For He Knows The Plans He Has For Me?

For He Knows The Plans He Has For Me?

Sister Miki Terayama - 26 September 2021

Weekend Devotion: For He Knows The Plans He Has For Me?

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We are all in this season where we may, at times, just feel lost, overwhelmed and not sure what to do. We may start out thinking “I’ve still got this”, “I can still handle this.”

But some situations will push us into realising, “we just don’t know everything.” At times, like these, we may receive encouragements from the bible verses or from our brethren. And one of the famed verse frequently used is Jeremiah 29:11. It says, “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.” Now many people use it as a blanket booster verse for different challenges in lives. It is all good to know that God is in control and God has a plan, but realistically, how does that really help me while I am still stuck in a stagnant and doubtful part of my life? Do I wait? Do I trial and error? Do I just choose what I think is good and watch God work it out? Now to really know the essence of Jeremiah 29:11, we have to bring it back to understand its context, as with every other bible verse. So let us understand Jeremiah 29 again.

Now it happened during a time when Israel was being attacked by Babylon and many of the Israelites were exiled to foreign lands. So Jeremiah sent letters and messages from the Lord to the Israelites’ during these darker days, to guide and encourage them in these darker days.

In Jeremiah 29:4, it says, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Now, here it reads, “those I carried into exile”, God is saying He carried the Israelites into exile. Now, it does not mean that God merely orchestrates and plans pain for His people to go through. But here it emphasises to us that God never stops carrying us. And indeed, He did bring the Israelites to exile, to develop them into His character. But it does not happen without Him carrying them through all the way.

Then verse 5 continues to tell the Israelites what they can do while they are in exile, and in the season of standstill, despair or doubts. Jeremiah 29:5-7 says, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Now if we think about the plight of the Israelites, we are similar to them in the context that we could be in a down phase while dealing with other things around us like work stress, grades in studies, finances, juggling housework and kids, and many more. We could be overwhelmed with loneliness of not being able to travel back to our families like our Malaysian brethren in Singapore, added financial pressures, unknowns, fear of health issues, negativity, yet not know what to do about relying on faith. We could feel exiled and disconnected from the pre-COVID days and the life before. So, with reference to the verses above that Jeremiah has told the Israelites as instructed by the Lord, during times like these, we can first take time to ask ourselves a few questions.

Build and Settle Down

The very first question is: What am I building? Jeremiah 29:5-9 says, “Build houses and settle down”. Here it is first mentioned that we should build something and settle down on what we are building. It is not just about hoping God will grant us an escape route out of our own “exiles”, but to recognise where God has placed us right now and build on it. Now it is important to know what we build on because when we settle on it, it becomes home for us. If we largely build on work, then our own pride and achievements becomes home for us. However, we are also settling on possible stresses, expectations, changes in people and such. If we merely build on our relationships, we find home in these feel-good bonds, but disappointments and differences may also come along. So what are you building, brothers and sisters? Now there is no better thing to build on as a foundation than the church of God. No matter the season, keep building on the matters of the Lord. Keep coming to the Word, keep fellowshipping in different ways, keep interceding for each other, keep gathering in faith. Because building on matters of God is the only thing that will never pass away. So let us settle on nothing else first, than on the Lord.

Plant and Eat

Now next, in the second part of Jeremiah 29:5, it says to “plant gardens and eat what they produce.” So our next question to ourselves is, what are we planting in our lives today? What are the big or even really small seeds that we are planting? Let us not despair or feel lowly no matter how small we are giving, because what you plant will later on nourish you. What you plant in a seemingly insignificant moment is what you will later feast upon. Like when I do the Bible Reading and journalling with my kids, sometimes I get so tired, I just push myself to read a short story and we just go to bed, without me expounding the meaning of it. However, days later, my daughter would come up to me, revisit that touch-and-go story (on The Good Samaritan) and share how she modelled that helpful behaviour with her friend as the bible taught her. I mean, it was a very reluctant seed I planted in the midst of fatigue, yet God used it nonetheless for a blessed reap in my little one’s heart. So likewise to not stop building on faith, let us also not stop planting where God calls us to plant, because it in turn gives us spiritual nutrition as well. My daughter’s little reflection gave me spiritual boost as I see the fruits of my little labour, pushing me onwards to find value in my field, in my crops, and a hope for my harvest in the Lord. So for us, it could be seeds of shepherding someone, seeds of serving in certain areas of ministry, seeds of pressing on in reading the Word and having quiet time. When we plant little seeds of peace, we feast on harmony. When we plant seeds of truth, we feast on genuine bonds with others. When we plant seeds of righteousness in the Lord, we feast on God’s favour. So let us plant the right seeds that will in turn, nourish us spiritually.

Relationships We Have

Then in verse 6, it continues to talk about finding relationships and increasing in number. To marry, find wives for your sons, give your daughters in marriage. Now when it comes to faith living, it can never be separated from relationships. We can grow individually with God as He is the first relationship we must get right with, our intimacy with the Lord and all His ways. But after that, we have got to pour out that love from God into the other important relationships God has placed around us. Often, we may feel like we are too tired to pour out extra attention to someone else, or we are just too lazy or do not want to move out of comfort zone. But we need to move into building relationships because that is where we grow and mature in all the things the Lord intend for us. In love, in peace, in joy, in hope, in grace, in mercy. So the next question we should ask ourselves is: What relationships am I investing in or need to invest in? During periods where we do not know what to do, continue building meaningful and edifying relationships with those around us. “Do not decrease”, do not hide in our own caves and just focus on ourselves or our families. We have got to intentionally intercede and reach out to our friend, a worried family member, church brethren, a colleague or a neighbour. It is especially important now in these times where we are laden with the pandemic-endemic setting and the aftermath of it all. Remember that the relationships God prepares for us help us to grow and live out that faith.

Seek the Peace and Prosperity of the City

Finally, in Jeremiah 29:9, on a broader perspective it says, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Now, wherever we are, God has called us there. So the last question is to ask: how am I praying for my city? Or in this case, your field? Now to pray for peace and prosperity is really primarily for the gospel. We pray for wisdom in decision making for the regulations of the country, for the economy, for the laws, all so that it will help bring God’s work to fruition. And as the verse says, when our city prospers, in the way God leads, we too will prosper. We too will still be able to gather in church, we too will still be able to freely share the Word, we too will live, grow and minister in a place where the gospel can continue to grow and reach out. So pray for our city or our fields this way.

Brothers and sisters, may this example of the Israelites in exile and God’s instructions through Jeremiah help us move out of an inactive, confused or numb season, into one that brings us to look deeper into different areas of our lives. Shift our focus from what is weighing us down and gain strength and perspective from the fulfilling and healing word of the Lord.

God bless.

Miki Terayama

Miki is a full-time ministry staff at The Blessed Run Ministries. She is a sister who shares a natural, God-given affinity with children and youths. She is married to Randy (NET Group Youth Leader) and has two little ones of her own, Liora and Jude. She is involved in the children, youth and social media ministries.

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