During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a women’s Bible workshop at my church called: Defining Your Passion for Service Through Vision Boarding.
As each session of the workshop builds on the next, I’m going to post summaries of the past Wednesday night’s materials each Friday on this blog. Hopefully, this will help those who miss a session and maybe inspire those of you who are not local.
First of all, let me share the course’s description:
We want to serve God and His people, but are we choosing the best way to do that? Are we missing opportunities that match our gifts and interests? Are we committing to areas that don’t fulfill us? This 8-week workshop will help you discover how to focus your life on the best way for you to serve Him. Each participant will discover their individual vision and mission and create a vision board to help them achieve it. Already have a vision board? This is a great opportunity to update it and explore any changes that may have occurred in your walk with Christ.
So, yes, this class will eventually lead to your personal mission, vision, and the creation of a vision board to help you remain focused. But we’re not ready for those steps yet. First, we need to explore our mindsets and values and the information we can glean from the word of God.
’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’” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
Often, we hear this verse in relation to a crisis. People use it to give hope to someone who’s struggling; however, if we look at the larger context of the verse, we can learn something else.
In Jeremiah 28, Hananiah misleads the exiles in Babylon by prophesying that God will return all of the Lord’s valuable items and people within two years. Jeremiah calls him to task for being a false prophet. This is the last verse of chapter 28: In the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died.
In the next chapter, we find Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles outlining what God wants them to know AND do:
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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. Jeremiah 29:4-11
This changes the way we look at verse 11. God is telling the people to focus on living their lives where they are, not to hope for the downfall of the Babylonians any time soon. In fact, he tells them to pray for Babylon to prosper! Then, in verse 10, he tells them he will bring them out of Babylon in seventy years! Whoa! I can only imagine how the exiles felt about this prophecy.
Why is this important to consider as we explore our potential lives of service? I don’t want us to miss opportunities because they aren’t the ones we want. The Bible is full of people called to do a service they didn’t desire. Remember Moses? How about Jonah? I’m sure you can think of many other examples. So, before we move on to defining our service areas, I want us to drop the barriers to the areas we don’t want or like. It’s possible you’ll define service areas that appeal greatly to you. God does want us to be joyful and happy in our faith, but don’t be surprised if that joy comes from an unexpected place.