Gracefully Truthful


Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 3:1-13
Acts 2
Ephesians 4:20-24
2 Kings 6:15-23
Acts 13:44-52

I know the plans I have for you[.]” (Jeremiah 29:11)

This verse is often cited (out of context) to encourage modern Christians of the good plans God has for them. But so often, God’s good plans for us aren’t what we expect at all. 

Imagine what God might have said to Paul if He’d laid out His good plans for him.

I know the plans I have for you. Prison. Persecution. Rejection by your own people. Serving people you would have previously disdained.

Those plans hardly seem good or prosperous! Yet Paul testifies otherwise in Ephesians 3:1-13

Referring to himself as Christ’s prisoner, Paul writes to the Gentiles, people he would have looked down on when he was a Pharisee. He writes to encourage them in Christ with the unexpected testimony that his hard life, marked by suffering, is a gift of God’s grace.

Giving up his plans to follow God’s to the full was worth it to Paul. 

He had truly experienced God’s words shared in Isaiah 55:8
For My [God] thoughts are not your [human] thoughts, 
and your ways are not My ways.

Paul’s plans had been against Jesus, but God’s plans were to proclaim Jesus through him.

Paul had measured goodness by adherence to Jewish law, but God’s plans were to work through him to reach Gentiles who likely found Jewish law irrelevant.

Paul had put Jewish Christians in jail, but God’s plans were to spread the gospel through Paul’s own imprisonments.

The total upheaval of Paul’s plans for God’s plans was a gift from God.

Paul’s plans went out the window when God made Christ known to him. With the Holy Spirit living inside him, everything changed. Others, like those present on the day of Pentecost, also found their plans turned upside down by the reality of Christ and the Spirit living in them. (Acts 2) But the “big upheaval” was for good.

Many came to know Christ because God changed people’s plans, just as He did for Paul.
Many who were once far off were brought near. (Ephesians 2:13)
Many discovered, as Paul encouraged the Ephesian Church, that by the Spirit they could exchange their old selves for new identities in Christ. (Ephesians 4:20-24)

As he followed God’s plans, Paul gained insight into the mystery of Christ. 

And what a mystery! 

Paul refers to the effects of the mystery in Christ in his testimony in Ephesians 3:1-13 as the “incalculable riches of Christ,” the “multi-faceted wisdom” and
eternal purpose” of God. Paul was privileged to witness the glory of God as he surrendered everything to Christ. 

He saw, like Elisha long before his time, that all of heaven is on the side of God’s plans.
He was “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” as many came to believe, despite facing persecution for proclaiming salvation in Christ. (Acts 13:44-52)

No longer were Paul’s plans based on his purposes or dependent on his strength.

Instead, Paul could say to his mentee, Timothy, “This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (2 Timothy 2:10) And his endurance was reliant on God, who “remains faithful, for He cannot deny himself.(2 Timothy 2:11)

Paul was honest in his testimony to the Ephesians, as God’s plans for him did involve afflictions. But God’s purpose made God’s plans better by far than anything Paul could devise himself. This understanding changed Paul’s perspective, so even when he prayed for others, his concern was for them to also know God’s purposes and follow God’s plans “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord[.]” (Colossians 1:9-10)

Walking worthy of the Lord isn’t easy. If God had told me His plans for me ahead of time, I wouldn’t have called a lot of them “good”! It would take days for me to write out all the seasons and circumstances in which things weren’t “good”, but God brought good out of them, just like He promises He will. (Romans 8:28)

I am strengthened and encouraged, and hope you are too, remembering, like Paul, the reason God’s plans are good: because His purpose, revealed in Christ, is good.
Following Jesus is so, so worth it!

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