I. Have you ever thought that God was angry with you? Have you sometimes questioned His love?
A. This often happens when we are going through some great tragedy.
1. Satan often uses the circumstances of our lives to bring doubt concerning God's love.
2. If God really loved you, why would He allow you to experience this suffering or sorrow.
B. This often happens when we have failed in our Christian walk. We have been disobedient to the commands of God.
1. We hate ourselves for the weakness of our flesh.
2. We are very disappointed with ourselves and we thus presume that God is also disappointed and angry with us.
C. When our older daughter Jan was just a little girl, one day she was going through the nobody loves me routine.
II. The people Jeremiah was writing to had real cause to believe that God's thoughts toward them were evil.
A. He was writing to those who had been taken captive to Babylon.
1. Removed by force from their homeland, many of them separated from their families, it seemed that they had been forsaken by God.
2. They were there because they had forsaken God, and had trusted in lies.
3. Jeremiah is telling them to settle down in Babylon, to build houses and to plant gardens and not hope for a speedy return to their native land. That the time of their captivity was to last for seventy years.
a. For many of them this was very disconcerting, for the false prophets were encouraging them to revolt and telling them that they would soon be returning to their homeland.
b. Jeremiah is now telling them that they should seek to live peaceably in the cities of Babylon for they were to be there for 70 years.
B. Living as slaves in Babylon was not a pleasant experience and to hear the discouraging message of Jeremiah caused many of them to think that God had only evil thoughts concerning them.
III. The message of the Lord to the captives. "Thus saith the Lord, After seventy years are accomplished, at Babylon I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place, for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
A. This is always true, the thoughts of God toward His children are always those of peace and not of evil.
1. There are times when it is necessary that God chastise us for our own good.
a. These are the times when we are prone to think that He does not love us.
b. I can remember when I was a child, every time I was guilty of an infraction of the family rules, I would be taken alone into my bedroom, lectured, then spanked. My father would leave the room and close the door, and in the darkness of the room, I would think that nobody loved me, sometimes I wanted to die, for then they might feel sorry for me.
c. When God has just given us a good spanking, we think that He a hates us, and doesn't really care what happens to us.
d. In reality the Lord has said that His chastening is a sign of His love. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." Thus we are not to despise the chastening of the Lord. If you can do evil and get by with it, you better begin to worry, this could be a sign that you are not a true son of God.
B. The thoughts of God are of peace.
1. Some of you have been fighting with God, you, as the people of Judah have been rebelling against Him and as them, are now suffering the consequences of that rebellion.
2. Sin often brings its own natural consequences of pain and sorrow. That is why God forbade you to do it.
a. God does not always immediately relieve you from the consequence of your sin.
b. Let us say that you stole some money and you were caught and arrested. You repent and ask God to forgive you, which of course He will, but He still might allow you to spend 5 years in prison for your crime.
3. While you were thinking of war, and rebellion against God, He was thinking peace.
C. The thoughts of God are not evil.
1. Even the chastening process is for our own good.
2. There is a difference between correction and punishment.
a. A parent should be interested in correcting their child from unacceptable behavior. I do not believe in punishing your child.
b. If you are a child of God, He will take what means that are necessary to correct you, but He will not punish you.
c. Punishment awaits them who are not His children who persist in evil.
3. The sociologist studied the prison system and saw the failure to reform the behavior of the inmates. They decided that the flaw in the system was in the name of the system, they were then known as penal institutions. So they had this big reform of the name and began to call them correctional institutions. The idea was to correct the bad behavior, rather than punish the bad behavior. Their experiment was a total failure, because there was no real repentance involved. The prisoners were real quick to catch on to the game, and gave the answers the psychologists wanted to hear in order to gain a speedy release, but there was no true reformation.
4. With God if you are truly repentant, He will correct you, for that is for your own good. During the correction process His thoughts are of peace, not evil.
D. His thoughts are to bring you to an expected end.
1. The Hebrew word translated expected is an interesting word, difficult to translate into English. There is the thought of expectancy but more, you may be expecting something that is bad, or you may be hoping for something that is good. The Hebrew word has the connotation of a hoped for expected end.
2. It could thus be translated "To bring you to a desirable end.
E. God is always looking ahead to the end of the path. It may be necessary to bring you some temporary discomfort in order to bring you into His eternal glory.
1. Man is often too short sighted, we only consider the moment.
a. Look at how much grief we bring to ourselves by considering only the moment, rather than the possible consequences.
b. I think of the remorse being expressed by the one boy arrested this past week in the drive by shooting that killed the young boy in the county.
c. The boys, acting on impulse, and the thought of revenge, not taking into consideration the possible consequences fired shots at the house, and are now facing murder charges.
2. God is always looking down the road to the end, what are the eternal consequences of that action. Will it bring you eternal separation from God? Is it worth that?
3. I think that if a poll were taken that asked the question, "When you die, do you want to go to heaven or to hell." I am sure that the overwhelming majority would vote for heaven.
a. Yet they are not living the kind of life that will insure that desire.
b. They are more concerned with their present pleasure than their eternal destiny.
c. This is where a person often comes into conflict with God for He is more interested in your eternal destiny than your present comfort or pleasure.
4. God's thoughts concerning you are of peace, He desires that you spend your eternity with Him. This may require that you spend some time in captivity, which will not be very comfortable, but He is looking at the end of the matter.