What is the Most Misinterpreted Verse in the Bible? (Jefferson Bethke)

​This is a repost from Jefferson Bethke’s devotional:

Hey !

For today‘s devotional, I wanted to talk about what I think is the most misinterpreted verse in the Bible: Jeremiah 29:11

You might know this verse, maybe you have it on a coffee mug or a plaque above your desk with these words: 
 

“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.”

 

This verse is super encouraging, but a lot of people take it out of context and apply is to their college or their job or the person they want to date. We declare our plans to God and say, “Ok God, I know you have plans for my good so work my plans for welfare and not for evil.” 

But the problem is that we can’t take this verse out of the context of the paragraph, the chapter, and the book it’s in. Jeremiah was talking to the Kingdom of Judah, calling to them to repent and turn back to God.

This specific verse was a declaration to the people of Judah. They were in exile. Their national identity and their temple were under attack. And Jeremiah reminds them that God does care for them. 

The verse right before 11 says: 
 

“For thus says the Lord: 
When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, 
and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.”

 

In these two verses, God is saying, “It’s not ok right now, but it’s going to get better.”
 

So Does This Apply to Us at All?

Two things I wanted to share with you guys.

1) When we tell God our plans, we miss what God is doing

If we make God into our own personal genie, tell him what we want and just expect him to do it, then we get disappointed and feel like God wronged us. God is working in our lives, but if we’re too concerned with our plan then we aren’t seeing how God is working things together for our good (Romans 8:28). 

2) The True Promise Is Jesus Christ

The other place in the Bible where Jeremiah is mentioned is Daniel 9. Daniel is at the end of the 70-year promise and he prays to God asking if they’re at the end of the prophesy. But God answers Daniel, telling him, 
 

“Seventy sevens are decreed about your people and your holy city,
to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity,
to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet,
and to anoint a most holy place.”

 

In Hewbew, seventy sevens kinda means 70×7. The true restoration of Israel and the temple would come 490 years later—the birth of Jesus. 

The promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is delivered in Jesus Christ. He is our welfare, he is our riches, he is our hope, and he is our temple, where heaven and earth meet. He died on the cross so we could truly know God. 

So if you enjoy Jeremiah 29:11, you can take that promise for you in Jesus Christ, that we can dwell in him and his grace. 

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Radiant Church

Radiant Church

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.” (Philippians 1:27-28)

A church is a place where people should be distinct. It is a place of where the love of Christ abounds and where truth is practiced. It is a home for people who are in need and a hospital for sinners. Not a museum for the righteous, neither a place for perfect people. Manner of life is a matter of developing your lifestyle. Paul admonished the Philippian church about their way of lifestyle by simply giving them guidelines especially in living out their faith. Our testimony as a church is one very effective tool to witness to those who don’t know Christ yet so it is important to observe our manner of lives to be worthy of the gospel of Christ. How then should we live our lives as part of the body of Christ?

Standing firm in one spirit

When we stand firm in our faith and the teachings of Christ in ONE COMMENDABLE SPIRIT. Having a common set of values in the church could help us live accordingly in the light of God’s Word. A firm faith is unshakeable and cannot be compromised. If we submit to God’s word and standards accordingly then people can see the distinction of having a savior living in us. Whenever we conform to God’s will, we are submitting ourselves to ONE Holy Spirit. A church worshipping God and sharing same biblical values can hold each other accountable in our walk with God.

Striving side by side

Nothing is too difficult when it is done together. Walking in the faith is difficult without the help of our local church. We could achieve greater heights and deeper depths together with the help of God. Even ants know the principle of working together that they can carry huge amount of food by carrying it altogether. A shared burden is a shared accomplishment done by a shared community. As part of the body of Christ we MUST know and do our part for the benefit of the whole body. In as much as we should, we must edify the church making every effort to show love to one another and as an encouragement to the discouraged.

Church is the physical representation of the invisible Holy Spirit in this age. Let us contribute to make Christ’ Church radiant in this world of darkness.

Prayer That Catches God’s Attention

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“And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.”
Mark 10:47-49

Attention. Infants get it by crying so hard. Children receive it by making tantrums. Students want it from their teachers by raising their hands. We demand it every time we are speaking to someone. Should we demand it or acquire? Just like how firemen see a smoke nearby for them to respond in a rescue mission, same with everyone. We need to get people’s attention by creating something that will cause them to stop and look at you.
In the story, Jesus was about to pass by the roadside in Jericho where there was this blind man named Bartimaeus shouting at the top of his voice. He is shouting the name of Jesus. Properly addressing Him, he shouted “Son of David”. In this case, Jesus would know that this man was calling for Him – that he was calling for a specific person by name, calling Jesus as someone he knew personally. However, since a crowd of disciples was following Jesus, maybe He did not noticed his cry. But some people who heard him asked him to stop. Why? Maybe because he is blind and probably would ask for alms or whatever they could give to him, and yet, he shouted all the more. There then, Jesus heard and turned His head. Bartimaeus has gotten his attention. Jesus, the unstoppable God that even death could not contain; the unstoppable One who never stops loving us. He is unstoppable enough to finish the road to Calvary by laying Himself down for us even His disciples tried to stop His death. For the one of the most uncommon situations, “Jesus stopped.” The blind helpless beggar had an unstoppable faith that made the unstoppable God stopped.

How did the Bartimaeus was able to get His attention? Persistence and perseverance. How many times did we stop praying for something we prayed for so long and God haven’t answered yet? It could be the salvation of a loved one or a break in our career. He honors our persistence and perseverance in our prayers. Didn’t He mentioned in a parable that a persistent friend that knocks in the middle of the night to ask bread will eventually receive what he asked for because of his impudence? (Lk. 11:8) Never stop praying persistently with perseverance so that we won’t miss the point of prayer in our lives, that is to get “in touch” with Jesus – hand to hand experience like what Bartimaeus had.

Divine Appointment

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“And the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.” – Deuteronomy 31:23 ESV

 

Joshua is a great conqueror. Little he knew about it until such time that God said so. We are all like him. We are living our lives the way we wanted without a clear direction because we never had a clear instruction until we see that there is a God who can give us our divine appointment. We will live our lives chasing after pointless things because we do not know our purpose.

One good thing here is that God knows how we are wired because He is our creator. He addressed Joshua properly saying “the son of Nun” denoting how much God knows about Joshua – his identity, his passions, his strengths. The same goes for you. Joshua was called and chosen by God. Hand-picked to carry a task with a clear instruction. The big question is, “will you cooperate with God’s plan?”

He was called to be courageous for the task appointed to Joshua was larger than life. God gives his people a mission that is always too difficult so that they would learn how to depend on God all throughout the journey. God knew that discouragements would be inevitable specially in carrying the divine appointment that He gave us yet he gave the promise ‘I will be with you.’ How often do we listen to God’s instruction for His desire for our lives? Did we just simply give up on God-given dreams hard-wired with our God-given passions?

Living out God’s purpose is not an easy road. It’s normal to experience opposition but our response to it will matter. God wants Joshua to conquer the promise land and lead the Israelites. It is easy to give up whenever opposition comes but our desire to accomplish every God-given task. The happiest people on earth are not the rich ones; neither the powerful nor the influential ones but the one who has come alive by knowing His purpose through a God-given divine appointment.  All men die, but only few men have ever lived. Our busy lives are filled with appointments with different people and a lot of disappointments from life but God’s divine appointment is simply attained by setting a “divine appointment” with God.

Are you living the divine appointment God has given you? How often do we seek God in our “divine appointments” with Him? Is there a time that you have really carefully thought about seeking His will in your life’s purpose?

Go back

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In Genesis 13: 3-4, we read: “And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.(ESV emphasis added)

In Genesis 12, the last portion was Abram ended up committing sin by lying to Pharaoh, and ended up leaving Egypt. We can find there that before he went to Egypt, he didn’t inquire of the Lord. There are times that we make bad decisions because we did not pray about it, but it was God’s grace that always shows us the way out.

When you lose your way, just go back. I learned it as a new driver. Everytime I have gone through a non-familiar road, and I know I’m about to get lost, I just go back. Why? Because I know, when I go back, I can get back to the right track. Same with our spiritual life. Whenever we fail to inquire of God or surrender to God a certain area of our lives, or even feel like we are far from God, just GO BACK. Back to the Cross where love and justice met. Where you encounter Jesus the first time. Just like Abram, call upon the name of the Lord.

Your turn:
Are you lost? Don’t know what to do next? Spiritually dry? Just go back to the altar. Remember Jesus, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. He is just waiting for you on your meeting place – The Cross and no other. 

Principles for a Happy and Prosperous Year

Principles for a Happy and Prosperous Year
We often hear the word “Happy” or “Blessed” whenever we encounter new years but have we considered what is the gravity of these words that we just often used as a greeting?
In Matthew 5:3-12, we read:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit:for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn:for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek:for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness:for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful:for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart:for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers:for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness ‘sake:for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:for great is your reward in heaven:for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you”
In Good News Translation, we can see that the word “Blessed” is translated as “Happy” so we could say that whenever we say “Happy New Year”  that is tantamount to, “Blessed New Year.” Oftentimes biblical principles are always contradicting to the world’s point of view.
So how do we experience a “Blessed New Year” then?
I. Holiness Brings Happiness
Some people may say that being holy is boring. Yes, it may appear that way but if we carefully study biblical principles, we could see that what God is teaching us is totally contrasting to the world’s principles. As we study the Beatitudes we learned that Jesus taught about the different contrasts about how should we live our lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “Blessed” was frequently used to represent kingdom principles taught by Jesus Christ which are totally opposite on worldly principles. Some of the contrasts are the use of the words, poor in Spirit, Mourn, Meek, those who hunger and thirst or even blessed are those who are persecuted. These words may denote a negative impression because it may sound weak, or those who are oppressed yet on the contrary, Jesus used these words to point those people who are called Blessed.
 
II. Generosity Brings Prosperity
One of the most contrasting biblical principle is “give and it shall be given.” We know that when we give, we lose something, but in heavenly principle, the Bible clearly teaches us that the more we give, the more we will be blessed. One key principle is what we call “tithing” or giving a tenth of what we acquire or possess to the Lord. People say that tithing is just part of the Old Testament Law, but if we carefully study the Scriptures, we will learn more about it. Before we say that it is indeed part of the Law of Moses, let us study the preceding story. In Genesis 14:20b, we read “And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”  This was the story of King Melchizedek (that represents the High Priest – which is Christ) and Abram. Abram gave a tenth of all that he acquired just to give reverence and honor to the High Priest. It is a matter of values. Another example of which was Jacob.
In Genesis 28:20-22, we read: “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you”
We could say that the book of Genesis gave an example already about tithing and how God blessed these two man who committed giving their tithes to the Lord even before Moses and The Law. They give their tithes because they “Love GOD” and acknowledges that everything that they have comes from God. Abram took possession of a lot of things beyond what his eyes could see. He was even given the title “Father of faith” because of his commitment and love for God. Same with Jacob. He became prosperous within a short span of time because God blessed him through his generous heart.
These two have set an example before us because they have exemplified their love for God and commitment to it. I know a lot of believers can tell their testimonies about how God prospered them just like how God prospered Abram and Jacob. Maybe God is just waiting for you to do the same so that He can bless you even more. Also to keep in mind that when “God increases your standard of LIVING, you should increase your standard of GIVING.”
 
YOUR TURN:
Just a simple rule of thumb: Look at your hands.
two hands
Always remember that our palms facing upward means that our hands are open for God – our lives surrendered to Him. If we just learn how to “open” our life to God, we will also be able to receive everything that He will pour out. The key on how to be happy and prosperous on this year 2015 is in our hands. Happiness and Prosperity is in God’s hands but Holiness and Generosity is in our hands. Our hand represents HOLINESS, and the other one represent GENEROSITY, the question is, are you ready to lead a holy life and a generous hand this year?

Your way or His way?

Your way or His way?

Your way, or Jesus’ way?

In Luke 9:12-15
12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down.
(ESV)
You will notice here that the disciples actually used an imperative sentence toward the Lord Jesus Christ about their present “situation.”
Yet, Jesus answered back with an imperative sentence as well but since He is Lord, the disciples might be wondering “How?” but we see that the disciples just proposed a solution that seems not really a solution that could work. That is where faith starts to rise – when you propose a solution. To make it happen, is the we could see on verse 15, “And they DID so, and had them all sit down.” – OBEDIENCE.
Sometimes, we are like the disciples. We come to the Lord Jesus asking Him to do something for us, yet He has His own way. We tend to lay down our options and solutions to our problems to God and ask Him to do it for us. Imagine how rude we are sometimes in our prayers. Yet, at the end of the day, God knows best and His ways are perfect. just like the disciples did, we could just fully obey God when He finally gives us instructions on how to deal with our present circumstances.