What a wonderful promise we have in the first verse of today’s Scripture. Of course, it’s true, but this favourite verse, which has been called the most misused verse in the Bible, doesn’t stand alone. The people to whom it was written would have loved to take it out of context, because it has conditions that they badly failed to meet. They had been doing their own thing, wilfully disobeying God’s laws, going through the motions of worship which wasn’t in the heart; some were even involved in idol worship.
The Israelites were in exile in Babylon. Their itching ears picked up a message from a false prophet who said that exile was for two years. The reality Jeremiah brought to them was that exile would last for seventy years. Jeremiah’s message was written to people in incredible pain, facing grief and death in slavery. They were devastated; angry at the Babylonians and bitter at God for allowing it. They felt hopeless! Because they couldn’t look beyond the present circumstances they failed to see that exile was God’s plan to restore them to Himself.
Despite their rebellion He had them in mind where they were. He knew their fears, hopes and dreams. However, there were conditions for them to fulfil if they were going to see the plans God had for them become reality. This involved them calling to Him, praying to Him and seeking Him wholeheartedly. If they would turn to Him instead of away from Him, they would know freedom from captivity.
As we enter this New Year God also has a plan for each of us, even if we cannot begin to perceive this. Hopelessness never comes from Him. He is the author of Hope. In the middle of difficult situations we can be assured that God does have a plan. As we surrender to Him, trusting Him with everything, deep peace will flood our hearts.
Scripture, and life’s experiences, teaches that God’s plans are not to make us feel good and happy, nor are they all about us. Though this may be what our itching ears want to hear, His plans are always for His own glory, to fulfil His purposes and to lead us into deeper knowledge of who He really is.
The crunch point is how much will we obey Jesus? Obedience is always the law of spiritual growth and blessedness. The path of obedience is the path of freedom and inner peace, even when we’re walking a rough road. If we refuse to obey we shut ourselves out of His best, and life becomes a constant struggle. God is in control of all our circumstances. He asks us to trust Him, to call on Him, to pray to Him and to seek Him with all our heart. Searching for Him is very different to seeking a solution for our problems. It is seeking Him for who He is with His agenda, longing to be closer to Him and yearning to love Him more.
The promises of God are solid and secure in both good and difficult times; ‘I know the plans I have for you’. Do you just now feel that God is distant? Maybe you need to be reminded of the second promise, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart’. He is working towards His expected end.
The Bible challenges us to keep God at the centre rather than the periphery of our lives. He will always keep His word. If we pray He will listen to us, if we seek Him with all our heart He will be found by us. Whatever your circumstances at the gateway to 2016, why not speak these words to your heart, and know you are safe with the One who plans every step of the way, with the details hidden in the secret place of His own heart.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I’m so grateful that You never change or turn. Thank You for giving Jesus to make a way to Your heart. Thank You for the plans You have for my life. Please refine my heart and put within me a deep love for Yourself, so I’m filled with an ongoing desire to seek You with all my heart. I pray that Your purposes for Your glory will be increasingly fulfilled through me. Amen.
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