WEEK THREE – FINAL THOUGHTS
Insights on God’s Plan – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
(As a reference, this passage is repeated at the end of this section.)
NOTE TO GROUP LEADER: Insights on Insights on God’s Plan – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
It is a time for personal reflection and to share our experiences and how they relate to the passage. Allow the group to consider if this exercise and discussion have provided clarity for our lives and how we live from day to day. Allow the discussion to flow freely so that individuals feel that they have been heard. Try to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to share. Do not insist that a person share but offer him or her the opportunity. The closing reflection and prayer may be read by the Group Leader, or one or two members of the group may be asked to read aloud. (Items needed: Closing Reflection, Closing Song, Discussion Questions):
Follow the order as indicated below:
- Closing Reflection
- Closing song with words
- Discussion Questions
- Repeat Closing Song (if group wishes)
Reflection and prayer:
Often, when we speak of “exiles,” we consider those people who have been cast out of their home, separated from all they know and love. They must start their lives again, lost and alone in the world, rejected, not knowing what their next step will be – confused and lost in direction. We may think of their reality as unique – one that we can’t fully understand.
However, upon reflection, each and every one of us may have experienced such feelings, such a sense of loss, confusion, not knowing where we are headed, not having a plan for the future. Our life journey is often riddled with hurdles, hills, mountains, crossroads, dark and gloomy days when our plan is clouded and unclear. Somehow, like the Jews in our bible passage, they ultimately find their way home.
Today, in the sunset of our lives, we may feel more lost and vulnerable than ever, when God’s plan seems unclear and puzzling. This is a time when we, as exiles in life’s journey, should reflect on the Lord’s clear commitment to us: “10This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29: 10-14)
It takes patience and trust in the Lord. In His time, we will find the focus and direction, because, He has our “plan” and will fulfill his promise to give us hope and “a future.” We should try to be open to God to be able to enact His plan for us. In the meantime, we should live our daily lives as best we can with joy and trust, with compassion and patience, reliance in his comforting arms.
Let us pray:
There have been times in my life when I have felt lost, alone, confused.
I truly felt that you had deserted me.
I felt that you weren’t listening; you weren’t answering my pleas.
I felt like an exile, deserted and flailing – not knowing which direction to follow.
Not knowing what I wanted or needed.
I made bad choices and where were You?
But, You were there, watching, waiting. Gently supporting, whispering in my heart.
I knew that because somehow, I came back, often.
I came back stronger, more compassionate, more understanding.
My struggles gave me wisdom and skills which I could only have because of the struggles.
In this twisted road that I have traveled, you have always had a plan for me.
Help me always remember that, no matter what pain, suffering or joy I experience today,
You have a beautiful plan for me. Help me to be aiways available and open to that plan.
Closing reflection/discussion questions:
- What thoughts did you have as you read the final reflection? Can you identify with some of these thoughts and explain why?
- In looking back on our lives, have we always followed God’s plan for us? How did we know that we were following His plan? If not, how did we know that we were not following His plan?
- What do we learn from the times that we do not follow His plan?
- Does God ever change His plans for us? If so, why would that happen?
- Did the prayer mirror your thoughts at all? If so, how? If not, why not? What would you change, add or delete from the prayer?
- Reflect on the last three weeks of Bible Study. Share your spiritual and emotional journey. What questions did you have? What concerns did you address? Did you gain any insights or have questions answered?
- Closing Question: Have these three weeks of Bible Study given you any sense of wellness, a sense of hope? If so, how? If not, why not?
God Works in Mysterious Ways by Crossroads Music
God moves in a mysterious way
1 God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
2 You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
3 His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev’ry hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
4 Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his work in vain.
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 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.”