Well 23 days have passed since we rung in 2017. We have a new President of the United States and there has been a little over 3 weeks to work on our New Year’s Resolutions that we promised that we would do…so how are you doing with those resolutions? Have you kicked the mistakes and habits of 2016 yet? In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★, I shared that I don’t believe in resolutions because they are pretty much worthless and that I was challenged to think of them more as “Commitments” instead because you either change or you don’t. We all have choices before us on whether we want to continue in the same old habits or not. Today if you are reading this and you don’t know the plan of God for your life, I want you to encourage you to open your mind and heart to what He wants to do in your life as you read this post.
Jeremiah 29:11 is a famous Bible verse that you see all the time adorned on T-shirts and displayed on plaques and coffee mugs…(I even have one myself.) It is a verse that I have been encouraged by and have shared with others to help comfort them in their time of need. But have you even wondered what God’s plan is for you specifically? The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 3:6 (NLT)…
“And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”
If the term Gentile is an unfamiliar to you, it simply means a person who is not Jewish. When the Jews rejected Jesus, the door was opened for everyone who is not a direct descendant of Abraham, the father of the Jews. John 1:10-12 (NLT) says:
“He [Jesus] came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”
You can also read more about it in Jesus’ “Parable of the Evil Farmers.” Until this point there was a huge chasm between the Gentiles and Jews. Jesus paved the way to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to Himself. Psalms 133:1 says:
Regardless if you are a Jew or a Gentile, if you believe in Jesus, you are God’s people and He desires there to be unity in His Church. Paul went on to say in Ephesians 3:10-11:
“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
People who are skeptical of church, or perhaps were hurt in the past by hypocrisy, or “holier than thou” attitudes question “why do I need to go to church?” They justify it by saying “I can have a relationship with God on my own.” Now while that is true that we can have a one on one with our Heavenly Father, the verse we just read is clear that the plan of God was “to use the church to display His wisdom.” It is through gathering with other believers that our faith is strengthened and will grow exponentially faster than if we try to go it alone. Charles Stanley said,
“No Christian has ever been called to ‘go it alone’ in his or her walk of faith.”
And Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) furthers that point with this:
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
As the “church,” God wants us to leverage our relationship with those that are in our sphere of influence. To encourage and build others up in the faith, which cannot be done in isolation.
Last weekend I was at my church’s retreat for the Junior High and High School students. The keynote speaker was David Marvin from the “Porch” at Watermark Church who spoke on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. He made this statement that has resounded ever since in my spirit,
“Every person you have ever looked at will live somewhere for eternity…either with God or without God.”
If you are a Christian, that is a haunting reality that should motivate us to want to reach those who are lost and far away from God. For those of you reading this today who do not call yourself a Christian or maybe a better way to say it, a “Christ Follower,” I want you to know that God loves you so much.
“Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.
When you believe in Jesus, you have access to God like never before because until you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior the SIN in your life will keep you away from Him. You may say “I am a good person,” but that just is not enough. We are all sinners and have fallen short of what God desires for our life (see Romans 3:23.) And with that access comes the unfolding of His plan in your life!
I love what Sandi Krakowski once said:
God is just waiting for you to take a step in His direction. The invitation is open to you but you need to make the choice to follow Jesus. If you want to start your relationship with Him today just go to this post, ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ and can read more about what this means and as well as a simple prayer that you can say to God that can start you down the path. Just like a loving father, God is willing, ready and able to help us out whatever mess we have made of our lives. (If you want to read more on the Father Heart of God just check out the “Parable of the Prodigal (or lost) Son” from Luke 15:11-32.)
Maybe you have made the commitment to Christ and have started on the journey to develop your relationship; I wanted to remind you of the truth of what Tim Keller said that:
“God invites us to come as we are, not to stay as we are.”
The amazing thing about God is that He will take us back regardless of the filth that we find ourselves in but the expectation is that once we have made the choice, we must continue to grow in our faith so that we can enjoy that new life! Colossians 1:23 (NLT) says:
“But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”
The Good News is this…God sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice and payment for our sins. Through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, a bridge has been created to restore the relationship with God WHEN we believe in Jesus. (See also 1 Peter 3:18 and Romans 6:6-7) And so like Paul, we need to be standing firmly in our faith and actively pressing on to learn and grow. If we are not advancing in our walk with God, we are regressing or drifting away…One of my favorite John Wooden quotes which I will close this Thought for Today is….
So the choice is yours today…Do you start a relationship with Jesus and be a part of God’s Mysterious Plan that will forever change your legacy and family tree? Or if you are a believer already will you start today to pursue your relationship more fervently? I want to challenge you to throw out the useless “resolutions” and “choose to commit” to a new trajectory so that you’re not repeating the same old habits from 2016 and regretting 12 months from now that your life is different from it was today! Because “in the end, the choice you make, makes you!”
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