Huddle/Week of 9-8-19
Sunday’s message focused on again on transitions but this time through the lens of Israel’s exile to Babylon. In 586 B.C., the Babylonians (King Nebuchadnezzar) defeated the Israelites and exiled its people, forcing them to resettle in Babylon, nearly 900 miles from Jerusalem. To say this was a major transition for the Israelites is a massive understatement. Teaching from Jeremiah 29, Bret gave us insight into our current culture and what it means to live in the “new Babylon”, asking the question, “How do we respond to the Babylonian captivity?”
In his message, Bret talked about lucid dreaming—the state of dreaming where in your dream, you know you are dreaming. When you are engaged in lucid dreaming, it sometimes feels like you can control your actions.
- Have you ever had a dream, and in your dream, you realized you were dreaming? What did you do? Could you control what you were doing?
Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14
Leader note: When Babylon defeated the Israelites, they took the majority of Israel’s cultural leaders, political leaders, and craftsmen. The Babylonians left a large number of the Israelites back in Jerusalem…a Jerusalem that was now vacant of leadership and culture and that only had the burned remains of the temple. Jeremiah, a prophet of Israel, was one of the men that remained in Jerusalem. He is writing to the leaders of Israel in Babylon. In this letter, God (through Jeremiah) instructs the Israelites in captivity on how to live in exile. What God says may surprise you.
- What stands out to you in this text? Why?
- When the Israelites were exiled to Babylon, they were moving from a culture centered around God (Jerusalem) to a completely secular culture (Babylon). In what ways do you see this same shift happening in America? (from Christianàsecular) Do you think we are already there, are we headed that way, or don’t see this kind of shift happening at all?
How Do We Respond to the Exile?
Help the Place Prosper
- In the message, Bret’s first insight into how we respond to the exile is by “Helping the place prospers through building and praying.” What does it look like to help the city prosper? How do we/can we personally engage in that?
- How do some groups of Christians often live out the opposite of this?
- One thing to note about Israel in exile is, even though they worked for the prosperity of the city, they maintained their identity in God. How do we seek the prosperity and peace of the city without losing our identity in God?
In Jeremiah 29, we see that God told the Israelites in exile to multiply there…to increase and not to decrease.
- Beyond mere population increase, what does it look like for the people of God to increase their influence or multiply in the city?
- How, and in what ways can the church do that? And how do the individual people of God do that?
Group Activity—Knowing Your City
- In your group, spend some time making a list of the things you love about your city (including the attitudes, values, and environment) and a list about what is limiting the prosperity of the city (including, attitudes, addictions, values, environment). During prayer time, pray over the list.
Practice (Choose 1 or more)
- One morning this week, spend a few minutes praying for the prosperity of Evansville. Think of what our city struggles with…think of the positive things worth celebrating. Pray that God would help you see the city with new eyes.
- Attend and engage in one thing that the city is doing. Shift your focus from “one more thing to attend” to “I’m engaging in the peace and prosperity of the city. (Example—Attend a football game, art or food truck festival, check Evansville’s calendar of events and make it a priority to attend one.
- Scripture memorization is a long-time practice of followers of God. It takes the word of God from the mind to the deeper parts of your soul. This week, attempt to memorize God’s words to the Israelites in exile.
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
- Look back at the list you created in the group activity. Choose one or more things off of the list and pray that God would make a move in that area.