In this New Year period, among the believers, an often quoted verse of blessing is Jeremiah 29:11 [ESV] For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. However, if we study the context, there is much to be learned.The Context:
Please read the whole chapter of Jeremiah 29. The letter was written to the people in exiles in Babylon. The good plan was for them to stay there, have families and build good businesses, for a period of 70 years. They are to pray for the city, their captors' city, to prosper that they may prosper with them! Their fate and their enemies are tied together by God's Will. There were different voices, especially those in Jerusalem that were not deported were preaching lies. They were the disobedient people against God and were cursed. God's plan of blessings for the exiles was not to return home but stay. This is against the common understand that blessing is about staying home in the city of God. Eventually, after 70 years, this would be true. But for now, in this time and season, they are to stay and make a good living. Here are some key lessons for us:
- Discerning of the Times of God is Most Important
Yes, the Israelites will return. But God's will for them then is to stay and prosper in exile in Babylon. Those that were in Jerusalem were disobedient and they were cursed.
- The seemingly wrong circumstances, in exiles, was actually God's plan for our good. Away from home is not a curse but a blessing.
- It is not where you are but are you obeying God wherever you are.
- The error is to ignore the seasons, the right timing, of God's plan.
Yes, the Lord will bless you richly, but we must discern and follow His plan in the right time, place and with the right people.
- Be Busy Till I come. Luke 19:13 ESV Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ It is common to hear sermons warning about the end-times and wanting us to be committed. But we are to be extremely careful not to be misled. Different people are called to do different things. Unless otherwise, continue to do what are doing, but with a new perspective if you have already not, of God's will and urgency.
- Relook at another frequently quoted verses Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Such a verse can easily cause misunderstanding. We tend to make our plan first and try to get God to endorse it. The order should be seeking God first and then let Him guide us to make the plan. So NLT gets it better: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
- If you find yourself now away from home. Do not be discouraged. God's plan is about living at the right place, time and people.