By Kojo Zilevu
God had a predestined plan when He led the Israelites out of Egypt. He had orchestrated every detail of their exodus and had planned path for them to walk in. He had already made provisions for how they will cross the red sea and which path they would take in the wilderness. Their only job was to trust Him and follow His guidance. There was no work on their part; they didn’t even need a map, for the pillar of cloud and fire was to guide them day and night. Yet with most of them, they didn’t believe God had the best plan of them and disobeyed Him. As a result, they could not fulfill God’s plan for their lives and most of them wandered aimlessly and finally died in the wilderness.
Just as He delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, we too have been rescued from the domain of darkness into His kingdom (Col 1:13). The Lord has led as through the narrow gate through repentance and faith and we should be thankful. But that’s only part of His plan; there is a narrow way that leads to life and He intends to guide us along that path (Matt 7:13-14). His plan for our lives has been designed already; we just have to walk in it and not wander aimlessly (Heb 4:1-3). We may not know all the specific details of His will for our lives, but if we strive to obey what He has already told us in His word, the rest will be revealed at the proper time. When walking at night, we never see further than our flashlight, but we can make the whole trip by walking in the light that is already revealed to us.
Since the Lord has the best plan for us as a fellowship, we want to take His words seriously and not neglect it. Below are a couple of points that the Lord has impressed on our minds and hearts as a fellowship these past couple of months which we ought to purse with all our hearts:
Discipleship and His Presence Always with Us
Two verses after the Holy Spirit gives us an amazing promise of Jesus saving us from our sins, He tells us another extraordinary truth in the meaning of His name Immanuel (Matt 1:21,23). As His name Jesus signifies His desire to save us from our sins, His other name Immanuel (meaning “God with us”) shows His desire to be with us. While this was true when He lived physically on this earth, the promise still applies to those who are disciples of Jesus today (Matt 28:20, John 14:3,18). He has promised to be with us always, even till the end of age if we take His commission seriously. This is why it’s so important for us to be disciples in our personal lives and help others get there. If we find that the Lord is not near to us in our lives, then it could be an indication that we have neglected His call for us to be disciples.
Jesus is looking to build His church with men and women who have gone further than laying a foundation of repentance and faith. He wants those who have made Him the center of their lives and are willing to be His disciples and bear witness for Him on earth no matter the cost (Luke 9:23-25). Such disciples will be willing to be baptized in water and find the heavens always open to be filled with the Holy Spirit continually. Then the promise of His presence can be true for us every hour of the day (John 14:16-17). Jesus’s life was unshakeable primarily because He had the Father’s presence with Him daily (Acts 2:25, John 16:32). God wants to do that for all of us as well.
The undeniable proof that we value His presence is that we will never do anything that He dislikes whether in public or secretly. We would not speak a word that Jesus’s wouldn’t speak, or watch anything He wouldn’t watch. We wouldn’t mediate or think about things He wouldn’t think about. And if we fall and disappoint Him in any of those areas, we would quickly get up, repent and not get discouraged. Then He will walk with us everywhere we go, at home, in our office and in the church. Thus we find His guidance in every area of our lives and we can always be at rest (Ex 33:14).
Beholding the glory of Christ and Being Transformed into His image
When Jesus comes to earth again, we will all be transformed in every aspect of our being upon seeing Him (1 Cor 14:52, 1 John 3:2). But we don’t have to wait until then to be transformed in character. Even now, He desires to show us His glory so we can be transformed into that same image (2 Cor 3:18). Jesus came and lived as a man on this earth to show us the divine nature God wants us to have. We must continually fix our eyes upon Jesus and look to Him as our forerunner as we are made more and more like Him. May the Lord help us make this the passion of our lives.
Because God has called us to this purpose, He arranges all things to mold us into the image of Christ (Rom 8:28-29). Being fully convinced of this one truth in our hearts will free us from a lot of anxiety and complaining when we face trials. We don’t need to understand every circumstance in detail, but we need to believe that He knows what He is doing. Our Father in heaven is a mastermind at fulfilling His purpose through unorthodox means. He is able to make the worse circumstance and trial work for our good. When we look at things from His perspective, we see that many of our circumstances and afflictions are meant to destroy any trust in ourselves so we can depend on God who raises the dead (2 Cor 1:9). They are also meant to give us the life of Jesus that comes only as a result of breaking us because His power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 4:7-11, 2 Cor 12:9). May God get us to the place were we can say like the Apostle Paul: Therefore I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distress, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:10).
Building us into a Church through making us one with each other.
God’s aim in sending Jesus to earth wasn’t only to give us the forgiveness of sins, or to make us more like Jesus or to be with us always, but also that He might build His Church. Our individual pursuit of Christlikeness and knowing God are like stones that the Lord wants to build into His Church. It was one of the great longings Jesus had for His disciples who had committed their lives to Him. And we see this burden especially in His prayer for the disciples before going to the cross (John 17).
In His prayer, we find His desire that all His disciples be one. He asks that His disciples and everyone who will come to faith through them (that is You and I) be one. One of the most striking requests in His prayer isn’t just that He wants us to be one, but the extent to which He wants us to be one. He wants us to be one just like He and the Father are one.What a high calling and He said this three times in His prayer! (John 17:11; 21; 22). Don’t let the devil convince you and me that it is impossible. As impossible as it may sound, the fact that Jesus prayed on our behalf is proof enough that it is possible. So we see that the Lord isn’t only interested in transforming us but also making us one with each other. Our ambition shouldn’t just be Christlike perfection but also Christlike unity. Our aim is that God should be able to point to our fellowship as examples of disciples are willing to die for one another as Jesus died for them.
So let us passionately strive in these areas and acknowledge our need to the Lord, He will help us immensely for He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Eph 3:20).