Jeremiah 29:11: A contextual analysis

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It says in Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version), “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.” This is my life verse. My second, actually, after 1 Timothy 4:12, which tackles the youth battling out low expectations from adults and taking the step up to responsibility and challenges. But what is Jeremiah 29:11, the second most used life verse1, really all about?

Jeremiah 29:11 as my life verse

Before we dive into the specifics and technicalities, let me share to you why this verse became close to my heart: you see, there came a time in my life where I learned to doubt God. And these doubts turned to despair, and eventually despair turned into disbelief. I was questioning God and His existence. I had lost hope because of challenges and events that have been occurring in my life in and out of college. But through a simple scroll down Facebook, I saw this bible verse shared by an old high school classmate. That really didn’t hit me in the guts until I started thinking about it more and more. I was in the state of going to agnosticism. I felt abandoned and alone, going into that short state of depression despite continuously smiling and trying to make people laugh (to prove to myself that I don’t deserve to feel melancholy for the rest of my life. But this verse helped me to hang on and to continue to hope; to never fret or overthink about the future – my future – that I can never predict. And up to this write-up, this is still my life verse.

Jeremiah 29:11 in context

Now, what does this verse really mean? Well, the book of Jeremiah, based on my understanding is that Jeremiah had predicted the “Fall of Jerusalem” because of the havoc and chaos that the people have been doing. They have submitted themselves to evil and have forgotten all about God. So what does that have to do with 29:11? Well, let’s go a chapter back. In Jeremiah 28 comes Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet…or so we thought. He was boldly proclaiming that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years (Jeremiah 28:11), but God revealed to Jeremiah that it was a big fat lie. So what happened to Hananiah? Seven months had passed and he died (Jeremiah 28:17). Bummer.

 

So what now? Well, in Jeremiah 29:5-7, God instructed people to build houses, settle down, marry and have sons and daughters and increase in number and He also said to obey the authority of Babylon, which during that time was being ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar II, who was also considered as a brutal, powerful, and ambitious king. But Nebuchadnezzar also served as “God’s instrument of judgment on Judah or its idolatry, unfaithfulness, and disobedience (Jeremiah 25:9)”2. You could possibly think that this couldn’t get any worse, but if you look at Jeremiah 29:10, God is telling them that their people would be able to go back home after seven decades. This means that the current generation of that time won’t make it back home alive, or there’s that super small chance of getting back alive, but you’re now as fragile as a wine glass.

So wait, how does that make any of us feel better? Well, God was basically saying to trust Him. He knows the situation sucks right now but He has our best interest in mind, and that’s what the next verse is talking about: Jeremiah 29:11. God used that verse to let them understand that all hope is not lost. According to Mary DeMuth3, she said that we must “remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy” meaning that the hope that God is talking about here is that in “the midst of your suffering, cling to Jeremiah 29:11, but cling to it for the right reason: not in the false hope that God will take away your suffering, but in the true, gospel confidence that he will give you hope in the midst of it.4

Final words

Throughout the trials and tribulations of life, we must always remember that God is always with us, whether we experience delights or trials. The trials and tribulations that He let us face are not to let us suffer but for us to realize how we have been astray and how we’re getting lost. God wants us to realize the importance of His “rules” in preventing anarchic events in our personal lives. Accepting Christ does not mean that we get to live a pleasant sin-free, worry-free life. The Christian life is not difficult, it is indeed humanly impossible. But what changes? Our response, our character, and our heart. We become warriors and soldiers, tougher and stronger than ever. But God is with us throughout and God won’t let us go astray. Why? It’s all because of His love for us. And to experience God’s unconditional love is one of the most amazing experiences, for me. So, let’s continue to hope and to hang on. God isn’t finished with us just yet.

 


Author’s Note: This was actually our assignment for our small group and I wanted you guys to understand my insights from my research and opinion. Hope you like it!

SOURCES:

1http://www.coylindsey.com/2013/03/20/whats-the-meaning-of-your-life-verse-jeremiah-2911/

2https://www.gotquestions.org/Nebuchadnezzar.html

3http://www.marydemuth.com/jeremiah-29-11/

4http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/stop-taking-jeremiah-29-11-out-of-context.html

Doing What I Love Most Again

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It’s been a while since I last updated my blog. I really have this habit of not being consistent with many things, but in the very end, I go back to them once again. I had abandoned nearly three personal blogs because I wanted to revamp my site and not let people see how inconsistent I am with my posts. But from what I’ve learned, I shouldn’t be ashamed of my mistakes and shortcomings. Hey, these things are what help me grow more and more, not only as a writer but as a person.

 

Twenty one months of silence will end. Sure, I may not blog that often but just like everyone, I’ve got to start somewhere, right? But I think that one big reason why I lose motivation could be because of lack of priority and discipline, or because I really find writing entries to be time consuming. But nevertheless, writing helps me say what I want to say and helps me ease out the “dramas” of life. It has, is, and will be my passion. I love writing, and so do many people. We just need to find out the right words to say and how to express ourselves. I am still a writer in progress but by God’s grace, I will be able to excel and might even regularly fill up this blog with numerous entries. And since I also don’t believe that you should have long blog posts as a requirement for people to read your work, I’ll just end it here.

 

Happy reading…again!

THE START OF A MORE INTIMATE, CHRIST-CENTERED FAMILY

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About a week ago, an idea suddenly popped from my head: to start a family devotion. A few years ago, I saw a picture of a friend of mine doing devotions with their family and I thought that idea was a great one. But for some reason, I never really took the initiative to ask my parents if they were willing to have a family devotion once a week. But suddenly, just last week after I met up with my parents somewhere along Commonwealth Avenue, the idea came back to me, as if God was telling me to go for it and ask my folks about it. Without hesitating, I asked my mom if she’s interested, and agreed to have one, as well as my dad.

We decided to have our weekly devotion every Sunday night because it’s the only time within the week where we’re not too busy thinking about work or school, and at the same time, it is also a great time for us to bond and catch up as a family. We decided to start today, 6 September 2015. And because I thought of starting one, they asked me if I can start the devotion. I agreed to do it; my only problem was what should I share to them?

First, I found a message from our home church, Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF), which was preached two years ago. I wanted to show to them why discipleship begins at home but as I dived into the message, I realized that it was not a great first devotion to start with because it only tackles the role and responsibility of a father, not the entire family. So I decided to keep it for future reference and to use it maybe when God wants me to use it as a devotion.

After a day or two, I found a copy of a booklet we bought years ago from CCF, entitled: “Christ-Centered Family Devotions.”(You can download it online by clicking HERE) So I took the booklet and reviewed its contents. I decided to use the material as the series for our weekly devotions. So as I prayed and reviewed for our devotions, I created a slideshow to make it look pleasing and interesting. I ran through my devotions and so as I finalized everything, after dinner, I went down with my laptop and with the booklet.

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My message was about God’s fear – how it is not for us to be frightened nor for us to feel threatened, but God’s fear can be considered as reverence, wherein love and respect would match its definition. Then as I started with a prayer and run through the questions, they gave insights on what do we mean by fear, and is it good or bad to name a few.

Then things got awkward for me when they started asking questions about my relationship with them in the past, if I feared them in a way I fear God or did I fear them the way I fear people who might want to take my life away. I was a bit shocked and did not know how to transition back to the topic so as I explained what my perceptions were when I was young, the more questions became personal. I was telling myself that “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea,” and “Why did I pick this booklet? I could’ve picked any other devotions from the internet,” but then I realized that as I share more about what my insights were with them, it looked like an open forum, wherein unanswered questions dare to be answered. And for me, that experience made me more open with my parents.

You see, having an intimate relationship with someone means that you trust him or her your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and explanations wherein he or she knows that everything is personal and that he or she will treasure your answers. I know that many parents want to help and know their child more often, especially if they’re at their teen years wherein everything might be confusing and scary (I’m not just talking about puberty, kids) and that’s why they ask you questions like “How was your day?” and “How are you?” It’s because they want to be intimate with you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I like it when people share personal things with me because I know that they trust me and they want to hear my opinion about certain topics or issues. Same with our parents, they want you to trust them that whatever you say (or in some cases, we can use the word “reveal”) to them, they will try to help you in understanding you better, and maybe even finding a solution to your problem if they can.

After the devotion, I felt happy and thanked God for this idea that He gave me. I know that He let me find the booklet, not for me to “lecture” my parents, but for us to be open with one another. Next week, my father’s going to lead the devotion, while my mom will lead after a fortnight. I am very blessed to have a wonderful family wherein we can trust each other and be open and intimate with each other.

Yes, discipleship does begin at home and it makes the family closer and stronger than ever. Please continue to pray for our devotions; pray that we may have consistency and accuracy when it comes to sharing God’s Word through the booklet!

I can’t wait for next week’s devotion!