I. A Greater Plan (14:28-31)
I know we have done this before, years ago. Each of you has a piece of a jig saw puzzle. Everybody, answer two questions.
A. What do you think the final picture will be? Would you like to see? (Looks like a Thomas Kinkaid picture)
B. Where do you think your piece fits in the picture? How will you know where it fits?
In one month, we will be remembering the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy, France, called Operation Overlord, or D-Day. More than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which,
"we will accept nothing less than full victory." More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by dayís end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice was the beginning of the end of the Nazi regime in Europe.
Generalís Eisenhower, Bradley, and Montgomery organized militaries from Canada, Britain, America, and France, to use gliders, airborne troops, air assault, navy battleships and transports, and a lot of ground soldiers, as well as a lot of deception, to make this day a costly but successful victory.
Now, do you think that each soldier, sailor, or airman, had a complete picture of the plan for that day? Probably not! The Joint Chiefís, were probably the only ones who knew how it should all work together. Each soldier, sailor, and airman only knew what his or her job was, and if they did their job, the big plan would come together successfully.
Their job was their piece of the puzzle. They just needed to trust that those who were at the top knew what they were doing.
That, my friends, is what your life is like as a Christ-follower. You and I are not privileged to see the whole plan. We are one piece in a grand scheme. However, like victory in Europe was the plan for the Allies, the return of the King of the Establishment of a Golden Age in which Jesus will reign supreme, with liberty, and justice for all, along
with peace, health, and confident living is the plan of our Lord. God is working all the events of your life, and of the governments of this world toward that end. Our part is to do our job and trust our Commander in Chief.
On the night before His death our Lord Jesus told His disciples that what was going to happen was not what they had been planning for. Look at verses 28:31, "You have heard Me say to you, ĎI am going away and coming back to you.í If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ĎI am going to the Father,í for My Father is greater than I. 29 "And now
I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here."
What is about to happen is all in the Fatherís big plan, for you and for the world. Itís not what you would have chosen but itís Godís good plan for your salvation. Throughout Johnís gospel, our Lord emphasized that His purpose was the Fatherís will. Hebrews 10:4-10, quoting from Psalm 40 gives us insight to that plan being formulated in Heaven.
"Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ĎBehold, I have comeó In the volume of the book it is written of MeóTo do Your will, O God.í" 8 Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not
desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all".
When the circumstances of life shake you up, try to remember, there is grand plan, even if you donít understand. A singer from years ago named Nancy Honeytree, had a song that said, "When I donít understand the things that happen in my life, Iím going to believe that God is up to something good." The first thing asks these 12 to do when they were all
shook up was to Trust Him. Thatís what He was saying in verse 1 when He said, "Believe also in Me."
Do you trust Him? Is Proverbs 3:5-6 just nice verses or do you really believe them? Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Now, because Jesus died and rose again and ascended back to heaven, though we wish He were here, we have:
II. A Greater Potential (vv. 7-11) for two things:
A. To Know God our Father, deeply and personally. Always remember, that this is Godís great desire for you. He doesnít want your religion, He wants you to know Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24). How do you know the Father? Know His Son! (John 1:14, 18). John makes it very clear, that Jesus is the Son of God, the visible expression of God with us. The words Jesus
spoke, with such authority and awe, and the works Jesus did, could not be done by any man. The centurion at the cross got it, "Truly this was the Son of God." (Matt.27:54)
Our Father wants us to know Him, not just about Him, though He does was want us to know His heart for you and for the world. He wants you to feel as He does about sin, about injustices, and about the state of the poor, and the lost, the lonely, and the least of these. He wants you to know that He longs for your expressions of love, and to hear you talk
to Him from your heart. There is no God of anyoneís imagination like this God, who extends grace, love, forgiveness, and peace.
B. To Do Great Things for God (v.12). Knowing the heart of God leads us to want to do great things for God; that is to act on Godís behalf. Jesus has told us that the things He did was the father working through Him. He wants you to be that same conduit for God to do great things. In a moment, he will tell us that He will be in us. That will give us
the power to do what we never imagined we could do. You should know that He is not talking about greater in power. We could not raise the dead, or turn water into wine, nor raise ourselves from the grave.
Jesus, our Lord confined His ministry to one little pencil point of a country in the middle east. But because He died, rose and ascended and sent His Holy Spirit, we are able to touch the world. Do you think that Franklin Graham, or Billy Graham ever imagined as a boy that they would impact the world as they have done with crusades, ministry to
Presidents and world leaders, Samaritanís Purse, Prison Ministry and so much more, or Chuck Colson with Prison Fellowship, or William Booth with the Salvation Army, or the folks who started schools, hospitals, hospices, and more? We can do these things through the circumstances and even the hardships we find ourselves in, because of the power and the plan of God. These things
prepare our hearts with compassion, as God uses our trials to open our eyes to the needs around us. Thatís the basis behind what Paul says in 2 Cor. 1:3ff. There is no limit to what you can do, if you will trust Jesus when life shakes you up.
III. A Greater Privilege (vv. 13-14).
To do greater things we need to have the resources and the circumstances to accomplish them. Our Lord is pledging them to us. There are a lot of things that we can pray about. There a lot of things that we do pray about. We pray about what we want, i.e., better health, enough finances, a good day. We pray about other people changing their behavior or
coming to faith in Jesus. Truth is not all, or sometimes even many of these prayers seem to be answered as we want. I meet with a group of pastors every Thursday to pray for Revival in our land, for much of America to have common sense, and God doesnít seem to be interfering in our course.
But, here, our Lord makes us a pledge. I have said this for years, this is not a formula to take on our prayers to make them official. Is it a real prayer if we donít say, "In Jesusí Name," at the end? And this is not a carte blanc card. This is stopping to ask what does Jesus want to do here? What will glorify the Father? What will demonstrate Jesusí
love to others? What do I or we need to accomplish this mission for His glory? This is for Jesus and the Glory of our Father, and no other reason. Can you do great things for God, and the benefit of others? You sure can. Jesus will see to it. To ask in Jesus name, is to ask as His representative, Father, I come to you representing our Lord Jesus enable me toÖ. Look or listen
to 1 Samuel 17:45-47, Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the
camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lordís, and He will give you into our hands."
May I say to you, that the things that have happened in your life are to move you to make a difference in other peopleís lives, and God will supply when its about His glory and peopleís good. What would Jesus do? What does Jesus want you to do? He has a Greater plan. He has Given you a Greater Potential, and a Great Privilege, and:
IV. A Greater Power (vv. 15-18, 26)
To enable us to do greater things, and pray greater prayers, and know that we have a great privilege, Jesus sends His Holy Spirit to live with and in every person who trusts in Him. Jesus was the visible and tangible presence of God with these men and women. His Spirit would be intangible, but ever present in His brothers and sisters. Some of your
Bibles say, another Comforter, or another Helper. You have heard this before, the words say, another of the same kind of Helper or strengthener. The Greek is paracletos, meaning a helper who comes alongside of to strengthen or help. He only resides in those who love Jesus. How do you know who loves Jesus? They keep, honor, follow, submit to, and obey His commands.
How do I know if the Holy Spirit is with me? I love, trust, and follow Jesus. Paul says, "if the spirit is not in you, you are not one of His (Romans 8:9).
But if He is in you, you should know, there is no probation period. He is in you for how long, class? Verse 16 says, "Forever!" Jesus will say at the end of Matthewís gospel, "I will be with you always, even till the end of time."
We will learn more from Paul, that the Presence of God in you, gives you the giftedness to minister grace to others in a way perhaps you never thought you would or could. He empowers you with life and spiritual sight to see the needs of others and want to meet those needs. Combine that with His provisional prayer assurance, and the church and each
member is capable of so much more than we can imagine. Listen to Eph. 3:20-21, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Do you see this? And yes, this means you. I am so excited to see what God has
in store and what you are going to be able to do for Him.
When you are serious about wanting to know Him, He will write Godís truth on your hearts and minds. He never wants you to feel like an orphaned child. He will be with you forever, regardless of your circumstances or consequences.
V. We Have a Greater Promise (v. 19)
Because He lives, we will live also. That starts right now and continues forever. Physical death loses its sting, so we can face the future no matter what, with confidence. Eternal life, no condemnation, no hell to pay, just life, joy, peace, and fulfillment forever in the presence of Love, Light, and the Glory of God. When life shakes you, remember,
you have the promise of life.
VI. But We Have a Greater Precept. (15, 21-25).
Our Lord started this chapter by saying, "Donít be shaken up by what happens. Trust me!" He then tells us what we can do because of what He was doing. Now, He is making a statement. Here is the test of whether you love me.
A. You will keep my commandments. You will love your enemies. You will wash feet. You will get out of the boat and follow me. And as He would say to Peter at the end of this book, you will, "Feed my sheep!" You will go into your world and show and tell people about Jesus, you will pray in Jesusí name. You will do great things for Jesus. You will trust
Him to do what He says He will do even if you donít understand, regardless of the circumstances or consequences.
B. He will love you, and the Father will love with an unconditional love
C. He will make your Body His home.
D. From Jesusí mouth, we know that no matter what one says, if he or she does not keep, guard, honor, or obey His words. Kind of like saying, "Iím not doing that, that doesnít make sense,Ö."
VII. We Will Have a Greater Peace (v.27).
The peace that our Lord is promising is not the temporary absence of conflict. In fact, conflict is inevitable. The cross of Jesus and your love for Jesus which honors His words and commands in every situation will result in conflict. I told Debbie yesterday, that after 35 years of earnestly wanting to honor God, people, many who are called Christian,
either love us, or hate us. Our Lord once said in Lukeís Gospel, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you," (Luke 6:26). But, the one who loves Him, Jesus said, would be like a man who built His house on a Rock instead of sand. That house would be stable and strong in times of testing.
This peace is an inner stability, a tranquility of soul, regardless of our circumstances. WE can sing like Mr. H.G. Spafford, "It is well with my soul." God is in control and I have Peace with God through Christ (Rom. 5:1) I have the peace of God, because I have laid it all before Him (Phil. 4:6-7) and I know the God of peace is with me because my mind
is on Him (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:8-10)
Look at John 16:33. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
I encourage you to keep this outline. Pull it out and remind yourself of these truths, the next time life shakes you up. Donít pitch your tent in a mediocre, or melancholy world. God is on the move, as a CC song says, in a mighty way, and He wants you to be part of a great adventure. When things donít go as you had planned, expected, or hoped they
would, trust in the plan of Jesus Christ.
Letís pray about it.
If this article has spoken to your heart, would you write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know or if you have any questions about following Jesus, I would be glad to try to answer them for you. May God bless you as you seek to do His will.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman