A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail (Proverbs 19:21).
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Seek God First
A new year brings many new plans, goals, and resolutions. You may be beginning a fast, a nutritional goal, or even planning to spend more time with family, friends, or yourself. We all have plans that we create in our minds. But we may not realize how much of that plan is influenced by the world.
For instance, commercials and online ads are geared toward what you may be interested in or by what you purchase online. Facebook is one of the most substantial online platforms influencing you with ads. What if the plans you create are a product of what has been affecting you instead of God guiding you?
“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” (Jeremiah 29:11). In this chapter of Jeremiah, God was speaking to the exiles of Babylon. He had exiled Jerusalem because of their disobedience and sins. God was then reassuring them after 70 years that they would be brought back to Jerusalem. God said in Jeremiah 29:12-13, “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.”
According to GotQuestions.org, the context of Jeremiah 29:11 is addressed to Israel at that time and does not necessarily apply to us today. But this source also states, “Likewise, God has promised believers in Christ certain things that are not applicable to the human race in general. For those who are in Christ, God has promised that our sins are forgiven, and we stand before God justified. God has plans for those in Christ, and those plans are good.”
It is vital to understand the context and background of many popular verses like the one quoted above. This goes into saying that it is the same to understand where you are getting your plans from.
Who or What Is Leading You?
The children of Israel were falsely prophesied to by Hananiah, which led them away from their land because they previously did not take heed of God's warnings in Jeremiah 27.
“Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, ‘The king of Babylon will not conquer you.’ They are all liars, and their lies will lead to your being driven out of your land. I will drive you out and send you far away to die. But the people of any nation that submits to the king of Babylon will be allowed to stay in their own country to farm the land as usual. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 27:9-11).
The children of Israel did not listen to God's instructions. He knew how everything would have unfolded in the end for them. God knew that if they served Babylon they would not have to be taken out of their God-given land.
Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control. All the nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until his time is up. Then many nations and great kings will conquer and rule over Babylon (Jeremiah 27:6-7).
Why did Israel listen to Hananiah instead of Jeremiah? The enemy has been after God's children since the beginning. Why wouldn't he try to deceive Israel?
Let me ask you this, are the influences of this world truly what you should be listening to?
Wisdom and Understanding
In Proverbs 4, King Solomon is writing to his sons (children). He is talking about getting wisdom, and how essential it is to have it. But moreover, to retrieve the right wisdom, which comes from God alone.
Get wisdom, get understanding; don’t forget or turn away from the words of my mouth. Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you (Proverbs 4:5-6).
Pursue God and His wisdom. His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). We let social media tell us what paths we should take. Everything our eyes see, and our ears hear is another way for false wisdom to penetrate our hearts and minds. It says in Proverbs 4:23 that we need to protect our hearts. “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
What comes into your mind has the potential to come into your heart. Your heart can be deceitful if it’s filled with wrong motives (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.
Our path, our plans, and our desires have to match God’s. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says,
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
If we aren't careful, where we get our wisdom and direction from may lead us away. But God knows what plans and goals we need to have. If we continue to remain in Jesus (John 15:4) and endure the path of the narrow, we need to know that it is all for one central goal. That goal is to remain in the House of the Lord forever.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23).
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Rebecca Gordon has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a heart for the nations. She has a wonderful boyfriend named Joseph and a sweet dog named Lucky. She has lived in the Atlanta metro area all her life. She loves photography and plans to use that in her ministry one day. She also loves sweet tea and laying by the pool in the summer. Her focus now is becoming the writer that God has created her to be. Connect with Rebecca on Instagram: @beck242 or on her website Free and Healed.