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Devotionals    H3'ed 9/13/15

Sacrificing Sacred Pentecostal Cows - The Plans God Actually Has for Your Life

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He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6: 8 (ESV)

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. - Philippians 3: 7-11 (ESV)

These are not very seeker friendly Bible verses. You will not hear them preached often from pulpits today because they do not scratch itching ears. They in fact can be considered abrasive. But they do reveal a purposeful God when it comes to our live. He first wants to see us come repentance to avoid perishing. He secondly requires a life that does justly, loves mercy and walks humbly. Lastly, He also requires that in exchange for the eternal life He grants us that we cede our temporal life to Him. To be found in Him! To be found in His resurrection! To share in His sufferings! To become like Him! Oh glory preach that from the pulpits! Celebrate that as divine purpose and not some earthly promise of trinkets and baubles that will not even pass the test of fire we know is coming! Oh beloved, God has a plan all right but it may not be what we have been led to believe. Consider the life of the Apostle Paul. When first saved, God knew the plans He had for him:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." - Acts 9: 10-16 (ESV)

For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. There was the plan God had in store for the life of the Apostle Paul. No comfort and ease. No riches and glory. Just suffering for the name of the one who saved him. Later on we would see Paul summarize the execution of this plan in his life:

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one--I am talking like a madman--with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. - 2Corinthians 11: 23-30 (ESV)

You see beloved, it was not about Paul. It was always about Christ. The problem with the way preachers preach Jeremiah 29:11 is they make it out to be all about you instead of being all about God. You're feeling down? Don't worry God has a great plan for you! You can't pay your bills? Don't worry God always wants to prosper you! You are dissatisfied with your life? Don't worry, God wants to give you a hope and future! It turns God into Glinda the Good Witch and Jeremiah 29:11 into a magic pair of ruby slippers. Just click them three times and say, "there's nothing like prosperity, there's nothing like prosperity, there's nothing like prosperity."

Except God is not a caricature and Jeremiah 29:11 is not a magic spell. It was a reminder to the exiles that God still had a plan for their lives. While He still has a plan for ours today because He is sovereign that does not mean it is all puppies and pancakes. Peter's plan was to be crucified upside down. The plan for Charles Spurgeon included a lifelong struggle with depression. The plan for Dietrich Bonhoeffer ended by dying in a Nazi concentration camp just two weeks before that camp was liberated. Beloved, I am not saying that God will never provide material increase. For some He will. For others He will not. He remains sovereign. What far too many preachers have done with Jeremiah 29:11 is to apply it to everyone equally in order to focus us on the temporal when God designed it to remind us about the eternal. It is a fantastic verse set in the middle of a poignant letter, found in an inspiring book. It reveals that God is always in control. Forget prosperity as the world defines it and start thinking about the peace that God is willing to give to us all. It is the peace that Paul maintained despite all he was suffering for the sake of the Lord's name. It is the peace that propelled Spurgeon on to preach despite of his mortal feelings. It is the peace that Bonhoeffer no doubt had as the Nazis slid a noose around his neck. It is the peace of the three Hebrew boys defying King Nebuchadnezzar when they could feel the heat of the fiery furnace. It is the peace of Joseph, who never sought retribution against all of those who had done so wrong by him. Give me that. Preach that. You can keep your ruby slippers.

Reverend Anthony Wade - September 13, 2015

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 
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