Hope and a Future- Thoughts From Our Daily Reading Plan
We have been reading through the Bible together this year using an app called youversion (also available at Bible.com) It’s a great tool that gives easy access to the reading plan, allows you to switch between translations, take notes, highlight, and track your progress; it also has a feature that allows us to see each other’s readings, for mutual encouragement. It brings me a greater sense of the presence and support of my church family throughout the week to know we’re thinking about the same Scripture passages and learning together from God’s Word even
when we’re not together in the church sanctuary.
And this week our reading took us to Jeremiah 29. One of the most “popular” verses in the Bible is found there, verse 11, which reads
“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.’”
It’s a great verse, full of comfort and hope. And it’s a promise Christians can claim along with the Israelites to whom it was originally given, as God has extended his favor and grace to us as well. But here’s a little plot twist: many of us have no clue about the context of the verse, or what God is really promising when we claim the promise of the verse in our lives.
First, a little context. The Israelites were in exile in Babylon as a result of their disobedience to God, and a false prophet, Hananiah, is spreading the lie that God is going to free them in just two years. In chapter 29 Jeremiah, the true prophet of God, is calling him out on the false promise and giving the Israelites God’s true Word on the matter. He does indeed give them that verse 11 promise, of prosperity, hope and a future; but there’s more to the story. In verse 7, they are given the command to first seek peace and prosperity for the very nation that is holding them captive. And in verse 10, He tells them that the promise would be fulfilled only after 70 years of captivity, meaning that virtually none of the Israelites hearing this great promise would still be around to see it happen! God’s Word is always true. He always keeps His promises. But sometimes we fail to see the whole picture. This great verse is promising something so much richer and deeper than prosperous days and easy to follow plans for our lives; it is a promise from the God of all Heaven to walk with us through all our circumstances and help us thrive in the middle of whatever life throws at us, when we choose to follow Him in obedience. We might not
always see the final results of the steps we take in faith; we might not even see where our next step is going to fall. But we can hold to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, just as the Israelites could, that His hand is guiding every step we take toward Him, and confident hope in the future He has for us can be our anchor not only in prosperity and peace but in surrender and even suffering.
And just to circle back to that daily reading plan. Reading through the entire Bible gives us more context, more depth, and more understanding of God’s Word and will and way than knowing a handful of “popular” verses ever could. With tools like reading plans and apps and websites to walk us through what to read each day and a vast array of study tools from those same resources, we can enrich our understanding of what God has to say to us more than ever. It’s not too late to join us this year- simply load the youversion app and search for “Walk Through the Bible 365” in the plans, find some people you know reading the same plan, and jump in! Each month is its own
unit but they follow a year-long plan. In January we’ll start fresh- but today is a good day to start digging in to God’s promises and story for our lives. I hope you’ll join us!
(These notes on Jeremiah 29:11 were originally shared at our Saturday morning prayer time, when we meet to hear a brief word from the Scripture and spend the remainder of the time in private prayer for our church and other concerns. We’d love for you to join us Saturdays from 9-10 in the sanctuary at Lakes!)