home >Pastor’s Desk>2016>January 1st>The Genesis of John’s Plans

THE HEART OF GOD’S PLAN IN JOHN

The Capstone of the accounts of Jesus life, ministry, and redemptive work is John’s Gospel. It is quite possibly the most profound book in the Bible. It opens with the same three words that the entire Bible commences with, In the beginning. It’s opening chapter is a collage of the fulfillment of the most important Old Testament prophecies which are introduced in the opening three chapters of the Bible. The opening chapter of the Bible deals with light being distinguished from darkness and so does the Gospel of John. What is particularly striking about the Gospel of John is just how much planning God did in order to rescue us. As we end one year and begin another let us consider that we are created in the image of a God who delights in planning and encourages us to do the same.

Commit your work to the LORD,and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

The other month I had planned to have four weeks leave so that I could sit a Biblical Greek exam and complete my F.W. Boreham documentary series. As you know, on the first of my leave I collapsed and was bed-ridden for the first week then relatively immobile for the other three. Plans sometimes suffer delays. Delays do not mean that plans do not help us achieve intended outcomes. Yet, many people experience delays just after they have planned and then abandon their plans as if planning does not work! I still plan to master Biblical Greek and I still plan to complete the Boreham documentary project – despite the delays I have experienced.

Dr. FW. Boreham, 1921

F.W. Boreham tells the story of a young man who excitedly brought his sweetheart to a patch of ground and declared that one day they would own it! “Our kitchen will go here“, he said pointing, “and our lounge-room will go here.” Escorting her to another spot a little distance away from the layout of the house he then said, “And this will be where our fruit trees will go. And this will be where our sun-dial will go. And this is where I will be buried.”  And as Mr Boreham explained, that’s exactly what this couple did after they married and bought this land. The detailed plans for their house and yard were completed precisely even up to the point of where these owners were buried in their old age. Dr. Boreham himself revealed his grand plans to the students of Pastors’ College where he had been studying, “And it is my hope, that in the course of the ministry I shall hold three pastorates, and then be free to travel in many lands preaching the everlasting Gospel among all denominations.” This also was precisely what he did, even though his journey had more twists and turns than he could possibly have foreseen. Plans give direction.

Many of us will be starting the New Year in Genesis 1 and John 1. Both of these Biblical Books are connected by God’s great plan. In Genesis, God begins to announce it. In John, God enacts and begins to fulfil it. It is central to God’s plan that He will have a Church made up from people of every tribe, nation and language (Rev. 7:9). God’s plan involves Him working through you to bring people to know Him!

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
John 10:16

When we read about the Jesus that John describes in his Gospel, we read about a Jesus who knew His Father had a plan. 

Jesus was confident that His Father would complete His plan. This was despite thousands of people walking away from Him in the closing stages of His ministry, His own disciples abandoning Him and one even betraying Him, and massive opposition toward Him from those in authority. Despite this, He served His Father with great zeal. Plans always always always stand a greater chance of fulfilment when zeal (passion) is maintained.

His disciples remembered that it was written:
Zeal for your house will consume me.
John 2:17

Do you have plans that will outlast you? 

Too many people give up their lives for small dreams, small visions, and small plans. Yet the God of the Universe who planned the placement of every molecule in the Universe calls and invites you to join His Grand Plan. You might have some natural plans – take a holiday, renovate you kitchen, buy a new car, which are commendable, but none of these will go on and outlive you for a hundred generations! Yet the Father’s plan of saving lost, broken, hurting, souls through your life and witness will outlive you for eternity! This is why I am so passionate about Christ’s Church! It’s why attending church is not optional for me – it is my participation in God’s Grand Plan!

¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

I have plans. I plan to do what I can to further God’s Grand Plan. As a church we have plans. We plan to do what we can to further God’s Grand Plan to rescue and redeem lost, broken and hurting people. We sense God’s plan for us to reach as many as we can as a church which is why we will need to extend our facilities, appoint new leaders, commence new programs, and take greater steps of faith for Him.

God often puts things into our hearts that He wants us to draw out with a plan!

As you’re reading through John’s Gospel this January, note the subtle references to God’s plan. Observe how God planned to use a certain number of miracles. Listen as Christ delivers a certain number of messages according to God’s plan. Notice how Christ seemingly “wastes” His valuable time with certain individuals (John 3, 4 and so on). Consider that His involvement with His disciples was actually the unfolding of a plan and how this plan involves us today. There are hints within this Gospel about how we can make plans that attract the favour of God. We’ll see that plans are made and enacted prayerfully. They may experience delays. They may require detours. They nearly always incorporate what is, to us, unforeseen circumstances. And every plan must have a goal and the steps required to achieve that goal. After you’ve read the Gospel of John be sure to reflect how the Apostle himself used a plan to tell us his account and that he notes his Gospel leaves more out than it put in. And while there are some of us who have made trifling plans that keep us from God’s best for us, perhaps there are some of us who need to particularly note this last point as one of the biggest mistakes most people make with their plans is they lack focus and try to do too much. The best plans are simple. I finish with the Apostle Paul’s which involves us as well…

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles 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, 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 3:8-10

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.