Give us our daily plans

Collage02Jeremiah 29:11 is a familiar verse to many of us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” saith the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (KJV)

The NIV translation reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Reading those two versions, the words thoughts (KJV) and plans (NIV) stood out. I can certainly have thoughts that aren’t plans. Like, it’s chilly today but considering the time of year, that’s normal. Just a thought. Not a plan, unless it’s to wear a sweater.

However, in this verse the Hebrew word is “machashabah” (pronounced ma-hash’-a-va), translated thought, device, plan, purpose, or invention. That’s quite a variety of meanings.

This word is translated “cunning device” in many places, such as the evil thoughts of men before the flood, or the good inventions of anointed men in the building of Solomon’s temple. (See my earlier post on Plans, https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/plans-as-in-jeremiah-2911-niv/)

Such plans may include directions, itinerary, agenda, goal, purpose, blueprints, schematics, activities … many things. Plus necessary supplies for each part of those plans. “What are your plans for Christmas?” we might ask a friend. That might include shopping, baking, traveling, mailing cards, attending parties, lots of things.

We’re not normally thinking inventions, unless it’s a new recipe. But that idea is included in this verse. God might just invent something new for us, something designed just for us, to get us to where he wants us to go. That would be fascinating.

One thing about that verse – plans is plural. Many plans, many activities go into any building program, whether we (God and us) are constructing a house or a character. Plans may include schooling and training. Exercise. Practice. Building a warrior, for instance.

There may be one plan for Monday, a different plan for Thursday. One plan for 9:00 AM, another plan for 4:30. God has plans for us, and I think he has daily plans. Which leads me to another verse:

Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The phrase “daily bread” is found only in two places in the Bible, Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3, both quoting the Lord’s Prayer. It comes from two words that mean our next necessary bread.

Bread is from the Greek word artos, bread made from flour and water or food of any kind. Sometimes it is translated loaves. That word occurs many places in the Bible.

Daily comes from the Greek word epiousios, meaning necessity. That word is found only in the Lord’s Prayer. The verse could be translated “Give us this day the bread of our necessity.” Our next food.

The idea of necessity is a critical key here, I think. What does God think is our next necessary food? And, does it have to be physical food? In Hebrews 5:12-14, “meat” refers to spiritual food.

Perhaps what we need next is spiritual food. Mental food. Emotional food. Information. Direction. Instruction. Empowerment. Mentoring. Wisdom. Encouragement. Comfort. Peace of mind. Correction. Tools. Equipment. Weapons. Armor. Experience.

For God to fulfill the plans he has for us, we have to cooperate. We have to hear his ideas on the subject, get his thinking. After all, we have the mind of Christ. (I Cor. 2:16)

To cooperate with him fully, we need to ask him daily, follow through with what we learn, daily. Get and consume our next necessary food, daily.

The next step in our day is the next step in God’s plan for our future, our good. Because if you think about it, really think about it – the future isn’t way off in the distance, it’s as close as the next hour in our day, or the next day in our week.

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Holiness not included

Holy-Spirit fire“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 KJV).

Here’s a little word study about that fruit description.

Fruit means produce, as from a fruit tree; also the result of efforts, such as fruit of your labor.

Those nine character attributes show up and begin to develop as the result of having God’s Spirit dwell inside of you. By the way – these aren’t ordinary human traits, they are supernatural. God’s love. God’s joy. God’s peace, etc., etc.

Love, joy, peace – those familiar words have the usual meanings. Longsuffering means being patient with circumstances, remaining the same and keeping the same attitude no matter what happens around you. Goodness means integrity, honesty, morality. Meekness means mildness, gentleness; also controlled strength, as a horse that has been tamed and bridled. Temperance means self-control; similar to controlled strength in some ways.

All of these describe God’s character, which will become our character as the Holy Spirit lives in us, leads us, teaches us, co-labors with us in various assignments.

Notice what isn’t in that list? Holiness. Why is that? God is holy, it’s certainly part of his character. He tells us, “Be ye holy.” So why is it missing from this list?

The word for holiness has two meanings:

The first is a status, the second is an action. And in order to be the first one, you need to do the second one. It isn’t something that grows like fruit. It either is, or it is not. It’s an action of your will, a choice that begins with choosing to say Yes to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

2 Cor. 7:1 says, ” Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

“Cleanse” simply means to make clean, such as bathing, washing our hands, or scrubbing dirty pots and pans. Our flesh and our spirit need a bath. But we must cleanse ourselves? I always thought God did that – you know, he catches the fish (us), then he cleans them.

And he does, with his Word. Jesus told the disciples that they were clean, by the words he had spoken to them. Also see Ephesians 5:26. This looks like a contradiction… keep reading.

“Perfecting” means accomplishing or completing, as finishing a job.

2 Cor. 6:16-18 specifies what the promises from 7:1 are: “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Those are spectacular promises!

“Walk in them” is interesting language. Literally it means walk around inside of them. I like that. “My people” means a people group of the same tribe, origin, culture, and language. “Receive you” means favor you, show favor to you.

II Peter 1:3 says, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” Okay, now that we have faith in him, the knowledge of Jesus contains everything we need to live successfully.

He goes on to say that we should add some things to our faith – the very same things mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. All of those attributes are found in the knowledge of Jesus, and all are able to grow and mature.

However – and this is a big however – this knowledge isn’t dropped into our brains automatically when we are born again. It takes studying, appropriating, and practice. Like muscles, these attributes will grow with use.

We are co-laborers with Christ. Note, that word includes labor. Work. He doesn’t do all the work to produce character in us, or holiness in us. We have to do some of the work ourselves. He won’t force us to do our part.

And that explains a lot, doesn’t it.