Reader: “At the right time he will bring everything together”
Response: “. . . under the authority of Christ.”
Scripture: Ephesians 1:7-14
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good news that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Reader: “These are God’s words to us.”
Response: “Thank you Lord.”
You may have often heard that “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” If you are like me, I find it easy to think of God’s plan in terms of specific things or events in my life. I’m not so sure this concept is always what God has in mind. Sometimes, yes, it appears to be the case. Maybe there was some event or action that you recognized had God’s hand all over it. But there are plenty of other times when it seems “God’s plan” is a complete mystery. As you read in the passage above, God’s plan is to fulfill his own good pleasure. If our desire is to bring glory to God in our life, then we do want to be in accord with his plan. The bold print clarifies the timing of such. My problem is I don’t know the timing and God isn’t telling me! Matthew Henry has two very pertinent quotes: “God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for himself the knowledge of them, [why?] that he may train us up in a dependence upon himself and a continued readiness for every event.” And “Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his work, honor our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.” Well said, Matthew! Hang in there . . .
Music: “Abide with Me” St. Olaf Cantori and Congregation
This is worth your 7 minutes and 12 seconds! THIS IS CONGREGATIONAL SINGING! Note the number of millennials in the congregation singing! Let’s hear it for the Lutherans!
- Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
- Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
- I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
- I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
- Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Almighty and ever-blessed God, I thank Thee for the love wherewith Thou dost follow me all the days of my life. I thank Thee that Thou dost inform my mind with Thy divine truth and undergird my will with Thy Spirit’s leading, and for all those little happenings which, though seeming at the time no more than chance, yet afterwards appears to me as part of Thy gracious plan for the education of my soul. O let me not refuse Thy leading or quench this light which Thou hast kindled within me, but rather let me daily grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord and Master. Amen.
― John Baillie, 1886-1960