1Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. 4The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, sends this message to all the captives He has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5"Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food you produce. 6Marry, and have children. Then find spouses for them, and have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the LORD for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you."
Points to Contemplate:
Do you give up?
When you find yourself in difficult situations and you have been taken captive by the pain, sorrow, or frustrations that grip your heart, do you give up? Do you tend to sit back and try to weather the storm? Do you wait and hope for better times to come? Or, as in Jeremiah's letter to the Exiles, do you seek ways to make the most out of every situation? Do you pray for those holding you captive at work or in traffic? Do you plant seeds of hope and joy while dealing with frustrating people? Can you build a home on any situational foundation and continue to work for the glory of God in everything you do?
Are you working for "peace and prosperity?" When you find your self in difficult situations are you a "builder" or a "tearer-down?" When arguments fester and opinions differ, do you add fuel to the fire or offer peace and resolve? When things happen in your life and ministry that are out of your control, do you make the most of the situation or do you stand around slinging reproach and discord? How do you react when things are not going your way? Are you still a Kingdom builder or do you become an "Anti," looking for opportunities to voice your displeasure?
Do you pray for your captors? When you face opposition or conflict do you pray for those who oppose you or are you focused on your own agenda and hurt feelings? Do you pray for those in leadership regardless if you agree with them or not? Do you seek peace in their lives? Do you find that as peace comes to them it also comes to you? Do you see that as you accept others and pray for their well-being that you too, are healed and set free of the bonds of hate, anger, and self-righteousness that threaten to grip your heart? Promises of the Gospel:
Jeremiah's letter to those in exile in Babylon shows us that no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we are still called to ministry. We are not to give up when things are going badly. We are not to cry and pout when life is filled with pain and suffering. Hope evolves out of doing. Joy is restored through building. Love erupts from loving actions. Peace comes from God. Jeremiah beseeches us not to give up, no matter how hopeless or despairing the situation. Instead, we are to plant gardens, build homes, and expand our church family. It is through these kingdom building activities where God's perfect plan for our lives will be realized.