Are You in God’s Plan?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.” Jer. 29:11, 12. NLT

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mt. 25:34 AMP

…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will… Eph. 1:4, 5. NKJV

So, technically, yes. We were all in God’s plan. And God laid down the entirety of that plan in the sacred texts of the Bible. Yet throughout history, people have tried to corrupt that plan. It began with the Jewish Rabbis, who affixed a plethora of extra ‘conditions’ that the parishioners had to meet in order to gain holiness. 

These conditions we constructed to be impossible to meet, to necessitate the Rabbi’s existence to ‘help’ others to have a hope for pleasing God. But that is not of God. Why? 

“So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them.” Dt. 12:32 NLT

The Rabbis were clearly in violation of scripture. So, who were the Rabbis following?

It has always been the policy of Satan, since the world began, to break the power of moral government over mind; to introduce confusion, rebellion, and damnation, into the universe of God. Charles G. Finney

The devil sows chaos, often through misguided people, to separate them from God. The Jews were so misinformed about scripture, that they didn’t even recognize the Messiah in Christ. Yet His gospel and the early church blazed the way for the purity in the word of God – for at time… 

However, man-manipulated scripture reared its ugly head again with the advent of different church denominations, founded by those who planted more seeds of satanic confusion. Parishioners reflected this confusion as they became tainted with corrupted teachings. They became separated from God’s ‘true north’:

And Jesus replied to him, “’YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.” Mt. 22:37 – 40. AMP.

If you are sticking to God’s plan: loving Him, yourself and all others, you will be acting that out. When you stick to the plan, you are in God’s plan – except when you’re not, i.e. slipped into sin. However, God immediately brings you back in the plan when you confess and repent, when you have faith in God’s deliverance though Christ.

That’s how it works. Then you won’t be rubbing some beads, paying money to buy forgiveness of sins (doesn’t work), worship angels and ‘exalted’ saints, or elect some man to be your propitiator with Christ.

When you have Jesus, you’ll know that it is your dependency upon Him and Him alone that delivers you from your transgressions and keeps you humble in the majesty of His presence, as you remember that you have no righteousness without Him. Only Christ gives you access to God.

This too, is contrary to those people in the church that are legalists. You cannot ‘earn’ your way to salvation.

Another way that we are prevented from being in God’s plan, is by parsing His word; i.e. ‘cherry-picking’ only certain scriptures to obey. This is basically doing the same as the Rabbis of old, that is, removing parts of God’s word by ignoring their sacred instruction.

For example, there are those who deny the final ‘sifting, at the end of time:

“…and He will put the sheep on His right [the place of honor], and the goats on His left [the place of rejection]. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”…”Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Leave Me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons)…” Mt. 25:33, 34 & 41. AMP

Crystal clear yet ignored by many to justify having a ‘license’ to sin. To disobey is to sin; to commit unrepentant sin is to invite death.

To reiterate, the gospel was given to save; yet when we mangle God’s word, we negate that salvation for ourselves, because we place our faith in that which is corrupt.

Another way to be rejected from God’ plan is to be a hearer of the word, a seeker of piety in the presence of others, instead of engaging in acts of righteousness, which is a natural outcome of one who lives out his or her salvation.

We cannot take the grace of God for granted. There is but one church, the church of Christ. There is but one word of God, and it’s only found in the Bible. There exists but one gospel: that Jesus is the only way to salvation; and once we’ve embraced Him, we can live those out those righteous guidelines to live a life of happiness for ourselves and to promote the same to everyone we meet.

Embrace the word of God in its purity and live a purified life. Walk away from those who steadfastly refuse to stop mixing worldly elements and the word of man with scripture.

As you live in the light, you are in God’s plan…

Goodnight and God bless.  

Why Would Anyone Choose Death?

“Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die…I don’t want you to die,” says the Sovereign LORD. “Turn back and live!” Eze. 18:31, 32. NLT

Let’s first consider that everyone will die. For the souls of the followers of Christ, that death is but for a moment. For the unbeliever / sinner, death is eternal and excruciatingly conscious  – unless they get a new heart. 

Yet, the majority of those exposed to the gospel choose death. Why? The answer is simple. They put more value upon their worldly obsessions (sins). We can’t do anything for those who won’t come to Christ; but, let’s make the case for those that may…

Obviously, the above scripture is not talking about upgrading your blood-pumping organ. You only get one of those. God is referring to going after a new ‘spiritual’ heart. 

The Spiritual heart is the fountain of spiritual life, it is that deep-seated, but voluntary preference of the mind… Charles G. Finney

The scripture says that it is possible for you to get one; but it does not come from changing anything corporeal about yourself. It comes from learning the gospel, accepting Jesus as your Savior, and then living in obedience to God’s word. 

So, it is made manifest in the character and behavior of the believer, as he or she strives for godliness in the present, as well as maintaining a focus on things eternal – all the while, bringing God glory. It is something, that, to the best of our ability, we are responsible for doing, through a continuing series of free-will decisions. 

With the help of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, we are doing our best to evolve from self-centeredness to selflessness, living for a joyful life that is the fruit of our submitting to God’s will. 

This is not to say that our journey is not without labor. Through Adam’s sin, (when he turned his back on God and rebelled – defiling his spiritual heart), our hearts were corrupted:

“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slander.” Mt. 15:19 CSB

Thus predisposing our need for conversion, and the continual nurturing of it. All the while, we must remain aware of the duplicitous nature of the devil, who is always telling us that it’s okay to abandon our path, or at least indulge in ‘little deviances.’ The pursuit of these indiscretions returns our heart to its original corrupt condition. 

We will slip, but we are so blessed with a loving and forgiving God. When we approach Christ in earnest confession and repentance, our spiritual heart will be restored. Moreover, we are divinely strengthened, in order to persevere after the renewal:

The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. Ps. 19:7 NLT

Yes, by staying in God’s word – be it in personal study, listening to the Holy Spirit, or listening in church, as well in leaning on the Holy Spirit, our troubles will be minimized: 

…each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Jas. 1:14 ESV

“Get up and pray, so that you will not give into temptation.” Lk. 22:46 NLT

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Cor. 10:13 NASB

If you remain in trouble, then you’ve chosen a different master. However, a far better case can be made for doing the right thing, because your life will not be crippled with the ravages of sin. In addition, the scripture clearly tells us that we have the God-given strength to exercise our will to do so. 

Therein lies the divine formula: The salvation and strength of God + the obedient strengthened will of the believer, with right action = spiritual deliverance through a new heart. 

Willful, rebellious sinners cling to that corrupted Adam-inherited heart, nurturing it through their own set of free-will choices – which will, (without intervention), lead to their eternal demise. 

That should motivate believers to try to lavish the gospel, in word and deed, to as many potential children of God as possible, for the sake of helping them grab hold of their new hearts.

And that new heart, is buried inside of them, waiting to be set free:

It was of HIs own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself – sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes]. Jas.1:18 AMP

God will never make a sinner turn from his or her sins. They must be in a place to understand what a right relationship with Him can bring, as well as the horror of refusing it. He wants to love all of us, but we first have to open our arms to receive it. Then, reconciliation can begin, as the work of the Holy Spirit commences. 

A rebel cannot feign ignorance. He or she knows when they are sinning; that knowledge is innate

“My Spirit which is upon you [writing the law of God on the heart], and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth…,” says the LORD, “from now and forever.” Is. 59:21 AMP

The Holy Spirit convicts them, children of God or not. He wants to draw them home. As we saw in the opening scripture, God doesn’t want anyone to perish.

Why would anyone choose death? Perhaps, even though they know they sin, they don’t know that it leads to death. Maybe they’ve been discouraged by the devil, as he tries to divert their eyes from the light. Finally, they may just prefer the flesh. Regardless, they are choosing death. 

That is not what we do. Thank God for His grace. I think we should tell them that it’s time for a new heart: 

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life…” Dt. 30:19

Goodnight and God bless. 

Keeping Godly Company – part 2

Last time, we looked at transcending individual church denominations, (without judgment), to come together as a cohesive peaceful and loving force for Christ and His kingdom. This time lets investigate how we can increase the quantity of our godly company. 

First, we must do away with our opinion of the quality of the people that we meet: 

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of all the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us… Acts 17:25 – 27. NKJV

Everyone is created by God; and He wants every one of them to embrace His salvation. Jehovah does not turn anyone away. Neither should we. Otherwise, we are practicing judgment. Judgment can be applied towards actions, but never towards the people who act. We don’t know how life may have stepped on them. Remember, it’s not about what we think about others, it’s about what God thinks. 

This is just as relevant in our treatment of brothers and sisters in Christ who may have fallen out of faith, or, are practicing their faith in the framework of ‘situational ethics;’ i.e. considering some sins as being acceptable. 

We must lovingly approach them to see where their attachment to the world remains, how they think a particular sin behavior benefits them, to search for any hidden roots of pride or envy, or to discover how they might perceive that God has let them down. 

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Gal. 6:1 NLT

We need to show them the grace of God in our behavior towards them. Believe me, they already feel convicted. We must try to follow the example as our Lord: extending mercy and compassion, using the word of God to bring healing love and restoration, and pray with them that they might be in right relationship with God again – to the God who always forgives. Then they can continue on in their life on the highest and best path, with the indwelling guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The second way we can increase the quantity of our godly company is to answer our ‘Great Commission,’ to win new souls to Christ. Everything we’ve looked at so far, should be incorporated with our approach to a secular potential child of God as well; except this time, we must begin with a clean slate. 

We must ask them about themselves first. What is their occupation? What do they do for fun? Ask about their family. How do they think life is treating them? Get to know them and procure a feeling of how the world has shaped this individual. 

Keep in mind that they may not even know that they practice sin:

Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Ps. 19:12 CSB

Then ask the big questions (e.g. How did life start? What happens when you die?). For a very detailed treatise on the gospel and the giving of it, see my previous posts Christ’s Foot Soldiers, posted from 6/5/19 – 7/14/19.

The irony is, that if you are lovingly speaking the gospel, the sinner will feel convicted; but that’s what is required so that they can see the need for salvation. 

Some may even take offense, because they don’t want to give up their lifestyle. God will gather who He gathers. We must be purposeful in our zeal, because an eternal separation is coming. 

If they are unwilling, they will live out eternity in the presence of their master – the accuser. At that point, you’ve done your best. It’s between them and God. You must separate yourself from a willful sinner:

“As you go into the house, give it your greeting [that is, ‘Peace be to this house’]. If [the family living in] the house is worthy [welcoming you and your message], give it your blessing of] peace [that is, a blessing of well-being and prosperity, the favor of God]. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not welcome you, nor listen to your message, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust [of it] off your feet [in contempt, breaking all ties].” Mt 10:12 – 14. AMP

“Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.” Nm. 16:26 NASB

‘Sinners cannot walk with Saints.’ Charles G. Finney

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs. They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” Mt. 7:6 NLT

Ah, but for those willing to embrace Jehovah and the gift of His Son, hallelujah. God has opened their hearts through you, so that they can understand what must be done to live the life that opens the door, so that the Holy Spirit can take residence:

For by these He has bestowed on us His precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value], so that by them you may escape from the immoral freedom that is in the world because of disreputable desire, and become sharers of the divine nature. For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising] your faith to develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding), and in your knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness. 2 Pt. 1:4 – 6. AMP

Yes, if you cry out for insight, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek skillful and godly wisdom as you would silver and search for her as you would hidden treasures; then you will understand the [reverent] fear of the LORD [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] and discover the knowledge of God. 

For the LORD gives [skillful and godly] wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores away sound wisdom for the righteous [those who are in right standing with Him]; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity [those of honorable character and moral courage], He guards the paths of justice; and preserves the way of HIs saints (believers). 

Then you will understand righteousness and justice [in every circumstance] and integrity and every good path. Pr. 2:3 – 9. AMP

Pretty soon, you’ll have godly company on every side…

Goodnight and God bless. 

Keeping Godly Company

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? Amos 3:3 NLT

We keep harmonious company with followers of Christ, who, is our primary focus; and together, we bring as many people of the world to His kingdom. That’s the way it was in the very first church of Christ:

All these with one mind and one purpose were continually devoting themselves to prayer, [waiting together]… Acts 1:14 AMP

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46, 47. NASB

And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul… Acts 4:32 NASB

So it should be with all the children of God. Yet, as long as we have egos that we are attached to, there will be differences and judgments. Indeed, out of them were born all of the church denominations – something I feel is injurious to the church yet is probably not going to go away until the church of Christ is united in heaven.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of whether we sprinkle or dunk, pray on our knees in church or standing with our hands outstretched, with reserved preachers or those who are pulpit-pounding, fire-and-brimstone clergymen, or be it hymnal based or a bit of rock and roll. It doesn’t matter. What matters is God’s grand vision of loving Him, others and ourselves, and winning souls for Jesus, bringing God glory – all of which will plant us all smack dab in His heavenly eternity.

Not one of us is the same in our perceptions and understandings and how we act on them. This is why there should always be striving for loving dialogue between Christian believers of all flavors. 

We can’t do that if we judge one another regarding our approach to God’s word, our sacred rites to honor the Father and the Son, or over the way others might worship, (as long as they do not run counter to scripture). In fact, God clearly prohibits it:

Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters. One who eats must not look down on one who does not eat, and one who does not eat must not judge one who does, because God has accepted him. Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands of falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand. Rm. 14:1 – 4. CSB

Therefore, let us no longer judge one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of your brother or sister. Rm. 14:13 CSB

So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. Rm. 14:19 CSB

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice. Rm. 15:5, 6. CSB

We can come together as Christians, regardless of our denominations, if we can cling to the real Truths together, as brothers and sisters, in times of adversity or joy, helping each other, by touching God together. 

We are all united in the presence of God. We can get past the elementary ‘like attracts like,’ which pervades the denominations, and remember who we are in Christ, respecting each other’s way of reaching out to God and bringing hope to the hopeless masses.

The apostle Paul was a great example of a chameleon-like transformer in order to effectively preach the gospel. He never would have let denominations get in his way:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside that law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 1 Cor. 9:19 – 21. ESV

We have a great big wonderful job to do, and we need all the help that we can get…

Goodnight and God bless.