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Does God Really Have Plans to Prosper You? (Jeremiah 29:11) Pt. 3

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.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

In the film documentary American Gospel writer and director Brandon Kimber shares a sampling of the messages coming out of the Prosperity Gospel movement. In one video segment Pastor Joel Osteen punches out a message in which he asks, “Who told you you can’t accomplish your dreams? God has His plans for you. Your destiny is calling out. It’s time to start living large.” In another sermon Osteen counsels, “I’m asking you to feel good about who you are.”

The focus of Osteen’s message in these video slices is not fixed on the person of Jesus. Rather the youthful Osteen concentrates on self-fulfillment and the belief God will enable us to realize the American Dream of prosperity and accomplishing our personal plans and goals. A message like this often latches on to Jeremiah 29:11 as a passage that guarantees God will enable you to attain your hopes and dreams.

Prosperity Image
Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

As we dive deeper into the Jeremiah passage, we learn the prophet’s message has little to do with actualizing one’s private ambitions. Jeremiah is not promising modern Christians that God will grant His children all aspects of the American Dream.

When Jeremiah 29:11 is misapplied in this manner, the intent of the text is tossed aside to make the words of the prophecy fit an entirely different situation. Then the Scriptures become a source text for people to quote as they wish depending on the situation. Rather than allow the Scriptures to shape our spiritual values and our attitudes towards materialism, we bend the Word of God to our own aspirations as demonstrated in the aberrant teaching of the prosperity huckster Joel Osteen.

Furthermore, in the American Gospel Dr. Julius Kim, Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Seminary California notes the harm done when the central focus on the New Testament message becomes self-fulfillment, healing and prosperity,

“We’re seeing a church in America that is becoming ultimately Christless. When we believe in a gospel thinking it is all about us, we miss Jesus’ words entirely.”

Dr. Julius Kim, Westminster Seminary California

In fact, the recipients of Jeremiah 29:11 would have been aghast at how this prophetic promise has been misunderstood and misused by modern followers of God. Sadly, the reason why the prosperity gospel is so popular is that most Bible teachers and pastors refuse to correct and call out these questionable teachers.

Today, many Christian leaders succumb to the immaturity of Christians who come out in droves to hear a carnal prosperity message. Somewhere along the line these neophyte believers were taught incorrectly. As a result, their hearts are more fixed on God’s blessings, rather than on God Himself. Once a follower of Yeshua locks into a lifestyle of seeking gifts over and above the gift giver, they are ripe for deception.

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Does God Really Have Plans to Prosper You? Jeremiah 29:11 Pt. 1

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

(Jeremiah 29:11)
Prosperity Image
Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Jeremiah 29:11 is a much loved passage from the Jewish scriptures used by well-meaning Christians to demonstrate God’s commitment to prosper all His children. But does this verse teach this promise? In addition, we must question to whom does this verse apply? Does this passage from Jeremiah apply primarily to certain members of the nation of Israel or can all followers of Jesus claim this passage as their own?

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Leaving A Legacy Amidst a Global Disaster

Photo by peter-f-wolf Unsplash.com

My parents both passed away within the last decade. They are buried in a Jewish cemetery in North Lauderdale, Florida. Whenever I am in the Sunshine State, I make every effort to show my respect and visit their gravesites.

I find it a bewildering experience to observe the engravings on the grave stones in this memorial park. Some headstones illustrate that the departed were avid gamblers. On their markers are carved images of dice, playing cards, roulette wheels and cocktail glasses. The only thing missing is whether after thirty years of gambling, they came out ahead or died with a heavy debt.

Why would someone who lived for almost a century desire to be known for their gambling passion? What kind of legacy are they passing on to their loved ones?

In this article we look at Noah, a man who left us a legacy of faithfulness to God in the midst of an impending worldwide disaster. He has many descriptions written about him in Scripture that chronicle how he handled the universal crisis that confronted him. Any one of these statements could have been written on his tombstone: a man who “found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8); “a righteous man, blameless in his generation . . . walked with God” (Genesis 6:9); “an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7) and a “herald of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5).

Noah left us an example of how we can conduct ourselves when life does not meet our expectations. Yes, there are vast differences between ourselves and Noah that impede us from drawing an exact parallel. Yet there are some spiritual attitudes possessed by this patriarch that can help us during the current COVID-19 crisis of crippling economic deprivation, extreme health hazards and separation from loved ones.

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Noah Confronts a Worldwide Catastrophe Part 2

Overall View of Noah's ark
jeff.jacobs1990
Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Summers in the East Coast were often a treat for me as a young boy. I treasured spending those hot, humid days visiting my grandparents in Coney Island in New York. Besides cooling off in the Atlantic Ocean, the main attraction was Steeplechase Park. The assortment of rides this park offered to a young starry-eyed boy was dizzying. Of course, I was ambitious enough to think I could enjoy them all in one outing.

One go-to amusement was the swing ride. According to an online history of carousels, the “swing ride is a variant of a carousel ride – a fairground ride that has chairs suspended by chains from the top of the carousel . . . This ride is also called a swing carousel, wave swinger, yo-yo, Chair-O-Planes or a swinger”.

This mechanism operates on a principle of a spinning central core powered by a motor that forces the swings to extend outward on wires or metal chains. The faster the central core spins, the farther out the swings stretch.

What does this sentimental childhood memory have to do with Noah’s situation or any spiritual truths? Let me suggest our relationship with God begins with a person’s central core fixed on the Lord. From this connection to our Creator, we discover a powerful, inner centrifugal force that drives our spiritual aspirations. When that inner connection to God is fractured, there are grave spiritual consequences-lack of purpose, extreme self-centeredness, depression, broken relationships, and involvement in destructive sins. This truth brings us to the reason why God brought the Flood upon our planet.

Sadly, this catastrophic event in Noah’s day was due to man’s lack of any desire to enjoy a relationship with God. The human population refused to see their need to have God as that centrifugal force. Instead, they attempted to enthrone themselves at the core of their souls. We too are fooled by the same self-deception. As long as we keep the swings in motion, we are convinced we can be the “captain of our own souls.” Despite our sincere endeavors, we default to arrogant pride, extreme self-centeredness, and a refusal to believe there is Someone in the universe greater than ourselves.

From this breakdown in man’s bridge to God in Noah’s day, humanity spiraled out of control. The downward thrust of mankind was enough for God to respond with a promise of a worldwide Flood. Like the motion of the carousel swing ride from the central core, our trouble is due to a failure to see the need to allow God to become part of our energizing inner core.

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