Friday, June 30, 2017

SEVEN FAMOUS BIBLE VERSES #3 - "JEREMIAH 29:11 - Past, Present, Future"

"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
This famous and inspiring Bible verse is now the text of many tattoos on men and women all over the world. Apart from John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world....") and Matthew 7:1 ( "Judge not less ye be judged") - this one gives hope to a lot of people to the point of being placed on ink on chests, arms etc. along with bumper stickers, T shirts and plaques, paintings and posters.

Why should it not be? Here is the God of Heaven, our Creator and Maker, who says in His Word that He is such a personal loving God that He has the right paths to a life well lived. It is a life where all our needs will be taken care of and where He will continually guard and protect us. He literally says in THIS Word that He has the future of such a life and it is full of hope! No one is against that and everyone wants to believe this, even people who just profess a surface belief in God.

However, like everything else, we have to read the entire story before the Spirit of Truth and consistency - the Holy Spirit, will reveal ALL to us. When God made this statement through the Prophet Jeremiah about 2700 years ago, the LORD had punished Jerusalem for ignoring His commands and laws and sent them into 70 years of Exile, via the conquest of the brutal Babylonian regime. As devastating the raid and destruction of Jerusalem was by the Babylonians, they were commanded by God to spare Jeremiah who remained with the poor folk and ministered to them the rest of his life. He was directed to write this letter from Jerusalem, as an exhortation to the exiles. Please read the entire chapter of Jeremiah 29 here.

The relevant portion of this Scripture to the exiles contained the full measure of the quote which contains the verse we love so well - Jeremiah 29:11....including me. I love this verse because I know it to be personally true in my own walk, and life IN and WITH Jesus Christ. So before we go any further, please read the full passage and then let's grasp the right way to look at what God is saying here:
Jeremiah 29:10-14 (NASB)
"10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 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. 12 Then you will call upon 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,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

This is a conditional promise to a GROUP of people - Jews in exile. Once the 70 years of exile were up, God did bring them back to Jerusalem....if they wished to come, via Nehemiah and Ezra. He promised to listen to them when they returned to the one true God, and their prayers, if they called upon Him. The passage above is just beautiful and the LORD was true to His promise. Only a few took Him up on these promises later on, as we read in the prophets Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai and so on. 

However God always stays true. His Words and promises and Favor are for a lifetime. All we have to do is the following: 
- Call on Him first...before seeking counsel elsewhere.
- Come to Him with every praise, problem and possibility we have before us. King Hezekiah had some bad news in a threatening letter (Book of Isaiah). He got on his knees before God, spread the letter before Him and said "Lord what am I to do?" You and I, who have that personal relationship with God can do the same
- Pray to Him...continually....all day....every day....pray without ceasing! This is self-explanatory. Prayer, and fervent effective prayer, changes things.
- Jeremiah 29:13 tells us to "seek Him....find Him...Search for Him". These are ALL ACTIVE PRESENT TENSE verbs. That means we are to do it now.
- THEN - DO ALL OF THE ABOVE EQUATION WITH ALL YOUR HEART, GOD SAYS. And I will add - heart AND mind and body and soul.

So is Jeremiah 29:11 written to a group of people? YES! So does that mean it is NOT for us in the 21st century? NO! It is for us! I said God's promises are consistent and truthful.  

Here is what the Holy Spirit told us through the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness".

All of these words of Jeremiah above, from verse 10-14 could be about us. We were exiled from God by sin. We were lost and going to hell. But we didn't seek Him out. He, God, came and rescued us from that sin through the Precious Blood of Christ on the Cross and His death, burial and Resurrection. When God calls us to Salvation, and we response and repent of our sin and trust Him fully, with all our Heart, and come to Him and pray and accept Jesus as Lord....THEN He will reveal that "He has plans for you....and the rest of this amazing verse!!"

This is how it works! The Bible is the living document for personal revival and transformation and we must trust the Word of God. What was written then in the Old Testament is for our education, so that the child of God - us - could know How the Lord operates. What is written in the New Testament is for our salvation and sanctification. They work hand and glove - together.

So use Jeremiah 29:11 as yours and mine, as much as we want. Let's just get the complete story right first, before running off and printing it on our foreheads!

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