The Perfect Plan of God – Isaiah 28:23-29

Use The Right Tools And Methods To Accomplish Any Purpose

23 Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
barley in its plot,
and spelt in its field?
26 His God instructs him
and teaches him the right way.

27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
but one does not use horses to grind grain.
29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent.

Magnificent Methods

God shows us in these verses that there is a very discernible method to His ways.  He asks several rhetorical questions that would be been easily answered during the prophet’s time, as they were a primarily agricultural people.  Perhaps we could rephrase the question for today’s world and say, “When we prepare concrete for pouring, do we mix it forever?”  There is a time (chronos) and a season (kairos) for all things.  Just as a farmer doesn’t work the field all season (he must eventually plant seeds or nothing will grow), God shows us what we should be doing as well

Tremendous Teaching

God teaches us the way we should go.  Since everyone is a different part of the body, each of us must be instructed on what we are to do, where we are to do it, and when we are to do it.  It is God who provides the instruction for each of these steps.  We are to be submitted to the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus was, so that God can use us as His tools to accomplish His purposes.  It is God who teaches us all of these things, and in doing so, prepares a generation of people who can help instruct and guide the next generation through their sovereignly assigned duties and tasks

Process and Procedure

God uses some very interesting agricultural examples to show us the necessity for using the right tools in the right way to accomplish our goals.  Have you ever tried to insert a screw into wood with a hammer?  I do not recommend ever trying this method.  It is beyond frustrating, and will most likely damage whatever project you are working on.  Everything has its proper tool and process to use it correctly.  Though many of us, upon receiving brand new technology, just open it up and start using it, they come with instruction manuals to help guide us with their use, diagnose what is wrong when it doesn’t work right, and provide solutions to address any issues encountered.

When faced with difficulties as the plan of God unfolds, remember that God has given you an instruction manual – His holy word, the Bible.  And when you need tech support, feel free to call upon God for assistance in prayer.  Additionally, it never hurts to confirm what You have been shown with some of the experts in their field who have been down the path before you.

Expert Extraction

God uses the threshing of seeds as a prime example.  If you were to use a sledge-hammer to attempt to extract the seeds of caraway, you would completely destroy the valuable part of the seed.  Each seed requires its own method of extraction.  Some use the same methods as others, but each requires a specific method.  The people of that time would have recognized this, and understood the greater underlying spiritual truth that God is revealing to us – that God knows EXACTLY how to handle each and every situation that we encounter.

Perfect Plan

God has a perfect plan.  His plan was crafted before the first matter in the universe was created.  His plan was thought out and crafted before time was even a construct.  Each and every detail of His creation was laid out and examined, perfectly placed, and is being perfectly executed.  Nothing escaped His attention, and God accounted for every contingency.  Even the issue of sin was taken into account, and the remedy to bring that which would be lost to sin back in harmony with the Creator was carefully planned, and when implemented, was perfectly executed.

God shows us, through His creation and the fulfillment of all of the prophecies that He has provided to us, that we can trust Him implicitly.  God is incapable of failing, and His perfect plan is working exactly according to His plan and purpose.  What appears to us to be chaos, setbacks, and failure is merely a launching pad for circumstances that will bring about even greater glory to God.

Wonderful Wisdom

God reveals to us through His perfection – the perfect display of His character – that He has all wisdom.  We can trust in God, for God is omniscient – He knows all things.  Knowledge, however, is not wisdom.  God, however, is all-wise.  Seeing all things perfectly without the lens of sin to distort reality from His perfect gaze, God has perfect wisdom to match His perfect intellect and knowledge.  And when we look back over how our small part of His larger story plays out, we begin to see the magnificent wisdom of the Lord God Almighty, and how His perfect plan is being perfectly executed.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What lessons are God trying to teach me about His perfect plan and the part He has assigned for me to accomplish?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You reveal Your character in how You treat each and every one of us here on Earth.  Thank You for Your continued patience and prodding, and for revealing Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for revealing Yourself through Your word.  And thank You for providing me an opportunity to play a part in Your perfect plan.  Show me, Father, what You would have me do.  Call me, equip me, and strengthen me to do all that You desire to accomplish.  Help me to remember that You are sovereign in all things, and that my perception of loss and difficulty in events and circumstances that are painful and difficult are all part of Your plan to bring about Your perfect will in all things.  Guard my heart against impatience, pride, and bitterness, as trials and tribulations abound in this life.  Give me peace and joy in knowing that You have everything under Your control.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Grace of God – John 1:14-18

God Is Full Of Grace

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Glorious Grace

Since before time began, God was the embodiment of grace.  Before any matter ever existed, grace had always been and was perfected invested in the Lord God Almighty.  Knowing all that would ever transpire, it took God grace to bring it into existence, knowing the pain and hardship that would follow.  God’s grace, as a key part of His perfect and defining character, would be fully on display with the fall of humanity into sin, and the subsequent restoration of man through the life, death, and resurrection of none less than the Son of the Living God.

Angels seek to look into these things, for they have not been the recipient of God’s grace.  As the recipients of such a magnificent and glorious aspect of the character of God, we too should look into His grace throughout time since God sacrificed an animal for the sin of Adam, and gave a final sacrifice for sin through Jesus Christ.

First and Foremost

As an archetype, Jesus was and will always be the first and foremost in everything, for He was the one who, through His voice, brought all of creation into existence.  John the Baptist recognized this, and declared Jesus (his cousin) to be before him, even though John the Baptist was born first into a physical body ,and preached repentance and holiness in preparation for the grace that was to become ours through the perfect and final sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was not the first person to be awakened from his sleep in death (for more information, read up on the lives and deeds Elijah and Elisha in 1 & 2 Kings), but was the first to be transformed through His resurrection into His post-resurrection, perfected human form.  Christ was perfect and sinless, and therefore deserves to be the first in all.  He has rightly received the title King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for He and He alone did all that the Father desired of Him without ever sinning once.

Grace is Greater

Moses was entrusted with the Law of God, and through him came the other rules through which man may live in relationship with each other and with God.  The law is not grace, but rather a perfect litmus test to show us that everyone who was born as the seed of Adam is in need of God’s grace.  The law merely points out our need – grace fulfills the need.  And it is through the perfect grace of God that we are saved, and not by our own hands, that no one may boast.

Grace is like Bernoulli’s principle and the Law of God like gravity.  Gravity is a power force, but Bernoulli’s principle provides a stronger force to overcome it.  Grace overcomes the law, and as such is much more powerful.  As we set our eyes upon the the beauty of the One who is the embodiment of grace, we should remember that grace triumphs over the law as it is more powerful.

Radical Relationship

John briefly mentions in this passage the relationship between the Son and the Father, indicating that it Jesus is in the closest relationship with the Father.  It is through this amazing relationship that the sacrifice of Jesus that we are able to reap the benefit of God’s grace.  Even now, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding in prayer for us.  And the glory and the power of grace is being poured out from Heaven upon all who are the recipients of the imputed righteousness of Christ through the incredible relationship that exists between the Father and the Son.

This relationship is so powerful, that we are given the right to become God’s children through adoption.  God is not our foster parent; He is our adoptive Father, fully embracing us as His very own children, to participate in His glory and grace and riches.  For God owns all that He has created, and seeks to share His wealth with His children as an inheritance that is unequaled.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I growing in my relationship with others as in the same way that God seeks to deepen my relationship with Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have prepared everything in advance, and know all things before they happen.  You have foreseen my failures, and still love me and seek after me.  I thank You for your patience, kindness, mercy and grace.  Strengthen me when I fall, and help me to get back up immediately so that I can continue on this arduous journey of life that becomes more difficult with every passing second.  The time of the coming of Your Son approaches rapidly, and I seek to be prepared so that when He arrives, You will find Your house in order, and all that You have requested of me will have been accomplished.  Forgive me for my sins, and grant me Your mercy and grace, of which I need more of every moment that I grow in You, for as You reveal Yourself to me, I realize more and more just how far I am from the embodiment of holiness that is Your perfect character.  This I ask in Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Matthew 5:43-48

Love One Another As I have Loved You – Jesus

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Lavishing Love

God showers us with His love every moment of every day.  From every breath that we take, to the greatest of accomplishments made, God is helping us with every little thing.  He sought us and bought us with the redeeming blood of Christ.  For some, He sought them for decades before they came to Him.

To the crowds that Jesus was teaching (the Jewish people), they had the law to help guide them.  Leviticus 19:18 stated:

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

This left a lot of wiggle room, since it only mentioned “anyone among your people”.  The Israelites took this to mean that it ONLY applied to them, thus giving them the opportunity hate their enemies.  But Jesus died for all people:

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Lest we forget, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  And God wants us to display His character for all to see.  Since that is the case, we must love others as God loves them.

Favoritism Forbidden

God shows us that He does not show favoritismJesus died for all; the sun doesn’t only rise on the good (wouldn’t that be an odd sight – if sunlight only fell on the people and their property who were good?  What a dark place the Earth would be!); and the rain doesn’t just fall on the property of the righteous.  God, through His creation and His love, provides for everyone these basic things as an example of His character.

We are quick to love those who are easy to love, and usually not so quick to love those who are difficult to love.  Yet God loves us all.  Peter learned this with the centurion Cornelius and his family.  After God manifested His favor upon them, Peter stated:

…I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

Otherworldly Outreach

Even the pagans love their own.  We are shown that we need to love with the love of Jesus.  He walked completely out of His way to see a Samaritan woman at a well.  Loving our enemies and people who are hard to love is a Godly characteristic that we all need to display.  We don’t need to go to the deepest, darkest regions of unexplored Africa to do this; we simply need to love the people who we come in contact with.  If we only spend time with our friends and family, how can we display the love of God to people that need to be reached?

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (emphasis and bold added)

Reaching “all nations” starts with your own.  It starts with your own community, then surrounding areas, and wherever you may travel.  It was once said, “If you aren’t engaging in mission work at home, please don’t export that somewhere else.”

Carefully Complete

The phrase, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” can be difficult to understand, since none of us are perfect, and even after we are redeemed by God, we still occasionally sin, whether by sins of commission or omission.  But we need to have a proper reference for this.  In the Greek, the word for “perfect” is teleioi, and is literally translated as mature, complete.  It infers a completeness, and that completeness, with regards to the character of God, is perfection.  Let sanctification through trials complete its work in you that you would be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we loving those who are difficult to love the way that Jesus asks us to love them?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are perfect and complete in all Your ways.  Help me this day that I would be transformed by the renewing of my mind with Your holy word and with the trials that You allow in my life that I would be complete like You.  Strengthen me and soften my heart that I would learn the lessons needed for maturity in life and in faith.  Please have mercy upon me, for all discipline seems unpleasant as I go through it.  Give me a better sense of Your love for others as I encounter an increasingly wicked people everyday.  Help me to engage them, and to show them Your love, regardless of the outcome.  For even Your Son, Jesus Christ, died at the hands of those He was trying to reach.  Show me the straight and narrow path that I would walk on it and see the light of Your Glory.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Forgiven by God – Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It is a blessing to be forgiven. What a relief!  It is also expected that we will forgive as we have been forgiven.  So why is it so hard to forgive when we have been forgiven so much?  We suffer three injuries every time we forgive:

  • The Initial Offense – We suffer from the harm that happened because of the event
  • The Pain of Reconciliation – We must come to terms with the pain of offense and let that pain go, since we consider it as though it never happened
  • The Absence of Justice – We suffer knowing that since we have chosen to forgive, justice will not occur for the offense

Yet, we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven.  But why does it seem that every day people are getting more evil than ever?  Perhaps this is why (Matthew 24:12-13):

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Besides, everything has already been paid in full already.  Just as some physical injuries take longer to heal than others, the pain of sin and forgiveness can take longer for certain events.  Either way, we are called to be perfect like God.  So, like everything else in life, practice makes perfect – make forgiveness the first state of mind when someone wrongs you.  And let God take care of the rest.  Lean on Him for strength and healing.  For:

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Be an oak of righteousness; forgive as God has forgiven you.  And let God give you the oil of joy and a garment of praise.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have forgiven us more that we can even comprehend.  From the worst of sinners as Paul described himself to the ones who led good lives, we have all sinned and fallen short of Your glory.  Forgive us this day our trespasses, and help us to forgive the trespasses of others.  Strengthen us as we deal with the consequences of not only our own sin, but the sin of others.  Help us to remember what it cost You to forgive our sins, that we might put everything into perspective.  Touch our hearts and comfort us as we draw close to you.  This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?