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God's Plans for You

by

Thomas R. Fletcher

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      Jeremiah was a prophet who prophesied during the last years of the kingdom of Judah in the late 7th and early 6th centuries BC. The verses I want to examine come from a section known as the First Letter to the Exiles; written after the first Babylonian captivity (597 BC), but before Jerusalem ’s final destruction (586 BC).  Jeremiah had repeatedly warned the people of judgment to come should they refuse to repent. They refused. Now they were in the midst of a bad situation.  God used the prophet Jeremiah to bring a message of hope to his people.

      "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon 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 (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).

      Naturally speaking, perhaps we expect to find Jeremiah saying, "See, I told you so." That isn't the picture at all. Jeremiah didn't care about being "right." He cared about God's people.  He offered a word from God; not a word of reprimand, but a word of hope—when the exiles' situation seemed darkest.

      God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, I tell you, God has a word for you today. "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to give you a future and a hope."

      Though the original hearers of this message faced a bleak situation—they’d lost homes, land, and independence—God looked to their future. He saw beyond their circumstances. Perhaps you are in the midst of a fiery trial right now and you don't know what to do. God has a word for you. He has plans for you, and they are good plans.  God looks beyond your circumstances, no matter what trial you are facing. God has plans for you. Don't believe the heresy, spread from too many pulpits in our land, that Christians never suffer.  Don't be lulled to sleep with soft messages. God is using that trial, the heartache, the headache to shape you. Pain will give way to a future hope.

      The NIV translates the Hebrew word Shalom, as "to prosper," an unfortunate translation in light of the health and wealth heresy that spews forth from so many pulpits today. The word is translated "peace" in the KJV, and "welfare" in the NASB. I like the NASB translation best, for though a literal translation is "peace," the meaning entails more than our familiar definition of the word. When hostilities cease, the world says that is peace. God's peace goes beyond the cessation of hostilities. It brings harmony.

      Even though Judah was being chastised for her sin, God was planning a future and a hope. Even though we may have to eat the bitter fruit of our self-willed ways, God is planning good plans for each of us.

      However, I warn you: God's plans sometimes change. God doesn't change, but his plans sometimes do. Read Ezekiel 33 to see how God plans one thing, only to change his plans based upon the actions of his people. The only thing that can stop God's good plans for you is you. As God looked beyond the captivity of the exiles to offer them a word of hope, he looks beyond our trials and sees the plans he has for us.

      Each day we stand at the crossroads and we have a choice to make. Will I serve God and do things his way, or will I go on in my self-willed ways? Are you going to do things your way or God's way? Get beyond the selfishness and self-will. Let the Lord set the course as you follow him.

      "Then you will 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." (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NIV)." "Then you will... " When? When we get selfishness and self-will out of the way; when we want NOTHING but God's will, when we seek him with our whole heart. Then we will find him, then we will call upon him and he will answer. Verse 12 points to both the individual and collective prayers of God's people. "You will call" points to the individual prayers of God's people, "come and pray" indicates the coming together of God's people in a worship service.

      "With all your heart" means with your entire mind and all your will--and there's the toughest part for us, harnessing our will to God's word. Seeking God with your whole heart is to seek him with singleness of purpose, to intensely seek his will, earnestly desiring to see his plans enacted.

      We stand in danger of frustrating God's plans. We can frustrate God's plans through action or inaction. We frustrate his plans through action when we act on our self-will. We frustrate his plans through our inaction when God motivates us to a course of action and we make excuses and don't act. If we prepare ourselves to carry out God's plans, if we seek him with our whole heart, nothing can stop those plans from being realized. God has given you free will, and you must will to obey his word if you want to see his plans come to fruition in your life.  The choice is yours. 

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