So many times I have seen Jeremiah 29:11 quoted and have repeated it myself: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” We have taken that scripture very personally and applied it to mean to ME. (That is taking it out of context because it was written for a group of exiles, not just one person. However, I am sure God does have things planned for each and every one of us as individuals so I won’t argue the point. The NLT version of Psalm 40:5 says: “O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.”)
This morning as I was doing my daily Bible reading I noted just before that favorite verse of Jeremiah 29:11, another to which we ought to sit up and take notice. In verse 7, God tells Jeremiah to give this message to those in captivity, “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
At the present time, few folks seem satisfied with the status of the political situation in the United States. Considering that and having just read God’s admonition to those in exile, started me thinking about another scripture that maybe we ought to pay more attention. It seems to be human nature to want to discuss our grave concerns about the state of our nation and voice our complaints loud and long. We tend to talk to anyone who will listen; let’s face it…we’ll talk whether they will listen or not! We write letters to the local newspaper editors and pen guest columns. We editorialize on blogs. We become masters in the field of verbiage yet fail to make full use of the greatest opportunity of all. I Timothy 2:1-4 is so clear in detailing what needs to be done and why: “ First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Now if we look back to that favorite verse from Jeremiah, would you agree we have heard it repeated more frequently in recent years than the ones from Timothy? Why do you suppose that is? Have we become so selfish that we want to grab it all for old Number One and let the other guy look out for himself, let him do his own praying? Are we just simply heedless? Uncaring? What? Look back at the earlier verse in Jeremiah and the ones in Timothy to catch the reminders that that isn’t God’s way. He wants us to reach out to consider the plight of others, and He explains that what is good for them is good for us. It seems we, as a people generally, have become so busy looking inward that we can’t be bothered with looking beyond our own selves to what’s good for our fellow human beings, not just for this world, but for eternity as well.
We need to remember to learn to look and love as God does. He does have plans for us, to give us a future and a hope, but it’s not for us alone. He has a desire for all to be saved, to come to a knowledge of the truth, and He has given us the admonition to pray, not just for self, but for all. And that means all.
Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 8-22-2010
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