“For I know that plans that 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.”   – Jeremiah 29:11 – 12

Recently a group of my friends and I reached out to console another friend who was going through a difficult situation.  We wanted to share scriptures of encouragement with her.  I found it interesting that several people shared the verse above, Jeremiah 29:11-12.  At first they didn’t want to repeat the same scripture, but then decided that if God put the same scripture on all of their hearts, then it must be a message God wanted our struggling friend to hear. 

Coincidentally, at the end of our year in bible study together in the spring, Jeremiah 29:11-12 was also the verse that several claimed as their ‘signature’ verse.  It was a verse that had meaning and offered hope.  I think it’s the first part of this verse that gets most people’s attention, where God promises to have a plan for us.  And it’s not just any plan, but one to give us hope and a future, not to harm us.   Are those words reassuring to you?  Then read on to the second part of the verse, and things get even better.  God says that when we need to claim the truth of His promise, that he has a plan of prosperity, hope and a future for us, that all we have to do is call upon Him, pray to Him, and He will listen to us. 

Well, friends, I can assure you these words are true.  In my previous years in Disciple Bible study, where I’ve been with a new group each year, I’ve seen God’s plans unveiled in various ways.  I saw Him lead a dear ‘sister’ to Christ just weeks into our study, which was her first.  As a victim of hurtful neighborhood gossip she felt God convicting her of her own ‘gossipy’ ways, and through that experience of conviction, she repented and offered her heart to Christ.  When she returned to class the next week, she truly was ‘new in Christ’.  I didn’t know what had transpired, but she literally glowed and even though she was excited, she had a peace and calm about her that I’d never seen in her before.  She shared what had happened since our last class and we all saw firsthand how she had been reborn.  Her heart started growing in new ways as her faith and commitment for Christ grew stronger.  She was having a positive impact on her family, too.  The transformation was incredible to watch.  Then, just months after all this began, she received unexpected bad news at a doctor’s appointment.  She’d gone in to follow up on nagging symptoms she’d been experiencing.  Her diagnosis was lupus and it hit her full-force once its identity was known.  She went through a very difficult time with her health.  She eventually had to drop out of our study, but with her newfound faith, she and her family handled things remarkably well.  I knew she’d be ok because I knew she was in God’s hands.  How did I know?  Because the disease didn’t just happen overnight.  She’d had it for a long time before God let it be known to her, and He didn’t let her know until she’d developed the faith needed to help her and her family handle the struggles and challenges they would face.  In God’s unfailing graciousness, He’d gone before her, making the Way for her, preparing her for what was to come.  He had ‘the plan’ for her that He promised in Jeremiah.

Another ‘sister’ from Bible study, also new to the Bible, shared two things at the start of our study: 1) that she hoped to have a testimony one day, and 2) ever since she was a child, she’d dreamed of going on a mission trip.  Our Bible study began, and just weeks into it, she and her husband fell on hard financial times.  Since it was early in the study, we didn’t yet know each other well, but everyone wanted to do what they could to help our new ‘sister’ who was in need.  She and her husband were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love shown by the group and quickly recognized the gifts and helps as being provisions of  God.  God started working through that situation to draw her and her husband closer to Him.  They were forced to lean on Him completely and trust Him.  As the study went on and her situation continued, her faith and love for Christ grew, and grew, and grew.  I could see that God had His eye on her.  I could tell by the way He was growing her so quickly.  And sure enough, He did.  Just nine months after her journey into the Bible began, she went all the way to Africa on a mission trip to share Christ AND her testimony of God’s grace with African pastors, villagers, men, women and children.  Yes, God had a plan for her.  He knew the plans He had for her, not to harm her – even though things were scary for a while – but to prosper her in His love and lead her through His provisions – enough so that she let Him lead her half-way around the world to glorify Him with her testimony and share His love with others. 

Then this year…we had a wonderful year in study together.  It appeared it would be the first year that no one in the group would have a ‘special need’.  However, as the study was about to end, one of the women shared privately that her marriage was in trouble and she was desperately trying to save it.  As we talked and I reflected on her spiritual growth through the study, ‘the plan’ became apparent to me.  Her marriage had been struggling for a long time.  Consequently, she had been struggling for a long time.  God had decided that enough was enough and it was time to put an end to her suffering.  But before He let her in on ‘the plan’ He led her to a Bible study that would bring her close to Him for the first time in her life. She needed to face her marrital problems, but God prepared her first by growing her in faith in Him and providing her with the biblical wisdom she needed to do what He was calling her to do.  She admittend that if she’d have faced this situation before becoming a woman of faith, she’d have been consumed with anger and displayed not-so godly responses.  Now she was responding with prayer – even praying for her husband – and trusting in God to help her figure things out. 

Then another ‘sister’ shared that she, too, was struggling in her marriage and that she might be forced to end her marriage.  This sister had experienced tremendous spiritual growth throughout our study.  Consequently, she, too, was now being led by God to face problems that had gone on for a long time, but He had prepared her spiritually and fortified her faith in the Lord so that she would be able to face her situation and have the strength to make the tough decisions that had to be made.  God had ‘the plan’ for her, too. 

And then there’s me.  I remember the day I tearfully broke down to tell God that I knew I had every reason in the world to be happy, but I wasn’t.  I was miserable.  And I was overwhelmed by the things that were making me miserable.  We were new in our community and, in addition to the problems in my life, I felt isolated and alone.  I wasn’t very prayerful in those days, but I knew only God could help me.  Immediately He responded by putting the thoughts in my mind that I needed to go to church and find a Bible study.  We were in church the very next Sunday and three weeks later I’d signed up for the Bible study that would change my life.  And like the friends whose stories I shared above, just weeks into the study amazing things began to happen.  When I let God take over my heart, He also took over my life.  He had ‘the plan’ for me, too!  And, my have we prospered, just as the verse promises.  Our prosperity isn’t about money, but about the blessings, love, joy and peace we found in Christ, and the future we have through our hope in Him.  It changed everything! 

What is ‘the plan’ for you?  Could you use more prosperity and less harm in your life?  Are you seeking hope and a better future?  Then do what everyone I spoke about did.  Call upon Him and pray to Him like He instructs us to do in the words of Jeremiah above.   Give your heart to God.  Truly claim Christ as your Lord AND SAVIOR, and put your whole trust in Him.  Let God grow your heart in faith and I promise that He will listen to you and amazing changes will happen in your life, too. 

I don’t know the specific outcomes that God has for any of us, including myself, but I do know that His way is better than my way, and whatever ‘the plan’, my hope is in Him. 

Oh, Lord, Humbly I come before you to thank You for all You’ve done for my family and me since we truly accepted You as our Lord and Savior.  I’m so blessed to witness so many examples of Your unfailing love through the lives of others, a love shown through Your provisions when we live according to Your plan.  Lord, I pray for each person who reading this who needs to know You as I do, that they will give You a chance and put their trust in You so that You can show them ‘the plan’ You have for them, too.  In Your precious and holy name I pray.  Amen. 

Would you like to share how God has worked in your life?  Or maybe you have questions about how to seek God?  If so, click on the word ‘comments’ below the title “Do You Know ‘The Plan?”.   If you’d like to read more about discovering Christ, go to www.Proverbs31.org and select ‘Do You Know Him?’. 

Blessings to all,   ~ Renee