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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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"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).
We periodically refer to Jesse and Anna Ruth, our Amish friends. They're a young couple with four little children who were our neighbors for several years. A few years ago they moved back to the area in eastern Lancaster County where they were raised and now operate a dairy farm. I recall an incident that happened several years ago that was a teachable moment for me and illustrates today's message.
Since the Amish don't use modern transportation methods they rely on the "English" (as they refer to the non-Amish) to drive them for longer trips. Once when Jesse and Anna lived over this way Jesse called me and asked me to give them a ride back home from his parents, who also live on a dairy farm about 25 miles away. I drove over after a Bible Study to pick them up. The farm is at the end of a long gravel lane that simply takes you back to another era. Jesse came out to greet me and welcomed me into the house.
I went in and the family was visiting around the kitchen table under the diffused glow of a gas lamp. They invited me to sit down and we visited for a few minutes. Jesse's mom shared about their family and their six children. I asked, "How many of them live in Lancaster County?" She replied "All of them, but Jesse, who lives in Mount Joy."
Now you need to understand why this response is so interesting. Actually Mount Joy is in Lancaster County but I suppose from the perspective of folks who travel by horse and buggy it's as if Jesse lived in another county or even state!
However there's another perspective that is similar to the limited perception of our Amish friends. That's the eternal, spiritual, heavenly perspective as we travel down here below year after year. In fact I believe our perspective in regard to this is much narrower.
Today's powerful verse comes from the text of a letter the prophet Jeremiah wrote to the exiles in Babylon shortly after they were taken captive. Jeremiah was assuring them that God had not abandoned them and that He would fulfill His gracious promise. The initial, literal fulfillment came at the time of Cyrus, when the remnant returned and resettled in the land of Canaan.
The entire verse is a great promise to all believers of the glorious future that God has planned for us. We can understand this promise from this point onward in our lives. The Lord declares He has "plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future." (pronoun purposefully changed.) God has a wonderful plan for the remainder of our lives on this earth, our temporal future. Jesus refers to it as the "abundant life."
But the best part is that other perspective; our eternal future. I am convinced that the greatest experiences of this life will not even compare to the future in heaven God has planned for us! Scripture gives us a picture unimaginable by the human mind, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). The apostle Paul urges us to keep our thoughts anchored on the unseen, that which is yet to be revealed in the future. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).
It's all too easy to focus on the here and now; the pain and disappointment in this life rather than focusing on our ultimate goal of eternal joy in heaven. We need to make the unseen joys of heaven the default button of our imaginations, emotions, and let it motivate us to diligently serve God day by day.
We have no idea the great and mighty things God has planned for us who truly love Him. We only see the smaller picture. He sees our labor of ministry far beyond what we see through the maze of life in our temporal existence. If we saw the big picture such as our heavenly Father does, we would look upon the lovely tapestry of life with perpetual rejoicing. Smile and remember today that our God is an awesome God!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we know that You care for us day in and day out as we walk in Your ways, and mercifully, even when we choose to deter from Your perfect plan You gently guide us back. Your plan for our lives is to prosper us even as we endure hardships in this life. Yours is a boundless hope and an eternal love that will see us through to a glorious celebration never to end but to experience for all eternity. Thank You for Your abundant provisions, in this life and in the unseen eternal life yet to come. Amen.
Brooksyne's note: I think about our readers today who often write to us about their ongoing spiritual and physical battles they face from day to day, some lasting year after year. I find encouragement and great consolation in the Daily Encouragement verse from Jeremiah 29:11. It was in the midst of uncertainty and seeming defeat that Jeremiah has a word from the Lord that He would prosper them and give them hope and a future. Are you experiencing that promise in your life today? Perhaps your focus is only on the temporary situations that are based upon the here and now. Thank God His hope is an eternal hope that is secure for the present and for the future. It does not change based upon the present circumstance we face, so we do well to fix our attitudes and actions upon this hope from God. You're certain to have a refreshing and uplifting day if you make this your goal!
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Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"For I Know The Plans I Have For You" Video Jeremiah 29:11 set to music along with photos of babies!
"No Eye Has Seen" Video Paul Baloche
"New Jerusalem" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"Heaven On My Mind" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"Trust His Heart" Video
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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