The past three weeks, we've looked at the first two of: God's four-"Ps"-for life (His presence and His purpose). This week, we'll be looking at His plans, and then correlating His purposes with His plans.
What’s a plan? A plan is a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. God has a plan to restore his broken relationship with mankind; that plan could only be executed in stages. First, He sent His only Son, Jesus, into the world, taking on the form of man. Second, Jesus lived among men, and experienced all that we experience, but without sinning. During His time here on earth, He preached God’s love and coming judgment to the people. The fourth step was that through a chain of events, He’d die at the hands of sinners, and rise victorious over sin and death. Next, He planned how mankind would hear the gospel, and come to faith in His Son, Jesus, through evangelism. This last step is still in progress; it will not end until Jesus returns to earth.
God also has plans for each of His children. For instance, He told Jeremiah, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NLT). Jeremiah therefore knew exactly what God’s plan was for him. He didn’t have to wonder or ask, but how about you and me?
Let’s start with the understanding that God already has a plan. But how do we find out what it is? He has endowed each one of us with gifts, interests, abilities, and talents, and then placed us in situations and circumstances that, if we read the Word, pray, pay attention, and seek godly counsel from our spiritual leaders and friends, we’d come to the realization of what God’s plans are for us.
God’s purposes with correlating plans
Purpose: To redeem mankind
● God came to earth: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV), because “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).
● To pay for the sin of man, Jesus died in man’s place: “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6 NLT).
Purpose: To Mature us
● God provided the Bible and the admonishment to study it and allow it to transform us: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT).
● He allows problems and trials in our lives to help us grow: “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).
● He wants us to live in fellowship with people of like faith: “Show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart” (1 Peter 1:22)
● He wants us to share in His suffering: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10 NIV). “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NLT).
Purpose: To grow the Church / Evangelism and Maturity
● God commands us to live in community--encouraging one another, praying for each other (see Ephesians 6:18; Acts 16:4-5, 20:26-32).
● God commands us to share the gospel with others and make more disciples: “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NLT).
● Living to please God: “God’s will is for you to be holy … God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Purpose: Stand up to the devil
When Jesus said it was finished on the cross, He meant it; He had defeated the devil! The devil however, has not given up; he is still fighting, and will continue until the very end. For that reason, the Scriptures teach us to be alert so we are not taken by surprise. Lovingly, God designed an armor for our protection.
● Beware, the devil is a schemer; he even disguises himself as an angel of light (see 2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:14).
● We need to be on the defensive at all times, always wearing the complete armor of God: “Put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil … Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Ephesians 6:11-18 NLT).
Purpose: Secure An Amazing Future
● To provide His children a magnificent place out of this world: “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2-3).
● God wants to be together with the Church uninterrupted, forever---This will begin with the rapture: “The Lord himself will come down with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God … Then we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT).
● To be ready for when Jesus returns: “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Luke 12:40 NLT).
This week, let's focus on God's plans for us, and if we're not sure, let's look intently into His Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us. Next week, we'll look at the fourth/last of God's four-"Ps"-for life (Promises).