost 40% decline. The reason: technology and automation have chipped away at such duties as answering the phone and filing paperwork. A new generation of corporate leaders use cell phones, schedule meetings over the computer, and book flights on their own.
I have noticed this in my work too. Most people call me direct on my cell phone, or they text me.

Cadets, congregation, I hope you take advantage of your direct line to God and go to Him often in prayer. The line is always open. The believer always has access to the throne of grace.

The tragedy and the folly is that we neglect this line of communication and do not use it as often as we ought. Too often, we take it for granted. Imagine not talking with your friend -- the relationship withers and dies. Likewise, imagine not talking with the Lover of your soul. Prayer is as necessary for the Christian's spiritual life as breath and food are necessary for the Christian's physical life.

Similarly, we do not marvel that in prayer we get to talk to the King of the universe. He is the mighty King. We should be in awe that we can talk to Him.

B (Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Prayer is not necessary for God. God does not need our prayers for His praise, worship, or adoration. Before time in eternity the Triune Godhead lived in perfect blessedness with neither angel nor saint to praise Him.

God also does not need prayer to know what is going on or to give Him advice on what to do. After all He knows all things and is perfectly wise.

God does not need our prayers; yet, God listens to the prayer of His people. Cadets, congregation, God hears you when you pray. God is pleased to hear our prayers. God wants to hear our prayers. God even delights in our prayers.

C (Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Boys, has your dad ever been too busy to listen to you? "I have to get back to work." "I'm late for my church meeting." "I'm tired and need to rest." Our Father in heaven never gives excuses because He is always there to listen. He is never too busy to listen. No matter when you talk to Him, no matter what you talk to Him about, no matter where you talk to Him, He is always available. No busy signal with Him. No message saying the voice mailbox is full or has not been setup. No message saying the party you are trying to reach is unavailable. Boys, congregation, you can talk to God any time of day or night. Boys, congregation, you can talk to God about anything at all that is on your heart: troubles, embarrassing things, happy things, small things, huge things. One thing is sure: God does listen.

III Prayer that isn't Heard
A (Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

You boys know who Judas is, right? Did God listen to Judas' prayers? What about the prayers of evil King Ahab? Did God listen to Ahab's prayers? What about the prayers of Ahab's wife, Jezebel -- she is the Queen who tried to kill the prophet Elijah? Did God listen to her prayers? We all know the answer is NO. God did not listen to the prayers of Judas, Ahab, or Jezebel.

God did not listen to Hananiah (Jer 28), Shemaiah (Jer 29:24ff), and their followers either. In the year 597 BC God judged the nation of Judah because of her unfaithfulness. The Babylonians attacked Jerusalem. They took prisoners back to Babylon -- including the king, the court officials, and the skilled craftsmen. And the Jews were saying, "This cannot be happening to us! We are God's chosen people! We are the children of the covenant! Abraham is our father! How can this be?"

In the history of the Jews there is story after story of God coming through for His people in times of trouble. For instance, they were slaves in Egypt and God sent the ten plagues. The Egyptian army was behind them and the Red Sea was in front of them and God parted the waters so they could cross to the other side on dry ground but drowned the Egyptians. The Assyrian Army invaded the land of Judah, the people were scared, and God rescued them by killing 185,000 in the Assyrian camp.

When the Babylonians invaded the land of Judah in 597 BC, Hananiah and Shemaiah said that in two years God will again provide rescue. He will break the yoke of the king of Babylon and you will be going back home. That's what the captives were thinking and praying for.

But in our Bible reading we see a letter Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon. Basically he tells them, "You are not coming home for seventy years. So build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. Be fruitful and multiply. And do not listen to the lies and prayers of Hananiah and Shemaiah because they are not speaking in my name."

B (Jer 29:12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

God listens but not to everyone. God hears but to some He turns a deaf ear. So to whom does He listen when they call, when they pray? Let's go back one verse:
(Jer 29:11) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
We are talking about God's people. True Christian believers. People for whom God has plans -- meaning the elect, the chosen. Members of the covenant community. Those are the ones God listens to.

Do you boys realize what a blessing it is to be raised in a Christian home? Do you realize what a blessing it is to be part of Cadets? Do you realize what a blessing it is to be part of a true church? Do you realize what a blessing it is to know Jesus? Because this means God listens to you, that He hears you.

I mentioned earlier there are 222 prayers in the Bible. Prayers by patriarchs like Abraham and Jacob. Prayers by leaders like Moses and David. Prayers by prophets like Elijah and Jonah. Prayers by apostles like Peter and Paul. But there are also prayers by ordinary people like the servant of Abraham, the people of Israel, Hannah, Jabez, the sailors with Jonah, ten lepers, two blind men, a sick woman. Each of these people experienced answered prayer.

Does God hear your prayer? He does if you believe in Jesus. If you are a follower of the Lamb. If you live for Jesus.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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