Monday, October 24, 2016

To be made more like Jesus

Hope and a Future
by Joni Eareckson Tada

"'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

Walk into a Christian bookstore, or into the homes of many believers, and you will often see today's verse hand-embroidered and framed, hanging up for all to see and be encouraged.  It's a beautiful promise and an oft-quoted favorite of many Christians.  It's easy to see why.  Everyone enjoys the idea that God's plans for His children are to prosper them and not harm them, to give hope and a future, bright with possibilities.

But let's take a reality check.  

The context of this verse is striking. It was, in fact, part of a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah and placed into the hands of the exiles being dragged off to Babylon.  The enslaved Israelites not only faced a long, difficult journey east across the desert, but once they arrived, they would be forced to labor for their conquerors, much as their ancestors in Egypt did.  

*Many of them would never see their homeland again. Yet God gave this invigorating and encouraging promise to inspire the captives.  They were not to lose heart.  

One day, the Lord would deliver them and bring the nation back to Jerusalem.  

*Despite the heartbreak of captivity, God's purpose was not to harm His people.  Yes, they would feel the sting of slavery and hardship, but it ultimately meant a prosperous future.

*In the past, have you assumed that today's verse was your guarantee God would keep at bay pain and disappointment, trials and tribulations? 

*God's purpose for us is to make us more like Christ; and this will mean hardship.  So what is the hope and future all about?  Christ in you, the hope of glory!

Holy Spirit, guide me into all truth when I read Your Word this week.

from More Precious than silver

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