Posts Tagged Jeremiah 29: 11

Prayerful Meditation

Jeremiah 29: 12 – 14

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 search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes.’

Yesterday we talked about delighting yourself in the Lord and meditating on His Word day and night. This morning I was thinking about that. I said that the words from Joshua 1:8 should be proclaimed routinely and loudly. As I meditated on this very thing this morning, I thought, if there is one piece of advice I would give it is to soak in the Word, but then I questioned myself as to why. Here is the answer I found for myself.

If someone were to ask me what the most important thing about Christianity is, I would say a close and personal relationship with the three persons of the trinity. However, that begs the question, how does one develop that intimate relationship. We are all different with different strengths. Some people connect with the Father more intimately through prayer, some through meditation. There are those who reach their most connected point in rituals while others reach God through the Bible. These are all good and proper ways to connect with God and we should all participate in all forms of communion with God.

The Lord teaches us by His own words how to connect with Him through this verse. After my meditation this morning I was a bit surprised to open my Bible and find this passage staring at me. Jeremiah 29: 11 is famous. It is God’s declaration that He has good plans for you and your future. It is of interest, though, that the next words out of His mouth are about seeking Him. He even promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Notice, however, that we must seek Him with our hearts, and not only that but with all of our heart. He wants to connect you to His good plans for you but you must connect with Him first.

So, what does this have to do with yesterday’s verse and the Word? If someone asked what one thing I would advise them to do to develop their relationship with God would be, I would advise them according to Joshua 1: 8, read your Bible and meditate therein. There is a reason God gave that Word of wisdom to Joshua. In the Word we find God. I believe in prayer, don’t think I don’t, but the Word is our anchor and our beacon. For persons who will develop into prayer warriors, they get their foundation first from the Word. It is where we find God as we develop into the people we will be. It is, therefore, where I would start everyone. For the visionaries, the Word becomes their anchor. We want those people doing what they are gifted to do but they must be tethered in God’s reality. Those who are easily bound to routine will find all kinds of experiences in the Word, the explainable yet unassailable.

We cannot leave the wisdom of God aside. As you grow in the things of God, learn to pray, learn to meditate, develop your visionary capacity, engage with your angels but forget not the Word. Do not set aside the one piece of advice Yahweh gave Joshua when he had to take over leadership of the nation of Israel, meditate in the Word day and night. Then add today’s verse to that, seek the Lord with all your heart and you will find Him. Pray to Him and He will listen. It is His promise to you. Pray and meditate over the Word. Allow God to reveal His hidden mysteries. Call upon Him, seek Him and receive of His great and wonderful bounty.

Salvation is for Today

Luke 4: 18 – 19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

Stop for a moment today and consider this passage. This is from the book of Isaiah and it is what Jesus read in the synagogue.  His speaking of this passage marked the beginning of his public ministry. If God sent Jesus only to die on a cross bearing the sin of the world, then why this scripture? If eternal life was the only thing on God’s mind, why did Yahweh anoint Jesus to do all these other things? My point is that we have narrowed our focus as to Jesus’ purpose and in so doing have missed the greater blessing.

John 3: 16 reads, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I suppose there is no other scripture in the whole of the Bible that is more well known than this one. We make our children memorize it in Bible School, put it on bumper stickers and even billboards. It is a wonderful passage, but it is not the whole story. Jesus didn’t stand up in the synagogue and say, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me so that none shall perish but instead have eternal life.” Why? Because that was not his singular purpose nor his anointing. It explains God’s love but not Jesus’ purpose. If you want to know the reason God sent Jesus you must read 1 John 3: 8, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” This scripture discloses Jesus’ purpose. Let us go further, though, to see what Jesus, himself, says about his purpose in the earth. John 10: 10 reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Abundant life, free from the works of the devil, is the gift Jesus came to give us. Yes, eternal life is part of that package but that is the end game, not the whole thing. God made the earth for us to live in and enjoy. He gave us this planet to be our home, not heaven. He didn’t create earth as a testing ground but rather as a home. The point is, the time we spend here is not simply a waystation. Life here isn’t just passing time until we get to heaven. We are supposed to have abundant life here and now. Look again at today’s passage. Clearly that has nothing to do with heaven. Those conditions do not exist in heaven. Adam’s job was to make earth look like heaven so that we would have a heavenly home right here. Jesus prayed, “Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven,” (Matthew 6: 10). Earth is to reflect heaven.

Jesus came to restore our original purpose to us and to return the earth to us as our heavenly home, a home made in the image of heaven. Then God will come here and live with us. We’ve got to stop waiting to get to heaven to start fulfilling our purpose. We’ve got to stop waiting until heaven to start living, especially living in the fullness of God’s intent for us.

Redemption? Yes, it’s a big deal, but it is not the end of the story. It is the means by which God put us back on track. We could not have the abundant life Jesus came to give us until we were cleansed of the sin which stained us and our existence. Furthermore, I do not think eternal life is the evangelical message; it is not the salvation message. The word salvation means, rescue or safety, deliver, health, victory, prosperity, help, and welfare, (Strong’s 3444 & 4991). It does not only mean deliverance from sin. The savior came to give deliverance, health, victory, prosperity, help and welfare. In other words, he came to give us an abundant life right here, right now. This is why I think evangelism is important, but it also points out why our evangelistic message is presently off target. We are trying to get people into heaven while Jesus is trying to save them from their current peril and give them a great life now and forever.

Eternity is now. It began a long time ago. God has plans to get us into heaven but the good news that Jesus shared is that our freedom and victory begins now. This is not the good news we have been carrying to the world, however. God wants people to know they can be free now. Jesus came to set the captives free. Amen? The good news of the gospel is that God wants to bless you now, in this life. He wants to free people from torment and hurt. He wants to mend their hurts and restore them to good life. People need God now, not just in heaven. The message of the gospel is that God loves you now. Salvation emphatically is not, buy your ticket to heaven and then suffer until you die. That is not God. If you know God at all, you know that is not His heart.

To be clear, the evangelical message, the message that all the world needs to hear is that God wants to be your savior today. He wants to move into our lives and improve them. He longs to give us perfect peace and joy in this world, right now. Yahweh is a now God. Jesus came to give us abundant life. Abundant life is that life which in intertwined with our beloved, our Father, Yahweh. He who loves us has sent His son to restore us back to health, welfare, liberty, prosperity and joy. This is the good news of the gospel. Tell that to someone. Heaven is here and now for all who live in Christ. Now is the salvation of the gospel. Now is life and love in the Son. Jesus is here now to give you a good life. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29: 11). Tell someone the good news. Jesus has come, and he has life and healing in his hands. This is his salvation, and ours. Amen.

Magic & Seeds

Matthew 14: 19 – 20

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied.

God has done some pretty incredible things. I am thinking about creation for one. From nothing He made everything, or did He? Hebrews 11: 3 tells us that God made the universe and all that is seen from that which is unseen, or invisible. Well, that makes sense. Even our own bodies are made of molecules too small to be seen. We are not, however, made from nothing. God isn’t a magician making rabbits or flowers appear out of thin air. He is a sower. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Once sown, that seed becomes the largest plant in the garden.

Why am I telling you this? When you understand how God approaches things, it will help you understand the Bible and help you to tackle things in your own realm. You will be able to operate the same way God does and you won’t even need magic to do it.

In the story from today’s verse, Jesus fed about 20,000 people from two fish and five loaves of bread. How does one do that? It is called multiplication, but God multiplies in exponential numbers. He works by taking what you have and expanding it. He isn’t making something from nothing. He takes the little we have and makes a surplus, over and above all we can think or ask. After everyone was satisfied, the disciples went around and picked up the leftovers ending up with twelve baskets full.

So, imagine creation. Yahweh didn’t pull humans, zebra, giraffes, or crickets out of a magic hat. He created by sowing seed. It’s what He does. We didn’t just “pop” into existence. He had a plan and He instituted it and la voila, here we are. Think about that. He has a plan for you too. Jeremiah 29: 11 tells us that He has good plans for us, plans to give us hope and a good future. Yahoo! How will He do that? He is planting seeds all of the time.

Now, do you want to know a secret? He made you in His image and He expects you to move in the earth in the same manner as He. That is to say, He wants to teach you to plan and plant seeds too. What do you want? Plant a seed. Think about this and get excited. If you plant one tomato seed and it germinates and grows into a plant, how many seeds will that one plant generate? One source says the average tomato has between 150 and 300 seeds, though sometimes even more. Okay, so don’t eat all of the tomatoes. Even if you only plant the seeds from one tomato from your first plant that is 150 seeds minimum. If only half of them germinate and produce a plant, then you’ve got 75 fruit yielding plants in addition to the one you began with. Okay, what if you plant just one tomato from each of these plants. Now you have 150 X 76 which equals 11,400 seeds. Are you kidding me here? You are going to have a lot of tomatoes!

So what if it isn’t tomatoes that you need? Well, of course that was an example so let’s get real, but first I have to ask you a question. Do you believe Jesus and everything he said? Jesus taught this same principle. Matthew 13: 8 reads, “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” These are red letter words. Jesus starts with a hundredfold return, then adds, sixty and thirty percent returns. So, let’s just rely on a thirty percent return. Are your current investments returning 30%? If so, call me.

What if you take one dollar and sow it into the good soil of God’s Kingdom? The worst you can do is a thirty-dollar return. Take out your one dollar seed and you’ve made twenty-nine dollars. Now what do you do? Don’t go out and buy a thirty-dollar shirt. That is what most of us do. We consume our seed. Instead, sow more seed. What if you sowed all thirty dollars? That would then yield 30 X 30, right? Now you have nine hundred dollars. What if you sowed all nine hundred dollars? Now you have twenty-seven thousand dollars. Just imagine if you got the sixty or hundredfold return.

So here in my point. God is not a magician, He is a multiplier. He takes what He has and makes universes and humans and trees and animals with it. He takes what you give Him and He expands it. When you understand that this is the way God operates it will change your life. For one, you are going to understand Him and the Bible unlike ever before. Second, it will set you free. Sow into Him. Let Him be your investment counselor. I only showed you this truth through the examples of money and tomatoes, but it works for everything. Again I ask, what do you need? What do you want? Put on your overalls and start farming. For goodness sake, get out there and start sowing some seeds.

Day Planner

Isaiah 30: 1

“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin.”

This is one of those verses which is easy to read right over, never seeing how it may apply to us. “I am not a rebellious child,” I say to myself, then discount the rest of the verse. However, look at how God defines the rebellious child. Rebellion is found in one who makes and executes a plan which is not of God or sanctioned by Him. Rebellious children are those who make a partnership not of God’s Spirit. This goes to the very heart of our New Testament relationship with the Divine Trinity.

In the Old Testament, very little was known about either Jesus or the Spirit. The Jews had the promise of the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, we are introduced to Jesus. Then, at Jesus’ exit from the surface of earth, he told us that he was about to send us this promised Spirit. He also told us that the Spirit would not only be with us but that he would live in us. Jesus said that the Spirit would lead us and be our teacher. So, here is the tricky part, we discover that we are supposed to walk with and by the Spirit every day and in every way. Everything we do is supposed to be in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Even in the Old Testament, God said that to make plans relying on our own intellect and strength was to add sin to sin. If God revealed that to pre-Messianic believers, how much more truth does it carry for us.

Even our partnerships, our alliances are supposed to be formed in the guidance and advice of the Holy Spirit. God calls us rebellious when we fail to involve him in these decisions. So, now I have gone from denying my rebellion to realizing that my sin is every bit as great as those of the Israelites we like to condemn.

God insists that the plans of our lives must be made by Him or at least with Him. Actually, He has already made a plan for us and it is a good plan (Jeremiah 29: 11). I cannot overemphasize how important this topic is to God. He requires us to cooperate with His plan for us rather than to run around making our own plans, which, by the way, are almost always destined to fail. So, if this is such a big deal to God, how are we going to co-author our plans with the Spirit and thus avoid adding sin upon sin?

How did you come to know Jesus? How did you develop a relationship with the Father? The Holy Spirit is the third person of God. Therefore, you get to know him as you did the Father and the Son. First, you find him in the Bible. Second, go to our website and search the key words Holy Spirit which go down the right-hand side of the page. There is article upon article there. There are books about him too, but don’t neglect simple prayer. Talk to him. Ask the Father for guidance. Petition Jesus for insights.

The Holy Spirit was sent here for you. He wants to be found by you. Once you begin your search, I think you find that he is hiding in plain sight. Then, since he was sent here to guide us into all truth, ask him how to walk with him all day every day. He will guide you. It’s his job and his heart’s desire.

My Plan

Jeremiah 29: 11

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

God had a plan for us from the beginning. Before He created us He made a plan for our success and well-being. I intend to use this week’s devotions to show the plan He had for us and how it has unfolded with time.

It really begins before the Garden of Eden when He conceived us and the earth. He made us an ideal place to live, learn and grow. That was only the beginning, of course, but all through time He had a plan for our welfare, a plan that was not for calamity. By His own admission, it was a plan designed to give us a future and to bathe us in hope continually. Never were we to feel hopeless, mired down in tragedy and misfortune. His plan was for perfect peace, “Shalom” in the Hebrew, which is the all encompassing fullness of everything being as it should be. Shalom is rendered welfare in the New American Standard because the word peace doesn’t incorporate the fullness of meaning, and in fact, paragraphs of text cannot fully convey the complete provision, health, wellness and blessing which is included in the word “Shalom”.

It is a pinnacle word for us though, one which is at the very peak of expression because it describes the plan God had for us. His plan was for a perfect environment provisioned with everything we need and want. More than anything, His plan had us walking hand in hand with Him daily so that we would never have a want in our hearts. We should have never experienced one moment of loneliness, isolation or one unfulfilled second. His plan met all of our physical, emotional and spiritual needs and desires. His plan for us was heaven, heaven here on earth, a safe place where we could bask in His radiance and skip around like hinds on the heights.

The plan became corrupted, but stay tuned as we venture forward, looking deeper into God’s plan for us. Through this brief, but exciting journey, you will come to know, in your heart, where your life with Him is meant to reside today.

One Way Road

Numbers 32: 11                    NIV

Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promise on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I quoted from Dr. Jim Richard’s book How To Stop the Pain earlier this week. In that book Richard’s teaches that the way to happiness and a life of security and freedom is in following Jesus wholeheartedly. I would suggest that advice shows the way to the promised land that our Father has for us.

God is not trying to keep us out of the promise. He is trying to lead us into receiving all of His good gifts. Unfortunately, sometimes we quit on Him or do not go in the direction where the provision lies. I often think of it like the old Pony Express system. The riders needed to follow a prescribed route because that is where there supplies were stationed. God has already provided everything we need also but it is on the prearranged path. God has told us that He has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29: 11) and He has laid out a course and provisioned that route so that we arrive in the promised land on time, nourished and without injury. We just need to stay on track.

How is that actually accomplished though? We speak and write a bit figuratively so how does this apply to real life? I believe there is a practical truth revealed in today’s verse. Although we are living in different times and in a different situation than the Israelites I believe the truth and the revelation is in following Jesus wholeheartedly. I also believe there are several layers of truth in that statement.

First, there are a lot of lukewarm Christians out there. You know them. Some of them even attend your church regularly. Sometimes I fear one of them looks back at me from her home in my mirror. How do we prevent ourselves from being what I call a “Cultural Christian”? Somehow our Christianity ought to color our lives. There ought to be a difference in our lives since Jesus came into it and I do not mean that we attend church every week. A cultural Christian can do that. No, this is a heart matter. There ought to be something changed about us so that Jesus, his current thoughts, his teachings and his example are important to us. Do we really consider what it means to be under his lordship on a daily basis? Do we let him affect our thinking and decisions? Do we talk to him as if he really is our very best friend? Are we following him wholeheartedly or maybe just halfheartedly?

Second, as I said, this is a heart matter. Apparently we are supposed to follow Jesus with our hearts, even our whole hearts. So, our life in Christ is an internal matter. It is not for others to determine the commitment of our hearts. This wholehearted devotion to our professed Lord is not external, in other words, it is not about the things we do. It is not even mental as in study. A heart that loves Jesus will certainly show itself in study and actions but they are only the product. We are meant to have a heart connection with Jesus. He is supposed to influence our hearts and perhaps we even affect his. This is not an intellectual relationship, it is not a work relationship. We are supposed to follow Jesus with our hearts. For some people this is challenging because we have anesthetized our hearts in a vain attempt not to feel or express emotion. But we have learned that we will not enter the promised land if we do not follow Jesus wholeheartedly. This is not because our Father doesn’t want us reaping all the blessings of the promised land. It is just simple logistics. The way to the promised land is through Jesus and the way to Jesus is through the heart. It’s just how it is.

There is a way. The way has been marked out for us. Supplies have been stationed all along the way so that we will always have our needs met. However, there is only one way whether we like it or not and that is in following Jesus, his ways and his teachings with our whole heart.

Beyond Imagining

1 Corinthians 2: 9                God’s Word Version

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.

A friend reminded me of this verse recently. I had let it slip my mind. What a huge passage this is, what an enormous unveiling of the Father. Our God and Father has already prepared great things for us, things beyond our imagination. The NIV Bible says, “What no human mind has conceived.” God has prepared for us things which no human mind has ever conceived of. Jeremiah 29: 11 tells us God has good plans for us, “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.” He has good plans for our future and has already prepared for us the things which will usher in those good plans. We should have hope then.

Today’s verse is a restatement of a verse from Isaiah, “For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him (Isaiah 64: 4). We saw last week what the word “waits” really means. It means to be intertwined with. So, God has prepared these good things, these things which are beyond your wildest imagination for you who wrap yourself around Him, who wrap yourself up in Him. So this is great news, yes? Well, not to the casual Christian it is not. It won’t do much for a pew sitter. However, for those of you who love God, which I know is everyone who bothers to read devotionals, this is the gospel of good news. Eye has not seen, neither ear heard the glorious things God has already prepared for those who love Him.

Yahweh has plans for your year. His plans are beyond what have been seen before, heard before or ever conceived of. Meditate on that. Let your mind ponder what you can have and do this year. If you so choose, this can be your greatest year ever. Bigger, better, farther and higher are the plans God has for you. Your cup is designed to overflow. Receive His abundance.