“‘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
This is one of the most misunderstood verses in the entire Bible. Many think it means that God wants to bless them and probably soon. But it does not mean that! As a result, many who claim this promise can grow disillusioned. The “good plans” they hoped for do not materialize, and their faith is shaken.
Listen! This promise is in a letter Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the Jews who had been carried away from Israel into exile in distant Babylon. Longing desperately for home, they all too eagerly listened to false prophets who predicted that God would bring them home soon. “They are liars,” Jeremiah tells them, “they do not speak for God. You will live in exile for 70 years.”
Jeremiah tells them the truth. Most of them will never return to Israel. Instead he says to settle in, build houses, and start families (Jeremiah 29:5-6). The promise is that it is their grandchildren who will return.
For us today, Jeremiah’s words are both a warning and an encouragement.
The warning is that there are still today false prophets preaching false hopes. We must be on our guard against them!
The encouragement is that God’s salvation is sure and certain. Sometimes His blessings are “just around the corner”; other times, we must wait with the patience of faith knowing that they will be fulfilled in complete measure at His appointed time.
Avoid false hope. Instead, trust Him fully, for today and tomorrow, and you will never be disappointed.
Have you ever thought of Jeremiah 29:11 as both a warning and an encouragement?
Think of a person in your life (preferably someone who does not yet know Jesus) who may be facing struggles in his/her life. Pray for this person and ask God for an appropriate time this week to share the Jeremiah 29:11 verse. Then send them an email/text/post card and let them know that you are praying for them!
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