Is There A Specific PLAN God Has For My Life, Or, Is This All There Is?

Scripture Study:  Luke 1:68-79

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LUKE 1:76 (ESV):

[76] “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,”

Have you ever wondered why you are doing what you’re doing in life–in your job, in your retirement, in your ministry?  I often thought to myself, “LORD, is what I’m doing right now, really your plan for my life, or is it my plan?”  How can I know and be assured what my “lot” in life really is?  Great questions, but what are the answers.  Can the Book of Life, God’s Word, the Bible, give the answers?

God had a PLAN or the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, an older couple” in the church.  

Zachariah was a priest of the division of Abijah (one of the 24 sections of priests) and Elizabeth was of the lineage of Aaron.  Both were “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”  (Luke 1:6).

All should know that God always has a PLAN by which He works.  That PLAN isn’t on the same timetable as ours.  God puts His PLAN into action when it’s the right time.

During your lifetime, I’m sure you can recall the times you asked God to help you get that promotion or that particular job or position.  How about the time you wanted to buy that certain home and the deal didn’t go through–“Yes, Yes, and Yes!”  Maybe you remember your high school days when you had your eye on a certain young man or young lady, but a relationship never developed and you couldn’t understand why.

God has a SPECIFIC PLAN in life for you and a SPECIFIC PLAN for my life.

NOW HERE IT IS:  We can accept His PLAN or, we can by-pass it and do what we want.  The PROBLEM with doing our ‘own thing’ is we’ll suffer the consequences.

If we are impatient and choose to leave God out of our lives, we’re headed for a disaster.

On the other hand, if we consult God concerning our issues; our doubts, our uneasiness in making the right decisions…asking Him to guide us, listening closely to His response, and then patiently waiting for His PLAN to unfold, we’ll be in for a VICTORY.

Zachariah and Elizabeth were a devoted couple and a good example for us tom exemplify.

zacharias-elisabeth-praying-mann_1163845_inlThey were dedicated to each other and by the same token, dedicated to God.  

They followed all the rules, regulations, and commandments of the Lord.  The words they expressed to other people in normal everyday communication were words they lived by.  They didn’t live one way and then live their personal lives another way.  People could tell just by looking at them, they were “blameless.”  There was nothing in the world that indicated dishonesty or deliberate sin in their lives.  Their names would never appear in tabloid news.

Zachariah was truly devoted to carrying on the priestly duties assigned to him.  Scripture tells us:  “As was the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter [the sanctuary of] the temple of the Lord and burn incense” (Luke 1:9 AMP).

I had to look up the meaning of the word “LOT”.  According to “The American Heritage Dictionary”, the word “lot” means “An object used in making a determination or choice by chance.”

We might think of making a CHOICE by rolling dice, pulling the short straw, or even flipping a coin.  In the days of Zechariah, priestly duties were assigned by “lot.”  Each of the priests were required to spend a week in the Temple two times a year.  Keeping the incense burning on the altar of the Most Holy Place was a top honor for the priests for a Temple Priest could offer incense only once in his lifetime.  What a great honor that must have been.  Someone said, a modern comparison of a priest burning incense in the Temple is like the local pastor today filling in for Billy Graham.

As Zachariah was praying and burning incense at the altar, God’s PLAN kicked in.

Zachariah and Elizabeth were going to have a baby.  This was the beginning of God’s PLAN for their parenthood.

The angel Gabriel said to Zechariah,  “Do not be afraid, Zachariah, because your petition was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you must call his name John [God is favorable]”  (Luke 1:13).

Gabriel went on to say in VERSE 14:

“And you shall have joy and exultant delight, and many will rejoice over his birth”

Look at what Zechariah and Elizabeth will have–not only a son, but they will have JOY, EXULTANT DELIGHT and people will observe their rejoicing hearts.

This is a WIN/WIN situation here.  Don’t you think it’s wonderful how God works through His PLANS, fulfilling them at the right time?

Now this PREGNANCY didn’t exactly happen at the time Zechariah and Elizabeth would have liked it to.  It didn’t occur at their requested timing, because it wasn’t in the PLAN God had in mind.  What Zechariah and Elizabeth seemed to forget is the same thing you and I forget.  

If we really want our PRAYERS answered, we must keep our minds open and remember, that our God is an expert in bringing the impossible to light.

GABRIEL not only told the elderly couple [verse 7: “both were far advanced in years”; John Wycliffe, The Wycliffe Bible] they would bring forth a son and his name would be John, but…“he will be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit even in and from his mother’s womb” (verse 15).

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God’s wonderful PLAN was unveiled to Zechariah and Elizabeth; that they were living God’s PLAN for their lives, and John would follow through to announce the coming of the Messiah.

All of this was a bit difficult for Zechariah to take in and believe, so he questioned how this could be.  There is a difference between asking God a question about His plans, and “questioning” His plans.

Because of DISBELIEF, his “questioning,” Zechariah wasn’t permitted to speak until the baby was ready to be named.

I can remember my wife and I having nightly discussions after dinner, discussing names for our first-born.  Since technology hadn’t come into play regarding sonograms–knowing if it was a girl or boy, we devised two lists:  BOYS – GIRLS.

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TV Series, KAREN

The “how about’s” started with names from our favorite television shows.  Then family names we liked from both families, to suggestions from friends and parents, and the list went on, and on, and on.  We finally decided after choosing AMY for almost 9 months, if our first child is a girl, we liked the 1964 television series, KAREN, played by the actress Debbie Watson.  I don’t know whether everyone we knew agreed with the how we chose the name, but we were sure!

So our first daughter was named KAREN MARIE, with the same middle name as my wife’s.

And that’s my story.  I’m sure you have your own story.

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s gathered friends and family wanted to end the disagreements going on about name choices for the new bay, so they decided to ask Zechariah what the baby’s name should be.  Now that’s “no duh” decision.

Since Zechariah was “mute”, they made signs to him concerning what the child’s name should be and he asked for a tablet to write on.

He wrote without hesitation, “His name shall be John.”  At that very moment his tongue was loosed so he could talk.

God’s PLAN was in action and moving right along as scheduled.

God opened the mouth and lips of Zechariah and he began praising God.

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, divinely inspired, and began to prophesy.

Have you ever had moments in your life, like this one?

God had forgiven Zechariah’s failure to believe and the little bit of distrust he held in his heart.

When we start LIVING GOD’S PLAN for our lives–believe His Word, placing our trust in Him.   We’ll end up praising God, as Zechariah did.

ZECHARIAH’S WORDS OF PRAISE, Luke 1:68-79, are a SONG.

The FIRST 8 verses deal with SALVATION and will appear in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The SECOND part of the SONG (verses 76-79) refers to the ministry of John, the forerunner of Christ Jesus.

God had a PLAN for John and John lived that PLAN.

God’s PLAN was to use John to PREPARE the people of the day to recognize and accept the Messiah when He appeared on the scene.  John preached God’s message!

You and I are players in God’s PLAN, as well.  We were in God’s PLAN from the time of conception.  

We may not realize it, the situations we face, the struggles we encounter, the detours we come upon, but all are part of God’s PLAN for our lives.  We perhaps haven’t recognized it as of yet, but God’s PLAN is there!

We are LIVING God’s PLAN when we witness for Christ, when we love others, feed the hungry, visit the shut ins.  When we step out in FAITH, God will work in our lives revealing His plans for each one of us who trust in Him.

Paul said, “He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:6).

John lived the PLAN God had for his life–he PREACHED a message of CONFESSION of SIN; REPENTANCE of SIN, and SALVATION through Christ Jesus, the Messiah.

We too, need to follow God’s PLAN for our lives of confession, repentance, and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

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And NO, we don’t have to wear John’s clothing of camel’s-hair, wear a leather girdle about our waist, live on a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).  That was John living out God’s specific PLAN for John.  

God’s PLAN for us is specifically designed for only us to live out.

Then, and only then, will God’s PLAN for us be complete, because we will be able to spend eternity in His Kingdom!

 


CREDITS:

Photos chosen:  From Google IMAGE Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in text (ESV – English Standard Version).

 

“A Match Made In Heaven”

TEXT:  Ephesians Chapter  One.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  [4] For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love [5] He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will”  (Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV).

[*NOTE: Capitalizations–“He”, “Him”, “His”–are inserted by this writer out of respect for God’s Majesty.  The original text in the NIV Bible doesn’t capitalize].

 

FIRST of all, this study is NOT about Calvinism or Arminianism doctrines.  It IS a study on BLESSINGS:

BLESSING #1.  God pursued us in the past–called ELECTION and…

BLESSING #2.  He makes us family in the present–called ADOPTION.

BLESSING #3.  GOD will make us COMPLETE in the future–called UNIFICATION.

I could end this blog right here…but I won’t, for there is so much more to learn from Scripture.  My hope is by the end of this study, you will grasp the LOVE of God has for you and the beauty of this BLESSING regarding ELECTION or CHOICE.

WHAT IS “ELECTION”?

The Greek New Testament, the word is eklegomai – “CHOOSE” [See Footnote [i] ].   In the context of DIVINE ELECTION, God is said to “choose” His people – (Mark 13:20; Acts 13:17; 15:7; and of course, here in Ephesians 1:4).

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul begins with “Long ago, even before he made the world…”- long before anything at all was made, God was there–this was the ETERNITY before CREATION.

God was completely sufficient and not needing anything.  But before CREATION, God did something–He thought about you and me with a PURPOSE in His mind.  This PURPOSE included JESUS and us – It says “God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ  Jesus…”

This CHOOSING of us by God is called ELECTION, based on “A Match Made In Heaven”. After 50 years of marriage, my wife and I can look back at all the naysayers, the trials, the disappointments along the way, and truly say our marriage was “a match made in heaven!” 

In Eternity–Before time began…

A MATCH was made in heaven where God Almighty matched us together with JESUS in His mind!  He did this because His LOVE–He specifically and purposefully CHOSE you, He chose me.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!

There are some arguments about where the concept of LOVE belongs in verse 4 of the text; actually three different arguments.  But I like the New Living Translation (NLT) talking about God CHOOSING US in relation to His LOVE–and nothing else:

“Even before he made the world, God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

THE FIRST TRUTH–That God’s LOVE should revolutionize and transform the Christian life.

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS IMPORTANT TO HIM:

God CHOSE to have a relationship with you–GOD CHOSE YOU!  You were important to Him!  Take a second and PRAISE GOD, right where you are, for that!

We were like a puppy at the local Animal Shelter.  But you know what?  God didn’t need to choose you.  There’re others far more eloquent than you and me–more compassionate–more holy than us that He could have chosen for His service in our place.

But God, who looks out over all of humanity, knows every skill, every weakness, knows every sin and every part of goodness in every person, and out of all those CHOICES, He decided to CHOOSE you and me.

And notice that Paul wrote “God chose us” – It’s NOT about me being chosen (focused on PRIDE)–It’s about God CHOOSING me (focused on humility).

But in LOVE to God and humility, I can say, if you are a CHRISTIAN, you are God’s CHOSEN–His ELECT.

The Concept of Election…

The idea of “ELECTION” plays against what we’ve always thought.  We think that WE need to pursue our relationship with God!  CHRISTIANS DON’T NEED TO PURSUE GOD – He has already pursued you, chosen you, and developed a relationship with you.  The fact is, it’s not all about PURSUIT, but about OBEDIENCE to the call.

In Tommy Tenney’s popular book, The God Catchers:  “God doesn’t hide Himself from you so that He can’t be found; He hides Himself from you so that He can be found”  (page 11).

Your RELATIONSHIP with God is more important to Him than it is to you by a long shot–considering all that He has done in advance through Christ to establish it.  What we need to do is let HIM continue to RELATE to you.

Don’t insult God by acting as if you bother Him, or a nuisance,  or you annoy Him.  He went to great LENGTHS to make you His ELECT, His CHOSEN.  You have the relationship–start honoring God today by letting Him take back control of the relationship.  TALK TO HIM and let Him talk to you…to guide and to love you.

God pursues US!

See, you might not have known this before, and so before…when you WORSHIPED unenthusiastically; before… when you PRAYED, timid and shy; before… when you read your Bible and you didn’t expect anything…that’s where I found myself years ago, so I know…but NOT ANYMORE!

Forget that stuff that’s behind!  Now you know that when you come into the PRESENCE OF GOD, He says “MY CHOSEN ONE!  I have sought you.  I have bought you with the blood of the LAMB.  Come on in!”

But there is more– The “BLESSING OF ELECTION” (Ephesians 1:4):

“God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes”

In the Amplified Bible, it reads “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ…that we should be HOLY and BLAMELESS”

The words “HOLY” and “BLAMELESS” are two important terms in the BLESSING OF ELECTION–

The first term is “HOLY”:

Back in verse one, Paul addressed this letter “to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones).”  If something is set-apart, it’s made “HOLY.”    VERSE 1 and VERSE 4 uses the same Greek word – “hagios” – holy [Footnote [ii] ].

GOD’S LOVE TRANSFORMS OUR LIVES–

God made you HOLY, and HOLINESS is being set-apart for God’s use.  In other words, if you are a “true believer” in Christ, God CHOSE you from the beginning of time so He could USE you today!  God doesn’t just set something apart so it can sit and collect dust.  He has a specific plan for our lives in Jesus’ name.

That idea doesn’t set well with some people–that God would have a different plan for your life than the one you’ve chosen–

“I don’t want to live in a jungle as a missionary!”

Or here’s a personal statement I made when my pastor approached me with a bible study for dementia/Alzheimer at a group home:  “I want to teach Lord, but not here!”  He had a different plan for my life, and full of many blessings.

The fact is, we don’t TRUST God with our lives.  If you’ve never seen that missionary movie, Edge of the Spear, you should.

But God made us HOLY so He could use you and make your life SIGNIFICANT for JESUS’ sake.  Our lives are important to God whether we believe it or not!

But there’s more! – God made us “HOLY” and…”BLAMELESS” in His sight–(without fault).

Paul is making reference to the requirements in the OT system; where lambs were sacrificed.  The SACRIFICIAL lambs represented Jesus Christ–the SINLESS, SPOTLESS Lamb of God who would be SACRIFICED for all of us.

Peter uses the same word:  “But  [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot”  (1 Peter 1:19 AMP).

FACTS DON’T LIE!

MY PURITY IS IMPORTANT TO GOD–

God considers you right where you are now, WITHOUT a blemish, not bearing the effects of sin, carrying no blame because you are “in Christ.”

JESUS paid for our sin on the cross.  If He hadn’t died…we wouldn’t be “blameless.”  But because He did, when we placed our TRUST in the cross of Christ, God looked at us and said “You are spotless.”  It ALL comes back to God making that possible in eternity past through His love.

But what a slap in the face we give God…when we willingly turn our backs and choose to live in sin–when we treat our BLAMELESSNESS dishonorably, sinning without so much as the beat of an eyelash.

Our PURITY is important to God–so important that He gave us the title of BLAMELESS in eternity past–before Genesis 1:1.

THE THREE BLESSINGS I FOUND IN EPHESIANS CHAPTER ONE:

ELECTION is the FIRST of Paul’s’ three blessings in Chapter One.  Or as I like to call it, “A Match Made In Heaven.”

It reveals the LOVE God had for me; it presents me with some truths about God that absolutely revolutionized my own spiritual life.

My RELATIONSHIP with God is important to him and…my life’s DIRECTION is important to my Father, while at the same time, my PURITY is important to God.

A Match Made In Heaven
A Match Made In Heaven

My POST has been directed primarily for those of us who have accepted JESUS as our Forgiver and Lord.  When we understand how BLESSED we are to have been chosen by God as HOLY and BLAMELESS through Jesus Christ, when we realize that our DESTINY is to be part of God’s family; when we comprehend that God has poured out all His grace into our lives; how can we help but humble ourselves before Him and give Him the PRAISE and GLORY!

But maybe after reading this message, you’re asking – “Am I really one of God’s chosen, ‘a match made in heaven’?  

I believe, if that’s your thoughts in asking, it’s the evidence that God is drawing you to Himself.  He’s been waiting for your decision.

SHARE your questions, your decision below in the comment section of this Blog and I’ll try to answer your questions.

 

Bible References: New International Version [NLT]; Amplified Bible; New Living Translation Bible [NLT].

Photo Credits:  Ephesians 1:4-5 – mazmagi.blogspot.com; Shutterstock.

Footnotes:  [i]; [ii] – Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.