Own Your Future and Stand on Your Hope

by Andy Wood on May 14, 2014

in Allocating Your Resources,Enlarging Your Capacity,Esteem,Five LV Laws,Life Currency,LV Cycle,Principle of Increase

Hope Community

Raise your hand if you want tomorrow to be better than today.

Raise your other hand if you would rather God give you prosperity than calamity.

Good.  I’ve got you where I want you.  Now give me all your money.

You and I were hard-wired for hope. Something in our DNA makes us want to believe that tomorrow can and will be better than today.  When times are easy, we tend to presume on that.  When times are tough, we go looking for it.

Maybe that’s why Jeremiah 29:11 has become such a popular verse in recent years. Go into any Christian book store or gift shop and you’ll see it on coffee mugs or on some idyllic painting or poster:

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.

Doesn’t that do something for you?  It certainly does for me.  It tells me something about the heart of my God for me as an individual, and for the people I care about.

Trouble is, we take it completely out of context.

That verse is actually part of a letter that Jeremiah wrote to people who had been uprooted from their homes and led off into captivity in Babylon.  And in response to false prophets who were cheerily telling everybody that they’d be going home soon, Jeremiah wrote to say, “Um, better not call the moving vans just yet.”

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. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

Hmmm.  That seems to be a different definition of “future and hope” than they had in mind.  (Side note:  Is it OK with you if God reserves the right to define that “future” and “hope” mean?)  Anyway, he goes on:

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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 on 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 29:10-13).

So, the good news:  God says, “I’m giving you a future and a hope!”

Bad news:  You’ll have to wait 70 years to see it.

News you can use:  You’re going to have to own your future and stand on your hope.

Here’s how that translates to us today:

Good news:  God says, “I have given you a future and a hope, based on the covenant I have written on your heart with the resurrection of my Son.”

Bad news:  If you can call it “bad,” some waiting is involved, because your ultimate hope is beyond this lifetime.  But your “future” in this lifetime awaits an appointed time, and you don’t know when that is.

News you can use:  You’re going to have to own your future and stand on your hope.

See, everybody wants a future and a hope, but in this culture, nobody seems to want to focus on it or accept responsibility for it.  Your today used to be your tomorrow when today was yesterday.  But the today you have is the result of what you did yesterday when today was tomorrow.

Want to make tomorrow better than today?  Own your tomorrow before tomorrow is today.  And you can find some surprising strategies for doing that in Jeremiah’s advice to the people of God in his day.  Let me caution you that this is counterintuitive to the kinds of things you may expect to hear from somebody about creating an awesome future.

Rebuild the Home and Family

Interesting. Jeremiah advises the captives to settle down, get married, build homes and family businesses, and increase.  What in the world does a thriving, growing, happy family have to do with prosperity and a future?

Everything.  And the fact that we would even have to ask speaks volumes.

One of the reasons the Israelites were in captivity in the first place was because of the neglect they had for their families.  We read that they “practiced idolatry,” but often don’t understand exactly what that means.  It means they devalued their children to the point that they sometimes sacrificed them. It means they routinely engaged in adultery and prostitution and even did so in the name of religion.

Restore that, God said, and you will restore your future prosperity and hope.  Why?  Because your future grows out of your love relationships.  It grows out of the stability you can bring to your daily life and relationships.  It grows out of your ability to take an undesirable situation and establish a base of productivity and prosperity and responsibility.

Regardless of the condition of your home and family today – in the most fatherless generation in the history of the planet – if you want to build a future and a hope, rebuild or strengthen your commitment to your home and family.  And while you’re at it, be a father to the fatherless.

Seek the Prosperity of the Community Where You Live

Jeremiah says, as the city goes, you go.  But wait a minute!  Weren’t these a bunch of idolatrous pagans?

Weren’t these the evil captors who took them from their homes and hauled them off to captivity?

And we’re supposed to do what?

Seek their welfare and prosperity.  I call this the “blessing of Joseph” because that’s exactly what Joseph did.  Even as a slave he worked for the prosperity of the people he answered to, until he reached a point of ultimate prosperity in Egypt.

To be honest, this is totally against my nature and my culture.  We in the West live in a very individualistic culture, where opportunity and reward are the stuff if personal effort, not community.  But the Bible was written in a culture where a rising tide lifts all the boats, and a drought parches everybody’s land.

So… want to own your future?  What are you doing to seek the prosperity of the place where you live? And by the way, I’m not talking about the people who are just like you, but the people who are totally different… racially, economically, religiously, generationally.

Search for God With an Undivided Heart

This, too, was counterintuitive. These people, even though they were the people of God, were anything but godly. The best they had to offer was part-time service or half-hearted obedience.

I think it’s safe to say most all of us can relate to that.

Now in spite of what we make it seem at church altar calls, this actually takes time.  Remember the days of Daniel?  You get the idea that the only people in all of Babylon who wouldn’t compromise were Daniel and his three friends.  God seemed to know that to find a generation of people who would seek Him whole-heartedly would take some years.  But when you get to a point where all that matters to you is your walk with God, then God starts showing up in your future again.

If you’re still reading this, I’m comfortable in saying that the issue isn’t, “are you seeking God?”  I believe you are.  The issue is, “How much of your heart does He have?”

If all you have to offer is the leftovers or some little compartment in your heart, good luck with your future.  But if you’re ready to abandon all other loves and submit every competing desire to your desire for Him, you are ready to lay claim to the future only He can give you.

 

The next time you see that verse pasted on somebody’s keychain or Bible cover, remember Jeremiah’s encouragement. You can own your future and you can stand on your hope… once you decide to anchor your life to family, community and God.

How deliciously old-fashioned.

How gloriously true.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Martha Orlando May 15, 2014 at 6:49 am

Yes! Deliciously old-fashioned is right! So comforting to know that God’s truths are true from generation to generation so that each can have hope and a future plan.
Blessings, Andy!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

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