Friday, May 4, 2018

May 5, 2018

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

I have been unpacking this Twenty-Ninth Chapter of Jeremiah in order to put the wonderful promise of verse 11 in its proper context.

When Jeremiah shared God's promise with the people of God they were in a bad way. God had allowed the mighty Babylonian Empire to sweep into Jerusalem, conquer the city and take all the powerful people captive. So, they found themselves under the judgment of God because of their disobedience and their idolatry.

The Prophet also told them they were going to be in captivity for quite awhile so they should make the best of it and not expect any immediate relief.

Thirdly, Jeremiah told them to pray for the peace and prosperity of their captors rather than pray for an end to their captivity.

Today we will see still another word of godly counsel from the Prophet to the captives. He cautioned them to be careful who they listened to. There would be false prophets promising things that were not true. Jeremiah warns them not to make a bad situation even worse by listening to lies. There are always those who are ready and anxious to tell you what they think you want to hear and give you false hopes. And there is always a part of you that wants to believe them.

Jeremiah warns them not to listen to the false prophets but to believe His prophecies from God. And the prophecy from God was the captivity would last seventy years. There would be no rescue or deliverance from the Lord until their time of judgment was fulfilled.

Here's the Word of the Lord from Jeremiah concerning their captivity:

"Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place." Jeremiah 29:8-10

You need a person in your life who regularly hears from God and who has enough integrity and courage to tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear!

A person like that, if you find one, is a gift from God!

Do you have a person like that?

Are you a person like that?

Are you willing to listen to a person like that?

Are you able to hear the hard things you need to hear rather than always listening for what you want to hear?

Pray Differently

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

When you live a life that is far from what you hoped for or imagined and when your dream life borders on a nightmare, you need to know how to pray.

Over the past several days I have been setting some context around this amazing promise from God delivered by the prophet Jeremiah. I have established that this promise was given during a time when God's chosen people found themselves under judgment for their idolatry and disobedience. God had allowed them to fall under captivity to the powerful Babylonian Empire. 

In our last post Jeremiah told the people this was going to be a long captivity and they had better make the best of it. When you can't do the things you want to do then do the things you need to do! Verse seven adds additional counsel for people who are struggling with life. One of the best things you can always do is pray!

"Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7

I don't know about you but when I am in a painful situation I tend to pray that God will get me out of it pronto! So this comes as helpful advice. I don't especially like it but I need it! Jeremiah says, "You are in these circumstances for a long time so don't pray for God to bail you out pray for the peace and the prosperity of this city."

Pragmatism is not always a Christian virtue but in this case Jeremiah reasons that what is good for their captors will result in good for them. Human nature would lead us to pray judgment down on our captors but in this case the captors ARE the judgment so pray differently!

If this sounds a lot like Jesus' admonition to pray for your enemies and those who make life miserable for you, that's because this IS the same God at work here! But this gives some background and insight to that command! When you pray for peace and prosperity for your enemies it blesses them but also blesses you! 

Remember, they are trying to make the best of a bad situation! There is no way to do that without prayer and those prayers MUST be the right sort of prayers!

Since this is where many of us live much of the time, listen and learn! This is God's word to you today from His ancient Prophet!