Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10: God’s predetermined plan

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know—this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles. But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power…… This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:22-36  NET)

What a beautiful passage! This is a small taste of Peter’s preaching on the day the Church began for real—the Day of Pentecost. The 120 people in the Upper Room received the Holy Spirit and went out into the street and started announcing the good news about Jesus through the gift of tongues, in various languages. Because of the Feast of Pentecost Jews from many different nations were in Jerusalem, and each of them heard the message about Jesus in their own language. 

Peter’s reasoning is that Jesus’ powerful deeds and miracles, including His resurrection from the dead, proved that He was God… the Christ, the Messiah. This was a very powerful statement for the Jews because they were all waiting for the Messiah to appear and restore Israel. Many Old Testament passages had prophesied about His coming, and because they were once again being oppressed by a foreign power, many must have felt that this was the perfect time for Him to appear. The problem is that most of the Jews did not understand that the Christ would bring long-lasting spiritual freedom, not short-term political freedom.

It’s amazing to think about the greatness and planning of God. By “the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” Jesus was handed over to the people who crucified Him. His death was no victory for the devil, it had been planned by God and prophesied about for hundreds of years. And even when He was killed, it was “not possible for him to be held” by the power of death, and so He arose on the third day. God’s knowledge and power overpowered Satan and death, and even ushered in the age of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t think that God does not do the same for us today. When everything looks bleak, when the devil seems to have won, God’s predetermined plan, foreknowledge, and power will kick in and turn the tables on Satan and his demons. As long as we believe in the Lord Jesus, we will always win, not matter how things may look at the present moment. But like the kingdom that the Lord Jesus created, physical things are important, but the real treasures we should all be fighting for are the long-lasting spiritual ones. 

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