One of the most popular Bible verses in the Old Testament is found in Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” (NLT) It’s a beautiful verse that holds tremendous promise for those who understand its deep meaning, but it’s often misunderstood.
Even though none of us actually plays by the rules (according to Romans 3:10, 23), we still try rather hard to do so. We’ve all sinned and fallen short, but in our broken condition, we just keep on plugging away in hopes that in eternity all of our trying and fighting and working will somehow qualify us for heaven in God’s eyes.
This week, I’m staying in a nice hotel in Ocala, Florida, driving around in a rented Camaro, and eating fresh fruit – all sweet gifts from The Church at the Springs where Pastor Ron Sylvia and others are hosting Nuts & Bolts, a conference for church planters. I feel very blessed to be here. I don’t deserve it.
W. A. Criswell defined teaching (from the pulpit) as “instructing a man in the will and ways of the Lord,” and preaching as “seeking to drive a man’s will God-ward.” There is a raging debate today over how much freedom people really have. A renewed fascination with Calvinism has brought this debate to the forefront. I’m not opening the whole can of worms here – just this one point. Preaching should be directed to the will of a person. Decisions count.
I must confess, as a Baptist, it took me a rather long time to come to understand the healing nature of God. We Baptists, as Adrian Rogers put it, “believe in miracles, but trust in Jesus.” I still believe this is best. But I also freely admit that in our reaction to the extremism of “healing evangelists” like Binny Hinn and other obvious hucksters and false prophets, that we have a tendency to write off all supposed healings as a mere charade.