17. At Midnight

Reading Plan

One passage per day for a whole week, based on the sermon:

  1. MONDAY: Jeremiah 29:1-32
  2. TUESDAY: Psalm 23:1-6
  3. WEDNESDAY: John 16:1-33
  4. THURSDAY: Romans 8:1-39
  5. FRIDAY: James 1:1-27
  6. SATURDAY: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
  7. SUNDAY: 2 Chronicles 36:1-23

Sermon Notes ⤵️

At Midnight

Pastor Taylor begins his message by telling a story about how his son Arrow says it’s too dark in his room to sleep so he asks to sleep in dad’s bed. He says, God’s love is like him loving Arrow but also knowing he needs to learn and grow even in the dark moments AT MIDNIGHT.

The sermon title matches up with the release of At Midnight, the latest Elevation Worship release, the title which is based on Acts 16:25:

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

Acts 16:25, KJV, emphasis mine

But Pastor Taylor’s message centers on this passage from Jeremiah 29:

“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.”

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

You probably have heard this verse before. Even if you didn’t grow up in church, you may have heard it said before.

We often think Verse 11 is about God promising us:

  • Good jobs
  • Work promotions
  • Godly spouses
  • Nice cars.

But that’s not what it’s about in context.
When we read the Bible, we need to read it in context.

If we back up just one verse, it says:

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.”

Jeremiah 29:10, NIV, emphasis mine

God says he will fulfill his promise to the Israelites… in 70 years…

The context of this verse: The Israelites have been taken away from their home in Jerusalem and carried off into exile in Babylon. This chapter is a letter from Jeremiah in Jerusalem to these exiles in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:1). (The story of the exile is summarized in 2 Chronicles 36:15-21)

At the same time, another (false) prophet named Hananiah is telling the people that they will only be taken into exile for two years. Jeremiah is like, “Woah, pump the breaks: it’s going to take 70 years.” (This story is told in Jeremiah 28:1-17)

A Letter to the Exiles

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:

Jeremiah 29:4, NIV, emphasis mine

Notice that this verse says God carried them into exile.
Ever feel like God puts you in a hard place?
But God knows what he is doing:
disobedience —> God’s destiny

Pastor Taylor shares briefly about his drug and alcohol addiction and how God is now using him to preach and help other people.

What Happens When God Doesn’t Deliver You?

5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 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.”

Jeremiah 29:5-6, NIV, emphasis mine

In Verse 5, God is telling the Israelites to settle down in their exile: “You’re not going anywhere.”

Maybe you feel…
stuck in a marriage
stuck at work
and you feel like God isn’t taking you out.
But God isn’t afraid to put you around your enemies (Psalm 23:5).

“If I deliver you out of your dysfunction, nothing will change in your character.”
“If I
pull you out, nothing will come out.”
character is more important than you circumstances.

Obscurity is Not the Absence of Opportunity

8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:8-9, NIV, emphasis mine

In Old Testament times, before Jesus came, before the Holy Spirit dwelled inside people and guided them, God led his people through his prophets.

Sometimes we pray and if God doesn’t follow our timeline…
…we think God forgot us and isn’t listening to us.

Obscurity is not the absence of opportunity but the absence of recognition.

I bet someone sitting here today thinks “No one in this room even sees me.”

When I first came to elevation I felt called to preach…
And one of other guys at elevation said “Why don’t you?”
“Because I don’t have a mic or a stage.”
“Why do you need those things?”
You preach through your actions.

The Israelites really need this message, but they were living it.
Some of us feel like we’re living it. We’re tired of living it, of trying.

If God Said It, I’ll See It

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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.”

Jeremiah 29:10-11, NIV, emphasis mine

Plans = Future tense

God was giving them hope in the middle of a hellish situation.
Faith isn’t being able to see your victory.
He was giving them a present word for a future hope.

“Trust what I say even if you don’t see it.”

If God said it, I’ll see it.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, NIV, emphasis mine

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:37, NIV, emphasis mine

“I don’t feel loved.”

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18, NIV, emphasis mine

His Presence Is What Fulfills

12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:12-14, NIV, emphasis mine

What do you do when you’re the middle of enemy territory?
It’s not about a house or a promotion but his presence.
His presence is what fulfills.
He wants to draw you in…

Just because you found the Lord doesn’t mean you have full revelation of the Lord.

You’re always getting closer to the Lord
And getting closer to the Lord gets harder
…because he reveals things about you that he wants to fix in your life.
Tithing doesn’t mean that your finances get easier.
Salvation doesn’t mean your addiction goes away.

What’s Within You is for Those Around You

7 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.

Jeremiah 29:7, NIV, emphasis mine

Seek the peace and the prosperity of your enemy… “that one person at work.”

What’s within you is for those around you.

God was blessing the Babylonians through this promise, too.

Even when you’re in the middle of exile, in the middle of the night…
…remember Peter and Silas were offering praise up to God
at midnight.

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