★ “Back to the Basics” – God’s Mysterious Plan Revealed ★

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 post114-daily-dependence-kicking-the-habits-of-2016-away ★ 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.

God said through the prophet Jeremiah: 114-daily-dependence-jeremiah-29-11

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:

“How Good and Pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.”
“How Good and Pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

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.

114-daily-dependence-ephesians-3-you-area-loved-by-jesusAnd when you place your faith in Jesus, you will experience freedom like you never dreamed possible.  The Apostle Paul continues in Ephesians 3:12 with this truth:

“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 has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”
“God has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”

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….

114-daily-dependence-john-wooden-choices“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.” 

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!”

If you are interested in learning more on the Grace of God, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★

 

Or if you want to deepen your relationship check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 2 ★

71 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at how people get married with no understanding of how the family finances are going to be handled and how that can cause problems in the marriage if not dealt with quickly.  We also reviewed God’s Plan for Marriage and how Satan has been attacking marriages and that the importance of marriage has been sharply declined over the past 50 years.  If you missed it just click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★ to catch up.

Part 2 of our trilogy of posts will delve into how to have unity in our Marriage by discussing the Differences between Men and Women and how our enemy, Satan exploits those dissimilarities.  Tony Evans made this point…

71 - Daily Dependence - Tony Evans - Satan Wants The Family

Satan hates God and he hates us and thus comes at marriages with great ferocity that is why it is so important for us as Husband and Wife to be aware of the battle we are in and to try to understand who the person is that we have become one flesh with.  Jesus said in Mark 3:24-25 (NASB):

71 - Daily Dependence - Mark 3-24-25 - House DividedAnd Amos 3:3 (NKJV) says:

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

Amen?  Do you see that as being true?

Without agreement, it is impossible to move forward.  Men and Woman are different and with those differences can conflicts can arise.

Someone once said that:

  • “‎90% of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice.”  Unknown.

Instead of battling our spouse, we should see Marriage for what it is, a gift from God and a special covenant with each other.  If we could all grasp that simple concept to approach our mate with love and respect, then perhaps “‎90% of the friction could be eliminated.”  Colossians 3:18-19 (MSG) says


“Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master
[other translations say “the Lord”]. 

Husbands, go all out in love for your wives.  Don’t take advantage of them.”                                                                                      

Now you may have noticed that the verse in the image of Colossians 3:18-19 is reversed, but that is intentional to get the men seeing their role first because this verse has been taken advantage of by men who use it as a tactic to control their wife.  I love how the Message translation says before the word “submit” to “support” your husband.  God knew that Men needed help and He blessed us with the perfect companion.  In Genesis 2:18 (NKJV) God said “I will make him a helper comparable to him.”  Submission does not mean less than, our wives are comparable or equal to us.  God set the man as the head of the household but he knew that the man was going to need help, for all aspects of our lives including the finances.  We need to work as a team loving and respecting one another.

In Ephesians 5:24-25 (NIV1984) the Apostle Paul says it a little differently comparing our actions to that of Christ,

  • “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” 

The Greek translation for Love here is agape, which is a spiritual love, not sexual.  It is by definition a selfless and unconditional love that is not based on what the other person does for me but instead it is about sacrificing yourself for your spouse, just like Christ did.  When we submit and love each other as the Apostle Paul instructs, we are being sanctified and made ready to be the bride of Christ.  This of course is not what the enemy of our soul wants at all so he twists and distorts God’s Word to see submission as negative.  The reason for this is clear in James 4:7 (NIV1984),

  • “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

There is power when we submit to each other and especially to God.  Submitting or humbling ourselves eliminates the sin of pride, if we don’t then Satan wins and we lose, just like in the Garden.  Husbands we need to love our wives as we love ourselves just as Christ loved the church, which he laid down His life for.  And wives part of the submission is respecting and supporting your husband.  You know the old cliché that “it takes two to fight?”  Well it’s true.  The key is getting to the root problem of why we fight and try to understand the other spouse’s point of view.  In 2010, Author of the best-selling book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, John Gray released a follow-up book called: Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance – the Key to Life, Love & Energy.  In the book he discusses that,

  • “The Difference between the sexes and how they relate to one another is biochemically based and can be found in our hormones.”

71 - Daily Dependence - John Gray - Difference in Sexes Found In Hormones

Gray talks about the unique ways that each gender deals with stress and how the stress hormones harm our health and complicate our ability to relate to one another.  What I found most interesting about the book was how polar opposite Men and Women really are.  The Hormones of Fire and Ice or Men and Women are Testosterone and Oxytocin. In the book, he explains when a man springs into action and solves a problem, he releases Testosterone to deal with stress and as he acts he feels competent and powerful but then soon after has to rest to rebuild his Testosterone levels.  A woman on the other hand needs to share herself 71 - Daily Dependence - John Gray - Hormones of Fire and Icein nurturing situations to release Oxytocin but then afterwards she needs to receive nurturing and understanding herself to rebuild her hormone levels.  The wisdom to understand here is that relaxing on the couch is crucial for a man because he is rebuilding a vital hormone to deal with stress.  Conversely getting nurturing support reduces the stress for a woman so Men, she needs to share her feelings and we need to be available because this is vital for her to be able to deal with stress.    That is where the analogy comes from that Men are on Ice because they need to shut down and go into their “cave” while Women are on Fire needing to communicate and receive love and support; to deprive either person of this only builds stress in them and ultimately in our relationship.

So why am I mentioning all this? Because the same hormones that help to alleviate stress are also the same hormones that connect us romantically.

These two critical hormones not only help us individually but also relationally.  Gray also cites in the book findings from the Researchers at the prestigious Schupps Clinic in San Diego, who concluded that:

  • Heart Disease is most often triggered by unresolved emotional issues like financial stress, Divorce, loneliness or an inability to effectively communicate with a child or Spouse.”

3 out of the 5 items cited in this finding are exactly what we are talking about.  When I read this statistic it was a huge red flag that “unresolved emotional issues” can cause Heart Disease.  We need to recognize the stressors and help not only ourselves but our spouses to deal with the stress.  The symbolism of “Men are from Mars” and “Women are from Venus”, two entirely different planets is great to make the distinctions between the sexes but God made us just the way we are and if we want unity in our marriages then we need to accept one another just how He made us.  Psalm 139:14 says:

Men and Women are different and that is a good thing, the question remains though “How do you achieve unity in your marriage?”  Well the answer may seem obvious but HE is often not engaged when problems arise, the answer is….”God!”

This is the key to everything in life.  It starts as individuals, (hopefully when we are young) and then continues into our marriages as adults.  Having God at the center of our hearts and our marriages will not only help us relate to one another but also in our finances.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) says,

“A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  I did a little research on this and found that people have incorporated this scripture into their wedding ceremony by braiding three colored cords, Gold for God, Purple for the Groom and White for the Bride.  What a beautiful way to publically declare that God will be interwoven in your marriage.  With God is at the center of our marriages, Satan does not have a chance to break us up because when a Husband and Wife are bound together in Christ, they are stronger than as individuals themselves.  By keeping God at the center, His love will continue to bind the two of you together as one throughout your marriage and you will truly be “One Flesh” not knowing where you and end and where the other begins!

If you would like to read the next post that wraps up the “Marriage & Money” Trilogy, click here.  We delve into People’s View of Money vs. God’s View of Money to understand how to have unity in our Finances.

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