“Row harder! More to the left! Don’t stand up! Just be careful!” Who hasn’t heard all these instructions as you began your first solo voyage in a kayak? You might have been feeling a little nervous, but then just as you launched out, barely ten feet from the shore it seems you were sinking under waves of advice.
Jeremiah 29:11 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.
The Jewish people as they arrived in their new home in Babylon were in very much the same situation. Some people were so depressed they just literally wanted to hang up their harps and give up. There were also some “Prosperity prophets” around telling the people to cheer up because God was going to destroy Babylon any minute and they would soon be back in their own land (PS send a big offering to me) Last of all, there were folks with their hands just itching to pull out their swords because they hated the foreign rulers and wanted revenge. With so many voices pushing and pulling at them many ordinary people were plenty confused. That is exactly when God sent Jeremiah this word of encouragement and guidance.
A) I Know the plans I have for you No matter the situation you are facing today, the first person to listen to is God! Rick Warren once said, “God loves you and everybody else has a wonderful plan for your life!” It is human nature to give advice but unless the advice they are offering lines up with God’s direction for your life it is at best just well meaning confusion. Most of the difficulties I have gotten myself into have been snap decisions that haven’t been tempered by prayer and patience. Don’t allow others to stampede you into their direction. God already knows which way you need to row and if we are ready to listen He is ready to guide us.
B) Plans to prosper you and not to harm you… There is no one more interested in your true prosperity than God. Wanting our best is at the heart of God’s very nature. When we were separated by sin God sent His son. When we felt alone, God promised to be with us. When we didn’t understand, God promised His wisdom. There is nothing in this life or in the world to come that God will not give us if we will listen and do things His way! Most of the spiritual snake oil salesmen actually bank on us wavering in our trust of God’s control. So remind yourself today that you don’t need to send $19.99 to anyone for God to act on your behalf. You don’t need to sign up to partner with a stranger or pick up the phone and call a special help line to hear what Jesus has to say. The promises of God in the Bible are just as powerful for you as anyone else in the world!
C) To give you a hope and a future The people of Israel had lost hope. They had no idea how things could ever improve. They were being lied to and manipulated by the very leaders who should have been concerned for the welfare. But God sent Jeremiah to them with words of calm encouragement. He was given the message that even though they would be in Babylon for 70 years (a lifetime for most) that even there He could bless them. They were to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives right where they were. God wanted them to know above all things that He was still in control. In your fast paced world you may fell lost, disoriented and discouraged but God still has a plan. His plan always begins right where you are and it is the best plan of all.Because of the cross of Calvary God has already amazingly decided to bless us, to provide our needs and to lead us all the way home to him if we will trust Him alone!