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The Context of our Future and Hope!

Jesus foot washingthe devotional thought of the day:

For this is what the LORD says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you” —this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the LORD’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place I deported you from.”   Jeremiah 29:10-14  HCSB

4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Titus 3:4-6  HCSB

In the first quote above, the one from Jeremiah, there is an amazing and well-known quote.  For I know the plans I have for you” —this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope! 

But is even more amazing, give the context of it.

I’ve heard a lot of people quote this passage when they get into hard times, or when they don’t know what is coming next. But that isn’t the context. Which is why it is even more amazing.

God’s not giving a future and a hope to those who are His spiritual superstars, not the heroes of the faith either.  The context is those whose sins are so shameful, so repugnant, so evil that God had to lead them into captivity.

The people in context were banished, they were broken, they were dominated by seeking after their own welfare, and indeed, their own pleasure. They were in the midst of being disciplined, discipline as hard as any faced in scripture.  They lost their home, their country, and all the things they counted on to tie them to God.  The temple – gone.  The sacrifices – gone. The land promised to Abraham, Issac and Jacob.. gone.

Because of their sin.

And yet they were given a promise, a future, and a hope.  The assurance that when they ceased being the prodigal, God would still be there.  The promise of reconciliation and restoration, when the time is complete.

Like them, there are sometimes that we become dominated by sin, when we are as broken when we deserve to be punished and disciplined, and worse, we deserve the wrath of God. We deserve the same kind of treatment that He poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues He poured out on Pharoah and Egypt, the justice He poured out on the people of Noah’s time.

Yet for us, even as for the exiles, there is a future and a hope.  There is a God who promises He can be found, and when He finds us. He pours our something incredible on us.

His Spirit, the Holy Spirit who washes us clean with the word and the water.  Who revives and regenerates our broken lives, who renews our strength, so that we don’t faith.

This is the promise you received as God baptized you, as He claimed you as His.  When He declares that we are healed, cleansed, His people.

This is the promise of a future and a hope that we’ve been given.

Rejoice in it! Remember it!  Celebrate it!  Hang on to it, when things are challenging, when you life is broken, when you find yourself yielding to temptation and sin, and despair…

He has promised you to cleanse you, guaranteed by the cross.  AMEN!

I Don’t Think This Scripture Meant What You Thought it Meant! Jer 29:11

Devotional Thought of the Day

11 For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. 12 When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. 13 When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me—oracle of the LORD—and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you—oracle of the LORD—and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.   NABRE Jeremiah 29:11-14

386      You lack faith… and you lack love. Were it not so you would go immediately and much more often to Jesus, asking for this thing and that. Don’t delay any further; call out to him and you will hear Christ speaking to you: “What do you want me to do for you?” Just as when he stopped for that poor blind man by the roadside who continued to insist, without giving up. (1)

Verse 11 of Jeremiah 29 is well known.  You see it placed on coffee cups and t-shirts, on various memes and on cards that are sent to people going through tough times.  It is used by pastors and priests to bring comfort, and yes hope to people going through challenges and enduring hardships.

We’ll memorize it, but do we always remember the context?

It is in the middle of a call to repentance, in the middle of Jeremiah’s prophecies about the pain and suffering Israel would endure, because their people followed their own desires.  Because they listened to prophets who gave them false hope. Who told them what they wanted to hear, and so they placed their hope in these men.

Sort of like those today, who maintain that all will be right, that we will be restored to greatness, if only this candidate or that wins an election.  Or if only this or that is done, or only if…only if…

But don’t touch OUR sin.  Don’t challenge us to repent.  Don’t bring up the fact that we need to love our enemies and pray for those who oppress us.

You see, when you finish with the promise of verse 11, you see verse 12, and a cry to come and deliver us.  A cry and another promise, God will listen, He will hear your cry!  He will change things, heal that is wounded, restore that which is broken.  He will create in you a new creation, a creation with a future and a hope.

When the people of God seek God their Father, they will find Him (for it is to believers this is written)  He won’t reject us, He won’t crush us because we sinned and rebelled.

This passage offering a future and a hope is far more powerful a promise, far more a comfort than we think.  For it brings a hope, a blessed expectation, not just to those who are innocent victims of circumstance, not just to those oppressed and poor.  Surely they hope, but this is written to those broken apart, crushed by their own sin. It is written to those of us who do not deserve a future and a hope, but God promises us a future and hope as well.

That is why this passage is far more powerful than we usually think it is.It applies to those who are struggling with their own sin, who don’t believe God could ever care.  To the addict, or the prostitute, to the mobster and the gang-banger, to the politician and to you and I.

It’s time to claim the promise, to let God reconcile you and I to Him.  It’s time to cry our,and keep crying out, depending on a God who came to bring us home.

He is listening, He is with you!

My friend, He has promised this as well, that His peace, which goes beyond our ability to comprehend is your, and that He will keep your heart and mind safe in that peace.

AMEN!

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1511-1515). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

God Knows His Plans For You, Are You Ready for The Hope They Bring?.

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day:

11  I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. 12  Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. Jeremiah 29:11-12 (TEV)

545    Live a special Communion of the Saints, and at the moment of interior struggle, as well as during the long hours of your work, each of you will feel the joy and the strength of not being alone.  (1) 

The above quote from scripture (the red quote) is often used to lift people’s spirits,  It appears on cards and meme’s with beautiful sunrises and glorious backgrounds.  People share it with those they know need a spiritual boost, a holy “pick me up,” assurance.  jeremiah, the prophet of troubling messages assured us of a light at the end of the tunnel.  He promises, as God’s spokesman, that there is hope, and it is found in the presence of God.  The presence that we are believers dwell in, for we are His people!

He will hear our prayer, He has a plan, He has an answer, and all of that is true.

You might ask where the fine print is, and there is something in the context of this verse that you need to hear. Read this carefully,

7  Work for the good of the cities where I have made you go as prisoners. Pray to me on their behalf, because if they are prosperous, you will be prosperous too. Jeremiah 29:7 (TEV)

Read the verse again?  Do you realize that God is tieing the future of the Babylonians to the future of the Jewish people?  That God’s people are to pray for their enemies, their persecutors, that the future and hope of both Jews and Gentiles is linked?  That the people of God should work hard to benefit those who oppress them,

We are called to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute.  That is what we do, as we trust in Jesus’ promise to us in the sermon on the Mount.  And it is nothing really new.  That kind of love Israel was supposed to show people back in the Old Testament.  It is very radical, it is not logical by man’s standards!  Yet in 1 Cor. 5 we are told that we don’t judge men by those standards, but by the value Jesus has placed on them. They will become part fo the Communion of Saints, the very people that will lift you up.

God has radical plans for you, plans that are beyond awesome.  Those plans include all He brings into His family, all He wants to bring into His family.  That includes those people, the ones you struggle to love.  The ones who take every bit of trust you have in God to deal with, and then some.

Pray for them, do everything you can to help them… trusting not in their response, but in God’s role in your life. You will be amazed at His plans, at the reconciliation and restoration he accomplishes!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1317-1319). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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