I grew up in a small town…. A really small town. Bean Station, Tennessee. It was the type of town that only had a couple of traffic lights, a few gas stations and a bunch of firework stores. The city is nestled in the mountains and surrounded by a lake and when I think back at my time living there I am always reminded of the beauty of the town and I am thankful for my opportunity to grow up there. However, growing up there I didn’t always hold that mindset. I couldn’t wait to get out of that small town and to move on to something bigger and better. If we are being honest with ourselves, it is so easy for us to be dissatisfied with things in life, whether it be the city we live in, where we work, our home, our marriage, or maybe even our church. And often we we are dissatisfied our gut instinct is to go and find greener grass somewhere else… but maybe the grass is only greener somewhere else because it has been watered. So what can you do about where you find yourself? Maybe today you can make the decision not to just exist somewhere but to start the process of loving and living in it once again.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 reads, “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
The Israelites where in exile, and simply playing the waiting game, but the problem was they would not be coming out of exile for 70 years. I imagine there were a bunch of people saying things like, “I will get back to living once things get back to normal.” I wonder how often we put things on pause just waiting for something to change? The Israelites are essentially given the option again to choose between life and death. the Bible tells us in Deuteronomy that God has set before us life and death, and the external circumstances we face don’t change this fact.
So what does it mean to live like this? To choose life in the very place God has you in? Jeremiah gives the exiles specific instructions that I believe are still helpful for us today.
BUILD A HOME AND PLAN TO STAY.
Did you notice that Jeremiah didn’t instruct them to build houses, but homes? Growing up we had a magnet on our refrigerator that said something to the affect of “Make this house a home.” A house has walls and a roof, but a home is so much more. A home is a place of comfort, safety, shelter and family. A house is built with wood and nails but a home is built with kindness, thoughtfulness, love, forgiveness, joy and laughter.
Have you ever noticed the difference of being in someone else’s home and being in your own? When someone says to you, “make yourself at home,” how many visits does it take for you to actually do that? And even at the peak of making yourself at home, I bet you still don’t walk into the master bedroom in the middle of the day and take a nap!
Let me ask you a question: Are you at home with Jesus or is He still just a house you visit?
My family and I took a road trip a few hours away from our home. On the way back my children were getting antsy and my middle child, Ezra, yells from the backseat, “ARE WE IN OUR CITY, YET!?”. He was 5 years old, and I had already staked claim to the city we lived in. If God has placed you in your city, marriage, work place then maybe it’s time for you to stake claim to the place God has you. Make that place a home.
PLANT & HARVEST
Did you know that God has called you to sow and reap no matter what season you are in? If we truly want to live we must be planting. Seeds are the evidence of a previous harvest as well as the assurance of a future. If the Israelites would have decided to wait to plant until their external circumstance changed, then they would have starved in their future. Our future will be sustained by what we choose to plant today. Simply put, we eat today, what we planted yesterday.
WORK FOR PEACE AND PROSPERITY FOR WHERE YOU ARE AT.
When we are frustrated we often create situations that only make us more frustrated. It’s like the moments we play arguments out in our heads that we are convinced we are going to have. Isn’t it funny how we never loose the argument played out in our own heads… This is why we must WORK FOR PEACE! It’s work. Working implies that it is active. If peace was easy, everyone would be experiencing it. Peace requires humility, forgiveness, grace and trust. It requires give and take. It requires us to admit when we are wrong. Only when we come to terms with living in peace, can we truly start to work for the prosperity for where we are at. If prosperity is only for me and not for others, then is it truly prosperity? If the city(the nation, your workplace, school, church, neighborhood, etc) you are in is prosperous, then you too will be prosperous.
MULTIPLY! DO NOT DWINDLE AWAY!
One of the biggest dangers of waiting for the next thing to come around, is that we stop reproducing where we are at. God has called us to multiply. When you focus on multiplying it is a great reminder that there are future generations that will stand on your success. It reminds us that everything is not just about “me”. Do you consider future generations?
Dwindling away does not happen overnight, but it is a slow erosion of ones self over time. This is dangerous because it often goes unnoticed until it is too late. We slowly start reading our bible and praying less. Our church attendance changes from every Sunday to 2-3 times a month. Date nights are less frequent… It all seems innocent but as you dwindle away over time there will be a point when you look in the mirror and you won’t recognize the person looking back. Instead of the slow erosion over time, what if we decided today to multiply?! Are you actively reproducing what God has placed in you?
Lastly, do you have a faith in Jesus? Always remember, a faith not shared is a shallow faith for sure…
Multiply! Talk to your neighbors about what Jesus has done in your life. Share with your coworkers about how far God has brought you. Remind your family that if it were not for Jesus… Reach the lost, do good to others. Be a city on a hill, a light on a stand. Choose to live today, right where God has placed you!
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