Jeremiah 29:11-13 (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. 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.”
Sometimes when people hear my testimony they say I must be a special person. Or because of the miracle that took place with Anna, our daughter, who was stillborn and dead for at least 10 minutes before being revived not only to survive, but thrive(Read about that here), people assume that she at least must be a special person . What I say is, no, not really, really it’s God Who is the special one.
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I am under no illusion that I deserve any good thing God has ever done for me. I’m special only in the sense that like all sinners I need all the help God can give me; and He’s given me a lot. I also know there are countless others, many much more faithful than me, certainly more so than I was standing there in the midst of that delivery room, lost as I was, and many more much more gifted and talented than me, who did not receive the same blessing Christi and I received. It was a gift that set us on a course of receiving God’s greatest gift, the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. What God has done for us has nothing to do with our own goodness or worthiness. God did not deliver Anna from the jaws of death because I or she is so good and worthy but because God, and God alone is. Nor did God save my soul from hell because I was so good, but, again, because He is.
He is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. In Christ, the Good Shepherd, we see him as the one who seeks after to save that which is lost (Luke 15). In our brokenness He comes to us by His Spirit to bring us to our senses so we will seek Him with all of our heart, and even then He finds us before we ever find Him. God is a God of grace and mercy and He wants the best for those whom he created in His image. He has a wonderful plan for each and every one of us. But without God’s love for us we would never have a chance.
What makes God’s love so amazing is that in spite of repeatedly being betrayed and rejected by the ones He created and even by His own chosen people through whom He planned to reintroduce Himself to a world lost in sin and idolatry, He has never given up on humanity.
In contrast to ancient stories that tell us the gods created humans as an afterthought to be slaves of gods in heaven and those self-proclaimed ones who reign as tyrants on earth and the modern stories that tell us that humans are nothing more than accidents of an impersonal universe, the Bible tells us that God created humans in His image and after His likeness to rule justly as good stewards over creation under His authority. From Genesis 3 on, however, the Bible tells the story of the ongoing rebellion of humanity against the Creator. Ever since humans have rejected the God Who is, for the ones we wished there were.
As fallen creatures, born with a bent to sinning, selfishly living in ways that fly in the face of the designs and purposes of our Creator and His creation to our own hurt and that of our neighbors, we reject the One Who created us in His image, and craft for ourselves gods in our own image, gods which lead us to a world filled with greed, lust, and violence. We try to live our lives and manage the world without God, but it doesn’t take much for those with eyes to see to see that we are not qualified to be God, in spite of the serpent’s false assurances (Gen 3:5). But without God giving us the eyes to see, we never will see there is a better way for a better world.
In a lost world God revealed Himself to a special people, special because of God’s gracious choice, not because of anything inherently special in them (Deut 7:6 ff), to bless them to be a blessing to the rest of the nations of the world. God chose Israel, who would find blessing in obedience to God’s commandments, which reflect His own nature and character. Yet as Adam before them, Israel rebelled and did so repeatedly betraying God deeply. They too rejected the God Who is for ones they wished there were, fashioned after their own selfish desires. God describes this betrayal in the most vivid of terms as spiritual adultery, but repeatedly pleads for His people to return to Him for their own good and His glory, and not only for their own good, but for the good of the rest of the nations of the world. That was His goal in choosing to reveal Himself to Abraham (Gen 12), the forefather of Israel through Isaac and Jacob, to begin with.
Jeremiah 4:1-2 (ESV) “If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver,
and if you swear, ‘As the LORD lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.”
Yet His pleas through the prophets fell on deaf ears, and His word could not penetrate their hardness of heart. They rejected God by rejecting God’s word, God’s law, the terms of the covenant they had made with Him (Jeremiah 44:10; see also Hosea 4:6). As a result they suffered because of God’s justice; nevertheless, because of God’s mercy, and only because of God’s mercy, they still had hope.
The book ofJeremiah reveals not only the disaster of disobedience, but also hope because of God’s mercy and love. In spite of being betrayed deeply and repeatedly God promises never to give up on His people as a whole. He is determined to work with sinful humanity to create a blessed people through whom the rest of the world will be blessed. God’s love and faithfulness never end.
Jeremiah 31:3 “the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
As someone has said, “God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it. Our own rebellion and unfaithfulness cannot keep him from loving us. In Jesus Christ, we see that not even the ultimate rejection will keep God from loving us.
In Christ God came into this world, the world He had created, yet, as John says, the world knew him not and His own people accepted him not (John 1:10-11). Jews and Gentiles conspired together to push God back out of this world on a Roman cross. The purest, the truest, the holiest, the best came into this world and this world of sinners betrayed Him, abandoned Him, rejected him, and crucified Him. But still God does not give up. His love is an everlasting love and no grave is deep enough to bury it for too long.
Romans 5:6-11 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
God loves you and he has a plan for your life, a plan for your good and his glory to give you a future with the rest of His people for a better world, a new creation. Whether God loves us though, is not the only question.
Sometimes God’s love, His amazing love is used as an excuse to continue to live a life outside of His will, or at least a life of picking and choosing for ourselves what part of His will we will heed or heave. Indeed God loves us, but there’s another question: Do we love Him? Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
God has a plan for us, but we may have different plans. We may want God just to be a backup plan, which was often the modus operandi of Israel, and many a church for that matter. But the true God can never be a backup plan, a plan b so to speak, because He is the Alpha and Omega and everything in between, “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36). As hard as it is for us to accept, this is the teaching of Scripture; there is no other plan because there is only one true God.
Yet, it is also the teaching of Scripture that in spite of the ways we have betrayed and rejected Him, he will never turn us away if we come to our senses and return to Him. God has a plan for a wonderful future. What’s your plan?
Romans 8:28-39 (ESV) “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”