August 6 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 28-30 and Psalms 36
Jeremiah 29 is one of the most quoted portions in the Word of God – “Build houses and settle down – marry and have sons and daughters – increase in number there; do not decrease. 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. – 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. – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
These are amazing, inspirational verses and I’ll bet you highlighted them as you were reading. The context of these verses is just as exciting to me as the verses themselves. Here were a people who had just experienced unspeakable horrors. They had been ripped from their lands and houses – they had seen loved ones slaughtered before their eyes – they had been herded off like cattle for hundreds of kilometers to be placed in the equivalent of concentration camps in a strange country where brutal people could use and abuse them as slaves – and where they were at the mercy of a horribly ungodly dictatorship. Their own prophet, Jeremiah, had told them that they would be there for 70 long years. This was about the most depressing, earth-shattering thing that these people could possibly experience!
Yet, there in the midst of their distress, the uplifting Word of the Lord sounded out. Re-read the words quoted above. Some of these words must have sounded like the most foolish things ever spoken to them – but they were indeed the Words of God. In the hardest place possible, God had a plan of blessing for them. They were paying a high price as a consequence for “national” sin, yet God had good things in store. When prosperity was out of the question, God had prosperity waiting for them. When building and settling down was the last thing on their minds, God wanted them to build. When romance was definitely not the thing to get involved in, God had marriage in mind. When they had no hope, God whispered His hope and His future into their aching hearts. This is the true message of Jeremiah Chapter 29.
It is also the message that needs to be part of our everyday thinking. Some have called it “positive thinking” or some other such label, but in a true Biblical sense, we should always have a positive outlook when we are in Christ. In the middle of heartache – when things “go sideways” – when you don’t see God – He is there. Let’s pray for the peace and prosperity of our city as well. It is then that we are able and free to do all that God has called us to.
1. Name another time in Scripture where God’s people prospered even though they were in bondage to others.
2. Tell of a situation where God blessed you in the middle of very difficult circumstances.