Everyone Has a Plan

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

Boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.” It’s amazing how easily our plans are derailed. If you’ve ever planned a trip, a church event, a family gathering, or the launch of a business plan, you know to expect the unexpected. Sometimes life punches us in the mouth.

Our Almighty God has a plan for our lives, and His plans are never derailed. In Jeremiah 29, the prophet Jeremiah warned his people of coming judgment and impending invasion. The nation of Judah was about to be punched in the mouth. But God’s plans were undeterred, and Jeremiah reassured them of their eventual return and restoration to the land. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you… plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

It’s important to plan and prepare for life. But if your plans have suffered a setback, don’t let discouragement overtake your mind. Your heavenly Father loves you, He knows all about it, and His plans will unfold with grace and mercy, in His timing, and for His glory.

Sometimes our plans don’t work out because God has better ones. Anonymous

God’s Call to Repentance

Luke 15:11-24

In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger brother asked for his inheritance early so he might live as he chose. Once the father gave him his share, the young man made many unwise choices that led to hunger and destitution. What happened next illustrates the principles of godly repentance.

After squandering all of his money, the wayward son found work feeding pigs, a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of job. One day he came to his senses and recognized his terrible plight. His repentance began with an awareness of his wrong choices and the fact that his bad situation was due to them.

Knowing that his difficulties came from unrighteous behavior, the prodigal grieved over his mistakes and acknowledged his sin (Luke 15:18). He declared he was no longer worthy to be his father’s son. Godly sorrow and confession led the young man to leave that place and go home. His repentance was made complete when he turned away from his old ways and returned to his father. The Lord likewise calls us to repent and return to Him.

What a welcome the prodigal son received! Upon seeing him, the father was filled with compassion and ran to embrace him. Forgiveness and acceptance were extended to the son. Both are blessings that God freely offers to whoever asks Him.

The prodigal son did not clean himself up before returning home. He simply left his old life, turned toward home, and trusted in his father’s mercy. The heavenly Father calls us to repent and offers us forgiveness when we turn away from our self-centered ways and move toward godliness (1 John 1:9).

Unceasing Prayer

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

This is, no doubt, the shortest commandment in the Bible, and seemingly the most difficult to obey. How could anyone possibly pray without ceasing? What about sleeping, or working, or other necessary pursuits?

Paul himself claimed to pray without ceasing. For example, he wrote to the Roman church: “For God is my witness, . . . that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers” (Romans 1:9). To the Thessalonians he wrote: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). In his very last epistle he wrote: “I thank God . . . that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day” (2 Timothy 1:3).

It is obvious from such references that Paul did not mean we should be uttering prayers continually, but rather to be continually in a prayerful attitude and never to stop the regular practice of prayer. In like fashion, the Lord Jesus said: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). In the parable following this command, He spoke of God’s “own elect, which cry day and night unto him” (Luke 18:7). This would further imply that our prayerful attitude and regular practice of specific prayer should be taking place every day and every night. We should never “faint”—that is, “lose heart”—if the answer isn’t what or when we hope, but keep on praying anyway. When it’s the right time, He will, indeed, answer “speedily,” and in the right way (Luke 18:8).

To pray without ceasing means simply to be free to communicate quickly with Him, night and day, always in an attitude of prayer. “If ye abide in me,” He said, “and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). HMM

A King on a Throne

I nave heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seem thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. —Job 42:5-6

Yet so subtle is self that scarcely anyone is conscious of its presence. Because man is born a rebel, he is unaware that he is one. His constant assertion of self, as far as he thinks of it at all, appears to him a perfectly normal thing. He is willing to share himself, sometimes even to sacrifice himself for a desired end, but never to dethrone himself No matter how far down the scale of social acceptance he may slide, he is still in his own eyes a king on a throne, and no one, not even God, can take that throne from him.

Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, “I AM.” That is sin in its concentrated essence; yet because it is natural it appears to be good. It is only when in the gospel the soul is brought before the face of the Most Holy One without the protective shield of ignorance that the frightful moral incongruity is brought home to the conscience. In the language of evangelism the man who is thus confronted by the fiery presence of Almighty God is said to be under conviction.

Lord, throughout this year I have been confronted with Your majesty. May this cause me to recognize my own sinfulness, to repent and to allow You to have the throne. Amen.

The Brotherhood of the Redeemed

To them gave he power to become the sons of God. (John 1:12)

Anyone making even a quick review of Genesis will discover that God has told us more about His presence in creation and in history than about the details of human civilization.

We believe that eternity dwells in the Person of God and that the material universe came into being through God’s creation.

The first man and woman in the human race were created. They failed in their initial encounter with Satan, our archenemy. Following that, the Genesis record becomes a narrative of human failure against the abiding backdrop of God’s faithfulness.

God Himself, through the Holy Spirit, points out a universal problem: the natural brotherhood of human beings is a sinful brotherhood. It is the brotherhood of all who are spiritually lost.

But the Bible has good news. It is the revelation of a new brotherhood, the brotherhood of the redeemed! We know it in our time as the believing church of our Lord Jesus Christ in all nations.

It is a new brotherhood among men based on regeneration—and restoration!

I give unto my sheep

I give unto my sheep,” saith he, “eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” What sayest thou to this, O trembling feeble mind? Is not this a precious mercy, that coming to Christ, thou dost not come to one who will treat thee well for a little while, and then send thee away, but he will receive thee and make thee his bride, and thou shalt be his forever. Receive no longer the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby thou shalt cry, Abba, Father! Oh, the grace of these words, “I will in no wise cast out!”