Promise in Context

This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”         Jeremiah 29:10-13 (NLT)

This is an often quoted Scripture – at least the part where God says He has a plan for me that is not to harm me but give me a future and a hope! I want to believe that God is in control and will restore me to the “good life” that maybe I had before or that I see others enjoying. I did not read the Scripture in the context of the passage nor in the context of the entire Bible.

There was a time of exile and it wasn’t just a few days. The exiles were in Babylon for 70 years! Those who went into exile, died in exile. There was no “going-home-happy-ending” for them. I think seven years would be a long time to be in some “desert experience”. God will do what He knows He must do to get my attention and get me on the path that He desires for me so that I will fulfill the plan that He has for me. The exile may not be easy or short. God is faithful in His love. Jesus showed me how to walk through this desert. Will I faithfully follow Him?

God DOES have a plan for me. It is difficult to see God’s plan for hope and a future when I am in the middle of a battle. I often cannot see Who is with me when fighting multiple attacks and my head is down just trying to get through a single day. It is so very important for me to take time every day to get quiet with God and hear His promises; meditate on those promises so that I know the weapons that He has given me to fight the good fight. In that time every day, there is a refilling that comes from God’s Holy Spirit providing the focus and strength for another day. Because of Jesus I am never alone in the exile and have the assurance that He will bring me home.

Look with ALL my heart. I think this is the point where I miss the mark. I allow my heart to be divided as I look back to my old life or I look at the lives of others with envy. The Father tells me to keep my focus on seeking Him. He promises that when I look for Him with all of me that I will find Him. I will not miss His plan in my life. When I seek God with such single-mindedness, I learn His character, His voice and I will not miss the plan for my life.

Too often we want the “quick fix” or “microwave relationship” with God. Reading and remembering only pieces and parts of Scripture is a good example of that. Instead of reading a chapter I read 3-4 familiar verses and apply my own interpretation, usually involving prosperity for me or condemnation for someone else. Bible study is just that – study. It involves time, a notepad and a pen. Too often I am drawn to the “quick miracles” and miss the 40 years of wandering or the 40 days of temptation. I say, “See what Jesus did in only three years?” and miss the 30 years of “growing in wisdom and favor with God” (Luke 2:52) that came before that. A believer happens in the moment I realize my sinful state and accept Jesus as my Savior. Becoming a disciple is a lifetime commitment to following Jesus all the way home.

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