Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Because He Lives: God Has a Plan

   (Part of a series sharing my devotional thoughts from almost two decades ago. For the back story & links to other posts, see the first post in the series.)

Are you in the midst of a painful, difficult, or confusing circumstance? Or are you perhaps struggling to understand the “why” of a hard time you are now past? If so, you are in good company.
One of the most wonderful verses in Scripture is Romans 8:28 -- “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God...”. A beautiful verse -- but one that sounds almost too good to be true, especially when we are in the midst of something bad, something from which no good could possibly come -- in our human way of thinking.You may be asking yourself right now, “Does that really mean good can come from my situation? Oh, I see what He’s trying to say there, but He surely didn’t mean this. No way.” But the precious thing is that no matter what your situation, He DID mean it. If we love Him, He WILL work everything -- even the bad, even our mistakes -- together for good. Because you see, GOD HAS A PLAN.
The Bible is filled with examples of people and circumstances which, from human perspective, looked bleak and dismal, and quite opposite of anything good. But in each case, GOD HAD A PLAN. Consider:
+ A teenage boy is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, who tell his father a wild beast killed him. Later, that same boy is wrongly imprisoned and then forgotten for two years by someone who promised to help him.

+ A young Jewish girl finds it necessary to reveal her identity to a king who has signed an order allowing people to murder Jews on one certain upcoming day.

+ A few short years after being told to be God’s witnesses to the world, the first Christians find themselves persecuted and their lives threatened to the point they are scattered, no longer having daily communion with other believers in this hostile environment.

+ In a society where childlessness is considered a sign of God’s displeasure, a Godly, righteous priest and his wife remain childless into their old age.

In each case, GOD HAD A PLAN. Wonderful things resulted from each of these seemingly hopeless scenarios:
+ Joseph was eventually named the highest ruler in Egypt except for Pharaoh, and put in charge of the storehouses of food. As a result, his family members survived a seven-year famine, preserving the nation of Israel and fulfilling God’s promise and plan. (See Genesis 45:5-8; Joseph’s story is told in Genesis 37-50.)

+ Esther’s impassioned plea to the king resulted in a new order arming the Jews to protect themselves against attackers. Esther 9:1 records the results: “...on the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, it was turned to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained the mastery over those who hated them.” Once again, in God’s plan, the Jewish people were preserved. This time God used a young girl who had been raised to a position of royalty “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

+ When the first Christians were dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria because of persecution, they carried the message of the Gospel with them. Acts 8:4 records, “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” The evangelization of the world which had started in Jerusalem reached new places after the dispersion.

+ Zacharias and Elizabeth are greatly blessed when, in their old age, God gives them a son: John the Baptist, the promised forerunner to Jesus Christ. (See Luke 1)

You see, in all these humanly impossible situations, GOD HAD A PLAN. Those who faced the difficult circumstances eventually saw the good that God wanted to bring out of them. Joseph, in fact, told his brothers who had many years earlier sold him into slavery, “ meant evil against me, but God meant it for good...” (Gen. 50:20).
Never underestimate God’s methods for fulfilling His plan by focusing on what is seen by human vision. Joseph, being in a position to preserve the life of God’s chosen people, could not have foreseen that plan when he was pulled out of a pit and sold to traders. But that was the good that God had for that situation.
So whatever situation you are in right now -- or whatever past circumstance you are trying  to understand -- trust in God’s sovereignty and His goodness; do what is right despite circumstances just as Joseph did; and anticipate the end result that will be good, glorifying to God, and fulfilling of His purposes. Because GOD HAS A PLAN.
Yes, He even has a plan for you.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

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