“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen” (Jeremiah 29:11-12 NLT).
The glorious reds and golds of October have long since given way to the tattered garment of November, and December flew by on the sound of sleigh bells, snow storms and shutdowns. Outside my window, January looks cold, damp and grey with a long winter stretching out ahead, and I pray, “Help us Lord, and please keep the power on. A little snow would be ok, but please, God, no ice.”
There are more types of windows for us to gaze through now than we could have imagined even a few years ago. Screens on desktops, laptops, iPads and cellphones beckon every minute of every day, grabbing so much of our attention that we can’t sleep at night for all the blue light. Talking heads bickering through the windows of our television screens do all they can to convince us that the sky is falling so let’s all get mad, be scared and blame the other guys. Help us, Lord, to put it all in its proper place.
Because here’s the point, if we don’t set the tone for the upcoming year, someone or something, somewhere on some screen or through some window designed to capture our attention, surely will. The question is, in whom do we place our trust, and who should we follow?
When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18 GW).
Jesus comes near, and he speaks. He fortifies us with the fact that he – and he alone - has all authority; and that no matter what it looks like out there, he is in control.
“…And remember that I am always with you until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20 GW).
As Jesus strengthens us, he also comforts us, reminding us that he will never leave us nor forsake us – even until the end of time itself. This is true, and it can be true, because when Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection, he sent his Holy Spirit to abide with us forever so that through him, we might have peace:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27 ESV).
The gifts and promises that Jesus gives us are not like the things that the world offers.
The things of the world are natural and temporal. They are subject to physical laws and restrictions and cannot be everlasting.
When we seek wisdom, or strength, or comfort, or guidance or peace from the world at large, everything that we receive will fade away like a fog, sooner or later. Worldly solutions can never be enough to sustain us against the onslaught of cares and worries produced by our broken world.
No human person or man-made system, no matter how educated, wealthy or powerful, has all authority on earth and in heaven.
When we place our trust in human beings or man-made systems, we are operating under natural trust, and everything that is natural and temporal ultimately fades away.
Jesus already knows the plans that he has for us. They are not plans for disaster. His plan is to give us hope, and an eternal future. When we place our complete trust in Jesus’ authority, in his perfect plan, and in his promise to never leave or forsake us, then we are placing our trust not in the temporary, but in the eternal. Not in the natural, but in the super-natural. Not in the limited, but in the unlimited.
In Jeremiah 29:12, God says, “In those days when you pray, I will listen.” What does God mean, when he says, “in those days?” The very next verse gives us the answer:
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
God doesn’t say that he will listen to our prayers, “in those days when you are perfect.” Or, “in those days when I feel like listening to you.” No. God says, “In those days when you seek me with all your heart, I will listen to your prayers and you will find me.”
In those days when we don’t know what to do. In those days when we’re exhausted. In those days when everything seems to be falling apart – and we all have those kinds of days sometimes, maybe often – but it is in those days when we seek God with our whole heart, trusting in his presence and his authority, that he is already listening – because he already has a plan for us – for good and for hope and for a future.
When we place our complete trust in Jesus Christ, no matter what seems to be happening inside our minds or outside our windows, we have placed our trust in the supernatural God – the creator of heaven and earth – and in his authority on our behalf. When we place our complete trust in the supernatural God, our human trust is bolstered by the Holy Spirit, expanding beyond every boundary that the world would place on it, and our natural trust becomes super-natural.
One way or the other, the tone will be set for our lives in 2019. The world would like for us to cooperate in its plan to set the tone for our lives based on every temporal thing that can only fade away, that will never protect us from fear or satisfy the longing in our hearts.
God is calling us to set the tone for our lives based on his word and his promises – on his eternal plans for our hope and our future. How do we set the tone for 2019 based on God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us, even until the end of time? It’s very simple.
We don’t have to be perfect. The grace of God has seen to that. Jesus comes to us exactly as we are, whenever we call out to him.
Let’s set the tone for this year by practicing super-natural trust that says, no matter what the circumstances, “I trust you, Jesus!”
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NLT).