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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do You Know God's Plans for You?

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

I have obsessed on this scripture for some time. I didn't know why but what was unclear is clearing up. Many people realize that God has a plan for their lives. They intrinsically know that they were born or created for a purpose. Yet, they don't know what that purpose is.

So, they wash the dishes, make the beds sweep the floors each day. They drive to work, perform their assigned duties and make the trip home. They try to get their children in as many activities as possible, hoping that their children will not miss what they believe they are missing.

Their lives are a series of circles rather than a line. They do what they do day after day, week after week, even year after year until they reach retirement. I believe that is why so many people only look forward to the day they can retire. They are so tired of the routine. They want a break. They want to move forward.

So, they bought and read Rick Warren's book, the Purpose Driven Life, years ago hoping that it would tell them why they were born. It didn't give them the specifics that they wanted. They don't know what to do now. They just hope they have enough money in retirement soon.

Doesn't it make sense that God would tell us what His plans for us are if He really has plans? Maybe He doesn't need to tell us in details but surely in purpose.

Then, I read the next couple of verses:

Jeremiah 29:12-13
"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Each and every one of us in unique. We have different eyes, fingerprints and, no matter how much we look like someone else, we have truly unique appearances. We are looking for a template which does not involve our uniqueness. We want something we can copy that someone else has done. Fortunately, God has a unique plan for each of us. He just doesn't have a template.

Therefore, we must call upon God and pray. These two things seem the same but they aren't. Calling upon God involves knowing Him by who He is. It is important that we know Him before we call upon Him. Otherwise, how would we know to whom we are speaking. (more in a later blog about that) Prayer is praising, confessing, committing, thanking and asking. We bring ourselves to God prepared to accept His plans for us.

But prayer is also something else that we must do but seldom prepare for. Prayer is listening. It is being silent and waiting for God to speak. It is a commitment to listen until you hear.

Now, the next verse really jumped out at me because I had previously only viewed it in the historical context of the day but I realized something as I read it.

Jeremiah 29:14
"I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity."

Isn't captivity what people are experiencing when they are trapped in a life of circles rather than a line? They need to break out. In fact, all of us need to break out.

Israel has spent time in spiritual darkness often. Eventually, their darkness overcame them and they returned to the Lord. Then, they made the trip back toward spiritual intimacy with God. A generation later, they were back in spiritual darkness. They seemed to get in a cycle that went nowhere except when someone would finally listen to God, receive His plans and walk in those plans.

So, if you really want to know God's plans, you call upon Him, pray and listen. Of course, you also need to be committed to whatever His plans are for you. Why should He tell you what His plans are if you aren't going to walk in them anyway?


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog.... we read them

Y Watts said...

Love this, needed this. Thank you, your words reaffirm what my heartbeat whispers to me when I'm going around in those circles you mentioned.

high-expressions said...

The context of Jer 29:11 is this: This was a time period where the Jews from the Southern Kingdom (Judah) had been exiled to Babylon by the Babylonian King, King Nebu. Zedekiah, King Jehoiachin’s uncle, was left behind at Jerusalem and installed as the King of Judah by the Babylonians. It was in this time that the prophet Jeremiah was used of the LORD to send a letter to the exiles in Babylon.

Being a prophet of the LORD, Jeremiah wrote according to what the LORD had given him to write, and this is what He wrote:
The LORD said that all those He allowed to be carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon (The LORD used the King Nebu to do that), they were to build houses and settle down there; plant gardens and eat what they would produce; in other words, the LORD was saying that the exiles were to settle down there in the exile-place for some time. The words were, even to get married and have children, and to find spouses for their children, so that they too might have children. God charged them to increase in numbers there, and NOT to decrease. They were told to see to the peace and prosperity of the city they were exiled in; and they were told to pray to the LORD for it, because if the city prospered they would also prosper. Jeremiah added that the exiles were NOT to listen to prophets (false prophets) who painted picture inconsistent to what the LORD had revealed through him, Jeremiah; these prophets were out to deceive the people, according to Jeremiah.

Explaining further, Jeremiah said that the LORD said that when 70 years were completed for Babylon, God would come for them to bring them back to Jerusalem or Judah; the LORD promised it and He would do it.


Jeremiah said the LORD declared that He (God) knew the plans He had for them, the exiles, plans to prosper them and NOT to harm them, plans to give them hope and a future (Jer 29:11). The KJV has it, for the last portion, as the LORD had plans to give them an expected end.

Jeremiah said that 70 years were needed to past first, and then the LORD would listen to the prayers of the exiles when they called upon God and prayed to Him. The exiles would seek God and find Him when they sought God with all their heart. God declared that He would be found by them, and God would bring them back from captivity. God would gather the Israelites back to the land of Israel.

So strictly speaking the “you” there in Jer 29:11, was referring to a collective, the exiles. Is it important to recognize there is such a thing as God is looking at matter collectively or corporately, and there is also such a thing as God is looking at matter as applying to a particular person, or personally? Can it be applied, this Jer 29:11, to any individual, as is commonly applied by many?

My understanding from the reading of the whole of Scripture is that God keeps in mind the corporate dimension/picture, and orchestrates alignment of individuals to such corporate dimensions as He has formulated. What we commonly see and use among wiser people, that of formulating the big picture and keeping it in mind, and then aligning other smaller pictures or individual pictures into the overall picture, is something we are doing because we are created in the image of God. And so, what I am saying is that we can see from Scripture, what God intends for mankind as a whole; what God intends for the Israelites as a special people-group; and what God would like to see, as an alignment of individuals to the overall pictures and goals of God.

cont...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

Just as in our formulations, we don’t and we don’t need to fix every single minute detail, but we may fix or keep constant certain objectives and events and desired outcomes, and then we work real-time to orchestrate the alignments of individuals, efforts and resources towards the achievements of the big pictures we have formulated; God, I believe, likewise (but NOT that God imitates us, but rather we take on, from God), already formulated the overalls that He would like to see, and fixed certain things of the future, but not all things, and then orchestrates and tweaks real-time, the going-on of men in the world.

Those who align in, they become part of the beautiful pictures God intended; those who do NOT, they fall outside of the intended or expected end envisaged by God. The KJV of Jer 29:11 ended with, “to give you an expected end”. What was the expected end? It was that the exiles would be gathered back to the land of Israel. But all made it back? All received the expected end? The answer is clearly NO. If you read Jer 29:24-32, the last portion of the chapter, one chap did NOT make it, and he was Shemaiah, a false prophet; God decreed neither he nor his descendants would make it. Jer 29:11 did NOT hold true? No, it was that some people (NOT just because they simply died), they did NOT fall in.

70 years was a long time, but God decreed it, and so, it was possible that some of the exiles actually died (simply died) before the 70 years was up; but still it was NOT that the Jer 29:11 promise was NOT valid, but it was that it was NOT particularly applied to each individual, but rather, it was meant to be collective or corporate. Then, as I have shown above, some did NOT fall in, and so, they too, did NOT make it to the expected end.

Although here is NOT the place to go deep into the discussion of whether or NOT, all Israelites will be saved eventually; it is my current belief that there is no basis of saying it being so – that all Israelites would be saved eventually. Corporately or collectively, yes, Israel or Israelites as a people group will definitely be found in Heaven at the closure of time (end of End Times!), but it is NOT literally every Israelites will be there. To me, generally, a falling-in is still mandated. I am NOT saying there is no exception to the “us falling-in”, for there is such a thing as God can be found be those NOT seeking Him, but generally, it is still God allows Himself to be found by those seeking Him, and seeking Him diligently or wholeheartedly. The most meaningful and practical guide for believers is that they are to fall-in, or what I call, align-in.

Cont...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

I am going to give familiar story told by many, and it is expressed in terms of, for an individual, rather than to point to collective or corporate; it nevertheless, illustrates a falling-in, in a joking-kind of way: Once upon a time, a church pastor was found at the rooftop of his church, for the area where his church was, was flooded. The pastor prayed to God, asking the Lord to come to save him from the rising flood waters, for he could NOT swim. The pastor said to himself, that he was to be unlike others, he must trust the Lord would come to save him, since he was his servant, his under-shepherd for the people in the area. He prayed and prayed as the water rose, and then after some time, a raft came along, and the people on the raft shouted out to the pastor, “Pastor, we still have room for one more, and we are glad to have you come on board”. The pastor shouted back, “Oh, it is alright, you people go ahead, I am sure the Lord will save me. Don’t worry about me; I will be alright”. And with that, the raft left. The pastor continued to pray, as the water rose even further. A boat soon came along, and there was again room for one more, but again the pastor refused the offer, and the boat left. The pastor now had to cling onto the huge cross at the rooftop, as the water had almost covered the entire rooftop. The pastor cried out, “Lord, where are you; are you NOT trying to save me?” Soon after that, the pastor heard some noise from the distant sky, and he looked up, and lo and behold, he saw a helicopter. When the helicopter was above the pastor and a rope with a buoy was about to be lowered, the pastor yelled at the helicopter, “My Lord will save me”, and he waived for the helicopter to go. The pilot got the message and flew away. The moment the helicopter was out of sight, the pastor slipped and fell into the water and was drown.

Coming before the Lord afterwards, the pastor was upset and he asked the Lord, “Why didn’t you try to save me?” The Lord answered him, saying, “I did.” The pastor retorted, “No, you didn’t, and that is why I am here!” The Lord explained, “I sent the raft, you refused to get on; I sent the boat, and you also refused to get into it, and finally, I sent the helicopter, and you also refused to fall in. Is it still my fault?”

Often times, it is our refusal to fall in or align in, that we missed the boat, so to speak. The pastor did NOT “see”, and that usually is the problem, we do NOT “see”. The overall picture was that the Lord planned and did go into action to save people in the flood-example above, but as an individual, we have to “see”, and fall in, in order that we are in the collective or corporate picture of God.

Next, I should say a little on the question of whether or NOT a corporate promise can be applied on an individual basis. Yes, it can, but it is NOT everyone, but everyone who align himself/herself to it. In the flood example, did or did NOT the Lord wanted to save (a very good expected end, indeed)? Yes. Could the pastor align to it? Yes, many people did – those people on the raft, in the boat, and on the helicopter; they all did. It was the pastor who did NOT “see”, and did NOT align to it.

Now, can we apply Jer 29:11 to ourselves, or can we claim it for ourselves, to use the common terminology used by believers? The short answer is yes, but it still necessitates we each aligns ourselves to it, for it was a promise of a corporate kind; but how do we arrive at it can be applied to us, today? It goes something like this:

Cont...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

This was a set of promise given by God to his children at one point in time. The children then were the Israelites, the exiled ones in Babylon. We ask ourselves if we qualify as children of God; and yes, we are children of God – those who have entered into salvation are children of God, unless proven otherwise. The exiled ones are those being removed from their homeland; are we also exiled ones? Now, if you look back to the time of Adam and Eve, then, they were in the “homeland”, and afterwards they were “exiled”, for God put them out of the homeland (Garden of Eden). We are the descendants of Adam and Eve, and so we can identify with that. Think about it, those of the Israelites born in Babylon, they never stepped on the soil of Israel, just like we never stepped into the Garden of Eden. By the way, if you read the OT, and even the Book of Jeremiah itself, you will know that it was God who exiled or put the Israelites of Judah out of the land of Israel. Well, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and they were “exiled” from the Garden, and the Israelites were disobedient, and were exiled to Babylon. A similar setting, indeed; and God has NOT changed; God was the same in the Garden of Eden, and He was the same at the time of Jeremiah, and He is the same, today. He was and is the same holy God. If you study the text of the letter of Jeremiah in Jer 29, there is striking similarity to the time of “exile” of Adam and Eve from the Garden. Apart from the similarities already highlighted, these are additional ones: it would NOT be a short while; settle down, build houses, grow your family, increase in numbers (and NOT decrease), grow the gardens, and eat from what they produce; and finally, a time will come when God would gather us back to home.

Yes, it was a picture of corporate restoration. As individuals, we are each to align to it, whether you are looking at the Jeremiah’s prophecy of restoration or God’s Gospel of restoration of mankind. You and I are to apply it and align to it. Corporately, it came to pass – the Jeremiah prophecy or promise thereof; the exiled Israelites did return to the land of Israel, and it happened by the decree by King Cyprus. We can expect the Gospel too, to come to pass – that is our hope of salvation. The exiled Israelites were in Babylon, but they were NOT of Babylon, and they did return home. It is the same for us all, believers; we are in the world but we are NOT of the world, and we will ………………………………………………….. return home (Heaven, we go).

How can we apply Jer 29:11 into our setting; what can we learn from the Jeremiah’s letter, for, for the specific exiled Israelites, their case had come to pass. From it, we should be able to learn what we are to do, for we do NOT have an inconsistent God, but a consistent God that changed NOT.

First, we must read Jer 29:11 as primarily a promise of a corporate dimension. Too often, people started with looking at the verse as God has mapped out a personalized plan for each one of us. Actually, that was NOT what the verse was aiming at.

Cont...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

I know Jeremiah was called from his mother’s womb to be a prophet, but it is NOT really that EVERYTHING we are to do is already predestined even from before we are born. We do NOT doubt the Word of God, and so, we do NOT doubt Jeremiah was called from within his mother’s womb, but it does NOT necessarily mean that, for each one of us, we cannot do any other things except the things as mapped out by God, purportedly. For most of us, I believe, much of the detailed plans for us is fluid, and NOT cast in stone, so to speak. Come on, we are in the world; a baby when he is born, he is born into the world, and the world is fluid. Just think about it, God cannot be dealing with a fluid world, by having all our detailed plans of life cast in stone.

Some people’s steps of life might have been largely fixed by God, but generally this is NOT the case for everybody or the majority of us. If it were so, that God had predestined or fixed ALL things, then clearly the lousiness of the state of affairs at any point in time, is God’s own doing, since He fixed everything! The understanding I have, is that it is NOT like that, for we are with volition. So, for a start, stop sitting there and be “The Thinker” and think yourself into a statue of what this “the one and only plan” that was in place and continue to be in place, unchanged, for you; as if you could go back in time, and catch up on the lost time when you were NOT walking in them!

The correct frame of mind for you and I, is to align into or fall into God’s corporate dimensions, and then we allow God to use us as He sees fit according to His analysis of the fluid state of affairs of the world at each moment of time. Too many people are wanting (even unknown to themselves) to go to the yesterday’s plan; but the yesterday’s plan is no longer useful; why would God want to deploy you there! Very simply, if God had wanted you to be doing such and such there, yesterday, but you did NOT fall in, it has passed. So what do you expect God to do, then? Freeze time, and wait for you? No, chronological time is part of God’s creation, and so, He would NOT do that, as a matter of norm (Scripture only recorded God froze time for a day, once; but that it happened, it does NOT mean it is to happen as a matter of norm – and this can be a common mistake that people make). So what do you think God did? Since you were NOT available, He deployed someone else, or He let it go, already (like if you were to go over and could have prevented someone from jumping off the building, but you did NOT, and so, that person was saved by another, or he/she had already jumped and are no more – died, hello!)

There is no yesterday’s plan to go to, today, as far as God is concerned – God tweaks real-time. Yesterday was over, today is still here; you can be used by God today for what is going to happen shortly, so go with the flow. Straightaway, many people may just retort, “But I don’t know what is that, that which God wants me to do, today”.

Cont...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

God is in the light; in other words, God is NOT everywhere. Yes, God is NOT everywhere; otherwise He is found by you and I, everywhere. When I say God is NOT everywhere, I am pointing to Scripture talking about God, be found by you (Jer 29:14, for example, said that). God is light, and so, metaphorically, if we have a beam of light before us, we need to align into the light or fall in, if God is to be found by you or God would let Himself be found by you. If you still don’t get it, if you do evil and continue to do evil, God would NOT be found by you in the evil. I know people will start retorting, “But the Apostle Paul, as Saul, was doing evil, and doing evil, and God let Himself be found by Paul, on the road to Damascus”. Yes, but you just cannot take exceptional cases, and turn them into norm and create a doctrine and theology out of it. People just do NOT understand and turn God’s exercise of pure grace and sovereignty into “that is the way God wants”. Please, we don’t go round telling people to go persecute Christians, purportedly, in that way, you can be another Paul, a great servant of God!

Honestly, if you are open to the Holy Spirit, it is NOT difficult to see the beam of light. Many people are NEVER entering it; why? Because they know it was there! It is because they know it was there, that they had avoided it! Some people go in and out of it, when they are supposed to stay in it. If you truly want to be part of the plan of God, you go in there and stay in there.

It is NOT too difficult to appreciate this wisdom, I will give us an analogy: While many people go and get schooled in some discipline before they enter the workforce, to get gainfully employed, many people also just entered into the workforce, regardless. Then, there are those who idle outside of the workforce. If one keeps staying out of the workforce, he is NOT going to get anywhere; he can sit there for another decade, and he will still be doing nothing and doesn’t know what thing he should be working on. On the other hand, those who got into the workforce and stay in it, and “move around” in it, they can get to settle into the work that they could find themselves “supposed” to do. Some may start as a salesman, but may eventually be running a trading business, and even further, turning his business into a manufacturing conglomerate. I have come across even people who entered the workforce as a doctor, but eventually turned to become a businessman. Of course, some can be remaining as salesmen. It is still an analogy, but I think you get the point, unless you get into the works of God or the beam of light, as in the metaphor I gave above, you will be like the one staying out of the workforce, not knowing what to work on, even decades on.

What is the beam of light or works of God, it is NOT difficult to know. Go to any good church, and the leaders can enlighten you where needs are, that believers can be deployed in the name of God to serve both as a light and salt to the world, as well as, to be positioned for opportunity to directly share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The point is to go serve with the purest of heart, in some way, for God. When God sees you serving with the right heart condition, He will begin to note you for progress.

Cont...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

What is God’s plan for you and I? It is all can serve and all should serve. Where and what you start with is NOT that important, it is rightness of your heart that is important; and it is the aiming to finish well that is more important than getting to start well. When you fall in or align in to the corporate dimensions or plans of God, you are in the plan of God, of giving believers, a hope and a future. Has NOT Scripture said that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (trust me, that definitely involves serving or works), all our needs will be added unto us (Matt 6:33). And let me say it again and again, you and I are NOT saved for just basking in grace, that is NOT the plan of God for you and I. Eph 2:10 said that {collectively} we are God’s workmanship unto good works. Today, stop resting on our butts claiming we do NOT know what the plans of God are, for our lives.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

PS: I am NOT saying I am against seeking God, calling upon Him, and praying to Him, you need to do all of that, yet I am saying, get moving already, lo. Rome is NOT built over-night; and you don’t become the CEO or the expert, overnight; start somewhere.

PS2: Despite it appearing like people have no need to seek God, call upon God and to pray to Him, until 70 years time was up for the Jeremiah’s text (because of the use of the word, “Then” in verse 12), it is NOT like that, verse 7 clearly stated that the people were to pray to God during 70 years period. It was that the people needed to fall in or align to what God had wanted corporately for the 70 years – the people were to seek the peace and prosperity of the city they were exiled to; the people were told to seek God and pray to God concerning that. See, there is no “resting on our butts” or just basking in grace in the meanwhile – chuck those erroneous teachings!