The Best Laid Schemes

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Poor Donald Pugh. He was very upset over the unflattering photograph of him released by the Lima, Ohio, police. He appeared overweight and puffy. Pugh was so unhappy he sent them a much better picture of himself—which led to his arrest. It reminds us of the line by poet Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”

Our schemes often go awry. God’s never do. Look back over the course of your life. If you’re a child of God, you’ll undoubtedly see how God opened doors, closed doors, directed and redirected, ruled and overruled, and led in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

In Jeremiah 29, the Lord told the exiles in Babylonian refugee camps to trust the Lord, for His plans for them were good and He would give them a future and a hope. The plans we make for ourselves are far exceeded by God’s plan for us. So trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

When we want to know God’s will there are three things which always concur: the inward impulse, the Word of God, and the trend of circumstances. F. B. Meyer

The Savior’s Mission

John 14:6

Many believers know Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but we should also understand His mission, how He fulfilled it, and what that means to each of us. Christ had a twofold goal in coming to earth: to provide us with a tangible image of who God is, and to die in our place to pay our penalty for sin.

What an incredible plan! The omnipotent, omniscient Lord had existed since eternity past (John 1:1; John 8:58). Yet for a time, He set aside power and strength that were rightfully His, so that He could become like us. Because God-in-human-flesh lived His life before men, we can better understand our heavenly Father (Col. 1:15).

Through Christ’s sacrifice, we are invited into an eternal relationship with God. You see, Scripture teaches that every descendant of Adam is guilty of sin (Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:23), and the punishment is death (Rom. 6:23). The penalty must be paid by the shedding of blood (Lev. 17:11). Yet the Father can accept nothing less than a perfect sacrifice (Deut. 17:1). The Savior—who was fully God, fully man, and 100 percent innocent—died a humiliating, excruciating death to pay the debt we couldn’t afford. He is the only one who could lay down His life to save us and bridge the gap between each person and the Father.

There is no possible way for us to earn our salvation. It is an awesome gift that the Father freely offers to each one of us. The only requirement is that we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and follow Him. Have you chosen to accept this amazing blessing from the Father’s hand?

Our Rock of Salvation

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

Here in the song of Moses, which God instructed him to write for the children of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land (note Deuteronomy 31:19), is the first of at least 40 references in the Bible to God as the Rock. There are four others just in this song. In verse 15, He is the “Rock of [Israel’s] salvation.” In verse 18, He is “the Rock that begat thee.” See also verses 30 and 31.

Note some of the other wonderful metaphors picturing God as our great foundation stone. He is “my strong rock” in Psalm 31:2 and “the rock that is higher than I” in Psalm 61:2. In Psalm 62:7, He is “the rock of my strength” and “the rock of my refuge” in Psalm 94:22. Isaiah calls Him “a great rock in a weary land” and “the rock whence ye are hewn” (Isaiah 32:2; 51:1).

During the wilderness wanderings, the Israelites were supplied continually with water from the rock, and the apostle Paul tells us “that spiritual Rock that followed them . . . was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). And, of course, Christ told His disciples that Peter’s confession of Himself as the “Son of the living God” was the Rock upon which He would build His church (Matthew 16:16, 18).

But to unbelievers He is “the stone which the builders rejected” (Matthew 21:42), “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word” (1 Peter 2:8). “Therefore,” said Jesus, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). HMM

No Problem to God

And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. —1 Timothy 1:14

Our theology is too much colored by our secret self-admiration. We picture God as draining…. draining the last ounce of His strength to save us. This gives us a highly enjoyable feeling that we are capable of mighty world-shaking deeds so terrible that even God respects our power to do evil. The lurid overcoloring of pulpit rhetoric has worked to destroy the truth of God’s sovereignty and to greatly overstate man’s prowess as a sinning rebel.

A man may sin to the limit of his ability and still be no great problem to the Deity. “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

God is infinite and man is finite, which is to say that every man’s sin, however terrific it may seem to him, must have a limit, while God’s grace can have none. Always God must be out ahead, or He would not be God.

Let us put our pride under our feet and admit frankly that our sins are not big nor mighty nor noble…. There is nothing romantic about sin. It is a sordid and shameful thing practiced by moral cads so weak that they take advantage of God’s kindness to defy Him and so cowardly that they run whining to Him for help when trouble comes.

Lord, keep before me always the exceeding ugliness of my sin that I may not take pride in it. Thank You that Your grace is so much bigger than my sin. Amen.

Who is The Heir to All Creation?

God… hath spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

In this life, we are experiencing only unfinished segments of God’s great eternal plan. Certainly we are not able to comprehend fully the glory that will be ours in that future day when leaning on the arm of our heavenly Bridegroom we are led into the presence of the Father in heaven with exceeding joy!

The writer to the Hebrews has tried to help us in the proper exercise of our faith, with the amazing statement that our Lord Jesus Christ is the heir of all things in God’s far-flung creation. All things created have been ordered and laid out so they become the garment of deity and the universal living expression of Himself to this world!

What does “heir of all things” really mean? It includes angels, seraphim, cherubim, ransomed men and women of all ages, matter, mind, law, spirit, value, meaning. It includes life and events on varied levels of being—and God’s great interest embraces them all!

Surely God has left nothing to chance in His creative scheme—whether it be the tiniest blade of grass or the mightiest galaxy in the distant heavens above!

Prayers about our sorrows

It is well for us when prayers about our sorrows are linked with pleas concerning our sins—when, being under God’s hand, we are not wholly taken up with our pain, but remember our offences against God. It is well, also to take both sorrow and sin to the same place. It was to God that David carried his sorrow: it was to God that David confessed his sin. Observe, then, we must take our sorrows to God. Even your little sorrows you may roll upon. God, for he counteth the hairs of your head; and your great sorrows you may commit to him, for he holdeth the ocean in the hollow of his hand.