For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
A very familiar statement – that God intends good for you and me. Perhaps you don’t doubt this; perhaps you do. Maybe you wonder if the apparent lack of “a future and a hope” is your own fault. Maybe you don’t believe you “search for God with all your heart.” Maybe you believe this is why your circumstances seem so bad. Maybe. Maybe not.
Perhaps you are one who sees God’s hand in everything that happens to you. You look around and see that your life is good; that you do indeed have “a future and a hope.” Maybe. Maybe not.
The author of Hebrews pulls out the heroes of the past to illustrate God’s hand in everything. The author writes:
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Then shows how men and women of faith move through seemingly impossible situations with hope. The hope is a country not of this world, but of the next. The present is not the prize, but the future.
10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:
12 the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice
13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.
An appropriate view of God is to recognize Him as Parent. Jesus is smart to introduce God, His Father as our Father when He prays, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” David calls God “King” and “Judge.” And yes, God is our King and our Judge. But above these roles, He is our Parent. He corrects us like the perfect parent corrects – with justice and love.
And so, the heavens rejoice; and the earth is glad. Everything on the earth is joyful “because He comes; because He comes to judge the earth…with justice, and the people with HIS TRUTH.”
“we find our true home in heaven. It is to heaven that we look expectantly for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to save us; 21 he will form this humbled body of ours anew, moulding it into the image of his glorified body, so effective is his power to make all things obey him.”
God is perfectly capable to make all things obey Him. Because this is true, He is ultimately sovereign, for that which He determines to allow to happen is in His perfect will. He withholds or exercises His power as He desires to meet His own ends in His own ways. That we do not understand this is because our view of God is limited by our own limited capacity. How can we fully comprehend the all-powerful and the perfect when we are neither powerful nor perfect?
We look to heaven for Jesus Christ to return “to save us.” With His immeasurable power, He plans to call our decayed bones together and refashion our bodies to match His own glorified body. He has that level of power! And it won’t matter in the long run whether you are buried at sea, in the ground, or turned to ash in the fires of the crematorium. You will have a body fashioned by the Lord; and your home will be heaven.
The author of your hope – if you are a Christian – is God. He fills you with joy and peace “in your believing.” He desires for you to “hope in abundance.” You must recognize your hope comes “through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Perhaps you try to generate this joy and peace and hope through sheer will-power. Stop trying so hard. Jesus says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He says, “I have come that you may have life, and that abundantly.” He promises, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Therefore, Paul prays:
May God, the author of our hope, fill you with all joy and peace in your believing; so that you may have hope in abundance, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, we are either one person or we are united as one in Jesus. Either way, we “who have been baptized in Christ’s name have put on the person of Christ.” We are “clothed with Christ.” Paul implies we are dressed up in Christ as if we’ve put on a costume for a big party. Yet, he means so much more. The physical properties, the settings in which we dwell no longer matter. That I am female and you are male means little – if anything – in the kingdom of God. For the flesh can not inherit the kingdom. We will all be changed, in a flash at the sound of the trumpet. The mortal will fall away, and we shall be as He is – immortal.
Therefore, the petty differences between us – our gender, the color of our skin, our cultural backgrounds or ethnicity, our station in life, the money we have or don’t have – these things mean nothing. The only thing that counts is our relationship with Christ, that we are indeed one person.
“through faith in Christ Jesus you are all now God’s sons. All you who have been baptized in Christ’s name have put on the person of Christ; no more Jew or Gentile, no more slave and freeman, no more male and female; you are all one person in Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:26-28KNOX
“For all ye be the children of God through the belief of Jesus Christ. [For all ye be the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.] For all ye that be baptized, be clothed with Christ. [Forsooth whoever ye be baptized in Christ, ye have clothed in Christ.] There is no Jew, nor Greek, no bondman, nor free man, no male, nor female [There is not Jew, neither Greek; there is not servant, neither free man; there is not male, neither female]; for all ye be one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28WYC
“The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
Perhaps Peter means we are impatient for the Lord’s return; and fret over its delay in an incorrect way. Rather than being ready for Christ and helping others ready themselves for His return, we stamp our feet and wring our hands, wondering why He tarries. Some of us even set the time for His return, announcing that on such and such a date, Christ will come for His own. We don’t seem to care that everyone else will be doomed.
On top of this impatience and imprudence, we forget God is patient. We ignore that God is kind; that He does “not want any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
“so Christ was offered once, to void the sins of many men [for to void, or do away, the sins of many men]; the second time he shall appear without sin to men that abide him into health.”
Bishops (priests) acting in the old covenant (testament) offer the blood of bulls, goats, lambs repeatedly, year and year in order to cleanse themselves and the peoples of sins. In the new covenant (testament) Jesus as the only Bishop (Priest) offers Himself once, not to cleanse but to void (to do away with) the sins of many.
Christ plans to return “without sin” to His people who “abide Him into health.” What does that mean? “Without sin?” Jesus becomes sin on the cross; when He appears a second time, He no longer carries the sins of the world for He voids these on the cross by His own blood.
Christ’s sacrifice is not repeatable. Nothing need be added to it; and certainly nothing may be taken from it!
“For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven, in the commandment, and in the voice of an archangel [in the commanding, and in the voice of the archangel], and in the trump of God; and the dead men that be in Christ, shall rise again first. Afterward we that live, that be left, shall be snatched (up) together with them in clouds, meeting Christ in the air; and so evermore we shall be with the Lord.”
Maybe Paul started the ‘zombie’ – the walking dead – craze. I don’t like writing about ‘end times’ because the Word clearly teaches no one knows the day, the hour except the Father. Why some insist on predicting the end of the world is beyond me! Why anyone argues over the details is also bizarre to me.
That “evermore we shall be with the Lord” is what attracts my attention! The rest is fluff, so to speak. The rapture? The Holy Spirit says ‘be prepared,” “keep watch” because we know not when He “shall come down from Heaven.”
On the cross, Jesus tells the repentant thief, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Jesus’ promise is not for some far off day, but for today!
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3, KJV)
Jesus encourages us not to be troubled. Jesus tells us He leaves us His peace — a peace that surpasses our understanding. If we find ourselves feeling a bit lost here, Jesus reminds us He prepares a place for us where He is, so that we may be there with Him. If we wander about like strangers and feel out of place; it’s because this is not our home. We are alien to this world.
Yet, while we are here, we are not called to worry about our circumstances. We are not to fret over what to wear, what to eat, where to go, who to see. If God’s will is this or that, here or there then we are to trust Him — trust His good will. Nothing done to us, for us, against us is done outside His purview.
Therefore, says Jesus, let not your heart be troubled. Neither be afraid.
Paul encourages us with these words, “The night is nearly over;” “our salvation is nearer than when we first believed;” (Romans 13:11) and “the daylight is near.” Because the night is almost finished, and the light is dawning upon us, Paul exhorts us to “discard the deeds of darkness” since it is fading away and “put on the armor of light” since it is shining already and soon is to be in full glow. We are to “make no plans” to remain in darkness, but are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 13:14) We are to actively avoid “quarreling and jealousy.” (Romans 13:13)
Notice Paul exhorts us to put off arguing which creates barriers between we who are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Paul says, “Let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in [our] brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13) “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues.” (Romans 14:1) “Who are [we] to criticize another’s household slave? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand. For the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)
Therefore, Paul encourages to be accepting of one another in Christ for we are all members of the same body, who is our Lord.