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  CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD JEREMIAH 29:12-14: “Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.” (v12)

Much has been written about prayer. Yet in truth I’ve probably both written and read more on prayer than I’ve prayed. And I’m choosing to live as a contemplative in my Oratory in all fairness, I’ve been far more consistent in prayer over the last ten years said the speaker. The contemplative dimension is basically a reality of grace, experienced by the believer as God's gift. If God has not given you the gift of knowing things the way they truly are, no matter how you try you cannot know anything in their divine correct perspective. It enables persons to know the Father God Almighty Jehovah as seen in John 14:8 “8Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father [cause us to see the Father—that is all we ask]; then we shall be satisfied”, in the mystery of trinitarian communion as seen in 1 John 1:1-3 “We are writing] about the Word of Life [[a]in] Him Who existed from the beginning, Whom we have heard, Whom we have seen with our [own] eyes, Whom we have gazed upon [for ourselves] and have touched with our [own] hands. 2 And the Life [[b]an aspect of His being] was revealed (made manifest, demonstrated), and we saw [as eyewitnesses] and are testifying to and declare to you the Life, the eternal Life [[c]in Him] Who already existed with the Father and Who [actually] was made visible (was revealed) to us [His followers]. 3 What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may [d]realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a [e]distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah)”, so that they can enter into the depths of truly knowing God as seen in 1 Cor 2:10, “10 Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the [a]divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny].” We describe the contemplative dimension fundamentally as the theological response of faith, hope, and charity or love, by which the believer opens up his or her mind to the revelation and communication of the living God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. "The concentration of the regard of one's whole heart on God, which we define as contemplation, becomes the highest and fullest activity of the human spirit, the activity which today, also, can and must order the immense pyramid of all human activities". All the above statement is no other than what Lord Jesus said that every individual must see to it that he or she loves God with the whole of our mind, with the whole of our soul and with the whole of our heart! It is not the intention here to discuss the many and delicate aspects of different methods of contemplation, nor to analyze contemplation in so far as it is an infused gift of the Holy Spirit. When as an evangelist with the youth for Christ YFC, a young man just out of college, I enjoyed my work and worked hard. Yet, only in my own strength. Apart from a few arrow prayers and a brief momentary quiet time and moment at the start of my day, I assumed I could follow in Lord Jesus’ footsteps through will power alone. As I went on in that method of doing things with my will power I soon discovered that whilst my spirit was willing, my flesh was far too weak. Struggling in this manner for some time I collapsed and suffered a six month burnout. The church Fathers remind us, and me in particular saying, ‘If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself. Prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, force yourself. The kingdom of Heaven is taken by force.’ What the church Father has said is often the challenging interpretation of Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:12 which says “12 And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a [a]share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].” These are some of the misleading interpretation that we some time give to certain portions of the gospel and Scripture, especially when we form the habit of picking verses here and there and giving presume interpretation as we feel it is without consideration to the settings, the scenario, the context and the true import of what is meant. There is nothing about God that goes with force rather things of God goes with conviction, willingness, sincerity, trust, faith and total surrender. Linking this to what is talked about in the verse that mentioned force above “The kingdom of Heaven is taken by force” as seen in some verses of Bible like KJV one should realize here the context in consideration: that the people being referred to here are those that have already taking a true and sincere firm decision for God but are having diverse form of distractions different from those that have not yet taking a decision for God. I'm not disagreeing here - praying is the most important thing a person can do to work out his or her salvation - but there have been times where I was in such a pit of despair, that it was as if I was not able to pray. My mouth was forming words, but I couldn't even hear myself or voice out anything. No part of my mind or heart was in it because depression and downcast has overtaken me, which is the distractions. I was literally just going through the motions or routine, my mind, my heart even my attention is not in the prayer but somewhere else, and I couldn't remember a single word I said. I was so distraught or very worried and upset that I barely had the resolve to even get up in the morning, and I asked my fellow parishioners to pray for me. This is a typical example of the attitude of a person who entered the work of God by force, even though he or she is truly called. What should a person do if they find themselves in that dark place? That they can't even hear themselves pray? I have to remind myself that however I feel, I am to call out to God, I’m guaranteed a hearing by the Lord God, even as I await some practical response. Prayer is always and only ever born of faith. To the unbeliever, words spoken and carried away upon the passing breeze are as insubstantial as a political promise; well expressed but of little consequence. But to the believer words uttered with faith is the cry for help to the Saviour Lord Jesus Christ and it reaches the love heart of God who intervenes by His grace to save us as we persist in calling Him. Words stir the context in which I find myself. Living in total silence alongside others strains relationships and makes everyday life difficult. So as we live every day with our Lord Jesus Christ, let’s break the silence and start a sincere heartfelt conversation with Him. That’s what prayer is: a conversation with God. Telling God how we feel and what we want Him to do for us but remembering that the essence of being in God’s presence is not necessarily for what we want Him do for us but for the joy of being in His presence to worship Him in truth and in spirit.

  Signs That God's Favour Is Restored Jeremiah 29:12-14:

The contents of Jeremiah 29 contain the following: 1. Two letters to the captives in Babylon: In the first, they are recommended to be patient and composed in spite of what they are passing through as seen in verses 1-19. 2. In the second letter, judgments are denounced or publicly declared to be wrong or evil coming against the false prophets who deceived them as seen in verses 20-32. Jeremiah 29 Verses 1-7: The written word of God is as truly given by inspiration of God as His spoken word. The zealous servant of the Lord will use every means to profit those who are far off, as well as those who are near him. The art of writing is very profitable for this end; and by the art of printing it is rendered most beneficial for circulating the knowledge of the word of God. God is sending to the captives as this letter would show that He God had not forsaken them, though He was displeased in their sinfulness, and His act of permitting their been taken captive is His merciful and gracious act in having them see and realize the consequence of their error and having those errors corrected by what they will pass through. The realization is if they live in the fear of God, instead of perishing which is what their sin would have brought to them they may live comfortably in Babylon by God’s grace. In all conditions of life, it is our wisdom and duty not to throw away the comfort of what we may have, because we have not all we would have. They are directed to seek the good of the country where they were captives. While the king of Babylon protected them, they must live quiet and peaceable lives under him, in all godliness and honesty; patiently leaving the situation to God to work deliverance for them in due time. This is a figure of how God wants us to live and behave in all our circumstances and situations knowing that God is aware of all what we are passing through and that there is a purpose in it and as such God wants us to learn from the situation and know that at the due time He will work out a way out in all the entangled situations we find ourselves. But the truth is that humans are always impatient and in their hurry, they mess up the whole issue for God and make it appear as if God is not able. We should always remember that whatever situation we find our self, it is a direct or indirect consequence of our action or inaction. Jeremiah 29 verses 8-19: Let men beware how they call those prophets whom they choose after their own fancies, and how they consider their fancies and dreams to be revelations from God. False prophets flatter people in their sins instead of telling them the enormity of sin or error of life, because they love to be flattered; and they speak smoothly to their prophets, that their prophets may speak smoothly to them too. God promises that they should return after seventy years were accomplished. Can you understand this; meaning when God permits a particular situation to arise based on our action or inaction, there is always a time frame or period that the consequence will last, it is then our responsibility to be patient and wait on God to deliver us from the situation. By this it appears, that the seventy years of the captivity are not to be reckoned from the last captivity, but the first. Daniel 9 contains two important prophecies: the first lasted 70 years and the second covers 70 weeks. The second prophecy is addressed in another article titled “70 Weeks of Daniel.” This article focuses on the first prophecy. Daniel’s focus on Jeremiah’s 70-year prophecy: In reference to the first prophecy, Daniel wrote: “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus … I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” as seen in Daniel 9:1-2. Daniel’s mention of “the books” is a reference to the prophecies that God gave through Jeremiah. The specific prophecy Daniel was talking about was the one given in Jerusalem just prior to the Babylonian invasion and then repeated via a letter from Jerusalem to the captives in Babylon as seen in Jeremiah 25:1-11; 29:1-10. This prophecy foretold that the “land shall be a desolation” and that the Jews would “serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:11; compare 2 Chronicles 36:17-21). After the 70 years were completed in Babylon, God told them, He would cause them “to return to this place [Jerusalem]” as seen in Jeremiah 29:10. Two overlapping 70-year periods: There were two components to this prophecy: the “desolation” of the land and ‘’serving the king of Babylon’’ as seen in Jeremiah 25:11. Each component seems to have been fulfilled over slightly different, yet overlapping, periods of 70 years. The 70 years of desolation of the land can be calculated as the time between the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians—which was indeed a desolation for the city of Jerusalem—and the rebuilding of the temple. The captivity of the Jewish people, which began prior to the destruction of the temple with the first deportation of Jews to Babylon and ended with a decree from Cyrus allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem, was also 70 years. It will be the bringing to pass of God's good word to them. This shall form God's purposes. We often do not know our own minds, but the Lord is never at an uncertainty. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs are all against us; but as to His own people, even that which seems evil, is for good. He will give them, not the expectations of their fears, or the expectations of their fancies, but the expectations of their faith; the end He has promised, which will be the best for them. When the Lord pours out a special spirit of prayer, it is a good sign that He is coming towards us in mercy. Promises are given to quicken and encourage prayer. He never said, Seek ye Me in vain. Those who remained at Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed, notwithstanding what the false prophets said to the contrary. The reason has often been given, and it justifies the eternal ruin of impenitent sinners; because they have not hearkened to My words; I called, but they refused. From here let it be known to all of us that in spite of our misjudgement of God’s word and miscalculation of God’s time frame God’s utterances and Word must come to pass according to God’s purpose and not ours. Jeremiah 29 verses 20-32: Jeremiah foretells judgments upon the false prophets, who deceived the Jews in Babylon. Lying was bad; lying to the people of the Lord, to delude them into a false hope, was worse; but pretending to rest their own lies upon the God of truth, was worst of all. They flattered others in their sins, because they could not reprove them without condemning themselves. The most secret sins are known to God; and there is a day coming when He will bring to light all the hidden works of darkness by men. Shemaiah a prophet during the reign of Rehoboam urges the priests to persecute Jeremiah. Their hearts are wretchedly hardened who justify doing mischief by having power to do it. Did you hear that, because the men and women of darkness have power to do whatever they want hence they go on doing mischief. They were in a miserable thraldom for mocking the messengers of the Lord, and misusing God’s prophets; yet in their distress they trespass still more against the Lord. Thraldom is a state of subjugation to an owner or master: in bondage, in enslavement, or in slavery. Afflictions will not of themselves cure men of their sins, unless the grace of God works with them. Those who slight the blessings of God, deserve to lose the benefit of God's word, like Shemaiah. The accusations and falsehood against many active Christians in all ages, amount to no more than this, that they earnestly counsel men to attend to their true interest and duties, and to wait for the performance of God's promises in His appointed way and time. Today it is not only the prophets that are misleading us with their false prophecies and false interpretation of the Word of God; we ourselves are misleading ourselves by our lack of the true knowledge of the Word of God and our being filled and governed by worldliness through our defective character, wrong attitude, bad behaviour and lifestyle all centred on what the society demands different from what God has ordained in His natural principles of Life and Word. Now let us read Jeremiah 29:1-14: Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders in exile and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah [also called Coniah and Jehoiachin] and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. 3 [The letter was sent] by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the captives whom I have caused to be carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build yourselves houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not be diminished. 7 And seek (inquire for, require, and request) the peace and welfare of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captive; and pray to the Lord for it, for in the welfare of [the city in which you live] you will have welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Let not your [false] prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you; pay no attention and attach no significance to your dreams which you dream or to theirs, 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name. I have not sent them, says the Lord. 10 For thus says the Lord, When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My good promise to you, causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. 12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. 13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.

  Introduction:

I. WHAT HE DOES IN HIS PEOPLE: 1. In turning their hearts to Himself. They had been worshipping Baal and the gods of heathendom. Only now and then did they offer a half-hearted worship to Jehovah. The idolatries that they pandered or gratify or indulge (an immoral or distasteful desire or taste or a person with such a desire or taste) to their lusts were uppermost in their thoughts, and it was only occasionally, in seasons of desperate need, they bethought themselves of Jehovah just as we are doing today. Now He was to assume a higher place in their regard. Their views of life, its purposes and destinies, would be elevated, and He would become their chief desire because of the difficulties and hardship they find themselves in; is this not what we do? The new err of favour and happiness would be distinguished by intense personal love for God. In Nehemiah's day a measure of spiritual affection like this showed itself, but it could only be fully developed through the personal manifestation of Christ, who was to draw all men unto Himself. Today all nations of the world is undergoing a similar situation of being in captivity and slavery in diverse ways and when it will climax, with trouble everywhere, men will seek God because they will find out that all other things have failed and then wisdom will make them realize that only God can save and they will seek Him whether they want it or not. 2. In pouring forth the spirit of true prayer. Where the heart's affections go forth towards God the spirit of true prayer commences. It is that which cries within us, "Abba, Father," which is the spirit of prayer and supplications. It has been supposed that the first clause of ver. 12 refers to private (individual) and the second to public (collective) prayer. The habit and delight of devotion were to be restored. Where these devotional habits are in place then the earnest of all substantial and eternal good will be realized. Pentecost was prefaced and penetrated with prayer and devotion. II. WHAT HE DOES FOR HIS PEOPLE: 1. In revealing Himself. They who seek for Him with their whole heart will find Him. The veil or that spiritual cover with which God usually use to cover what He still want to be secret will be withdrawn, and calamity, understood as fatherly chastisement, patiently borne. In the subsequent history of Israel this was largely experienced; but the fullness of the spiritual meaning of the promise was only realized in Christ and the outpourings of His Spirit, this is still ongoing. 2. He will hearken to their petitions. The sense of acceptance will come, even in the midst of captivity. Faithful hearts will be filled with presage of coming deliverance, and prayer will not only be effectual but will be felt to be so. It is in this exercise that the true relationship of God and His people becomes evident, and the blessings of a present and ultimate redemption are secured. There can be no more marked proof of God's favour towards any one than answers to His prayers and true children of God are witnessing it little by little and it will increase. 3. He will bring back to the Promised Land and the privilege of covenant relationship. That is a matter of course, seeing He already hears them. And yet nonetheless imposing will their redemption be. How complete the restoration! How miraculous! Its supernatural character is to be as evident as that of their dispersion. That which under anomalous circumstances has been a difficult, unauthorized, or intermittent exercise will become easy, honourable, and constant, as they will return to their own land, where every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, none daring to make Him afraid. In the case of the Christian this promise will be fulfilled in either the gradual conquest of the world by the Church, or entrance into heaven. But there is a foretaste of this in the self-conquest and perfected spiritual life of the regenerate soul. Because a regenerated soul is already sensing and seeing with the eye of Christ.

  Conclusion:

As the unifying act of all human movement towards God, the contemplative dimension is expressed by listening to and meditating on the Word of God; by participating in the divine life transmitted to us in the sacraments, which is the Word of God; by liturgical and personal prayer, by the constant desire for God and the search for His Will in events and people; by the conscious participation in His salvific; leading to salvation mission; by self-giving to others for the coming of the Kingdom. There results, in the religious, an attitude of continuous and humble adoration of God's mysterious presence in people, events and things: an attitude which manifests the virtue of piety, an interior font of peace and a person who brings peace to every sphere of life and apostolate. All this is achieved in continual purification of heart under the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that we can find God in all things and people and become the "praise of His glory" as seen in Eph 1:6 “6 [So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” The very nature of consecrated life stands out in this way as the profound source which nourishes and unifies every aspect of the lives of the believer. This means that you should give God yourself, surrendering all your body, soul and spirit to Him for His good pleasure.

  

Lord, help me to pray daily, and not lose heart or get distracted in any way. In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen!