By Hank Garner
special to The Star
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Sound familiar? I think we all have read this passage at some point and felt comforted and hopeful. I have seen this scripture on coffee cups and t-shirts. It seems that this scripture has become one of the most quoted passages in the Bible lately. But what if we don't understand the spirit in which this was written? Let's look at a little history.
God's people had been disobedient and like any parent, God had warned them and warned them. The prophets told them time and time again to repent or you will be taken into exile. So like disobedient children, they did not repent and God sent them into exile in Babylon. Now for a proud people this was probably devastating. Then God sends a message to them through His messenger Jeremiah.
Earlier in this often quoted chapter, God says what He wants them to do. Starting in verse 4 He says:
4 This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. 7 Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.”
The promise in verse 4 comes with a stipulation if we read the whole thing in context. God says that if we are to have His blessing, we are to bless the city where He has planted us. We are to seek the welfare of the people around us. If we are a blessing to the city, He will be a blessing to us. Too often I think we are prone to over look the people around us and focus on pursuing God's blessing for our own lives and family. God wasn't letting His people off that easily though. Do good to them, and I will do good to you.
In Churches we often put a lot of emphasis on getting people to come to our programs, but are we seeking the city's welfare and then trusting God to see to ours? In Romans chapter 2 verse 4, the Apostle Paul says an interesting thing: "...God's kindness leads you toward repentance." Instead of focusing on attracting people to our stuff, why not join God on His mission of showing kindness. Our church began this past summer with things like free car washes. We would wash people's cars and tell them that we were doing it for free to just show God's kindness in a practical way. People look at you really funny when you really have no motive but to show that God really does love them. I believe little things like that can change the spirit of a community.
If it is God's kindness that leads to repentance, maybe we are going about things all wrong. As Christians, let's be about blessing our city and watch to see what great things He will do for us.
Hank Garner is pastor of LifeSpring Community Church. You can contact him at email@example.com.
By Hank Garner
NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices continued their two-week slide on Wednesday after a government report showed demand for crude products dropped even further from the weak levels of a year ago when the recession's grip on the economy was strongest.
God's Encounter With Man
Retired Pastor Thomas Wood wrote a book about a divine encounter with God. That was back in 1976, and at the time, Wood says he was unable to find a publisher.
You can submit your religion briefs to firstname.lastname@example.org. The briefs are published every Saturday, and must be received every Monday by 5 p.m. in order to be published that Saturday. You may also fax briefs to (601) 485-1275.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day. They recounted an experience they had where a driver cut them off, then gave them "hand signals."
- Being missions minded The earthquake in Haiti has turned a lot of people to those in need, but there are some who still feel like Americans should put forth more effort in aiding those in need.
- For Haiti
- Whose mission? The great theologian Paul Hewson once said "I had a mentor that once told me that I should stop praying for God to bless all the things I was involved in and find out what God was doing.
- Religion News
- (10:16 a.m.) Economy December wholesale prices edge up 0.2 percent
- Business Beat
- More Features Headlines
- Oil Prices