God has plans for you

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
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.


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The financial seminar was meant to make you uneasy about the future. How will you guard against the ups and downs of the market? How can you be sure that social security will be there when you retire? How will you manage the increasing costs of medical treatment? Of course, they had all the answers. They had a plan. We should trust them. Unless they have a time machine hidden in a closet, they don’t know really know the answers. They just know how to be cautious. God is different. He knows the future and He has an individual plan for you. His plans give me hope because He knows what He is doing.

Sometime after the second deportation in 597, Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon to tell them how to behave in their new land. There was a puppet king left in Jerusalem, but Jeremiah wanted them to know that they should get settled in the land, but not too settled. 70 years later, God will visit His people and bring them home. God wanted them to know how to live while they were waiting so that they could prepare themselves for His plan and so that they would not impede the plan that he has for them. The plan is all God’s and there is nothing that they can do to make things happen faster. There is also no reason to worry because God will take care of them as they dwell in this new home.

I want you to claim the promise in the verse above as your own. In these confusing times, it is easy to get lost. We don’t always know what to do for the kid’s college or for future health problems. The answer is to draw closer to the Lord in worship, Bible study, and prayer so that the Lord can guide you and help you prepare in little ways for tomorrow. As you are close to the Lord, live out your life in His wisdom. Save what you can and have a good budget for your finances. Get some exercise and eat better foods when you can. Serve the Lord by working smartly and honestly at your job. Finally, take time for family and friends so that you can find fulfillment in their love. Do those “little” things and let the Lord take care of the big future that you can’t control. God has plans for you. It is time to trust God and stop worrying about tomorrow. Put your future in His hands.

What is one part of your life that you would like to put in God’s hands? What is one little thing that you can do to improve your finances, health or relationships with others?  

Good can come from bad

2 Corinthians 4:17  
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

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 The sewer began to run slow. It ran so slow that it backed up a little when he ran a load of wash and worried him when he took a shower. Tim contacted a plumber and had the sewer augured out. It turned out that the oak tree in his front yard had roots in the sewer. The auger chopped through them and the sewer flowed freely. It rained the next day and water flowed into the sewer through the drain in the patio. So much rain came that a clogged sewer would have meant water in the basement. The inconvenience of a slow drain was nothing compared to the major headache of a flooded basement. So it is with life. Sometimes problems that are so difficult at the time seem nothing when we compare them to the good that can come out of them.

It is ironic that Paul would talk about his troubles being light. During his ministry, Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, thrown in prison and even left for dead. Yet, none of that seemed like anything compared to the glory that Paul could look forward to in Christ. The afflictions were momentary but the glory of heaven was eternal. Paul could also see that what God accomplishes in our lives through the times of affliction were greater than the pain we experienced. Paul was suffering with the purpose of bringing others into faith. He was also drawing closer to the Lord as he depended on the Lord and watched the Lord work through each problem. The afflictions were having a marvelous outcome.

We often cry out to the Lord when we have any pain and want Him to fix it right away. We express anger that God would let us go through illness, family problems, and sewer backups. It is as if we believe that Christians should be exempt from all those things. Yet, we never consider what we gained from each one. Often illness makes us stop and adjust our values and our goals in life. An argument in a marriage can push us off autopilot and force a couple to grow in their relationship with each other. Little problems in our lives like a slow sewer can make us fix things before they become bigger. There is often a purpose to pain. It forces us to make corrections. It can also force us to look heavenward and into eternity. Problems aren’t all bad. They force us to make changes and see the good we have in Christ.

What was the last problem that you had that brought you to your knees? As you look back, did any good come out of it like a new insight, a change in life, or an appreciation of God’s work in your life?

Ok, But Future Uncertain

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In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6

“Ok, but future is uncertain” was the answer that made me pause. As part of the Re: vitality workshop, there was a survey that just the head pastor took. It asked for the health of the congregation. Answers ranged from “closing soon” to vibrant and excited about the future”. We are doing fine financially as we started the summer with a surplus. We are doing renovations with memorial money this summer and we are doing OK with summer block parties and a few new members over the last couple months. The question made me wonder about the future. We are graying with more than half of the congregation over 50. We struggle with Sunday school. Both of those are normal in a lot of traditional churches but are they healthy.

The future of the greater church is not in doubt for me. As we studied “The Story”, it was evident that the Old Testament Church had lows that the church has not yet experienced. The New Testament Church faced persecution that is unheard of in our time. God brought both churches through those struggles. He will bring the church of today through our struggles. It might take a crisis like an Old Testament famine (financial crisis) or a New Testament persecution to wake up church members like such crisis has done in the past. If so, I guess we have it coming. I trust God to do whatever it takes to bring people to salvation.

It made me wonder about Bethany. Like the Philippian church, we are small and we feel poor at times. Paul was confident about them. I am confident about us. Your willingness to be part of Re: vitality (at this time 15 of the 18 slots are claimed) is a sign of your faithfulness and confidence in the future. Your willingness to try things like block parties and trunk or treat events says a lot about your heart and your commitment to Christ. With Christ, the future is certain. It is just that we all have to be with Christ. Our Lord can do anything. He has resources that are infinite and power that can move mountains. Re: vitality is not about us figuring out how we can do it. It is about learning to partner with God so that He can move mountains through us. Maybe I need to change my answer to OK, but future is certain with Jesus leading us onward.