"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."
Planning. It's one of my favorite things to do. The saying "failing to plan is planning to fail" has become a staple in my one line quips I spout off whenever I feel the need to sound witty. But it sure does make sense in a lot of situations, right?! Take the grocery store for example. When you go to Harps with out a plan of attack, (grocery list) what do you come out with? Pop-tarts? Double Stuffed Oreoes? A huge box of multi-colored Goldfish? No? That last one is just me? Hmmmm. Well you get the point. It usually doesn't end well nutritiously OR financially.
What about school? What if our teachers and professors never planned? What if they walked in to class every single day and said, "I don't really have any plans for the day. I don't really have any plans for the semester. What do y'all want to do?" It would be chaos, right?! You would have certain students who would just get up and leave. Some students would do some fist pumps, take a picture with the professor, and proclaim to social media what an awesome professor they have. Then you have students like me who would sit quietly to the side and act like nothing was wrong, but on the inside they were having a panic attack and praying for structure and stability. The last example of students might also be thinking something along the line of ... "I paid HOW MUCH for a class where the teacher has no plans to teach us anything?!?!" At which time the inside panic attack would turn to rage.
You get the picture. Plans are usually a good thing.
Now before I go any farther, I don't want to lose those of you thinking, but all that planning leaves no room for spontaneity and the Holy Spirit. I hear you and I understand your concern. I have thought that a time or two myself. But what I'm learning is that it is well and good to have a plan as long as you are OK with God saying, "Ok, time for a change in course. Time for a new plan."
In Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord tells us that He has plans for us. Really great plans for us! But let's not take the verse out of context. Looking at the whole chapter and not just one verse will tell us that the Lord is telling the Israelites what exactly He means when He says He has plans to give them hope and a future. He is bringing them out of captivity! Verse 14 promises God will be found by the Israelites and he will bring them back from captivity! Praise God!
Now let's look in the New Testament and see where Jesus confirms this promise of God giving hope and a future. John 10:10b says "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Amen, Jesus! He gives us life and wants us to live it to the full! So that verse means we get to own every single color shirt Piko makes, right?!? Ehhh.... not so much. And I'm glad! Because when Jesus said He was going to give us life to the FULL He means SO MUCH MORE than having a lot of material things or earthly status. He means that in Him we are free!
The beginning of verse 10 provides a much scarier truth. It states, "The thief (Satan) comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy." What exactly is Satan wanting to steal, kill, and destroy? The plans that God has for us. Wait, what?! But Jesus said.. and God said... but then Satan said... I'm confused. So let's try to work through this.
The Lord Jesus wants us to live life to the fullest which means living in the freedom of the grace and mercy He has poured out on us through His death and resurrection on the cross. Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour there is nothing Satan can do to remove us from the secure love of the Lord (Romans 8:38-39). So take heart in that, Believer! As long as you have Jesus you have the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Unfortunately, Satan's won't change his job description once we become a believer.
Though Satan can not steal, kill, and destroy our salvation. You better believe he intends to steal, kill, and destroy our joy... our love... our sense of peace provided by the Holy Spirit... our desire to tell others about Jesus. How does he do this? By fueling our pride... our lust... whispering lies to us that contradict the Word of God... by encouraging us to create gray areas in our lives... by telling us we can interpret Scripture however fits our lifestyle best.
Philippians 4:8-9 commands us to think about good, noble, right, true, and pure things so that we may put in to practice what we have learned about living in freedom and out of captivity. Satan hates that. He knows that if he can just get us to listen to song whose lyrics contradict what the Bible says we wont be thinking about the things in verses 8-9 and we won't be living in freedom. Think about it. You hear a song and it gets stuck in your head. You know it's not good. You know it talks about sex in way that is not God-honoring. You know that it promotes pride and lust and sin. But it has a good beat? FORGET ABOUT THE BEAT, PEOPLE! If you are justifying sin, you are exactly where Satan wants you.
I'm learning (slowly but surely) how to take every thought captive. I'm praying that the Lord will teach me to recognize when my something gets in my mind that is not from Him so that I may quickly pray it out of there. How can I be used by the Lord if all day I am thinking about things that don't honor Him? It can't happen.
The Lord has plans for you to be out of captivity and to be totally free. Oh! How the Lord has plans for you and for me. Let's get on board with His plans, eh? Let's pray that He teaches us how to fight Satan's attempts to steal, kill, and destroy. Let's kneel humbly before the throne, shed a few tears, and invite Him to consume our minds today.
Praying for y'all,