Steve DuPlessie | January 2, 2019
God is a planner. Actually, he has plans at work at many levels. You might know the familiar verse in And Proverbs 16:9 tells us “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
It moves from the general to the specific in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That’s echoed in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God didn’t just think of this plan for you yesterday. Ephesians 1:3-6 in the Message says, “Long before He [God] laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son.”
And his plan for you gets even more specific, with a particular goal in mind. Romans 8:29, 30 – “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
But God also has a plan for his church. Jesus told Peter, “…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” Matthew 16:18. There’s an end-game picture of what that looks like in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28: “And then comes the end, when Jesus hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”
“And the last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
Ephesians 3:10, 11 “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The church is God’s “plan A” for working in the world. So when we pray for our world, the main thing we should pray for is the spiritual vitality of believers in the world.
What does this mean in the current season of political turmoil? It means you you should pray for the salvation of our leaders. At the least, that they would acknowledge and submit to God for guidance, wisdom and direction. But pray mostly for the church. Pray that the church will be healthy and bold and focused on and clear about the gospel.
It’s also important to note that in his final wishes, Jesus prays for us, as believers, to internalize God’s love. John 17:20-23 – “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
He’s praying that we would love Jesus the way that God loves Jesus and we would love others like Jesus loves us. Because when we do that, people will know that he is real. The church is Plan A. There is no Plan B. the local church is the hope of the world.