For I Know the Plans I Have for You…

Of all the verses Christians like to stand on, this is a big one. And it IS a great verse, filled with hope and encouragement. However, it’s also one that people often take out of context.

Think of the word of God like a big buffet. Ideally, you’d go down the line selecting a little bit of it all. But if you’re like me, you end up with a lot of meat, some bread, and a dinner plate of dessert. Not very healthy, I’ll admit. But why would I fill up on vegetables when there’s much more appealing foods to choose from?

Unfortunately, we tend to do that with the Word of God as well. We quote verses like God’s plans are for me to prosper without taking the verses in full context. Jeremiah 29 says:

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

This promise of God, His plans for you are when you diligently seek Him. He rewards His faithful children.

It is true that it is His wish that none of us perish. He wants to see everyone thrive and prosper and have eternal life. But you cannot be an heir of God unless you accept Jesus. Unless you seek Him with all of your heart.

This reminds me a little of my son in elementary school. He loved school, he loved his teachers, and he loved playing with his friends. He just hated doing schoolwork. If they gave grades for PE and Recess only, he’d have been a Straight-A student.

But they don’t. So every 6 weeks, post-assembly, he’d be upset as his sisters carried home ribbons and restaurant coupons for Honor Roll awards as he remained empty-handed.

“You can’t get the prize without doing the work,” we’d tell him. As a mom, my heart would break for him. As a teacher, though, I was a little indignant. I had my own students that wanted the same rewards as those who’d done their homework and class assignments, as well as studied for tests. This wasn’t about not being a good test-taker or having difficulty, this was about effort.

We have a society full of people with that same childlike mentality today. They want the benefits of Christ without any effort. They want God’s rewards for their life as they execute their own plans.

Sometimes I shudder to think what I’ll see when I see His Master Blueprint for my life. I’ve made peace with the years I strayed from Him but even now, as my entire life is devoted to ministry, I wonder how many times I miss the mark. How often do I end up seeking my own plans and not His? I am comforted by the fact that He would rather I do SOMETHING than nothing (Revelation 3:16) but I’d much rather know that I’m following His Blueprint for my life and not my own.

He does have big plans for you, for all of us. The question is, are you putting forth the effort to receive the rewards?

Oops I Did It Again…. (Lord, forgive me)

When I first joined my husband in full-time ministry, I was certain I was heeding a call. And with that certainty came a faith that made no obstacles seem insurmountable.

Of course, that kind of faith is a little easier when there are no actual obstacles.

After the first couple of months, doubts set in. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I need to go back to teaching. (Fill in the blank there, you always want to go back to the familiar.)

I called a good friend in ministry and questioned my next steps. Do I go back to teaching? Do I keep waiting? Our savings is almost wiped out. I was the widow woman with enough left for just one meal.

Do you believe that you are doing what God called you to do? she asked. Absolutely, I replied. I’d never been more certain of anything in my life. But I also knew He could perform miracles and I guess I expected a money tree to sprout up next to the crepe myrtle.

Her reply changed my soul. I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you two things: Where God leads, He feeds. And where He guides, He provides.

I tucked those promises away deep in my heart and watched amazed as He did just that. We would balance the checkbook with $3 left and a $500 check would arrive unexpectedly. We would eat the last of the sandwich meat and someone would bring a truckload of groceries. They were lean times but there was a lesson. He wanted me to learn to LEAN on Him.

Eventually, He provided in a way that allowed for us to bless others. But every now and then, I start seeing things with carnal eyes instead of remembering my eyes of faith. Like in the midst of a pandemic when everyone’s income, including our own, dropped. Churches aren’t receiving stimulus checks…they aren’t filing for loans. They are just having to trust God. I sometimes forget that part when I’m looking at the bottom line.

The problem there is, JESUS is the bottom line! He knew our needs. And once again, just as we needed it, He provided.

WHY do I ever doubt?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

He put his faith in every god but the one True God. She almost died.

We saw an advance screening of Paul, the Apostle of Christ last night. I thought it was a thought-provoking, educational, evangelical film although there were times I wondered if a scene was found in early supplemental writings to the Bible or just creative license. It definitely wasn’t a botched Hollywood rendition, however, but rather a more descriptive biblical account.

That said, there was one scene that was very profound to me. My husband told me that my DVR has ruined me as I lamented that I couldn’t just pause the film at that moment and really soak in what the Lord was showing me.

I won’t give you spoilers (though, technically, there are no spoilers in a biblical film) but I do want to set the scene.

A Roman guard under Nero, in charge of the prison where Paul spent his last years, has a daughter who is dying of a mysterious illness. The closer she gets to death the more he prays to his gods. He prays to every god he can think of but would not dare anger these gods by turning to the God the Christians call Lord.

As the doctors tell him there’s nothing more they can do and that she will surely die, he enters again into the temple,¬†sacrificing an animal, pouring its blood all over his body, crying and wailing and pleading with the gods to save her.

As I’m thinking how absurd this is, the Lord shows me that this is a picture of the world today.

Particularly in America.

Because while we think we’re okay because we don’t worship false gods and idols like they did then, or like the Eastern cultures still do, we miss that we’ve put our faith in other things.

We run to the psychics, or the psychiatrist.

At best, we turn to our family or friends and voice fears and misery instead of to the Lord offering praise to the One who can actually change our circumstances.

Some seek comfort and pleasure in sexual immorality, violent or horror films, or escape into a computer where you can create your own reality.

Many never reach the point of wailing and pleading because anti-anxiety medications allow them to cut off all feelings.

As I watched through the fingertips shielding my eyes as the blood ran down his body and he desperately did everything he knew to do to change his circumstances, I understood.

He wasn’t even denying the Truth; he was scared of it.

What if he trusted in this God of the Jews and angered the gods of the world?

What if we did?

Better yet, what will happen if we DON’T?

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