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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
This is a very familiar verse for most of us! It is often quoted, and many of us have memorized … even memorialized these prophetic words. No doubt that any one of us want to have a positive outlook on life … a hopeful future … and a purpose directed by God. These things are central to our human experience and longing. But Jeremiah looks deeper into what hope and purpose entail. There are actions on our part that are fundamental to the realization of those plans God has promised to bring about in our lives. In Verses 12 and 13, he states, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I think we need to look closer at those words in the context:
- You will call on Me
- You will come and pray to Me AND I will listen to you
- You will seek Me
- You will find Me WHEN you seek Me with all your heart
I sense there are people who want to know God’s will for their lives. They want to know HIS plans for their lives … the future HE envisions … the prosperity and protection HE promises. Yet they do not pray … they do not sit still and listen … they do not seek God with their whole heart. They have their own ideas for happiness … their own conceptions of prosperity … and they simply want God to bless what they want to do … based on their own plans for their lives. This is not what the Word of God teaches us; and I urge anyone caught in this inner struggle and take a step back and examine themselves and their motivations…. We need to consider what the Prophet Isaiah wrote:
Isaiah 55:6-9 (NKJV)
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the man of iniquity forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
This is why we need to come to God … to pray to Him … to listen to Him … to seek Him with our whole hearts … in order to know what HE has planned and ordained for our lives IN HIM. A few days ago, I mentioned this verse: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10) Here, Paul quoted Isaiah 64:4 which reads: “For since the beginning of the world people have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him.” Since the beginning people have not understood what God has planned and purposed for us; yet Paul indicates that God HAS revealed these things to us through His Spirit. Indeed, God has made known the riches of His wisdom. But you and I cannot find out the plans God has for us … the future and hope He has ordained for us … if we do not have an intimate relationship with Him. As Hebrews 11:6 asserts, “But without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Do you want to know the plans that God has for you? His desire to give you abundant life? (Cf. John 10:10) Eternal life? (Cf. John 3:15-16) Then you need to call upon God. You need to go to Him and pray. You need to listen. You need to seek Him with your whole heart. For we read in Jeremiah 29:14 where God has said, “I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. Do you see what the verse is telling us? “I will bring you back from your captivity.” Captivity? Yes, we have held ourselves hostage … imprisoned ourselves with our own thoughts and our own plans … our own visions of the future and not the plans God has designed and purposed for us. He allowed us to be held captive there … in those thoughts … so that we could see and experience the futility … the servitude … the enslavement … of man-made dreams! But God has something better … something greater … something more fulfilling and satisfying for our souls … if we would but seek an intimate relationship with Him who is our Creator … our Savior … our Lord.
Here are some exhortations that come to mind:
Psalm 33:10-11 (NKJV)
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. 11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.
Psalm 146:3-4 (NIV)
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge (submit to) Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 14:22 (NIV)
22 Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.
Proverbs 14:22 (NKJV)
21 There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.
Proverbs 23:17-18 (NIV)
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. 18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs 23:17-18 (NIV)
“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin….
Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Matthew 16:24-25 (NKJV)
24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV)
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
James 4:3-5 (NKJV)
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
So what is the application? God knows the plans that HE has for you! His thoughts toward you are thoughts of peace … not of harm. His thoughts are for you … not against you. The future He offers is the hope of eternal life … given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. God is asking us to come to Him for answers … to call upon Him and pray to Him. God is asking us to seek Him with all of our heart … to trust Him in all things and not lean upon our understanding. Our understanding is limited. We only know in part. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12) But what we do know is more than sufficient! For we know the love of God … His great love (Cf. Ephesians 2:4) … His lavish love … that we might be called His children. (Cf. 1 John 3:1). Yes, we can trust God for our future because we can trust God for His love. Amen.