Faith in God’s Plan, Purpose, and Provision = PEACE

Faith in God's Plan, Purpose and Provision equals Peace

Peace.

It tends to elude us, hiding just around the corner of life with all the “if onlys” that torment us:

“If only everything would turn out okay.”

“If only my loved one would get better.”

“If only I could find a spouse.”

“If only my candidate had won.”

“If only I had more money.”

“If only I didn’t have this disability.”

“If only so-and-so would treat me better.”

“If only I were prettier. Or taller. Or stronger.”

Our thinking seems to be that if these things were true, life would be good and we would have peace. Only to discover, when some of those things do come to pass, that peace is still absent. What are we missing?

The missing piece is faith — knowing with assurance that God has a plan and purpose for our lives, and that He will provide for that plan and for our every need. True peace isn’t dependent on our circumstances. But when it seems everything has gone wrong from what we’d hoped and dreamed, it’s easy to lose faith, and peace vanishes.

If peace comes from faith in God’s plan, purpose, and provision for us, where does faith come from?

Faith comes from choosing to believe what God says, even when everything seems to indicate just the opposite.

So let’s unpack this a little more and look at proof in Scripture that God does have a plan and purpose for us, and that He will provide for us and give us His peace. We will just be scratching the surface, though. There are many more references in Scripture to these truths, which I’ll let you dig into further if you’d like.

But for right now, let’s take a peek into the book of Philippians, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi while he was imprisoned and facing possible death. If Paul found peace in the midst of these undesirable circumstances based on his faith in God’s plan, purpose, and provision for him, then surely we can, too.

God’s Plan for You

Paul starts out his letter by stating his confidence in God’s work in the Christians at Philippi and His faithfulness to bring His plan for them to completion:

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3 HCSB)

Not only was this true for the Christians in Philippi, it is true for you and me today. God has begun a good work in us. He has a plan for our lives. He will work everything together for good to bring it to completion, not just in spite of the “bad” things happening in our lives, but in many cases because of them.

Remember Joseph in the Bible. As Rich Mullins pointed out, God used Joseph’s ten jealous brothers selling him into slavery and later into prison to eventually bring him before the king of Egypt, who appointed him second in command in Egypt. In that position of power, Joseph saved the lives of thousands because he had kept faith in God and His plan, purpose, and provision for him, even in the midst of horrible circumstances. In a moving act of forgiving his brothers, Joseph told them,

“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” (Genesis 50:20 HCSB)

God’s Purpose for You

In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul assures them that

“It is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 HCSB)

I love this verse because it tells me that God is at work in me to fulfill His purpose for me. It’s not all up to me. I’m a flawed human being, and yet God is working in and through me. Not just in spite of my flaws and failures, but sometimes because of them.

Consider Samson in the Bible, a man who had a weakness for Philistine women whom God had instructed the Israelites not to marry. And yet God worked through Samson’s moral weakness to get him close to the Philistines, and in that proximity used him to defeat the enemy of His people. I believe that Samson did recognize and repent of his moral failure with forbidden women, and in the end God gave him the desire and will to fulfill His purpose in one final courageous act, and he did!

God’s Provision for You

This promise for God’s provision is even more poignant when we realize that Paul wrote it while sitting in prison:

“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 HCSB)

Paul knew this from personal experience. He had experienced God’s provision for him over and over and by many different means.

Someone recently pointed out to me that God’s promise to provide should be the easiest for us to believe, because it is repeated so often in Scripture, and because there are so many accounts of God providing for people’s needs: food falling daily from the sky, clothes and shoes not wearing out, food multiplying on several different occasions, and money to pay taxes found in the mouth of a fish! Those are just a few of God’s physical provisions. Many other times He provided relationally (Acts 10), emotionally (1 Kings 19), and spiritually (Acts 8:26-39).

God’s provision happens today, too. I’ve experienced it over and over and over again! I believe there are also many times we don’t even recognize when God is providing for us. How is it that month after month, despite our worries, there is money to pay our bills? That we have a roof over our heads and food on our plates? That just the right people show up at just the right moment just when we need them? That the encouragement we need is in a song on the radio when we turn the ignition in our car?

God is real and these “coincidences” don’t “just happen.” He does provide — strategically and specifically many times over. Sometimes, looking back, we realize that the times we thought He’d deserted us, He actually was providing just what we needed all along!

God’s Peace

Toward the end of his letter Paul encouraged the Philippians to not worry about anything (including all those “if onlys” that plague us). Instead, he said, pray about those things, and as a result — 

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

“I have peace, and that’s worth more than anything,” my mother told us on her death bed. It was obvious to us that God’s peace truly was guarding her heart and her mind, giving her freedom to ignore her circumstances and to minister to those who visited and cared for her. She left this world showing us how trustworthy Jesus truly is by her unwavering faith in God’s plan, purpose, and provision for both her and her loved ones, whom she was leaving behind without her.

The peace of God supersedes all other feelings that may be the natural result of earthly experiences. Both Paul and my mother gave testimony to that fact. Both facing death, one in prison and the other in a hospital, and yet both at peace in who they knew their God to be and what He would do for them and those they loved!

When we believe that God is good, that He loves us perfectly, that He is able to bring good out of everything, and that He is sovereign over all – then we, too, can have faith in Hs plan, purpose, and provision, and face the future with peace!

Escaping the Blues

When we choose to praise God no matter our circumstances, we naturally begin to trust His goodness, and that trust leads to joy!

We’ve all experienced it. That feeling that ranges from simply feeling “blah” to feeling downright hopeless and depressed. It’s called the “blues.”

“Nothing can make a trusting Christian blue,” I’ve heard somewhere along the way. The implication that if we’re feeling blue we’re not trusting God puts us all on the defensive a bit. After all, I doubt any of us have escaped a time when we felt down.

Isn’t it perfectly normal to feel down at times, especially when bad things happen, or when life isn’t the way we’d like it to be, or when others treat us in hurtful ways?

Well, yes and no. While it’s true that feelings of sadness, grief, and disappointment are perfectly normal responses to undesirable circumstances and it’s important we process those feelings, we can still simultaneously be experiencing joy in Jesus.

Seem impossible? How do we move from being overwhelmed and controlled by negative feelings to experiencing joy even in the middle of undesirable circumstances? Don’t the circumstances have to change first?

I’m so grateful that joy and contentment in Jesus are not dependent on circumstances! We can’t control circumstances, but we can experience continual contentment and joy, no matter what. How is that possible?

The number one step to experiencing joy is fully believing that God is good, no matter what.

Belief in God’s goodness is foundational to trusting Him. When we doubt that He is good, or that everything He does is good, our trust in Him is on shaky ground. Our joy is, too.

We doubt God’s goodness when we blame Him for the bad that is a result of living in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. When we blame God, we create a distance in our relationship with Him that keeps us from turning to Him in full trust so He can help us. How can we receive help from Someone whom we are blaming for the bad?

When my brother-in-law was sick with cancer, my sister often made the statement, “God is good all the time.” Even though at the time she didn’t know if her husband would live or die, she was intentionally reinforcing her belief in the fact that no matter what was happening or would happen, God was just as good then as He was when all was going well.

Experiencing negative circumstances does not mean that God is not good!

God’s goodness is that He never forsakes us, even when everyone else does.

God’s goodness is that He walks with us “through the valley of the shadow of death.”

God’s goodness is His mercy and grace when He sends a friend to encourage us or points us to a Scripture that lifts our spirits.

God’s goodness is in the many little blessings of enjoyment we encounter every single day: a million stars sparkling against a black sky, a child smiling at us, the delicious flavor of a food we love, or a phone call from a friend.

The second step to finding joy is being grateful.

“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 HCSB)

Some have debated whether this verse means to give thanks for everything, even the bad, or if it simply means to give thanks to God no matter what happens.

Whichever it means or however you choose to interpret it, it seems evident that God is looking for a heart that praises Him because it shows our complete trust in Him and His goodness. Not only does our gratefulness bring Him much glory, but when we choose to praise Him our hearts naturally begin to trust His goodness, and that trust leads to joy.

The next time you feel blue, first of all recognize that experiencing negative feelings is a normal human response to a negative situation. But before you allow those feelings to take over – and they surely will if you let them – identify God’s goodness in the midst of that situation and thank Him for those signs of His goodness.

If you can’t immediately see signs of His goodness, choose to believe that God is good, no matter what, and then start praising Him whether you feel like it or not.

Feelings of joy may not immediately flood your heart, but it’s impossible to focus on God’s goodness and continually praise Him without eventually experiencing at least a little bit of joy!

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a Legacy

It is an innate, God-given desire of every human being to be significant. We want to impact our world and those around us in important and positive ways. And we want that impact to be lasting, even to the point that it outlasts our earthly lives. This impact is often referred to as a legacy, and it’s what we leave behind for others.

Often legacies are thought of in the context of descendents, but it’s certainly not the only way to leave one. We leave a legacy in many ways, and it’s usually based on how we live our lives which serves as an example to others, and how we give of ourselves and our resources. It can be through giving financially; investing in others’ lives by relating or mentoring; communicating ideas and insights through writing, speaking, and teaching; and in many other ways that are unique to each person according to the gifting and purpose God has given to each one.

In order to leave a legacy that is positive and life-giving, we need to start now, and hopefully already have! Each one of us impacts others in many different ways, and we do it every single day of our lives, whether we realize it or not. It’s easy to focus only on the “big” things people do that leave an impact, like making a large donation, pastoring a mega church, or becoming a best-selling author. But the “little” things we do can be just as – if not more –significant.

My mother was a teacher, both as a vocation and a lifestyle. She loved helping others learn and influencing lives. Sometimes it was discouraging to her, depending on the attitude of the student, but as a whole teaching gave her great fulfillment.

The most rewarding part of her years of teaching school came years and years after the fact, when she received letters of gratitude from former students, or happened to see them here and there and heard their words of appreciation for the impact she’d made on their lives.

One that stands out to me was a former student who had become a doctor. Around thirty years after he had been my mother’s student, he wrote her a letter, thanking her for assigning him and his classmates a long poem to memorize. He had thought he wasn’t capable of accomplishing such a feat, but she was unrelenting and insisted he could. And he did. It was a turning point for him in realizing that if he set his mind to do something, he could accomplish things he formerly thought he couldn’t. This mindset served him well as he pursued medical training and became a doctor, playing his own significant role in others’ lives and leaving his own legacy.

Do you see how one “small” but significant interaction of one person with another had a significant impact, and will continue to as it is passed from one person to another, multiplied many times over?

“I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” penned the Apostle John, a childless single man.[1] He was referring to the spiritual “children” he had “fathered,” and finding joy in the impact he’d had on their lives.

John wasn’t the only unmarried person to leave a significant legacy. I can think of many in my own life who have left an impact on me. But there are also many well-known singles who have left us an example of living purposeful lives for Jesus. I’ve set up the first page of what will be a rather extensive bookstore of resources for Christian singles, and this first page contains several biographies of purposeful single Christians to give us encouragement and motivation in our own purposeful journeys:

Biographies of Christian Singles

If you know of others, please mention them in the comments below or send them to me here.

God’s blessings as you make an impact on the lives of those around you, creating a legacy that will long outlast your earthly life!

[1]3 John 1:4 HCSB

7 Powerful Truths to Transform Your Life

7 Powerful Truths to Transform Your Life

Can you imagine being free from insecurity, loneliness, fear, anger, and hurt? What about inadequacy, discouragement, guilt, defeat, failure, hopelessness, depression, frustration, and confusion?

Can you then also imagine feeling fully loved and embraced? Can you imagine being full of joy and peace, and rarely feeling alone? What about being confident in who you are and what God has called you to, and that your needs of every kind will be provided? And what about feeling on top of all that a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment as you go about your day-to-day life?

Sound like utopia? In a way, it is. It’s what heaven will be like, without a doubt.

But I also believe that when Jesus said He came to earth “so that they may have life and have it in abundance”[1] it was for here on earth, too.  After all, our co-inheritance with Jesus begins the moment we accept His work on the cross for us and His righteousness as our own. Eternity begins now, and in many ways we can experience the joys of heaven on earth. The difference between heaven and earth is that evil is still present here on earth including within us, which we call our “sinful nature,” causing a continuous battle between good and evil. The good news is that in Jesus we can be “more than victorious”[2] in all those battles!

Our Enemy

The enemy of our souls, Satan, would love nothing more than to rob us of our abundant life in Jesus and render us ineffective in our God-given purpose. Just before Jesus said that He came to bring us life in abundance, he warned that Satan, who he called a thief, “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”[3]

That thief is not nearly as powerful as he’d like us to think he is. Only God is sovereign and all-powerful. Satan has just one tool to use against us, deception, and you can be sure he has learned to use it quite effectively! After all, he is the father of lies, as Jesus pointed out to the Jewish leaders who refused to believe Jesus was the Messiah:

“You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.”[4]

It is Satan’s deception and lies and our choice to believe him which stand between us and abundant life here on earth. Part of his deception is that he presents his lies as truth and obscures the fact they come from him. He lies about who God is and what He’s like, about who we are, and about God’s relationship with us – because it is in believing these truths that we are set free to experience heaven on earth!

7 Powerful Truths About God, Ourselves, and God’s Relationship with Us

Entire books have been written about each one of these truths, and for good reason: they are vital to our perspective of God, ourselves, and His work in our lives. It is for this reason that Satan tries so hard to distort them. I encourage you to explore each one of these truths in Scripture, especially those which you find the most difficult to grasp and believe as true in your life:

Truth #1: God is all-powerful and all-knowing.

Truth #2:  God is always good and always has your best interests at heart.

Truth #3:  God loves you more than you can comprehend.

Truth #4:  God is always with you; He will never leave or forsake you.

Truth #5:  God has created you for a purpose and will provide all you need to fulfill it.

Truth #6:  God will provide all that you need physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

Truth #7: God is redemptive and will bring good out of everything.

 I believe if we would grasp even a fraction of what these truths mean, that insecurity, loneliness, inadequacy, fear, and all other negativity would vanish or at least cease to wield so much power over us.

I encourage you to copy this statement and post it where you can read it often until these truths become as much a part of you as the air you breathe:

“The sovereign God who is all-powerful and all-knowing loves me more than I can fathom and I am His beloved. I am never alone because He will never leave me or forsake me. He created me for a purpose and equips me with all I need to fulfill it. He provides all I need physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Everything He does is good and He causes everything in my life to work together for good. I know and believe all this to be true because He has promised it and He cannot lie. All His promises are true!”

So what is our part in all of this?

It’s very simple, really. It may be difficult at times, but still simple: full surrender to God, which means believing God’s truth over Satan’s lies about Him and about ourselves.  Satan will do all he can to make his lies appear to be true. But if we want to live life in all the fullness and abundance God intended for us, we must choose to believe God even when His promises appear to be false. That’s called faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God and experience all He has for us.

May you believe God’s truth with all your being and go forth today in the power and freedom of the abundant life Jesus came to give you! Remember, it was important enough to Him to leave Heaven to come to earth to die so you could have it. I pray it will be important enough to you to exchange your old life for the abundant life He has for you!

[1]John 10:10b HCSB

[2] Romans 8:37 HCSB

[3] John 10:10a HCSB

[4] John 8:44 HCSB