Please Step Forward

This past month, I felt the urge to get up and read Jeremiah in the mornings for two reasons: Jeremiah 29:11 “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” is my sister-in-law’s favorite verse and I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of God’s powerful promise in Jeremiah 29:11.

When God called Jeremiah forth as His voice to the people, He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. I appointed  you as a prophet  to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5.  Jeremiah immediately doubted what God had called him to do because he felt powerless as a child, but God responded: “Do not say, I am only a child. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and I will rescue you.” Jeremiah 1:7-8.

God rescued Jeremiah and I am humbled by what Jeremiah had to go through to fulfill God‘s calling on his life. He was rejected, tormented, and hated by many, yet Jeremiah did not live his life for others. God’s input and guidance was all Jeremiah cared about once he had complete trust in the Lord’s plan for him.

At times, I feel like a hypocrite in my walk with God because when things are going well I have no reservation in singing songs of praise and boasting about how awesome and powerful God‘s promise to me is.  On the flip side, when prayers are not answered the way I had requested or in my timing, my heart is not as full and the last thing on my mind is praising Christ. I have to admit that being candid with you is not at all easy. I feel embarrassed for how I have handled tough situations because in the midst of the storm, I could not feel God’s protection. In addition, I have come to terms with the fact that God has a completely different definition than mine for the words prosper, harm, hope, and future.

Questions:

1. How does your definition of words prosper, harm, hope, and future compare to God’s?

2. What significance does the verse Jeremiah 29:11 have in your life?

3. What has God placed on your heart with which you are currently struggling?

4. How can I pray for you to allow Jeremiah 29:11 heal your heart and/or your relationship with God?

10 thoughts on “Please Step Forward

  1. Jennifer,
    Beautifully written and unfortunately so true. Wouldn’t it be great if we had the ability to read God’s mind? We would know all the answers to questions that have with some for a lifetime. If you were given an opportunity to read God’s mind, would you?

  2. Our view of the world is very narrow and self-focused, so I think it’s natural for us to question God’s plan for our lives because we don’t have have the capacity to fully comprehend God’s purpose.

    Look at Jeremiah. He started as an unwilling prophet until God gave him the strength and encouragement to warn the Israelites that they would be defeated by the Babylonians for their disobedience. Even then, he was persecuted and put in prison as a traitor, causing him to get so despondent he cursed the day he was born.

    O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:7-9)

    I’m guessing Jeremiah hoped that his warning would cause the Israelites to repent and be spared. God’s judgment. Instead, he was used by God to deliver a message of the inevitable destruction of Jerusalem… No wonder he became known as the “weeping prophet.”

  3. Sandy,
    Very well said. My friend often says, “God and I want the same thing. It’s just that we have different time tables.” Our relationship with God is our Christian foundation. If our foundation is weak, we will not be able to build upon it. Thus we need to have a solid foundation, a mighty relationship with Christ.

    I am looking forward to hearing Elizabeth’s story. I admire her walk with God and her relentless faith.

  4. Thanks mom for sharing something so special. I really miss Ken and I bet you he is smiling down thinking of us reading what he wrote. It’s amazing how powerful words can be. I love you and I am looking forward to hearing from you again and again.

  5. Misa-
    I think most people would say that their definition of “prosper” “harm” “hope and “future” have to do with our immediate needs and our sense of not being made uncomfortable. We want life to be easy, pleasant, and lovely, but of course living a life like that doesn’t help us grow spiritually and it certainly doesn’t help us lean on the Lord.
    God is a lot less concerned about our immediate comforts and more concerned with our relationship with Him, particularly our deoendence on Him. So when we go to Him with a concern or request, it’s often not resolved with our timetable in mind (which drives us all crazy), but God’s, becasue He has a plan for our growth as we wait on Him. When I see you next, remind me to tell you a story about Elizabeth waiting on the Lord.

    Sandy

  6. Misa,
    Your Step-Grandfather, Ken, sent a card to your Grandmother with this handwritten inside. I don’t know if he copied the quote or came to the realization by himself but it gave me great comfort:
    “The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed.”

  7. Bill,
    Your family and church are blessed to have such a honest man of Christ to lead them. Thank you again for being real with us. Could you link the post you were referring to in a comment here? I have a feeling there are some people out there that will receive healing from it.

  8. Lots of people don’t like to hear their pastor has struggles, say with porn, or lust, or anger, or vulgarity, or (take your pick). They want someone above the fray, so to speak. But I have found it does more good to let people know I struggle than trying to pretend and hide it. Admitting, on my blog, that I have struggled with pornography is risky. I have done it. My girls even read it. That is why I have Covenant Eyes on my computer.

  9. Bill,
    I agree with you in terms of your stance on being real. Have you ever faced a consequence as a result of being real? If so, how did you handle it?

  10. i don’t think it is bad to be candid. I think it is important to be real. I have not always known God’s plan for my life (who does?), and sometimes I have followed blindly (sometimes getting lost), but I have tried to keep the perspective that God has always had my best in mind. His plan for me is THE BEST.

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