God’s Good Plans

Don’t you love to know that God has great plans for you?

Do you want God to be for you?

What I mean is this: Don’t you love to know that God has great plans for you?

I supposed many people do because we love to quote Jeremiah 29:11.

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.

Recently I heard a sermon on this passage that basically said:

God always have great plans for us, and his plans are for our welfare and good. He wants us to live in hope.

But is this verse about what most people are being lead to believe? Is this verse about the unassailable, infallible plans for good things in your life?

I think it is not for two reasons.

Who was Jeremiah Talking to?

If you simply turn to the first verse of chapter 29 you read this:

These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Jeremiah was talking to the exiles in Babylon. Now why were God’s people in exile? Because as a people they had sinned against God by worshiping and serving idols instead of the one true God. As punishment or consequences, they were to go into exile for 70 years.

So what sort of good plans can those facing their deserved consequences expect?

That their punishment will not totally destroy them nor obliterate their people. So for this reason I don’t think we can use this verse at new years for good plans for us as Christians especially if we are not talking about living in our consequences.

What did Jeremiah tell them to do?

In chapter 29 verses 5-10 hear Jeremiah’s letter from God to the exiles:

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 in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. 10 “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.

Their false prophets were telling them don’t settle down in this place, because God is going to deliver us from this place that is not our home. God says, “Wrong.”

God expects his people to settle down and seek the welfare of their captors. Because only as they seek the welfare of their captors, will they experience welfare.

And they have to be there for 70 years and then God will restore them. For he knows his plans.

So that means that the plans that God has for his people are plans that center on restoring disobedience people, who have lived through their consequences and been obedient to God in the midst of consequences.

Conclusion

So how can we use this verse rightly? Let me suggest a couple of things:

  1. It shows us the character of God. He is holy and will punish sin, but he is compassionate and will not totally destroy his people.
  2. It shows us that God’s actions of punishment or discipline on us have a restorative purpose.
  3. It shows that God in his providence was pursuing the establishment of the Messiah and was unwilling to let his people’s sin cut off his divine plan of redemption for mankind.
  4. It shows God’s compassion on those who humble accept their consequences and live obediently before God.
  5. Finally, it shows how even in facing consequences, God’s people can be a blessing to those around them.

So next time a pastor preaches from this verse without referring to the whole chapter, just get up and leave. That kind of pulpit crime needs to be stopped.

 

The Photo about was from: This Artist and I have tried to follow the rules of the license.

Judging, the Gospel, and Parenting

Parents, we must call out our children’s sin so that they can hear the gospel.

To Judge or Not to Judge?

Do you think this culture understands Matthew 7 as well as they pretend? Many want to demand that “you judge not” However, how should this be understood?

I think two things must be done. First, I want to give a brief explanation of this passage and its context. Second I want to talk about the Law and the Gospel.

First

Christ positively commanded this. Jesus declares we are not supposed to judge. “Judge” can mean: decided, prefer, evaluate, hold a view, make a legal decision, condemn, or rule. However, the meaning must be determined by the context, and in this passage the context is this little illustration that Jesus gives.

Here I am with this giant 2×4 sticking out of my eye. I can’t get dressed, I can’t sleep. I can’t walk through a door normally. I can’t sit behind the wheel to drive my car. I can stand at the sink to brush my teeth. Just how am I supposed to take a spec out of someone else’s eye? But the illustration continues. Jesus demands of the hypocrite to remove the LOG and THEN get the spec out of the eye of the brother.

Now if you can’t tell the connections, let me draw them for you. Judging someone else is the same as getting the spec out of their eye. So, if we go back to “Judge not, lest you be judged” I think it is obvious that we see two types of judgement.

  • Removed the plank already type of judgment
  • Not removed the plank type of judgment

So judge not is not all types and kinds of judgment, but it is a boastful, proud, unaware type of judgment.

And Jesus even demands that you pull the log out first and then pull the spec. In other words, there is a command to judge and a command to NOT judge. So don’t judge in this manner, but judge in this other manner.

Second

We can apply this truth as we think about the Law and the gospel and parenting. Without a clear view of the law in my mind and heart for my own heart – the gospel is nothing.

How will I know what sin is if I don’t see the law clearly? Most would define sin as break God’s law. So if I don’t judge myself and my heart by the law, then I cannot know sin and if I cannot know sin, I cannot know the Gospel. The law gives no life, instead the law kills. The law slays; the law flays open the conscience to the reality that we are wicked law breakers before God.

And this is when the gospel needs to be preached.  This is when we need to declare that by Christ we are saved from the wrath of God. Jesus’ substituted himself for us on the cross. He died FOR us, in our place, and the wrath of God covered him for us. He who knew no sin, became sin for us. That which is punished and destroyed by God, Christ, became punishment for us.

So, in raising children, it takes both the law and the gospel. When our child rebels against our authority, refusing to do what we have said, then that child stands condemned by the law of God that commands children obey their parents.

If we take the route that says, judge not lest you be judged, meaning I never point out sin, then I will never confront their sin. If I do that, then I can never offer that child the hope of the gospel. I must just let them go and do what they want, and I must offer some weak gospel that says, “Dear, Jesus loves you and wants to be your best friend.”

What a shock it will be when one day she learns, “if I don’t become friends with Jesus he will punish me? why? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Pointing out what is wrong in the manner that Jesus commands is like the gentle surgeon who gentle tells his patient he has a terminal illness. He is fearful, but he has the truth and perhaps some hope.

Parents, we must call out our children’s sin so that they can hear the gospel. However, we must do so only with the log pulling attitude. If you don’t think you have sin, then you have no business correcting your kids.