The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Too many people sit passively and wonder what tomorrow is going to be like. They wonder when God’s blessing is finally going to come into their lives—but they don’t understand that the prosperity of God doesn’t just fall on us like ripe fruit off of a tree. It doesn’t work like that! The will of God will never conveniently fall into our laps. So how do we get it?
The Will of God
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV)
We hear this scripture quoted all the time, and it’s true that God does have a good plan for our lives. It’s true that God wants to prosper us and that He wants us to have a good future. In the New Testament, Jesus said that He came so that we might have life, and life more abundantly.
God’s plan is very clear—He wants us to have good lives. But whether we read about God’s will in the Old Testament or the New, one thing is clear: the good plan that God has for us does not automatically come to pass. We have a part to play in making sure that His will happens for us.
That chapter in Jeremiah, in context, is about the Israelites. They are in captivity in Babylon.
God instructs people in captivity, in a very low point in their lives, earlier on in this chapter, to “build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. . . multiply there, and do not decrease.” With these instructions, they had a choice—they could draw back at this time of opposition, which is what many do. They could have become passive and done nothing. If they did that, they would have destroyed their future (as many do).
Even while they were in the hole that they had dug for themselves through mistakes that they had made, God gave them directions that would help them to prosper. He gave them instructions to not draw back, to not become passive, but to do something in the situation that they were in.
New Testament, Same Message
In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus gives us a parable.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Jesus told everyone that he had come to give them life, and life abundantly, but he also came with instructions on how to live. If we would do what He said, we could have a successful future. If we failed to do them, we would be like the man who built his house upon the sand.
The future is not left up to chance. God has a plan for our future. But we don’t discover that plan by analyzing circumstances. Circumstances do not provide direction for our lives—it is the Word of God that directs my life. The storms in the parable represent circumstances of life. The man who listened to the words of Jesus and built his life (house) upon the rock (the Word), and he experienced the will of God (his life was not wrecked by the storm).
When we read the Word of God, we store it in our hearts, then we speak it out of our mouths, and we act according to those instructions. Then, circumstances do not rule over us—it is we who are ruling over, creating, and forming the circumstances of our futures.
The situation that we are in today is a result
of what we have been thinking about, talking about,
and the habits we have had for the last five years.
This is not to say that we control every single detail of the future, but the overall picture of our lives is a result of what we have done the last five years. Most people change over their lifetimes, but they change very seldom. If we do not make changes in our lives, then our lives in five or ten years will look very much the same as they do today.
The Recipe for Success
The way to enjoy the good prosperity that God has offered us is found in the Word, in Joshua Chapter one (ESV quoted here).
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Who is to meditate on the Word? Who is to make their way prosperous, so that they can have good success? Is God supposed to meditate the Word for you?
Of course not! You are responsible for how often you meditate on the Word. You are responsible for the level of effort that you put into your own success. If you will take the time to meditate in the Word, you will make your own way prosperous. That’s exciting news! It means you can change the course of your life!
How? By sowing the Word of God into your heart, and praying with God about His will in your life.
You Reap what You Sow
Reaping and sowing are farming terms. God used these terms on purpose. Change does not often happen overnight in the same way that seeds do not typically sprout overnight, or even the first or second time they are watered.
Change occurs as a result of growth over time. Often, quick changes that are easily seen are shallow. There has not been a change at the root of the problem, only a surface level change. Much like picking shriveled leaves off of a sick plant, these changes will, at first, seem to really have made a difference. But over time, the quality of those changes shows.
For example, a poor person who wins the lottery or wins a wonderful new mansion for free, within just twelve months will typically lose all of their money, and end up in a position worse than before their “good luck”. We can look to “Where are They Now” TV specials to see that.
But a person who has learned the principles of making money and becomes wealthy through hard work and learning business sense, if they lose all of their money through some accident or misfortune, they can have it back in no time. They took the time to change their financial habits in order to create wealth in their lives, and that daily practice of good financial habits produces lifelong results.
You must sow change daily through your decisions in order to see change.
You Can Choose Success
The ways of God are life and peace to those who find them, as the Word says. There is a passage in the book of Deuteronomy which says,
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply . . . But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. . . I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days . . . (ESV)”
God wants us to prosper. The blessings are available, but it is up to us to do what He has said in order to see these blessings in our lives.