Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told his people, Israel;
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (RSV)
God’s plan has not changed over the years. Through His Son, He calls everyone to accept His plan of Salvation, so that all might inherit eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."
John 3:16-17 (RSV)
Once we have accepted "the free gift of God" (Romans 6:23), we cease striving to fulfill our own interests and desires and begin instead to serve God by meeting the needs of others with His love and compassion. A change begins to take place within us, and through the power of His Holy Spirit, we start to become like God’s Son, Jesus – as long as we keep ourselves available to serve Him. If we allow the things of this world to prevent us from participating in God’s plan for us, we are of no use to Him. And what happens to those who are of no use to Him? (See John 15:6.)
Faith Without Works Is Dead
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” — and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
James 2:14-26 (ESV)
Christ’s last commandment to His disciples - just prior to His ascension - was to,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"
–Matthew 28:19 (ESV)
The disciples had much work to do. The time had come to apply what they had been taught. They had availed themselves to Jesus’ teachings and now it was time to put what they had learned into practice.
So it is for us, also. We are to avail ourselves to faithfully following the instruction that has been passed down to us from the Father, to the Son, to the disciples, to all of God’s children – that is, those who hear the gospel and receive it as the true word of God. We have access to the very same power source the apostles had, God’s Spirit of Holiness. It is now up to us. If we truly have been born again, we have a burning desire to live in accordance with God’s plan for our life. We love Him and desire to worship and serve Him by loving our neighbors and meeting one another’s needs.
At this point you may be thinking, "I understand that God has called me to serve Him, but how?"
In order to worship and serve God, we must remain available to His calling.
As was stated in the first part of this article, God has a plan for our life; "plans for welfare [good] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Those of us who have accepted God’s calling and who have placed their trust in His Son, have been "filled and sealed" with God’s Spirit of Holiness. Now that doesn’t mean we are suddenly "Super Saints" who go around living perfect lives and performing all sorts of miracles. Rather, it means we are being transformed, as a result of God’s hand upon our heart and our life. For some of us, that transformation into Christ-likeness is more readily apparent. For most of us, the transformation takes time. Either way, it is according to God’s plan for us.
The most important factor of our transformation is being open and available to Him 24/7.
How do I make myself available to God?
- Through constant surrender of my will and my life to the leading of His Spirit.
- By seeking Him out through prayer, which is fellowship with Him.
- By consuming His word, the Holy Bible, which is His food for my soul.
- Through praise and worship, continually giving thanks to Him for ALL His blessings – even the ones that don’t seem like a blessing at the time.
- By preparing my heart to be receptive to Him.
- By spending quiet times alone with Him, listening to His Spirit speaking to mine; letting Him cleanse and fill my heart, and renew my mind.
- By loving Him and trusting Him completely. Confessing my sins and sin nature to Him. By giving myself over to Him without reservation.
- By letting go of the past and glorying in His presence today.
- By giving myself over to Him --not just in word, but in deed as well-- allowing His light to shine through me so that others can see His power, glory, mercy, and love.
- By allowing the Holy Spirit to convict others of their need for Him -- and not trying to do it myself.
- And lastly, by working and celebrating with other members of the Body of Christ – helping each other to grow strong in God and in one another, by living for and in God’s holiness and love.
God Is Love
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
-- 1 John 4:7-21 (NIV)