Wednesday, September 2, 2009

His Purpose Will Prevail

Seeing so many things that could discourage us and seeing the failures of God's people we are tempted to lose heart and faith and to think that there is no use trying. We have seen what we thought were the wrong people succeeding and the wrong people failing. Like John the Baptist we have seen the glory and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God!" Then we have sat in our "prison cells" and said, "Are you the one or do we look for another? Did I miss it?"
We have stood on the mountain top and cried out, "This is it!" And we have crawled on the valley floor crying, "Where did it go?" We have said, "Lord, I'll never leave you nor forsake you" and later denied Him before the rooster crowed. We have slept while others were in their Gethsemanes. We have had friends walk into our Gethsemanes and betray us with a kiss. We have seen churches fly and churches fall. We have been in the processes of God and were not sure whether we were being pruned or stripped, whether we were being purged and refined or burned and rejected. In our attempts at obedience we have at times stepped out in faith not sure whether we were stepping up or stepping off. We have been asleep in the boat during the storm and did not know whether to stand up and say, "Peace! Be still!" or whether to ask someone to throw us overboard to the whale.

In the midst of all of the situations above, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the eternal purpose of God was accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3: 11). Instead of being in the pits of unbelief because of our failures and that of others, we should rejoice that Almighty God will complete the church and bring forth His kingdom. Not one jot or tittle shall fail of what He has said regarding the church and His kingdom plan. Jesus, while hanging on the cross, gored by the "bulls of Bashan", bitten by demonic dogs, and "pierced by the congregation of the wicked" (Psalms 22) which surrounded Him on Calvary, could still, in the face of this, know that all things were accomplished and that the Scripture concerning Himself had been fulfilled. He thus could say, "It is finished!" (John 19: 25-30). How much more from His place of glory and authority at the right hand of the Father, even in the face of a hostile world and a stubborn and stiffnecked church, will He not again come to say in the proper time, "It is finished!"?

The book of Ephesians speaks of God's purpose, God's people, God's grace, and God's power. These are high and lofty elements; they represent the wonderful work of God. The book also deals with the nitty-gritty areas of life such as unity, godly living, spiritual warfare, the family, relationships, etc. Sooner or later God's purpose, power, and grace will prevail in the nitty-gritty, and God will reveal in His people just how much He really is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3: 20). He is able to subdue all things unto Himself (Philippians 3: 21). He will complete His work.

We have faith for the past and for the future—but we think God has trouble handling the present. We believe God controls all things. He controls the whole—but we think He has difficulty with the parts and the particulars. We believe He sets the boundaries of nations—but we think he has no control over the unreasonable and trespassing neighbor who has moved the boundary lines of our front yard. We believe, according to the scripture, that God will produce the glorious church, that He will succeed with the whole—but we think He is failing with the parts, with the individuals, that He controls the "whole" but not the "each." Obviously we must realize that to determine the boundaries of nations God must have power over the neighbor's small plot. To be God of history, He must also be God of the moment. To control past and future, He must control the present. He is God over all. He will complete His work and fulfill His counsel. Not one jot or tittle shall fail of all his good promises.

The apostle Paul experienced every type of evil from the hands of men, including attempts to destroy his life. He experienced grief from the failures of churches under his ministry. He was forsaken and rejected. He even suffered at the hands of the demonic messenger of Satan sent to buffet him. Yet in spite of all this, he spoke eloquently and with great faith concerning God's plan for the church. He trusted in God, in God's wisdom and power. Paul began the book of Ephesians with the phrase "Paul...an apostle by the will of God." Having experienced God's sovereign initiative and power, and having seen how it completely transformed him into God's faithful and passionate servant, Paul basically proceeded to say, both explicitly and implicitly in the book of Ephesians, that the church, the people of God, will also be transformed and made into the perfect man by the same will of God and by the same power of God.

God is building together a people into an habitation of God through the Spirit. That People is His heritage, His chosen possession, through which His great power and grace shall be demonstrated, through which the manifold wisdom of God shall be made manifest unto principalities and powers, and through which His life and image shall be reflected upon the earth. His kingdom shall come. He shall bring down all principalities and powers until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. His glory shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Therefore, we should not be moved away from the hope (the confident expectation) of the fulfillment of all that is promised and proclaimed in the gospel. The Sovereign God is administrating times and seasons, each to its fullness, until all things are fulfilled in Christ. God's sovereignty, His power, His grace, and His wisdom are the backdrop and foundation for our faith and confidence. There is no place to sit down disillusioned with God, His purpose, His plan, or His church. God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think. No matter how discouraging our own experiences have been, God will succeed.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul?...Hope in God." Psalm 42: 11.

"according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Ephesians 3: 11.

"continue in the faith steadfast ... not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard..." Colosians 1: 23.

12 comments:

aricalong said...

I related to the part about when we don't know if we are being stripped or pruned...etc. This is a great article! I often lose sight of His will and purpose for not only myself but the world as well. It is such a vast world and to lose sight and focus is easy to do with constant distraction surrounding us everyday. God isn't hiding Himself. We are hiding Him.

just joe said...

what if you are getting stripped and pruned at the same time? not to mention taken apart?

Billy Long said...

There were times when I did not know if I were like job, who was a good man experiencing trials for mysterious reasons, or like Jonah, who was being disciplined for his sin. Then I realized that the answer for both men is the same: Surrender, obedience, and faith. A humble surrender to our Lord is the answer whether we are the perfect child or the disciplined child.

Nathan said...

thank you once again for your words. I have been battling throwing in the towel for good with my faith and life, but your words are not only encouraging but truth. I feel rejected in the present but having purpose on the whole. I must remember He is still here.

Billy Long said...

I would encourage anyone reading these comments to pray for Nathan who has shared his pain in the comment just above this one. It sounds like he needs to know there are people who will be standing with him in faith and prayer.

just joe said...

Nathan: are you Billy's oldest son? I seem to remember your name.

I am also battling with thoughts of throwing in the towel, after 25 years as a "pastor" and "missionary". Life is a huge test ...

I will be praying for you Nathan... don't give up. Please pray for me also.

If you want to email me privately, my email is josenmiami@yahoo.com

Quote of the day: "life is good, even when it sucks" --me.

Billy Long said...

Joseph, I came to know Nathan because he knew Harold Meaux up in Ohio. Nathan is in the Columbia SC area now.

glr_steen said...

As always, this is an excellent exhortation and source of encouragement. Iwill pray for those so close to thinking they want to give up. The best is yet to come. Come quickly, Lord Jesus,Yeshua Amoshiac.

Linda B. said...

Joe, you look just like Billy from your picture!

I am praying for you. I don't know your situation and don't really need to know.

I see you casting your net upon the waters in a storm, the ship tossing to and fro. You think, "Oh Lord, why am I here. It is dark and stormy." You pull up the net,expecting nothing. Lo and behold, it is full of fish!

Nothing you have done is for naught. When it seems the darkest is when the blessings and direction will come!

just joe said...

thanks Linda, I take that as a complement. Billy and I are good friends.

Your words are very encouraging! Thanks.

Billy Long said...

Hey, Joseph. If you notice, Linda said, "You look just like Billy" and followed it up very quickly with "I am praying for you."

Billy

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!! Joe, you can get into mischief and Billy will get blamed!

Same old Billy!!!!

I need a laughing Icon.