“‘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. 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. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’” Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)
In these uncertain times, many are asking what’s next? What does the Bible say about the future? When I read Jeremiah’s words, I find hope and confidence despite my present circumstances. Although his was the minority voice, he spoke the truth in love. There were many false prophets in his day making promises God never gave them. How do you know whose voice to trust? To understand the times and know what we should do, I find 4 truths from Jeremiah that will lift us from worry to faith in a new normal.
First, trust God’s Word over man’s opinion. In Jeremiah 29:8-9 (NIV), the prophet told the people in exile, “Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says, ‘do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in My name. I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD.”
Whose voice are you listening to? In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, the bible says, “For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.” History bears witness that Jeremiah spoke God’s Word to the people. Do the voices you listen to align with God’s Word? Jesus warned us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Second, don’t let fears about the future keep you from living in the present. In Jeremiah 29:4-6, the prophet wrote: “This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.’”
Even in captivity, God was giving His people hope! Here’s the point: If you’re not dead, God’s not done! We don’t have to let our fears about the future keep us from living in the present! In Matthew 6:34 (LB), Jesus said, “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” When you don’t know what to do about tomorrow, pray, “just for today, Lord…” prayers.
Third, stop struggling to control the future and surrender to Christ’s care and control. God’s promises to Israel during their new normal gives us assurance that He cares about our future and He, alone, controls the big picture no matter where I am! We surrender to Christ’s care and control when we give Him our lives, our fears and seek Him with all our hearts. Sometimes it takes a crisis in our lives before we let go. For Israel, it took captivity. In verses 12 and 13 of Jeremiah 29 (NIV), God told His people, “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.” The good news is that we don’t have to wait for a crisis to seek God. Have you surrendered everything, all that you are and all that you have to Christ’s care and control?
Finally, shift from being reactive to being proactive. This is when you turn the corner and make the most of the opportunities a new normal presents. Fear makes us reactive. Faith causes us to be proactive. Eventually, this crisis will pass. How will your faith have grown? What will your relationships with those closest to you look like then? What’s next may have more to do with your decisions today, than your fears about tomorrow. Decide now to be proactive. Look for ways to turn what seems to be your greatest obstacle into your greatest opportunity. Choose to give in faith rather than hoard in fear. Find ways to serve others. In Hebrews 10:24-25, the Bible tells us, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.”
I hope you’ll join us for our live midweek worship tonight at 7pm at live.wc.org. Invite your friends to as well. It will help you shift from being reactive to being proactive.