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Devotionals

Applying Scripture Correctly To Our Lives

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The similar logic was that this was God speaking to Israel during a time of drought and because it was a promise of restoration on a physical (agricultural) level it has nothing to do with Christians, should not be used by Christians, and never has anything to do with a promise of God for a spiritual restoration.

 

Where do we start? Hermeneutics is a big fancy word for the study of Bible interpretation. It has rules which must be followed; the first being context, context, context. It is important that we understand what the context of a verse is so we can be assured it is not being misused. For example, Matthew 7: 1 is one of the most misused verses in the Bible. This is the famous "judge not" verse Christians like to use when someone is trying to help them with a sinful behavior they may be inclined to. Standing alone, it certainly does look like God is saying to not judge but that is because the context is missing, which is the following four verses. When taken as a whole it is clear that we are to judge but not as hypocrites. Verse five says to help your brother with the speck in his eye after you have dealt with the log in your own. While we are at this, who the Scripture was originally intended for is also very important so that we can understand the meaning. There is nothing wrong with understanding that the original intent of the 2Chronicles verse dealt with a drought and the restoration of agricultural prosperity; in fact it should be understood. Likewise, we should understand that Jeremiah was a Prophet to the remnant of Judah. What I think some of the modern theologians are missing here is that meaning and application are two different things.

 

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled. -- Romans 15: 4 (NLT)

 

What is Paul saying here? This letter was written specifically to the believers in Rome around 50AD. Does that mean we dismiss it? By this logic, the entire Bible is only useful to the people who it was written to, who are all dead now. Now, that does not mean that people have not misapplied Scripture before. That can certainly happen which is why again it is crucial that we watch our doctrine closely. Is the application of Scripture supported in other Scripture? The Bible always confirms itself and never contradicts itself. How can we be sure of this? The Word is God beloved. He never contradicts Himself and always confirms what He has said. He is not a man that He would lie.

 

So when we read Jeremiah 29: 11, is it supported in Scripture that God does indeed have a plan for our lives? Is that plan to prosper us and not to harm us? Well Romans 8: 28 assures me that God is working all things out for my good so I would answer a resounding hallelujah! But here is how it can be misapplied. Prosperity preachers will use a verse such as Jeremiah 29: 11 and say that God using the word "prosper" here indicates that He wants everyone to be rich. The problem with that conclusion is there is no mention of material wealth in this verse or the context. We also can cross reference to the story of the rich young ruler and see that Jesus told him to sell everything he owned because his riches were preventing him from truly following God. Jesus spoke about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. A true reading of scripture reveals that not everyone is meant to be rich. For a lot of people, excessive wealth would drive them away from God. Prosperity however can mean many different things and that is the point of Jeremiah 29: 11. God has a plan for our future. How can I be sure? Philippians 1: 6 says that He who started a good work in me will complete it! Philippians 4: 19 says that God will meet all my needs. Now, we may disagree about what my needs are but in the end, God has a plan. Jeremiah 29: 11 most certainly applies to my life and the life of every believer. Let us never forget that as believers in Jesus Christ we also share in the Hope of Glory, the ultimate plan for our future -- eternal life with our God.

 

This also however does not mean that everything magically applies to new covenant believers simply because it was in the Old Testament. We are supposed to test everything against the entire Word of God. I will give you another example:

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." -- Acts 10: 9-14 (NIV)

Peter is referring all the way back to Leviticus which outlined what foods were considered unclean and therefore to be avoided by the Israelites. The Lord immediately tells Peter to not call anything He has made clean impure. The rules have changed but Peter was still clinging to the old way. He forgot what Jesus taught:

 

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him "unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him "unclean.'" -- Matthew 15: 10-11 (NIV)

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 

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