Build Houses, Plant Gardens,

Build Houses, Plant Gardens, & Settle Down

Could you imagine being the Israelites during Jeremiah or Daniel's time? It must have been incredibly stressful. You might remember reading about how Israel and Judah fell into captivity and were uprooted from their homes and land. They were taken to a foreign place, around foreign people, who worshipped foreign gods. This was terrifying. My natural inclination would be to fight back, but Jeremiah told the people not to. He told them to build houses, plant gardens, and to settle down (Jeremiah 29:5-7). What would your response be to Jeremiah?

How about Daniel? Taken into slavery, told to bow down to false gods, forced to stop praying to your own. No one would be surprised to hear the story of Daniel rising up in anger and physically fighting back! But, we may all be surprised to learn that Daniel didn't. He didn't fight back, at least not physically and not in anger. You might say he fought back spiritually, but this simply involved him never denying God, never stopping his prayers, and fully trusting in God's deliverance no matter what that looked like. (After all, he still spent a night in the pit).

There are many stories of how these times were difficult. Those who lived during them may even suggest that they were the worst of all times. They may have dreamed of "the good ole days" hoping that God would deliver and return them to those fond times. Being patient and faithful for so many years through the agony and pain and having to live in a place where God is ignored and certainly not worshipped must have felt nearly impossible. Having to alter their place of worship (there was no temple in Babylon) and being forced to comply with standards of living that they were not used to would, and certainly not comfortable with, would have been extremely difficult. So, how did the faithful remain faithful? How were the lost restored? How did they live through such difficult times and stay committed to God?

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11
Now, I understand Jeremiah is speaking to people facing exile in the most extreme ways. But, this is the answer to how they remained faithful and patient. This is how they stayed committed to God. They knew that God was with them and had them all along! They knew God held their future and it was good. Today, we may feel lost, hopeless, uncomfortable, scared, frustrated, anxious, or all around angry with the status of our world. And we can react in many different ways. We can lash out physically or verbally. We can express our anger and fight for our comfort. Or, we can build houses, plant gardens, settle down, and trust God, knowing that He knows the plans He has for us. He holds our future. He is our hope!

In 29:7, Jeremiah tells the people to seek peace and prosperity even in the foreign place they find themselves in. He continues by encouraging them to pray to the Lord continuously for that peace and prosperity because in it they will find their own welfare. Today, let us also pray for peace and prosperity (or welfare). Let us speak positively and seek the good in others. Even in a "bad" world there are "good" people. Let us be soul focused, soul concerned, and soul seeking. It is our soul responsibility! Be encouraged in who our God is. Be strengthened in how powerful our God is. Be courageous because God is with us and He is for us. He is our God! And we will get through this.

May God bless you and have favor upon you! Our God is alive! God loves you and so do I!

In Him,
Todd Johnston

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