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Jeremiah 29:11-13 states:
"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Recently, I've felt that my kids are old enough to start memorizing scripture. They took to it readily enough and memorized Hebrews 12:2 (the first scripture I gave them to memorize) without any muss or fuss.
In fact, I think they really enjoyed it and it would come up in the most useful circumstances, mostly when they were engaged in a silly fight.
I would just ask them to tell me what Hebrews 12:12 says, and they would repeat it with a dawning understanding that their silly fight could be resolved easily in light of Jesus going to the cross and how we should fix our eyes on him always throughout life.
One of the proudest moments in my young son's life was when, in church class, the Sunday school teachers asked the kids what their favorite scripture was, and my son realized he actually knew one and was able to recite it from memory, because it had also been imprinted on his heart.
There are many promises in the bible. I'm talking somewhere between 3,000-7,000 promises! I don't know the exact number, perhaps it's something I should look into.
My point is that God has so many lovely promises for those who follow him "for those who walk uprightly". They are there for us to claim, to "bind on earth and in heaven".
The problem is believing it.
Take Jeremiah 29:11 for example.
He knows the plans he has for us.
It's amazing to think there is a plan that God has for our lives.
And darned if it's not a good plan!
God doesn't do anything halfway. The thing is, he gives us free will and we don't have to follow the plan he has for our lives.
We can follow our own plan.
We can go our own way, and do our own thing.
But where will we end up?
I've tried to depart from God's plan for my life many times. I've taken over the driving, pushed HIM aside so that I can take control. And I've found myself in the desert each and every time, driving around in circles, lost.
The cool thing about letting HIM take the wheel again is that he can get us right back on the right road. We may be further behind (or ahead!) of where we would have been, but it's still better than where we were.
That one may be hard to believe. And our idea of "prospering" may be different than his. He may not even be talking about material things. But I can guarantee you that his plan for your life, his plan to prosper you, is better than yours . Really!
When I pray out loud, sometimes I'm made aware of the deep things in my heart, and sometimes they sadden me.
I have had a hard time believing at certain points in my life that God does not want to harm me.
But seeing this promise, in the light of getting to know who He really is, has allowed me to reflect on the "why" of things.
If God never intends to harm me, then why did He allow this to happen, or why did that happen ...?
I don't know that I have or anyone really has the answers to that.
All I know is what I can see in my own personal life. And what I know is that every situation, every challenge, every bit of suffering or trial has led me somewhere I wouldn't have otherwise gone. For me, all roads of suffering have eventually brought me back to Him.
Now I'm trying to work on being proactive in my relationship with Him. Seeking him daily, when things are good, so that when challenges come, I can rely on Him even more than I did before.
My heart was moved to ask my boys to memorize a new scripture this winter/spring and it was Jeremiah 29:11.
When I gave them the scripture, my husband later told me privately that he had chosen Jeremiah 29:11as his theme scripture for 2017 and had been praying through that scripture daily.
Without even knowing it, we had been on the same page spiritually and now our boys would be praying through this scripture every day.
We weren't surprised, after all, isn't that how the Spirit works?
Sometimes it is hard for me to believe God's promises. So that's why I feel the need to imprint them on my heart and on the hearts of my boys.
Something amazing happens when you start to think about God's promises and meditate on them in your heart.
"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things."
The amazing thing that happens when you start to meditate on God's promises is that you start to believe them.
And once you start to believe them, watch out!
Faith breeds amazing miracles.
If these promises are imprinted on your heart, you will find them popping into your thoughts when challenges come along during the course of your day.
Will it lead you to prayer? I don't know but I know that you are calling upon God in those moments! You are bringing him to mind, and are in communion with him if even for a moment. And to tell you the truth, I do believe that is prayer.
And does he hear us? Absolutely. He promises to "listen to us".
I like it when I realize that I have the attention of the Creator of the Universe!
In these moments, I sometimes go crazy and spout off all my prayer requests to Him really quickly because I am certain I have his ear. (I know, I can be quite silly in my prayers because really, I do believe he always hears us).
But there's just something about being really present when you are praying certain prayers. I don't know what it is, but when I feel this way, I am more conscious of what I am praying about and praying for because I am conscious of being before the Throne of the LORD God Almighty.
And when I am truly present with Him in this way, I have an increased faith that he is listening to my prayers and will act on them sooner or later.
I have found this to be 100% true.
What does it mean for you to seek Him with all of your heart?
Only you know that.
I know how it was for me, and no doubt, he made himself available to me when I was ready.
He sent people into my life, he allowed me to stumble upon a scripture, a book, a situation ... I have so many stories!
We all do. And that's the beauty of God. He is just around the corner. He is waiting to be found by us.
He is waiting to be found by you.
Prayer for Jeremiah 29:11
LORD, we praise you that you want to be found by us. We thank you that you care for us so much that you are waiting with outstretched hands and heart to pull us into your embrace, into a relationship with you.
Help us to believe that you have plans to prosper us, that you have dreams for our life. For people we will impact, for places we will go, for lives we will change, starting with our own.
Help us to get glimpse, even if it's a small one, of the big picture you have in mind for our lives. Help us to fit pieces of it together, like a puzzle, piece by small piece, until the full measure of your plans for us is made visible to us.
Help us to remember that you always want to prosper us, that you never want to harm us, and that you wish to give us hope and a wonderful future with you as the center of our lives. Help us surrender to your dream for our life and help us to know that it is worlds better and bigger and more grand than any dream of vision that we could have come up with on our own.
Take the wheel for us , Jesus and lead us places we never dreamed of going, spiritually, and in this world. Help us to trust in your promises, to dwell on them daily, to be reminded of them and to never forget.
We love you and in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
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