Begin Today

Mar 08, 2003 11:42 AM EST

Jeremiah 29:1-14 (NRSV)

These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah, and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It said: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.

For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon's seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

- Jeremiah 29:7 (NRSV)

MY husband's work took our family to a new place. I had a list of reasons why I didn't want to move. What concerned me most was that the schools in the area were rated low nationally and our three children were all at critical points in their education.

After the move, I prayed to God to show me how to be faithful in this new situation. One morning during my devotional time, God led me to Jeremiah 29:7 where I found the answer to my prayer: I was to seek this new city's welfare.

I began that very day. I prayed. Then I volunteered in the schools. Eventually I started a Bible study.

Over time, things began to happen. Our two daughters qualified for special school programs where opportunities abounded. Our son, a kindergartner, was given the chance to learn to read early. The Bible study group has blessed many lives. And as other parents volunteered with me in the classrooms, the school situation improved.

I had obeyed the word of God, and I found my welfare - my well-being - in praying for and helping my community.

Prayer: Dear Father, may we constantly remember to "seek the welfare" of the places we live, adding deeds to our prayers. In Jesus' name. Amen.


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My community

By Barbara K. Bradshaw, Pennsylvania