This is the sermon for Sunday, September 28th, 2008. It is entitled, “Bloom.”

Philippians 4:11b

In this video clip, we saw many different lives, having different complications and difficulties. There is one thing they all had in common: They were able to bloom where they were planted.

And this is what this sermon is about this morning.

Philippians 4:11b ISV – for I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in.

I spent a number of years in West Texas. I went to High School there, worked in the Oil field, pastored a church and even started a family. But let me state a fact to you that hopefully doesn’t offend anyone – I hated the area. It got too cold and snowed to much in the winter, though the summers were good, there were no trees, just flat land. I couldn’t wait to leave there. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life up in the panhandle. But instead of waiting to leave, I bloomed where I was planted. God did some wonderful things in my life and even through my life while I was there. Several things that took place in that part of Texas helped shape me into who I am today. So while I didn’t necessarily enjoy being there, I look back at my time there with fond memories.

Let me ask you a question this morning. Have you ever been somewhere you didn’t want to be? Maybe it was a job, or a town, or even a marriage. Maybe it is some stage in life that you are presently going through, or some difficulty that seems to be sapping every amount of energy, life, and strength from you. Maybe while you are listening to this sermon, you are wishing that you could be somewhere else, living the life of your dreams, instead of the nightmare you may feel that it has become.

Well, this morning, I feel that God has a word for us in the Bible. Paul shared this word with us in the book of Philippians, and today we are going to look at what God told Judah in Jeremiah that is applicable to our day as well.

In fact, I want to rephrase what Paul stated in Philippians 4:11 in my own words.

The rephrasing of what Paul stated is my main point of this sermon: Bloom where you are planted.

Before we dig into God’s Word and see what He would say to us, let’s invite the Holy Spirit to come and bless and preaching of His Word.

Let’s look at a few things that God says to the exiles of Judah in Jeremiah 29.

Jeremiah 29:1 ISV – These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Jeremiah 29:4-7 ISV – 4“Thus says the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, the God of Israel, to all the exiles who were taken from Jerusalem into exile to Babylon, 5‘Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and father sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so they may have sons and daughters. Increase in numbers there and don’t decrease. 7 Seek the welfare of the city to which I’ve exiled you and pray to the LORD for it, for your welfare depends on its welfare.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 ISV – 10“For thus says the LORD, ‘When Babylon’s seventy years are completed, I’ll take note of you and will fulfill my good word for you and bring you back to this place.11 For I do know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope.12 When you call out to me and come and pray to me, I’ll hear you.13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

Last week we saw that Jeremiah prophesied that Judah’s sin was so great, that it was like an iron pen with a diamond point. This meant that their sin was ever before the Lord. So He had to punish them. He brought them into exile by the nation of Babylon. They were still His chosen people. He still loved them.

Here we see that God tells Jeremiah to now send a letter to the exiles. God basically tells them to bloom where they are planted. To live normal lives as best as possible. They are to plant gardens and marry and give in marriage their daughters, just like they would while living in their own homeland. Even though they were in a desperate place – God was still with them. He had not forgotten them. In seventy years, they would return to the homeland, and worship God once again in Jerusalem. God still had a plan and purpose for the chosen of Judah. So while they are in exile, they should pray and seek the Lord, for even in exile He will be found by them if they search for Him with all their hearts.

How does this apply to our lives? Well, maybe you feel exiled just like Judah was. You are in a situation that is difficult and uncomfortable. Well, God has not abandoned you. He loves you, and longs for you to search Him out and He will be found by you if you search for Him with all your heart.

He also wants you to bloom right where you are planted.

How do we bloom when we are planted in difficult situations?

1. Center your life in Christ, not your circumstances.

A. Your circumstances are temporary, but Christ Jesus and His presence are constant and eternal.

B. So let Christ Jesus be the focus of your life, not your temporary circumstances.

2. Ask the Lord to change you.

A. Many times we ask the Lord to change our circumstances.

This is really the wrong prayer.

B. We should instead ask the Lord to change us in the midst of our circumstances.

Whether we want to admit it or not, God has a plan for what we are going through. He wants to produce change in our lives. And just like the illustration last week, He wants us to trust Him in what we are going through as well.

3. Determine to be a good steward.

A. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or on the current difficulties, focus on what you do have and make the most of what God has given you.

Complaining and daydreaming about how things should be never changes the situation. God has allowed you to be planted for whatever reason in the position you may find yourself in. Bloom in this position. Determine that your present situation does not define you, but Christ Jesus defines you. Ask for the Lord to work on you during your difficulty and then make the most of the opportunity you are in.

Let the world see someone not influenced by their condition, but influencing their condition. Blooming where you are planted can be a great witness to this lost world of the power of Jesus Christ. So let’s determine that no matter what happens, as a believer in Jesus you are going to bloom.