Your Vision for 2020 – Part One.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote that the mystery of Christ was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, that it was given to him to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and to “bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things…” (Ephesians 3:1-9 ESV).
God has a plan that was begun in the garden with Adam and Eve, given to his people Israel, realized in Jesus Christ, and made available to all who believe in him and receive salvation by his grace. God’s plan didn’t end with the first century church. It continues to this day, and we are a part of it. Paul went on to state that the assignment given to him by the Holy Spirit was to “…bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:9-10 ESV). As the Body of Christ on earth, we are the continuation of the first century church and we play a role in the revelation of God’s plan.
Paul said, “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:11-12 ESV). It is God’s eternal plan that through Jesus we will have access to our Father in heaven and all his promises, approaching God with boldness and confidence in his unfailing love for us.
This is how The Message translation paraphrases Paul’s prayer for the church (and that is us!) in Ephesians 3:14-21, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”
Beloved Friends, God did not intend for us to sit on the sidelines. He especially didn’t intend for us to sit on the sidelines and worry! That was not his plan! His plan was and is and always will be that his children operate in a way that demonstrates his love and reveals his glory (see Ephesians 4:1-3). Jesus said “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b ESV).
You may be wondering how you could possibly fit in to God’s plan, and that even if we were meant to be a part of his plan, how are we supposed to know what to do about it! (Can I get a witness?) Thankfully, God has provided us with the perfect user’s manual, and we can find the answer to these questions in the Bible!
Before we get going with this, please be aware that I am not cherry-picking verses to prove a point. When we study the passages we’ll be referencing, we’ll see how the whole pattern fits together. The Bible is not a collection of single verses that are made to stand alone. It is the expression, through his Holy Spirit, of our Father’s will for his creation manifested through his Son, Jesus Christ, and his Church. Reading scripture is like putting puzzle pieces together and all the pieces are designed to fit together perfectly to reveal the Big Picture.
Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we are also pieces of God’s plan. And just like putting together a puzzle, it takes all the pieces fitted together to make the picture complete.
So, in this series, we will explore what the Bible says about how we fit into God’s plan and from that, how we can each develop our vision for the year ahead.
Let’s begin by understanding who we are in Christ. In Ephesians 1, Paul gives us seven “in him” statements:
  1. In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).
  2. In him we were chosen before the creation of the world to be made holy and blameless (1:4).
  3. In him we were predestined for adoption as sons and daughters (1:5-6).
  4. In him we have redemption and forgiveness through his Blood, according to the riches of his grace (1:7-8).
  5. In him all things in heaven and earth will be united (1:9-10).
  6. In him we have obtained an inheritance, according to the purpose of his will (1:11-12).
  7. In him we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire full possession of it (1:13-14).
 As we can see, God had a plan for us from before the beginning of the world. That is what is meant by us being “predestined”. Not that God created us to be marionettes who have no will to act on our own, but that each of us have been included in God’s plan from the beginning. In the book of Revelation (which describes the fulfillment of God’s plan on earth), John speaks about those whose names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the foundation of the world; and in the same verse, he describes the Lamb who was slain from before the foundation of the world. This is stated slightly differently in various translations.
For example, the King James Version tells us about the difference between saints whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and those people who have not accepted salvation, as those “…whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8b). Which helps us see that God had a plan for our salvation in Jesus (see John 1:29-51), even before he laid the foundation for creation itself.
The same verse in the English Standard Version reads, “…everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” This translation gives us a picture of our names having been written in the Lamb’s book of life from before the beginning of the world.
This may seem complicated, but simply put, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit already had a plan in place for our salvation before the creation of the world, and God already knew each of our names and the part that he would design us to play in his plan.
Every good carpenter knows that if he or she wants to build a house that will stand the test of time and the elements, they must begin with a plan, drawn by an architect. Before the first piece of wood is cut or the first nail is struck, the architect has already envisioned what the finished house will look like, who will inhabit it, and how it will best serve its purpose and function. Before building begins, the architect and the contractor have already chosen the people who will pour the foundation, lay the floor, build the frame, install the plumbing and wiring, and place the roof. The designer knows who will lay the carpet, paint the walls and install the cabinets. The names of the contractors and subcontractors are already written in their contracts. Once all this has been decided, the actual building project begins, and everyone involved does the work they are assigned to do within the context of what takes place at the building site. Each one, according to their talent and expertise, deals with events as they come up on the ground.
In 2 Samuel 7:27, we read that God promised King David that he would build him a house. That house is the Davidic dynasty, and Jesus is the promised King who sits on the throne of his father, David, forever (2 Samuel 7:16; Matthew 1:1). We are built into that house. Peter wrote that “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5a ESV). God did not decide to build his house without a plan.
King David understood it this way:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV).
In Part Two of our series, we will explore how God knits into us specific talents and abilities, and gives us the desires of our hearts, as a part of our architectural design for the fulfillment of his plan in each of our lives.
Much love, God bless and please stay tuned!
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