Standard; Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
Here in v 11, we have one of the most quoted passages in Scripture. One of those passages that is quite easy to memorize and dish out to those who are in seemingly hopeless situations, Think of the medicinal properties of this passage to someone who is going through a divorce, unemployment, depression, loss, serious illness or injury, depression.
“ plans to give you a future with a hope.” Easily said, easily read, but not always so easy to believe is it? Yet it is only when it is believed and trusted that it serves its medicinal purpose. So say it, read it, believe it yourself, but don't expect others to do the same, just pray that they will.
This is God's good word, and although in context, this passage was written for the Jews who were in captivity, It can just as easily be applied to your situation today.
Let's go to verse 1 and look at the context of these verses. We see that it is a letter written by Jeremiah to the religious leaders and all the people who had been carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. The reason he wrote it (v8) was to warn the people to ignore the prophets who kept saying, “Ah this is only for a little while..we'll be back home in no time.”
But God, speaking through Jeremiah said, “no, this is not going to be for a little while, it will be for 70 years, get used to it! (v5-7) Deal with it! Live your lives Plug in to the day to day living of Babylon. Build houses, plant gardens, get married, raise families. Join the soccer team, run for office, Seek the peace of the city and pray for it!”
And the Lord said, after the seventy years is up (v10) I will visit you and perform My good word toward you and cause you to come back to Jerusalem. Now we pick it up at v11.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord. These are My thoughts, not the thoughts of the false prophets. They are thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope!”
I don't know any other way to capture the essence of this verse than to tell you that the original Hebrew wording has to do with things like texture and weaving and even a cord. These are all things you might associate with the construction of a tapestry. A cord kind of tying the whole thing together. I tried to show you the front and backside of a tapestry so you might better understand what's going on here.
The backside of the tapestry could be likened to the way we see things in our life. We don't understand the things that God allows into our life. They are painful and seem to lack rhyme or reason. We would not call them beautiful. But God is looking at the other side. He sees the finished product. He knows what He has in mind for you.
To paraphrase 29:11, I know the threads I weave upon you, it is a weaving of wholeness and not of chaos, I have an expected end for what I am doing with you!
When we know this, would it not be better then to “Be still and know the Lord.” Be still and experience what He has in mind for us. Wouldn't it be better to just trust Him as the master Weaver?
Now, as we have said, this was intended for the nation of Israel. God had a beautiful plan for them to bring them back from captivity, but this applies to us as individuals as well. For we are held captive (subdued by the enemies of flesh, world, and the devil) .
In v12 we read about something that is going to cause God to pick up His holy art of weaving again and that something is prayer. “Then (sometime during the captivity, probably near the end of the seventy years) you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you.” (God will raise up a spirit of prayer amongst His people.) Prayer always precedes revival.
It's interesting to note that Daniel's great prayer of confession and supplication was given in the 67th year of captivity and he prayed it “after he understood that the captivity would last for seventy years according to the letter from Jeremiah!) He knew the end of the captivity was coming and he was stirred to prayer.
I literally tingled in my soul when I read the words of the Matthew Henry Commentary regarding this verse. He said,
“God will stir them up to pray: Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go, and pray unto me. Note, When God is about to give his people the expected good he pours out a spirit of prayer, and it is a good sign that he is coming towards them in mercy. Then, when you see the expected end approaching, then you shall call upon me. Note, Promises are given, not to supersede, but to quicken and encourage prayer: and when deliverance is coming we must by prayer go forth to meet it.
I tingle because I have to ask, where is this new found spirit of prayer at Living Word coming from? Is it not coming from the Lord as we meet Monday thru Friday at 6 a.m. For prayer? This is a good sign! Could it be that God has stirred up prayer in us because He is running toward us with mercy and deliverance! Could revival be coming to our city? To our church?
“Then” He says, “You will call upon Me, (the idea being of accosting someone, then we will get a hold of God like Jacob did in his all night wrestling match!) and go and pray to me. We will be conversant with the Lord as we pray (ask of Him) and He promises to listen! Oh the blessings of responding to God's spirit of prayer.
V13 – And you will seek Me (strive after) For those of you who came to early morning prayer this week, you know the meaning of the word “strive.” It's not easy is it? We can think of a million reasons to turn over and stay in bed. But we won't find God, we won't lay hold of Him in St Mattress, It takes purposeful striving.
Maybe you can't make it that early in the morning, then I encourage you to find another time to make an appointment with God. Daniel did. When the decree went out to ban prayer his enemies knew where to find him.....he was at his window at a certain time every day facing home and praying. Could the same thing be said for you or me?
If someone asked where you were at an appointed time of prayer, would the answer be, “Oh they're in prayer right now.”
Our early morning prayer meeting is an opportunity for you to keep such an appointment with God, if it doesn't work for you find another person and time and make it work. But be consistent! Be persistent. Listen to the promise of the rest of that verse. For those who strive to find God will find Him.
WHEN? When will they find Him? When they search (the word is to tread or frequent, the idea of a beaten path) with all their heart.
Oh that the Lord would look down from heaven and see the tracks of your vehicles in this city as you make your way to prayer. Oh that the carpet would wear out from footsteps to the prayer room
v14 “I will be found by you says the Lord ( A promise) And I will bring you back (to the point of departure.) Isn't that an awesome thought. He doesn't care where you've been or what you've done to His tapestry, He'll unravel it all and bring you back to where He left off.
When you tried to weave your own life, you made a mess out of it, and without any condemnation He brings you back to the the point of departure. I will bring you back from captivity (the idea of being subdued by an enemy. The enemy, the world, flesh and the devil have been trying to make a mess of your tapestry. They have sought to subdue what God wants you to become.
But when you come back to Him in repentance and prayer, mercy comes running and He will bring you back, He will restore you to His original plan and purpose for your life.
Finally, the promise of a gathering from all places where His people have been scattered, and we can apply this to the great commission as we go out as His church and gather those nations and peoples that were scattered at Babel. So many damaged tapestries, that need to hear of His mercy and grace.
God has a plan for every life He created. He has a beautiful ending in mind for each of us. When we are drawn into His spirit of prayer and strive with Him, beating a path to His door through prayer we will be found by Him and He will pick up the tapestry that we are, the tapestry that WE set aside and begin the work anew.