Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of Oklahoma megachurch Life.Church, warned listeners about misusing a popular verse from the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 29:11 reads "'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.'"
Groeschel recently told those listening in person and watching online that the often quoted Jeremiah verse needs to be put into context.
After all, the verse was part of a letter the Prophet Jeremiah sent to the elders and others of the nation of Israel who were exiled after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian Empire.
"When we read this verse what we need to understand is there will be specific promises in the Bible and there will be general promises," stated Groeschel.
"There are specific promises made to a specific group of people and there are general promises made to everybody. The truth is that Jeremiah 29:11 is a specific promise made to the Jewish exiles."
Groeschel stressed that while the verse is meant for the elders of the Israelite exiles, there were parts of the verse that did apply to modern believers.
"'For I know the plans I have for you.' Does God have plans for us? Does God have a purpose for us? All day long," continued Groeschel.
"Does God have plans to bless people? All day long. The Bible says that, [and] we interpret scripture with scripture, God is a good God who loves to give good gifts to His Children. Does God prosper people? All the time."
Groeschel's sermon on Jeremiah 29:11 was third in a series of messages titled "Twisted: The Most Misused Verses of the Bible."
"The Bible is full of wisdom. People love to quote their favorite verses to encourage and inspire each other — but sometimes, those verses get taken out of context. What happens when the most important message of all gets Twisted?" read the series' description.
Past sermons focused on 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" and Matthew 7:1, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."
Back in 2013, spoken word poet Jefferson Bethke had also warned Christians about misapplying Jeremiah 29:11. In a 2013 YouTube video, Bethke stressed that "we can't just take one verse out and kind of prostitute it out on our Facebook and our Twitter without looking at the narrative."
"I think sometimes we take verses that God meant for a specific people for a specific time and we then wrench it out of its context and use it for (our) individual walk," continued Bethke.
"Notice that He says 'for I know the plans I have for you.' I think a lot of time with this verse, we really prostitute God out, turn Him into a Santa Claus or turn Him into a genie... We make our plans and then say 'now God do them.'"