Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God has a design for each one of our lives. This design is his intended purpose for us. And, that is that we be conformed to (match) the image (likeness) of Jesus Christ, God the Son. We are to become like Jesus in our thinking, attitudes, character, conduct (behavior), passion and purity.
His plan for our lives, too, is that we be sound (whole) spiritually, no longer damaged (controlled) by sin, but now in good spiritual condition, restored to fellowship with God by faith in Jesus Christ, delivered from our slavery to sin, now walking in holiness and purity in the power of God at work within our lives. For this is for our benefit (welfare), and for our hope and future.
Not for Evil
Although we are born into this world with sin natures, God the Father’s plan for our lives is not that we live our lives for sin and for self. And, that is why he sent His only begotten Son Jesus (the Christ) into the world, to take on human form, and to die on a cross for us. For on that cross Jesus became sin for us, so that when he died, our sins were put to death with him.
But, the purpose of this was not just so that we would be forgiven our sins, and be set free from the punishment of sin (eternal damnation), and that we might have the hope of heaven when we die. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). This is the essence of the gospel.
For, when we believe in him with God-like faith, which is persuaded of God as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our need to be like him, we die with Christ to sin, we are born anew of the Spirit of God, and we are given new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Hope and Future
The hope and the future that we have in Jesus Christ, too, are not just that when we die we are going to go to heaven to be with our Lord. For, Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; and to live it now, in the present, one day at a time (2 Co. 5:15).
Therefore, our hope is present. Our future is present, too, i.e. it is every day, one day at a time, moment by moment, and not just in the far off distant future.
Our hope is that we are no longer bound by slavery (addiction) to sin. Amen! For, Jesus set us free! And, our hope is that we can wake up every day and have a purpose for why we are here, and that we can fulfill that purpose, too, in the power of God. Our lives are not without meaning or direction.
Even when bad things happen to us, or to those we love, we can still hold on to hope. We have to believe that our God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, that he has power over all evil, and that he is absolutely all good and all loving. And, when we truly accept this, then we can accept whatever it is that he brings into our lives, that he has allowed it for a reason, and that he will bring good out of it in some way.
Jeremiah 29:12-13 ESV
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Seeking and Finding
This is not a guarantee that everyone in this world is going to call upon God just because they have heard the truth of what Jesus did for them on that cross. For, not everyone combines what they hear with faith.
But, it is a guarantee that if we seek the Lord with our whole heart that we will find him. But, we need to understand what that means. For, this is not talking about repeating some words after someone else, supposedly in prayer to God, whereby we say we receive him or accept him as Savior of our lives. For, words can be cheap if they are not accompanied by true faith.
For, if we seek God with all of our heart, that means that our whole (entire) being, the core of who we are, is committed to finding him, and to knowing him, and to obeying him, too, because we can’t know him if we will not obey him.
All Your Heart
So, what does this look like, this seeking the Lord with all our heart? It definitely begins with humility. We have to humble ourselves before the Lord, own up to our sins, willingly turn away from them, and then turn to walk with Jesus in obedience to his teachings (his instructions to us).
But, we don’t do this in the flesh. First we are drawn to Jesus Christ by the Father. Then, God gifts us with the faith to believe in him. And, this faith is divinely persuaded of our need to leave our lives of sin behind us to follow our Lord in surrender to his will and his purposes and plans for our lives.
Thus, the faith to believe in Jesus Christ is submission to Him as Lord (owner-master) of our lives. It is dying with Christ to sin and living with Christ in purity, holiness, honesty, integrity, faithfulness and love. It is not saying we will be perfect, or that we will never sin again, but it is saying that Jesus is now the commander of our lives, and our lives are given to him.
And, it is also saying that we no longer walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), but we walk (in lifestyle) in the light of God’s love and truth, and according to the Spirit of God in faithfulness, purity, etc. as a matter of course, of lifestyle, of practice. And, we do this because we love God with all our heart.
Not Everyone Does
Not everyone who claims faith in Jesus Christ, though, truly has sought the Lord with all their heart, nor do they love him with all their heart. Many make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ for multiple reasons which have nothing to do with committing their lives to the Lord in surrender to his plan.
I believe that some of these people were sincere in their decisions they made, but that they were ill-informed, sometimes willfully, as to what it means to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. So, they buy into a lie, with human faith, thinking it guarantees them heaven as their future, but while life goes on mostly as it did before.
And, this is why it is so critical that we are sharing the whole truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not half-truths or diluted truths intended to give people a false hope while leaving them still bound in slavery to sin.
For, if God’s plan for our lives is truly to give us true hope and a real future, and if this plan is to be for our good (benefit) and not for evil, then the only gospel message that can be true is the one that puts sin to death in our lives so that we might live in peace with God, and in victory over darkness.
For, there can be no true hope with a message that tells you that God says that you don’t have to stop sinning. What kind of hope is that? Or, if it tells you that you don’t have to obey God? It’s the same message of hopelessness! For, it still leaves us addicted to sin, and that is no hope at all!
An Original Work / February 21, 2013
Based off Luke 9:22-25
Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.
Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.
Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.
If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.
Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.
Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!
Sunday, February 24, 2019