What a week it has been. Everything from the weather to the news, seems like we are living in another dimension sometimes. Times like these have tended to put me in a "self-preserve" mode where my only goal is to "try to have a good day." Nothing wrong with that goal, I guess, but when I am in prayer about it, I have to ask myself "is this truly what God has for me in this season?" Last week, I wrote about how the pandemic had revealed purpose for us. But, there was a priming process that had to take place before I could get out of my own way and understand that this might be the time, the year, and the opportunity for God to do His work in me.
On this Monday, I just wanted to explore what God said in Jeremiah 29:11. This verse is undoubtedly a favorite among Christians, but not many believers have gone to the trouble of seeking this verse in its context. Its context will surprise you. So the question is, what came before
“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
Our existence in these times is no accident. Let us not reach for the numbing agents, the snooze button, or time-consuming meaningless things. Instead, let us seek with open hearts what God would have us do in this time.
Lord, how can I help prosper your kingdom in a time like this?
How can I help others when I feel like I need help too?
How can I be the hands and feet of Jesus right now?
How can I view creation the way God views it?
John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." We might be justified in our disgust of what's going on in today's world, but we CANNOT forget that our Creator loved it so much that He sent His only Son to die for it. If God loves the world that much, then so should we.
I'd like to challenge everyone this week to three things:
Be an encourager without an agenda. When you think of people that are opposite from you, do you ever think about their God-given gifts? You should, because they have them. Then, do you ever think "How can I encourage this person as a friend?" I truly believe that one of the best things we can do is identify someone's passions and pray for how the Holy Spirit to steward them. Sometimes we tell ourselves we're correcting someone when really we are just shaming them for not thinking like us. This will either extinguish the fire or push them further in their causes. Love with an agenda is not love, it's manipulation. Love is the evidence of Jesus Christ thus it must speak louder than any opinion we have. If we can love our enemy, we have the victory. If we can't, we have nothing but defeat.
Ask God to show us our unbelief in these times. I *think* it was Beth Moore that is credited with this quote: "Do you believe in God, or do you believe God?" What is it about these times that puts us into the two extremes: either build a bunker and withdraw from the world or plunge heart and soul into the ideas of other sinners? What is it that's keeping us from reminding ourselves of John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” For Christians, this shouldn't be an excuse to not do anything because "God's got it." It should be a call for us to be part of the evidence of Jesus in a polarized 2020. We have to ask ourselves what our purpose and placement is in THIS world TODAY because The Great Commission takes no days off and it does not wait for better conditions. If the Church is not stepping up to do this work, doubt may be at the root.
Remember, there is no message without a mess. All around us it looks like the world is going to hell, but make no mistake, there are people desperate for hope, a family, real love, and salvation. Earthly prosperity, while enjoyable, cannot unearth what a mess can. That's just how we are as humans and the Israelites in the book of Jeremiah are a perfect example. Their entire lives they have heard the tails of how God delivered them out from under slavery and brought them to the promised land, but the minute they became comfortable, they began to indulge the flesh. Once Jeremiah rises to prophecy, the people are so far gone that even when things like death, plague, and famine happen, they still go ask hand-made gods to help them. How does that relate to us today? Do we live in the thinking that God is there but the Republicans/Democrats/Congress/CDC/BLM/Fox News/CNN/Donald Trump/Joe Biden/Nick Saban is going to get it done? God has planted you and me here in the middle of this mess to bring hope to a world that has looked at other sinners for their answers. There is no greater stage for God to work in because of Jeremiah 29:11. The plan, even in terrible uncertainty, is to prosper us and not harm us. So maybe it's our view of prosperity that needs to change. Prosperity is not favor upon ourselves, but populating the Kingdom of Heaven. Can we look around us in full faith and declare: "I have been put here to make this better"
Let the Lord see who is willing to bloom where they're planted.