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!

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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

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Our Calling in Singleness

Calling in Singleness

Purpose. Calling. Mission. These words get thrown around and we don’t always know what they mean or how to differentiate between them.

When God created us He designed us for a unique purpose – one that is different from anyone else who has ever lived or ever will live. It is part of who we are – who He created us to be. It is something we can fulfill no matter our age or physical ability. As long as we have breath in these earthly bodies, we can be living our purpose. I’ve observed that when people know their life purpose and consciously live it, they experience freedom, fulfillment, and contentment. And that feelings of loneliness, defeat, and discouragement make only fleeting appearances, and usually only when one loses sight of their God-given purpose.

So what, then, is a Calling?

While our purpose has more to do with who we are, our calling or mission has more to do with what we do. Our purpose is lifelong and doesn’t change, from the time we take our first breath until we take our last. A calling or mission is God’s assignment for a specific period of time or to a certain group of people.

Lately, as I’ve written about before, I’ve become aware through reading Barry Danylak’s excellent book, Redeeming Singleness, that single Christians have a unique testimony to give the world: that a relationship with Jesus is all-sufficient and all-satisfying.

After reading Redeeming Singleness, I knew this intellectually and it excited me. But I didn’t actually own it until one night I woke with a jolt and a feeling of aloneness overwhelming me. I hadn’t felt that in a long time. Immediately I asked the Lord, “Why this feeling now, and why DID You choose singleness for me when I would have enjoyed the companionship of marriage?”

Immediately He replied, “So you could demonstrate to others that I am all-sufficient. That I am enough.” His presence was so real, and the feeling of aloneness disappeared. I was satisfied with His answer, and soon fell contentedly back to sleep.

Sometime soon after I wrote this in my journal:

My calling in singleness is to give witness that a relationship with Jesus is all-sufficient and all-satisfying and provides immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine!

 In reality, this is God’s calling to every Christian, single and married alike. Expecting anyone or anything else to provide what we need, rather than God alone, is idolatry. God alone is our Provider. Sometimes – in fact, often – He uses another person as His instrument to meet our needs. But our needs being fulfilled isn’t dependent on the person God is using as His instrument, but rather on God Himself. If that person would disappear for whatever reason, God is still our Provider and will provide our needs by some other means.

But while all Christians are called to rely on God alone, single Christians have an especially effective testimony when they demonstrate that Jesus truly is all-sufficient in the absence of what most of the world considers to be a necessity for a satisfying life: a romantic or sexual relationship. When Christians remain celibate without a spouse or family and live joyful and purposeful lives sold out to Jesus, they give witness that Jesus is truly is all-sufficient and all-satisfying. Those who have lost spouses by death or divorce have incredibly powerful testimonies to Jesus’ all-sufficiency when they continue joyfully onward with the life purpose God has given them.

This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t grieve, or that never-married singles shouldn’t grieve over what never was. Grief is a God-given process for healing and it’s important we walk through it when we lose someone or something significant to us, including dreams that never come true.

Does Jesus Being All-sufficient Mean We Don’t Need People?

I know this can be a bit confusing, because we do need people! We don’t need marriage, but we do need relationships with others. After all, God said in Genesis 2:18 that it’s not good for man to be alone. At the time Adam had a face-to-face relationship with God, so he truly was experiencing God’s all-sufficiency, but God said he also needed other humans. Some think God meant it wasn’t good for Adam to not have a spouse, and if that were true for Adam in a perfect relationship with God, it’s true for all the rest of us, too.

But that’s not what God said. Adam was the only human being on the planet at the time. He needed another human to converse with and relate to in ways he couldn’t with the other creatures God had already created.

In Redeeming Singleness, Danylak writes:

Paul is not affirming [in 1 Corinthians 7] that it is good to be alone but only that, in appropriate circumstances, it is good not to marry. Conversely, when Genesis 2: 18 affirms that it is not good to live alone, marriage is given as a provision. But this does not imply that marriage was designed to be the sole provision for one’s aloneness. We recall that Jesus was a single man but not a man alone, one devoid of family and relationships. Although Paul may have had some extended time of solitude immediately after his conversion, he, like Jesus, was a man immersed in new family relationships. We are struck by how many different companions, partners, co-laborers, and underlings are mentioned from the period of his Gentile ministry. His use of family language is robust as he addresses those in his church constantly as “brothers” (Rom. 1:13; 1 Cor. 3:1; Gal. 4:12; Phil. 1:12; 1 Thess. 1:4), and “sisters” (Philem. 2), “children” (Gal. 4:19; 1 Cor. 4:14), “legitimate sons” (1 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4), and “kinsmen” (Rom. 16:7)…. Though Paul did not have his own wife and family, he experienced profound familial intimacy within the spiritual family of God in which he had utterly invested himself. [1]

Danylak goes on to explain the difference between these intimate relationships and the intimacy of marriage:

As men free to invest all their time and energy in advancing the kingdom of God, neither Paul nor Jesus lived a life alone. This is not to suggest that the relationships that come through the new family of God are a substitute for a spouse, a way to fill the relational gap of not having a spouse and family. There is something unique in God’s joining man and wife in “one flesh” that is never replicated in other types of human relationships. In remaining single, one sacrifices such physical intimacy.

But intimacy has other dimensions, beyond the physical. A bond of spiritual unity as brothers and sisters in Christ can emerge through a oneness of mind in corporate prayer and worship, a shared eternal hope, and a common mission of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples that also powerfully transcends human day-to-day experience. The freedom and flexibility of the single life will often open access to levels and opportunities of spiritual intimacy with other believers that those who are married do not have available in the same way and to the same degree.[2]

This, I believe, is part of the “immeasurably more” part of the singles’ calling (to give witness that a relationship with Jesus is all-sufficient and all-satisfying and provides immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine). It is in reference to Ephesians 3:20-21 that says,

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Of course it means so much more, too! “Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” means it’s not definable, predictable, or measurable. After all, the Sovereign God is our Provider, who has the resources of the universe and beyond at His disposal to provide all that we need – in abundance!

How to Experience the All-sufficiency of Jesus

You may be wondering, “This all sounds wonderful, but I’m not feeling it. How do I make it a reality in my life?”

I totally get that! We often understand things in our heads, but can’t feel them in our hearts. Faith, after all, is not knowing things intellectually but experiencing them.

The key to experiencing the all-sufficiency of Jesus is simple, but it may be one of the most difficult things ever: full surrender to God – your will, your plans, your desires given in exchange for His. We can’t experience Jesus to be all-satisfying until we relinquish our goals and dreams in exchange for His for us. The incredible thing is, no matter how wonderful we think our goals and dreams are, His goals and dreams for us are incredibly more wonderful – immeasurably more, in fact!

Oswald Chambers says it this way in My Utmost for His Highest:

‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.’ The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, my self with His rest at the heart of it. ‘If you would be My disciple, give up your right to yourself to Me.’ Then the remainder of the life is nothing but the manifestation of this surrender. When once the surrender has taken place we never need ‘suppose’ anything. We do not need to care what our circumstances are, Jesus is amply sufficient.[3]

Amply sufficient. Can you give witness that Jesus is amply sufficient and more? That He is all-satisfying? If you haven’t yet experienced this abundant life in Jesus, take a look at what you might be holding back. Are you hanging onto a specific dream or goal? Perhaps one you’ve had since childhood? I know I was! The abundant life is found in relinquishing those dreams and saying, “God, I don’t know what You have planned for me, but I KNOW that it is good, and that it is ‘immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or imagine!’”

[1] Danylak, Barry. Redeeming Singleness (Foreword by John Piper): How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life (pp. 201-202). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

[2] Danylak, Barry. Redeeming Singleness (Foreword by John Piper): How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life(pp. 202-203). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

[3] Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest, Classic Edition (Kindle Locations 4142-4145). Discovery House. Kindle Edition.

 

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