God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

Speaking of God, the Bible says: You have broken the teeth of the ungodly (Psalm 3:7).

We were reading the Bible together before leaving home for work. My wife read Psalm 3 where David calls out to God for deliverance from his enemies. She paused after verse 7, then said, So much for the people who say that God loves everyone and has a wonderful plan for their lives.

Having God knock out all your teeth snarled in anger isn’t a wonderful plan, unless that weakness brings you to repentance from ungodliness and sin. God does have a wonderful plan of eternal life, but that wonderful plan is limited to those who believe upon Christ Jesus.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Advertisements

If You See a Crowd

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

Daniel and I were invited to a baseball game this past summer. It was a scorching 100-plus degree day, and after finding our seats, I left Daniel and went to buy 2 Cokes. I got in a line that looked like it led to the refreshments. About 10 minutes later I realized I was in a line for the bathrooms.

No one is ever born a Christian, raised a Christian, or becomes a Christian by accident. Eternal life is found and only a few ever find it.

Think a moment about 3 of Christ’s words in Matthew 7:13-14: narrow, difficult, and few. Those are stark words.

More than 8 of 10 Americans claim to be Christians. We see churches filled with people on Sunday morning, some by tens of thousands of people. I heard a pastor say he could get anyone saved in just 10 minutes. Anyone.

How does this match those 3 words of Jesus: narrow, difficult, few?

Salvation isn’t for those desiring an easy entrance into Heaven while walking their own pathway. Christianity isn’t for those looking for health, wealth, and a prosperous life here on Earth. Jesus isn’t an add-on to our lives; rather, He makes all things new. Christ Jesus is for those who are spiritually helpless, who mourn over their sin, and hunger and thirst after a righteousness only He provides (Mt 5:3, 4, 6).

God’s way of salvation is quite simple: trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sin.

There are many people on the broad and easy road, yet God’s way of salvation is so narrow and difficult that only a few ever find the Gate. So if you see a crowd, you’re probably on the wrong road.

Many are called; but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).

The Ark of His Testimony

Revelation 11 begins with a scene from the earthly temple of God and moves to the temple of God … in Heaven where John sees the ark of His covenant. In the heavenly temple, the ark of His covenant is a reminder that God’s promise of salvation isn’t about us, what we deserve, or our religious rituals. Salvation is about the covenant promise God made and fulfilled in Himself.

The word ark means chest or container used to store something precious.

God had Noah build an ark. Into that ark God sent two of every kind of animal with Noah with his family. Of special note is Genesis 7:16. When the ark was finished, the Bible says those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him, and the Lord shut him in. The Lord shut Noah, who was precious to Him, into the safety of the ark.

About 900 years later, God had Moses build a small box known as the ark of the covenant or the ark of the testimony. The ark symbolized God’s presence among His earthly people Israel (Num 10:35, 36). Once a year the Jewish high priest sprinkled sacrificial blood on the ark to symbolize God’s covering of their sins (Lev 16:2-16).

Inside this ark were three precious symbols of God’s covenant: the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments revealing the will of God, Aaron’s dead walking stick that came back to life and budded, and a jar of bread from Heaven called manna. None of these symbols were man-made. God made them and they testified of Him.

Today we understand that the ark of the covenant symbolized Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9) and He testifies to the character of the invisible Father (Jn 1:14, 18).

As our Prophet, Jesus perfectly delivered and fulfilled the Word of God that we break (Mt 5:17). Our our Priest, He didn’t offer a sacrifice but gave Himself as a Sacrifice, His blood taking away our sins, then was resurrected to forever minister on our behalf (Heb 4:14-15; 7:24-25). As our King, He provides for us eternal life, feeding us with Himself, the Bread of Heaven (Jn 6:32-35).

A More Excellent Sacrifice

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks to us today (Hebrews 11:4).

Like parents today, Adam and Eve shared everything they knew with their children. Certainly they re-told the story of God’s creation, the beauties of the Garden of Eden, their fellowship with God, their act of rebellion against Him, the consequences of their sin, and God’s provision of forgiveness through the sacrifice of an innocent substitute. Surely Cain and Abel knew from their parents that approaching God was possible by only one means.

We learn in Genesis 4:2-7 that Cain offered a sacrifice to God from the ground, something he planted, labored over, and cultivated with his own effort. He went through the motions of a ritual, bringing his self-produced offering to the Lord, full of his own work, absent of any faith in God’s provision alone.

Abel, however, brought the blood sacrifice of an innocent animal, his faith leaping across the centuries to touch the cross, the only sacrifice God would accept. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering (Genesis 4:4).

Cain trusted in himself; Abel trusted in God. Cain’s sacrifice was bloodless; Abel’s was the life of an innocent substitute. Cain gave of his own labor; Abel, by faith, accepted the death of another in his place. Angry that God did not respect Cain and his offering, Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4:5, 8).

These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31).

Fully Preventable

According to government statistics, 110 Americans die each day in car accidents. The three leading causes of traffic deaths are:

  • Distractions, like cell phones
  • Speeding
  • Substance intoxication

Each of these causes of death is completely preventable. The use of a phone is fully banned for drivers in 15 states, and 47 states ban texting while driving. Driving above the speed limit is illegal in all 50 states. Substance intoxication is against the law in all 50 states.

An eternity in Hell is also fully preventable.

The Bible says that Jesus surrendered His life on a cross, dying in the place of sinners. By trusting in Jesus alone to take your sins upon Himself, you can receive eternal life.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Resurrection from the Dead

It was Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the American Republic, who wrote, Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Death and taxes are two sure components of every human life, but there is a third: the resurrection from the dead.

In the Old Testament, a man named Job asked the question: If a man dies, shall he live again? (Job 14:14). The answer from Jesus was a resounding “YES!” Jesus said that all of the dead shall indeed live again (John 5:29).

Every human comes into this world physically alive, but at the same time is spiritually dead because of sin (Ephesians 2:1).

At the new birth, through faith in Jesus, the sinner is given spiritual life (Ephesians 2:5). Though his physical life will come to an end and his body will decompose into the dirt from which he came, there will be a physical resurrection for him (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). These resurrected physical bodies will be suited for eternity with God in the New Heaven and New Earth.

The Bible also promises a physical resurrection for the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15), whose physical bodies will be suited for eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Jesus said, The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear My voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29).

You don’t just life today for this life; you are living and making decisions that will span eternity.

Doubly Secure

My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).

My wife laughed uncontrollably as she watched the video of the grandson taking his first steps. Isaac stood on his own like a pro and then wobbled and hobbled a few steps before jerking and teetering like the toy tin robot I had as a child. Unable to control his speed, he finally fell.

Spiritually, I feel strong, but I know how truly weak and feeble I really am. I know the sin that so easily sits under the surface of every moment, ready to knock me to the ground and bloody my lip. I’m aware of the pride and self-sufficiency that follows me through my day, and the lusts and doubts that haunt my nights.

Jesus promised to give His sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:28). He holds me securely in His hand, and if that isn’t enough, as if His strength could ever fail or falter, I’m also held in the hand of the Father. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand (John 10:29). I’m kept doubly secure.

My faith, my hope, and my eternal soul are not secure because of any strength in me. I have none. But I do trust and rejoice that I am kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).

Arrested in Kenya

We made our way home in a borrowed car after a lengthy day of ministry. It was late evening as we approached the often seen police barricades on the highway. Kenyan police usually wave passenger vehicles through, but not this night.

Two police officers with machine guns approached us; one to each side of the car. Looking at Matthew in the passenger seat and me in the back, an officer demanded to see our passports which we’d left at home. Pastor Mathembe was ordered out of the vehicle to a loud berating.

American police are commissioned to “protect and serve.” Unlike Americans, Kenyans live in fear of the police who are seldom friendly, helpful, or speak in gentle tones. They are paramilitary and prone at traffic stops to confiscate the vehicle, arrest the driver and his passengers, and ask questions later.

The female commander demanded Matthew provide his passport. Pastor Mathembe had already explained that our home was just a short distance away. He’d get the passports and return, but she wouldn’t hear of it; we might be terrorists who would flee.

Matthew explained who we were, what we’d been doing, and that we had the proper documents at the house. She yelled at Matthew, How do I know that I can trust you? 

Matthew answered as any good Calvinist preacher would: I guess you can’t. I’m a sinner just like you are. I later told him his reply was either the boldest or dumbest thing ever uttered; probably both. The gospel of Jesus isn’t seeker-friendly.

The officer pulled her head out of the car window and let us continue home.

The Bible condemns us all as sinners deserving the eternal wrath of God (Romans 3:23 and 6:23), but by personal faith in Jesus Christ, we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

In the Beginning was Not the Video

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

My 18-year old will watch any video or GIF I send him, but anything longer than a few sentences he refuses to read. Even in his high school literature and writing classes, reading has been replaced with watching videos.

Can you see the implications of this? Ravi Zacharis did when he said, “In the beginning was the Word, not the video.

There’s been a dramatic shift thanks in large part to social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat: the written word is becoming obsolete. Gone is researched data, reasoned argument, and logical conclusion; replaced by catchy images lasting milli-moments, creating emotioned response and experience, but conjuring no thought nor conveying truth. Pictures get “likes” but text is ignored.

The impact of the words, In the beginning was the Word, cannot be expressed with a catchy video clip.

Some argue that video didn’t exist in Jesus’ day. If it had …. We forget that they did have drawings, mosaics, paintings, and statues, yet God still chose to call Himself the Logos, the Word.

Video and picture have a place revealing information, but truth is different. Truth must be pondered, questioned, and internalized. The image of a rose may display beauty, but scant truth.

The living Truth in the Person of Jesus is revealed in the written Truth of God, the Bible. Yet in a world desperately seeking truth, God’s Word is ignored because we refuse to read. Eternal life is within the reach of our hands, but we can’t see it because of the video screen.

I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name (Psalm 138:2).

Have You Heard of Our Water?

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16).

Last week we attended the annual Oregon State Fair in Salem. It’s always so much fun.

We enjoy looking at the dairy cows, draft horses, Asian chickens, old cars, pig races, and strangely dressed people from across our state. One fair venue houses hundreds of booths where people sell their wares, everything from hair chalk to snake jerky, bed mattresses to pickles the size of a football.

As we were wandering through the building, a young woman held out a cup of water. Have you heard of our water? It’s imported from Japan and it’s prolonging the lives of people all over the world. It’s been proven to extend your life, prevent cancer, and even cure diabetes. Would you like to try it?

I thanked her for the offer on such a hot day, but said, I’m a Christian and believe that God ordained the day of my birth, the day of my death, and everything in between. He’s in control of my life and none of your water is going to change that. 

She smiled and agreed. As we walked away a few minutes later, my son said, There you go again freaking people out. 

Jesus was offered a cup of water from a women. In return He offered her the water of life. He said to her, Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall given him will never thirst again. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).