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Under Construction

It doesn't matter where I go, I'm fascinated by areas and places where something used to be alive but is now dead. This can happen in sections of cities, in rural towns, in churches, in our homes, and even in our hearts. And when you see something being rebuilt in an area that has been dormant, it can be exciting. It will make you wait with bated breath to see what will be going there. I wish that contractors would let the cat out the bag sooner than later, because sometimes the suspense is too much for us. The moment we see lots clearing and dump trucks arriving, we start wondering what will be built there.

I haven't driven up to the site (yet), but I'll bet this kind of anticipation is happening along I-4 in Orlando at Conroy Road. Up until a few weeks ago, this 14- acre plot used to be the home of the "Holy Land Experience". After financial troubles and incomplete upgrades led to increased entrance rates, the only thing people experienced there the last few years was an empty campus that was no longer attracting visitors. Just a couple of weeks ago, bulldozers and claws started tearing down the replica of the Roman Colosseum - clearing this site so it will become another building to assist with healthcare needs. But for almost 20 years, it offered real-life lessons on Biblical Times. There was the replica of the temple, actors portraying Biblical events, and a museum with biblical artifacts. Our family never made the trip to have this experience, but we drove by there several times. The next time I drive by that now-empty lot will leave me wondering what it must have been like in its heyday. I don't know what steps their administration took to prevent this demolition from happening, but hopefully there were some people warning of this possible outcome.

The book of Jeremiah is filled with warnings like that, where the prophet poured out his heart to the people of Judah, warning of impending exile...but no one listened. He tried to tell them that they would eventually be booted from this once-Promised Land for their repeated rejection of God and His standards. When I say he tried to tell them, I mean he devoted decades of his life and ministry to tell them what would happen. I'm sure he was hoping for them to repent of their sinful ways and return to God - where they could experience revival in their land. That never happened. Maybe that's why he struggled and lamented over this so much, and, maybe we could learn something from him as we look at our own land.

Almost midway through the book, we read a letter that Jeremiah sent "to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people carried into exile". His instruction in Jeremiah 29 is fascinating - he prophesied that they would be removed from where they were and exiled to another land. He urged them to get ready to go there and to build houses and settle down, to plant gardens, to increase in number, and to pray for peace and prosperity of the city they have been exiled to. He told them this was going to last for 70 years, until He brought them back to the land they used to possess. And, He told them “their” land would look a lot different when they returned.

During that chapter is where we read these often quoted (and misquoted) words:

"'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. Then you will come call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when You seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you...I will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

That first verse (verse 11) looks great on bumper stickers, on phone cases, on wall signs, and even on t-shirts. People plaster this verse in these places because we like what it says because it makes us look to the good things our Good God will do for us. We want all that this verse has to offer. Who doesn't want to know God's plans and prosperity and protection and hope and future? The problem is you can't just stop at verse 11; He didn't stop there so we can't, either. If you and I are going to experience God's blessing, it will be because of our obedience to His calling. All these things He has for us are available to us if we follow the rest of His invitation - calling upon Him and praying to Him and seeking Him and finding Him (when we seek Him with all our heart).

That kind of following requires our willingness to do whatever He wants. This happens when we get concerned about moving away from Him, so we run back home to Him. This happens when we realize we have stopped pursuing Him, so we start following His ways again. This happens when we acknowledge that we aren't committed to holy living and are content with doing whatever makes us happy instead, so we go back to falling on our knees before Him to return to Him.

As I look around at our country and our world, I think we need more of those warnings today. We need to be reminded of where we used to be when we walked with and obeyed God. We need to reminisce about what it used to be like when we experienced God’s presence and blessing in our lives. And, we need to be willing to do whatever He asks of us to return to Him so we can see those things happen again.

We need to be reminded of where we used to be when we walked with and obeyed God.

What construction work are you willing to let God make in your life so that can happen? Are there areas you need to let Him tear down so He can rebuild the way He wants?

Are there lessons He is trying to teach you?

Are there obstacles He is putting in your way to get your attention and bring about your surrender?

Let’s go on a journey together that takes us back to Him, and let’s ask Him to renew us and revive us again. Let’s do that by turning back to Him and by following His ways.

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1 Yorum

Bilinmeyen üye
17 Haz 2023

It's painful to know when a heart has been so very full of "the promised land" then when something happens in that person's life that is hurtful, they destroy out of revenge and anger what God has built. Not all people react this way, but I know there is at least one who has. And looking back, one can see how God never left the plans He has, but always stayed at the ready to start cleaning up and rebuilding.

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